Author Topic: Arctic Alchemy..  (Read 3699 times)

Offline mrbowenz

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Arctic Alchemy..
« on: December 26, 2009, 07:14:10 AM »
 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:

http://www.antiqueweek.com/ArchiveArticle.asp?newsid=540

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

http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1485999183#/pages/Arctic-Alchemy/197637538644?ref=mf
     

Brewing up history

Offline dhacker

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Re: Arctic Alchemy..
« Reply #1 on: December 26, 2009, 07:50:54 AM »
Impressive and quite interesting. When and where can expect to see the documentary?
Just brew it...

Offline 1vertical

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Re: Arctic Alchemy..
« Reply #2 on: December 26, 2009, 09:05:15 AM »
Since I do not do facebook, I'll be waiting for the website. Thanks for the heads up Chris and I find the fact
that you are persueing this interesting indeed. What a good concept. Will you share the recipe for the ale?
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Offline denny

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Re: Arctic Alchemy..
« Reply #3 on: December 26, 2009, 03:04:47 PM »
Wow, what an adventure!  Best of luck and I can't wait to see and hear the story!
Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

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Offline ndcube

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Re: Arctic Alchemy..
« Reply #4 on: December 26, 2009, 05:10:44 PM »
I don't think I could own something like that.  At this point in my life the temptation to taste it would be to great.

Offline bluesman

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Re: Arctic Alchemy..
« Reply #5 on: December 26, 2009, 06:35:19 PM »
That is a truly amazing story.

Facsinating beer history in the making!

I can't wait to see the final cut...AND see the recipe for that historical beer.

Good Luck!
Ron Price

Offline rabid_dingo

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Re: Arctic Alchemy..
« Reply #6 on: December 26, 2009, 10:06:35 PM »
Awesome! I can't wait to see the journey and follow along! Godspeed and good luck!
Ruben * Colorado :)

Offline intrinsic

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Re: Arctic Alchemy..
« Reply #7 on: December 26, 2009, 11:28:14 PM »
Fascinating story. I cant wait to see the documentary. Best of luck to you. Oh and I had to do it. I am now a fan of "Arctic Alchemy" on facebook. 
--Wes
Rocky Mountain Brewer
East of Avery Brewery, South of New Belgium, Co.

Offline k4df4l

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Re: Arctic Alchemy..
« Reply #8 on: December 27, 2009, 07:35:11 PM »
Very interesting. 

I look forward to updates as the project progresses!

Offline mrbowenz

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Re: Arctic Alchemy..
« Reply #9 on: December 28, 2009, 03:29:39 AM »
Thanks for the support and encouragement !, the tempation to drink the bottle isn't really there, however if you think about it, there really isn't any thing you can eat or drink from this far back into the past, so in that way it is a bit tempting.

When I brew historical recipes from the 18th and 19th century, I guess it's close, but tasting "true history" is reserved for alcohol only isn't it ? , no food item would survive time like this , so next time you brew a strong ale, save it, mark it .and maybe in 100 years or more someone will find your bottle and discover your story, think about it ....
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Offline beersk

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Re: Arctic Alchemy..
« Reply #10 on: December 28, 2009, 01:45:11 PM »
I don't think I could own something like that.  At this point in my life the temptation to taste it would be to great.

I don't think even a 12% abv beer would hold for 160 years...it probably tastes horrid. 

This sounds like a great story though.
Go big AND go home.

Jesse

Offline denny

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Re: Arctic Alchemy..
« Reply #11 on: December 29, 2009, 10:14:43 AM »
I once had an opportunity to try a 71 year old bottle of Ballantine Burton ale, and it was indeed not much of a beer at that point.  But I don't think the point here is to "enjoy" the beer as much as to enjoy the history and story.
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Offline wpshadowens

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Re: Arctic Alchemy..
« Reply #12 on: December 29, 2009, 08:24:33 PM »
Very cool adventure indeed. Best of luck on your journey and looking forward to read all about it.

Prost!
Bill Shadowens
Secretary, CRAFT Homebrew Club
(Clinton River Association of Fermentation Technologists)

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Offline Kaiser

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Re: Arctic Alchemy..
« Reply #13 on: December 30, 2009, 07:53:56 AM »
I once had an opportunity to try a 71 year old bottle of Ballantine Burton ale, and it was indeed not much of a beer at that point.  But I don't think the point here is to "enjoy" the beer as much as to enjoy the history and story.

I had the same opportunity last week end and yes, it was more about drinking an really old beer than about enjoying a really good beer.

But that story is very interesting. Glad I decided to look in here.

Kai

Offline mrbowenz

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Re: Arctic Alchemy..
« Reply #14 on: February 07, 2010, 05:39:24 AM »
Recieved a nice bump in the Philadelphia Daily News on Friday here:

http://www.philly.com/dailynews/features/83620162.html
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