Show Posts

This section allows you to view all posts made by this member. Note that you can only see posts made in areas you currently have access to.

Topics - mrbowenz

Pages: [1]
General Homebrew Discussion / Tasting a 137 year old beer !
« on: January 16, 2012, 03:10:01 PM »
I thought I would put this here in the General Discussion section since it wasn't really a commercially available beer. :-\

I finally decided that 2012, would be the year I would taste a most remarkable bottle of a beer. A beer so special it was brewed for Sir George Nares( a British naval captain) who in 1875 set off to reach the North Pole.

By the later half of the 19th century, Samuel Allsopp's and Son, had already become one of the largest breweries in England and only second in size to Bass Ale in Burton on Trent. In 1852, on a rescue mission to discover the whereabouts of Sir John Franklin( another British explorer) , who had set off in search of the fabled Northwest Passage, Samuel Allsopp had created a monster of an ale called "Arctic Ale". This ale was brewed to 1.130 OG, and was thought to contain some special "Antiscorbutic" properties( containing vitamin C) to prevent scurvy, which was the fatal downfall of long voyages at sea.

Allsopp's Arctic Ale , was brewed only three times in all of the 19th century, once in 1852, again in 1857 , and finally in 1875. Since special brewings like this are so rare, it would be almost impossible to obtain a sample in the day, yet alone 160 years later. To date, only 3 noted beer writers have even sampled tastings and wrote about this beer, Alfred Barnard in 1889, William Henry Beable in 1926 and CAMRA's Roger Protz 2010 ( for which I arranged a bottle for Roger to drink and write about).
Of the 3 brewings of this extreme 19th century beer, there exists only 2 bottles of the 1852 batch, I own one, and the other was the subject of a great Ebay story, back in 2007. The 1857 batch, I own the only known bottle left, and of the 1875 batch, there are only about a dozen left, I own 2, and the rest are in the National Brewery Centre Museum in England. I found the dozen bottles while in Burton giving a talk to members of CAMRA on the history of Allsopp's brewery.
In 2010, the old Allsopp's brewery was in bad shape and about to become apartment flats, it had been abandoned since the 1980's and workers where throwing many items away. I was lucky enough to take one "last" tour of the building, and it was deep inside the basement, tucked away in a cage, that I found the last remaining bottles of Arctic Ale. The 1875 version was the only ale bottled in a Champagne style bottle the brewery ever produced, there is even an article in the British Archives mentioning the bottles and how many where left in 1886. Further verification came from an old retired brewery archivist, whom confirmed their existence and authenticity.
The basement find:

The Old Allsopp's Brewery 1856 :

In March of 2011, I had been contacted by beer author Roger Protz to accompany him in a tasting of the Arctic Ale, with head brewmaster Steve Wellington ( Worthington Museum Brewery) and some senior members of CAMRA whom I am friends with.

Along side the 1875 version, where a bottle of 1902 Bass& Co. "king's ale" , brewed in conjunction with King Edward the VII, and also a Arctic Global Warmer style Barleywine (15% abv) from the "North Cotswolds" brewery.

Here's some shots from the day:
Steve Wellington and his assistant

Roger Protz, beer author and CAMRA mega star:

Tasting glass from 1902, 1875 and 2006:

1875 Arctic Ale - not my hand BTW

Here are Roger's notes on the ale:

"It was dark amber in color and had an astonishingly complex aroma of dry chocolate, cocoa powder, molasses and vinous fruit. The palate offered creamy malt, sweet fruit and further chocolate and cocoa hints, followed by a bittersweet finish with dark fruit, rich malt and light hops."

I have been a vintage beer collector, brewing re-creator and beer historian for almost 7 years now and have been lucky enough to own some of the rarest beers in the world. I also own a few of the Bass corkers, like Ratcliff Ale 1869, Prince's Ale, Princess Ale, and Bass #1 Barleywine, as well as several 1902 King's Ales.

So, a recently decided to share a bottle of the 1875 brewing with some very good friends on a very cold winter's night, with visions of steering a Victorian ship right up to the North Pole with Arctic Ale in hand !

Of course no good ale goes without a finely prepared meal and we chose a menu fit for the occasion.

Rib Roast !

Yorkshire Pudding !

Roasted Potato's and Asparagus:

Then it was time for desert !

The time to taste had arrived !

As carefully as I could, I tried to remove it in one piece, but then again this is a 137 year old bottle ......

Mush....soft cork !

