I wanted to share my somewhat unusal project with the HBT 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 the other riders
You can join me on Facebook here, we are launching a website shortly