The Arctic Ale Story of 2007

Many people have asked me, where did you get the idea for doing this story on Allsopp’s Arctic Ale ?
The story of my discovery is quite remarkable in my opinion .

In June of 2007 I was scanning the Ebay auction site for full bottles of beer, often finding older bottles sold as collector items or limited editions of modern brews that are difficult to obtain locally. I came across the Arctic Ale (I can’t remember at what price it was listed) but way over my budget at the time , the bottle was interesting so I saved it to my watch list and remember seeing the auction end at just over $300 dollars. As it turned out , I kept it in my watch list for the next 2 months. Here’s a screen shot of the winning bid from that original listing:
As you take a closer look at the listing , the seller had neglected to add the second “P” in Allsopp’s , I missed it too , but search engines on Ebay hadn’t yet developed for misspellings or suggested corrections. Meaning that if someone was looking for this beer by the correct spelling , it wouldn’t come up in a search result list.
At this time I simply forgot about the bottle, even though it was still in my watch list all along.

In August 2007 someone sent me an email saying there was a bottle of old beer on Ebay getting all kinds of crazy bids and was selling at $80,000 dollars with several days left in the auction . Sure enough it was the same bottle I had watched a couple of months ago , this time it had many pictures and was listed as a “Museum quality bottle of Beer, possibly the oldest bottle of full beer in the world” also the seller ( who was perviously the buyer at $304 dollars) had done some limited research and more importantly spelled Allsopp’s correctly. As I read through the newly listed bottle and it’s story of Queen Victoria commissioning it’s brewing and the search for John Franklin’s lost expedition , I thought “wow” what an amazing story this is, being a history lover and more importantly a beer lover , this was the coolest thing I had ever heard. As I watched the bidding war ensue , I was checking in on this auction daily, seeing $80,000 go to $120,000 , then to $240,000 , then to $430,000, it was also starting to become talked about and as they say today , completely viral . In the end , the final bid was $ 503,000 for this crazy bottle of beer ? Here’s the screenshot of the final winning bid:

What happen next was a complete and utter fascination with the bottle, it’s story and most importantly it’s history. For the next couple of years I starting searching all about this beer , it’s brewer , the mission to find Sir John Franklin , and all the details . Samuel Allsopp and Sons , was merged with another brewery named Inde Coope, who later became Allied Breweries, who later merged with the famous William Bass ( Bass Ale ) and now the giant conglomerate InBev in Belgium . The story of the search for Franklin is well documented , the story of Allsopp is known by the beer historians and collectors mostly in England. It was the book “Last of the Arctic Voyages ” by Sir Edward Belcher in 1855 that referenced the Arctic Ale , and all the details of the mission . It was this book that lead me to understand that this beer was not only carried into the arctic by 5 ships, but more importantly carried by the HMS Resolute , which was made into the President’s desk :

Let the story be told, I found my own bottle (full and sealed) in 2009, along with another bottle from another mission in 1875:

One Response to “The Arctic Ale Story of 2007”

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