With a little care ( and a knife !) , I was able to remove a core in the center and the ale started flowing !, oh the smell of old beer !

Amazing aroma's of leather, cedar wood , smokey dark fruit , raisins and slight musk. I took nearly 10 minutes simply smelling and enjoying the various aromas that where set off as I swirled the glass, this was history in a bottle !

A proper cheers and the light of candles made the experience delightful !

1875 Arctic Ale - Samuel Allsopp's and Sons

Type/Style: - English Strong Ale/Barleywine /Burton Ale
Bottle : 750 ML , natural cork, full fill , no label

Leather, cedar wood ( wet) , dark fruit, raisins, musk, Sherry, almost no hop aromas

Appearance :
Clear, but not brilliant, deep Mahogany Brown with ruby highlights and hues on the glasses edge...

Strong malt and sherry flavors, fully and across the whole tongue, finishes smooth without any unpleasantness or sourness. Licorice and maybe even old taffy.

Mouthfeel :
Completely still , no detectable carbonation , not slick or creamy , simply like sherry or brandy , no cloying whatsoever despite it's high residual saccharine content an finishing gravity.

Overall Impression : An amazing experience of drinking a bit of history, this ale was extremely drinkable 137 years after bottling, other than the musty and oxidized nature ( which is typical) of such an old ale, this ranks up there with the best of them. I have had 15 year old ales that where in much worse shape, for this age, it was simply amazing to experience !

Events / Arctic Alchemy- A film about beer on Kickstarter !
« on: June 28, 2011, 01:08:26 AM »
In an effort to bring a movie about beer, brewing and adventure to the silver screen and do it independently, I have registered and been accepted by

There have been so few TV or movies that have been dedicated to beer, most of the ones I have seen have been a bit silly ( Beerfest comes to mind- it has it's place, not being too critical of it ) , Beer Wars is excellent, as well as An American Brew. On television, we all had high hopes that Sam C. would be able to overcome the oh so predictable framework that the Discovery Channel uses on every show they produce., too bad PBS or the Travel Channel didn't get to Sam first.

Producing and directing a full feature film is a daunting task to say the least, but financing is truly the toughest part. If you are not aware of the magic of crowd funding, you may want to get familiar with Kickstarter, it's the new wave of organically produced and entrepreneurial spirited individuals sharing ideas and bringing them to life. The concept is much like the street musician , who plays for the crowd and leaves his guitar case open, hoping that a few will throw a few coins or dollars in to keep the spirit alive and keep the musician playing and eating. This is a way for regular people to do extraordinary things , think you could open a brewery this way ? yes , you can , there are some funding their brewing dreams on Kickstarter right now.

Arctic Alchemy is my story of driving my motorcycle 4000 miles to the Arctic in Canada , while towing a portable brewery, to recreate a mysterious ale from 1852 , support from the AHA about it here : It's also been covered in several newspapers, magazines , television , and radio.

I am not asking for a donation here, I am simply directing you to be aware of it and share the idea with friends and fellow homebrewers, this is a very cool story about beer , brewing, history and motorcycle adventure. check it out !

Beer Travel / Another beer project , The Great Baltic Adventure
« on: February 24, 2011, 02:20:11 PM »
Just sharing another beer project I am about to embark on here:

The Great Baltic Adventure , is a sailing journey from London up the Thames, across the North Sea, to the Baltic Sea and deliver firkins of Imperial Russian Stout to the historic city of St. Petersburg Russia, following the old nautical charts of when Catherine the Great developed an affinity for Stout in the late 18th and early 19th century.

I will be joining a crew of brewers from London and famous beer writer of the year Pete Brown for this adventure, what's kind of cool is that Pete had taken a keg from Burton on Trent on 07 all the way to India like they did in the 19th century. I of course took brewing equipment to the Canadian arctic this past summer to re-create a 19th century ale that was brewed in Burton as well. We will now join forces and share writing and blogging along the way on this latest beery adventure together.

My blog here:

You can read more about the trip I did to Canada and the independent film I am producing here :

or join me on facebook here, we just tasted a bottle of 136 year old arctic ale yesterday

Pimp My System / Portable Irish Coffin Box
« on: December 09, 2010, 11:22:21 AM »
I have been doing a fair amount of beer festivals lately and needed a tap box to serve from. In the past I was simply using a cobra style dispenser and often filling pitchers from the keg. I also wanted to have a bit more class, as I am often serving alongside professional brewers who have nice looking boxes in which to serve. My requirements included at least 4 taps, portable, light weight and something that had my name/ brand on it.

