The Holy Grail of Ales

In July 2010, I am departing from Bethlehem with Dick Gethin and John Chay 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 hundred 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 adventure:
• 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 will drive until the road ends, then fly north for 8 more hours to Resolute Bay , and Beechey Island ( site of the Franklin Gravesites, and depot stop for the HMS Resolute)
• 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 glacial 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 1920’s)

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