Arctic Alchemy..

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mrbowenz

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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:
https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f19/ebay-1852-allsopps-arctic-ale-35841/

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 :D)

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

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

Ashz

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HOLY HELL. This sounds awesome! And how the hell did you get a bottle? I envy you this adventure.
 

Barc

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Good luck!

Are you sharing the recipe? Which production company are you working with? How are you planning to market the beer? Like Ashz, curious about how you came upon the bottle.
 

thantos

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Love this story so far, but that bottle was never actually sold ! The guy backed out of the bid !

Here's the short story....

"’I talked to him the evening of and he basically said he wasn’t going to follow-through. He came out up front and said his bid was a joke bid.’"

As for the fake high bidder, a resident of Somerville, Mass., and the subject of an article in the Somerville News for winning such an historic item, he has emerged unscathed and continues to buy and sell on eBay.

http://www.antiqueweek.com/ArchiveArticle.asp?newsid=550

Here's an interesting one on the original owner of the ebay bottle and how it only sold for $304.00......

http://www.newlifeauctions.com/allsopp.html



http://greatblogabout.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/09/beer-2d3-small.jpg
 
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mrbowenz

mrbowenz

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The Ebay story is somewhat sad, yes, it remains unsold by the second seller( I have been in contact with him). I aquired mine privately in England. The world record for most expensive beer resides with the Hindenberg bottle that sold a few weeks ago at $ 8000.00 pounds

The adventure takes place in July of 2010 , since I am traveling by motorbike, July into August is the only reasonable time to take this on. We started filming last week for a trailer and some front end history.

I will post in the Equipment thread the brewing system I am building for the two day session. I will sit on the recipe for now( sorry ) , but the original gravity is 1.130 and is similar to English Barleywine with a buttload of hops, it's also barrel aged for 6 months.

I can't express enough how difficult all the logistics are for this adventure, 3 motorbikes, and 7 crew members from 3 different countries, visa's, brewing equipment, almost 600 lbs of grain , film equipment...etc.

We will ride north till the road ends, then ride some more to brew. After 2 days of brewing, we fly north to Resolute Bay and Beechey Island , which is the basecamp for North Pole expeditions ( Population 225 ) .

We are shooting for a DVD release of December 2010 , roughly a year from now .
 
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mrbowenz

mrbowenz

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Are you doing a trip log on ADV? I am just going to go with the assumption that you are a member of that site.
You guessed right, yes , ADV is a great site, I am waiting to post this over there, it's a tough crowd, Horizons Unlimited is also going to carry this. FYYFF:D
 

weirdboy

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This is an awesome story, but I have to ask: why you are going to the arctic to brew it?

I thought the whole point was that they brewed the beer somewhere else (England, I assume) and brought it along with them TO the arctic, not made it on-site.
 

Ashz

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I am not speaking for him but, I think it lends something to the beer IMHO. Not only is he going to use the water up there, but to brew it there, the atmosphere and the history there really makes this a beer worth a story.

I think he knows full well it was brewed elsewhere but the significance of it being brewed there really lends something that can't be tasted. I think it's fantastic. Should be a fantastic journey with stories to be told for years to come.

If you can't tell I am envious....GREEN with it.
 
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mrbowenz

mrbowenz

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I am not speaking for him but, I think it lends something to the beer IMHO. Not only is he going to use the water up there, but to brew it there, the atmosphere and the history there really makes this a beer worth a story.

I think he knows full well it was brewed elsewhere but the significance of it being brewed there really lends something that can't be tasted. I think it's fantastic. Should be a fantastic journey with stories to be told for years to come.

If you can't tell I am envious....GREEN with it.
"Spot on" Ashz ! Thank you ....
 

Pumpkinman906

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I may just have to subscribe to Facebook, as much as that pains me, just to follow what we all know will be an incredible adventure....and all for the sake of beer.
 

chromados

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Wow, probably one of the coolest things i have read, i cant wait to see how it turns out. And congrats on getting your hand on a bottle.

Chromados
 
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mrbowenz

mrbowenz

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Thanks mates, I have been sitting on my hands for a while with this idea and it's great to hear the positive feedback ! We should have our movie trailer up in the next week or two along with the website.
 

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This sounds amazing. As a writer, I see how much potential there is to tell this story through words as well (be that via a blog, article or hell, even a book). You might be able to use these writings to market the documentary as well.

I'll join in on Facebook when I get home later.
 

nealf

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Wow, this is awesome. I would love to see the recipe, will it ever be revealed to the homebrew community?
 
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mrbowenz

mrbowenz

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Wow, this is awesome. I would love to see the recipe, will it ever be revealed to the homebrew community?
I will eventually post it in time,but because of the film, I can't till next year , it's based on a Barleywine recipe but it's really just insane...I mean really insane .:eek:
 

McKBrew

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Any plans to get a hold of another old bottle for sampling? I read an article in one of the brewing magazines where they sampled a 140yr old beer, said it actually held up well.
 

dozer217

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This is an awesome story, but I have to ask: why you are going to the arctic to brew it?

I thought the whole point was that they brewed the beer somewhere else (England, I assume) and brought it along with them TO the arctic, not made it on-site.
I kind of agree, I think going to England and brewing it with that water, ingrediants etc then making the trip with the beer would be more true to the history of the beer.
 
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mrbowenz

mrbowenz

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I kind of agree, I think going to England and brewing it with that water, ingrediants etc then making the trip with the beer would be more true to the history of the beer.
Sure, as I already do historical reenacting of a 19th century brewer , and you would be correct, however it will be much more fun driving a 600cc giant dirtbike into the arctic and brewing outside along the Hudson Bay , this is a modern film that will attract more than just the Weather Channel watching shut-in types... it's a modern adventure .
 

McKBrew

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, however it will be much more fun driving a 600cc giant dirtbike into the arctic and brewing outside along the Hudson Bay
:rockin::rockin::rockin::rockin::rockin::rockin:

Yep, cool........!!
 

brewmonk

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it's not a dirtbike its a beemer dual sport (no, of course not, why would I want one of THOSE :D ).

of course 4-stroke and flywheel aside:
If you can time this for us homebevgeeks to make a batch for WHILE we are watching it, dat may be coo' baybee.

btw, why not do a Warren Miller style tour. (hell with a name like that let him help). peaople make a batch, buy, tickets, and go to da show.
 

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As a writer, I see how much potential there is to tell this story through words as well (be that via a blog, article or hell, even a book).
We recieved a nice bump today from Zythophile's beer blog, if you don't already read his stuff, you should :

http://zythophile.wordpress.com/2010/01/10/arctic-ale-a-158-year-old-adventure-revived/
Why oh why did I not try to "cover" this when I first heard about it. ;)
 

DaveAllen

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What a cool adventure.

How can I get a bottle of the finished product?
 

nealf

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Awesome site, I can't wait to follow along. Also, dibs on a bottle of the beer you brew!
 

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