I drew up some dimensions and came up with this Irish Coffin Box, here some pictures of the quick and easy build:

I started with some 3/8" "Birch plywood"

To cover the ugly ends of the plywood, I used some iron-on banding , also made of birch

trimming off the excess with a razor blade:

In the theme of keeping this box light, I used some simple pressure treated frame pieces:

Here's a shot of the corner bracing, glued and nailed for strength:

Then I added some molding to the top collar and footings here:

Pretty plain still , I added from fancier molding to add more depth and character:

Now for a finish, to set the birch apart from the molding , I first tapped off the surface:

A finish I like is called "french polishing" , which is several layers of 3lb shellac cut with denatured alcohol and using a figure eight pattern, it adds depth and clarity to any natural grain patterns. It's a very old style technique for finishing furniture.

To highlight the wood, I painted the molding black:

I added my brewery name from some cut-out letters obtained at a craft store, these are cheap and time saving:

French Polish by itself isn't really waterproof, but adds a great under-finish, I then coated the whole box with PolyU, spilling beer on this box is a given, the poly adds much protection to the project:

Lastly, I added my four taps and finished the box:

Got to use it this past weekend and it worked very well , light , strong and decent looking.

The Pub / Interesting stat
« on: September 12, 2010, 10:37:43 PM »
I was curious about the readership on this forum and checked in on the member list stats( good # for a new forum I think ) , but one thing I have noticed not just here but many forums is the number of people who take the time to register , choose a user name , go through all the steps of signing up for a unique identity and never post a single "hello"  or comment.

So here on this forum we have 7817  members of which 6570 people who registered ,but never made a post .............yet ?

Just saying  :-X

Pimp My System / Arctic Brewery and Mobile Fermentation Trailer
« on: August 23, 2010, 02:15:38 PM »
Just back from filming in Canada for 3 weeks and thought I would share the brewery and equipment I built for the adventure. Because of the enormous challenge of fundraising, I had to build this whole system in 6 days (funds for the equipment didn't arrive until the last minute).

The goal was to brew historic ale from an 1852 recipe, 2000 miles away from home in the Canadian arctic, while riding a motorcycle and filming a documentary along the way. The concept was 3 motorcycles, two support vehicles and seven people.

The challenge was to make the beer in the elements on the shoreline of where the Hudson Bay meets the James Bay, and the very end of the northern road in Quebec; we actually crossed into the Nunavat Territory (considered the arctic). Produced the wort and then fermented the ale "in transit" all the way back to Pennsylvania.

To do this, I built a system that produced just less than 40 gallons per brewing session (2 days of brewing) and a trailer capable of keeping fermentation temperatures in the low 60's for the entire journey back.

Here's a photo log of the equipment I built to do this:

First I built a single tier brew stand out of 2" Stainless steel:

Then I took 3 -55 gallon drums and started welding fittings and added valves etc:

Leak testing and assembly:

I like a recirculating mash system and generally do a batch sparge most of the time, here is the mash tun:

Because of the limited space and the large footprint, I need to keep the HLT and the Mash Tun together and build a separate boil stand of the same size, when together, they all fit nicely, but are quite large. The brewery would have two 32 tip Jet type burners, one under the boil kettle and one under the HLT, the mash tun would have a smaller burner for maintaining mash temps.

Since I was brewing outside I needed to bring along a gas powered generator to supply power for the small march pump, and of course this whole system was fueled by liquid propane, for which I brought 4- 20 pound tanks. To keep things simple, there was not much automation, hand lit burners, and only an off and on switch for the pump.

Welding and testing the burners:

Next up, the trailer:

Standard Haulmark 6'X10', single axel:

Fermentation would be a challenge, maintaining proper temps and controlling the sloshing. I used two Blichmann 42 gallon fermenters, and added a 12-volt glycol-chilling concept;

Some of the parts used in the task:

1/4" copper circuit soldered to sheet metal plates allowed the transfer of cooling to the large surface of the fermenters;

Then I bolted the fermenters to the floor of the trailer and started on the glycol system:

The way the glycol system worked:

The pump circulated the liquid thru a cooler, which had a stainless steel coil, ice was added and maintained a reasonable level of insulation and fairly low level of melting. The PID's where connected to thermocouples into the fermenters, a range was set (I choose to ferment at 62-65 degrees) and as needed the PID's called for the pump to come on or not. I added a low level grant for adding glycol or purging air from the system. It took some time to prime the system but the grant helped and worked smoothly after it was all balanced and running.

The chilling circuit:

Power management and the way the system worked:

12 volts came from the Land Rover support truck battery and was charged continuously by the alternator. it fed a 12 volt power inverter (the 1000 w Black and Decker unit), plus the 12 volt water/glycol pump and 2 12 volt PIDs to monitor fermentation temps. But the power inverter also powered a 120-volt trickle charger, which charged a deep cell Marine battery.
The idea here was during the day while we traveled, the Land Rover powered the demand for the pump and PID's, when we stopped for the night, I converted power from the deep cell to keep the pump running overnight and at stops. As the battery would run down over night, it was recharged during the day, it worked flawlessly.

The control panel

The idea for the sloshing was pretty easy, connect the two blow-off tubes together with a tee and send them to a stout 5 gallon corny keg, the inlet when into the tube side (or the liquid out side) and the pressure from the fermenting beer came out the gas "in side, and was vented by another tube safely outside the trailer. Honestly after all the miles we drove, I lost maybe 1/2 gallon due to sloshing, because I mounted the fermenters directly over the axel of the trailer ( for weight distribution and minimal disturbance of the beer.)

I was amazed by how well this system worked, the pump barely ran at first ( we where in a colder climate, but by the time it was in the mid 80's, the beer stayed in the low 60's as planned.

(noted these pictures below are post trip and the tubing had become slightly beat-up and disconnected to the fermenters, it is critical that the tubing is in contact with the surface to be effective)

Here are a few shots of everything loaded into the trailer and ready to begin the long journey north:

So we brewed beer in the Canadian Arctic and brought home almost 70 gallons of ale:

This is the location, but we had bad weather (40 mph winds, 40 degrees and almost 5 inches of rain - all at the same time for 4 days), but we completed the session and brought home the beer.

Heavy weather brewing:

No troubles crossing the boarder into Canada, but coming back was difficult, and the ride was long and difficult on a motorcycle, 3100 miles in 3 weeks while brewing beer away from home while making a movie with 7 people in Quebec and the Nunavat. My filmmakers are from Moscow but speak English, but as far as I know, no one has ever done anything like this before and the look of the US customs people when I crossed the boarder was worth the whole trip. A team of Hazmat guys inspected the trailer and detained us for nearly two hours. Homebrewing in the US is legal and also in Canada, the beer is for promotional use only and not to be sold. They were literally puzzled by the whole affair and confused by why? ...very amusing, but not on film.

General Homebrew Discussion / Arctic Alchemy..
« on: December 26, 2009, 02:14:10 PM »
 wanted to share my somewhat unusal project with the AHA community, since it's beer related , give me your comments on thoughts on this adventure I am taking in July 2010.

Some of you may remember back in 2007 a bottle of Allsopp's Arctic Ale went up for bidding on Ebay, short discussion here:

Although I never bid on this item, I fell in love with the story and started doing research on the bottle , the history, and the brewer. After almost 2 years of extensive research I came up with a few things.

1. This is a much bigger story than meets the eye.
2. This is an almost international treasure involving 3 countries of unparalelled importance.
3. How could I tell this mysterious story in a way that would interest all ?

A short bit about me, I am a homebrewer who has taken the hobby to some extremes, about the same time I started researching this bottle , I started to focus on historical re-enactments of a early 19th century brewer here in Pennsylvania, I currently have a muesum exhibit where I am a guest curator. In 2007 I also won the gold medal at the GABF ProAM, became a beer judge and competed in competitions all over including Hawaii. ( ok, so what )

About 8 months ago I got this crazy idea to combine a few interests of mine to tell this story to the world. I thought about three things that I love, beer , history and motorcycles, to that end I present you with Arctic Alchemy..discoveries of the Red Hand.

Here's the story:
In July 2010, I am departing from Bethlehem with two friends on a 3 week journey about 2000 miles north to the Canadian Arctic. The purpose is to recreate a historic and somewhat mysterious ale that was originally commissioned by Queen Victoria in 1851 to ensure health and nutritional value to a team of Arctic Explorers. These explorers were on a rescue mission to find the remains of a previous mission some 9 years earlier. Sir Edward Belcher took 5 ships and several thousand bottles of Allsopp's Arctic Ale on the journey; the ale was almost 12% alcohol and packed with hops to provide a powerful antiscorbutic defense against scurvy, a leading killer of long arctic voyages.
Exploring the Northwest Passage, was a ridiculously dangerous mission, especially in the 19th century, Allsopp's Ale, withstood the sub-freezing temperatures and was regarded so highly for its taste and healing properties. Sir Edward Belcher failed on his journey, abandoned 4 of the 5 ships in the ice, and returned to England to be court-marshalled (some thanks... huh?). A few of the bottles of Allsopp’s Ale came back to England, where in 2007 a bottle came up on EBay, and reportedly sold for 503,000.00 dollars (this is what caught my interest). To my knowledge, there are only 2 bottles left in the world from the 1852 expedition.

I have researched this ale in the deepest of all journals and records, both here and abroad I now have a recipe for this Ale, and intend to brew it near the Belcher Islands of the Hudson Bay in the Canadian Arctic.

The story of this important ale is very obscure, but has deep historical significance, one of Belcher's ship's that was abandoned, the HMS Resolute, has been brought into the light recently with the modern movie " National Treasure ", not sure if you are familiar, but you can Google the Resolute , and the two desks that where made from the ships timbers . It's the desk in the Oval office of President Obama, the other one is in Buckingham Palace (the Queen sits at that one.)

Here's the rub,
• The modern journey is to be filmed into a 60 minute documentary We are driving adventure style motorcycles , being followed by a support vehicle/ filmmakers
• I am brewing outside in the element's on the shoreline of the Hudson Bay
• We are making several stops along the way , French Canadian breweries, historical stops, Inuit and Cree Indian villages for interviewing and cultural events
• We are bringing back about 100 gallons of our beer to bottle and promote the film, using water from the famous Rupert River.

The name of the documentary is “Arctic Alchemy, discoveries of the Red Hand ......" (The red hand was the trade mark of Allsopp's brewery, which went out of business in the late 1920’s

Last week, we started filming some early footage , the history, the purpose, and who we are etc. I am working with a very experienced filmmaker from Utah and California, and two cinematographers from Russia.

In addition, I now own an orginal " full and sealed " bottle of the 1852 ale, and have a recipe for the ale .

here are some shots :

My bottle of Allsopp's

Me and one of my riding pals

You can join me on Facebook here, we are launching a website shortly

The Pub / It will take some time...
« on: November 19, 2009, 10:37:21 AM »
Great new forum , thank you AHA folks who put this together ! 8)

I think it will take some time before we see the crowds of regular posters and contributions of many different brewers here. I recognize quite a few NB folks here as there was a bit of a shake up over there recently ( thinking that's was fortunate for a quick start here) , I was a regular lurker over there but rarely posted much, my own club has an excellent forum but that's fairly club oriented. Then ,I still love HBT , that's a roubust forum , not many wankers on that site , but I credit the mods for running an excellent community . I am really excited to be here from the begining , but people will need some time and a push to join us, I am sure the AHA has their marketing plans and ideas in place, but just be patient, this will be the best forum out there. The added attraction is the AHA itself , brewers should be members , I pay a membership just to post on HBT , not sugguesting we do the same here, but everyone should be a member of the AHA , and I am sure the AHA could use some new members right now .so..... raise a toast or lift a pint  for the birth of our own online community , now go tell a friend !

All Things Food /
« on: November 11, 2009, 03:05:06 PM »
I have owned this website for a few years now but have not done anything with it yet , I am looking for some ideas for development .Do you think it would be a good portal to recipes?, chefs who cook with beer ? etc...

Pimp My System / My Brewery and Alehouse-Shed
« on: November 07, 2009, 02:46:10 AM »
I built/remodeled  this from a standard 22'x14' shed, when I started , it had a bunch of old lawnmowers and some old rusty tools in it , after explaining to my wife this would be a good idea, she reluctantly OK'd the project.
I started July 2008, and finished May 2009 , it was a busy winter , but I did all the work solo  ;D

Some of the features include :

2 sinks
4 refrigerators
Hot and Cold filtered Water supply
Heat- A/C
Cable TV, Internet
Mug Club  ( 24 members )
4 Taps

I call this the " HammerSmith Brewery and Alehouse " , I am a big fan of british style beer ...enjoy

This is the PUB- (right side of the shed )

The Brewery , fermentation, and workspace (left side of the shed )

My brutus style system- The Savant System 1400  

outside at night, humble beginings

Thanks for looking !

Pages: [1]