Sunday, 5 August 2012

Arctic Ale 1851 - 1951

Even more stuff about Arctic Ale. Again, courtesy of Chris Bowen. It's turning into quite the Allsopp's week.

This article is taken from "The Red Hand", the in-house magazine of Ind Coope and Allsopp. It seems to have been published to coincide with a relaunch of Arctic Ale on the domestic market.

"Arctic Ale 1851 - 1951

In search of the North-west Passage

Cabot, Willoughby, Chancellor, Frobisher, Hudson, Franklin these names ring out whenever the story of the exploration of the bleak arctic wastes is told. Many of these daring men gave their lives in the pursuit of the fabled North-west Passage which, by traversing the polar coast of the North American continent, was to provide an infinitely shorter route to the Far East than the long voyage round the Cape. In 1845, Franklin set out on the last voyage of his colourful career. He eventually found the North-west Passage—though it cost him his life and never realised the hopes of the early navigators. Even his discovery was unknown for fourteen years, as he and his companions vanished into the unknown Arctic. Rescue expeditions were fitted out in an attempt to ascertain the fate of the unfortunate explorers. These met with no success and in 1852 a Government expedition under Admiral Edward Belcher was sent to make a more determined effort.

Arctic Ale—the first brewing

It was in the course of fitting out this last expedition that Arctic Ale made its first appearance. The Government requested Allsopps to produce a beer suitable for the rigours of the Arctic climate. This was done towards the end of 1851, and the beer was a great success. Admiral Belcher reported to the Admiralty that it was "the best drink for Arctic regions. It has indeed been a great blessing to us particularly for our sick. It kept exceedingly well and was sought after by all."

He also reported that Arctic Ale was in no way impaired by freezing. Re-bottling found it as good as ever. Sir Leopold McLintock's expedition of 1857, which finally discovered the fate of Franklin; was also supplied with this fine strong ale.

Subsequent Arctic expeditions found the warming strength of the ale a great help to the brave men who fought the bitter cold of the frozen latitudes. In 1875, Sir George Nares, who had been with Admiral Belcher in the previous expedition, asked for a similar beer to be provided. Again Arctic Ale was found a highly successful brew.

"One of the strongest ales ever brewed"

in 1895, Sir Albert Markham, whose name is famous in the field of Arctic exploration and who had accompanied Sir George Nares twenty years earlier, gave an interview to an enterprising journalist. The latter, impressed by what he had heard of the beer, investigated the matter further and reported in these terms :—

"This is one of the strongest ales ever brewed by the Company. The consistency of the wort was such that it could not run from the copper through the tap in the ordinary way, but had to be lifted out in buckets. It is, perhaps, hardly necessary to remind the public the sustaining qualities of a beer such as this are far greater than those of wines and spirits. Its colour is a rich brown and its flavour is suggestive of Old Madeira. It is as sound today as on the day of its birth 20 years ago"

Adventure Story of 1951 . . .

Since these early days, Arctic Ale has proved its worth over and over again. The latest page in its adventurous history has been written this Festival year, when Stanley Smith and his companion set sail from the Thames in the 20-feet sloop Nova Espero to cross the Atlantic for the second time in his smallest-ever transatlantic craft. With them went a consignment of Arctic Ale, 'stowed away' to help sustain them on their arduous journey.

A popular winter drink . .

Not only the adventurous appreciate Arctic Ale. More and more people are finding it the perfect winter's drink and enjoy its encouraging strength, its smooth, mellow flavour in comfort by the fire or in the snug corner of the saloon bar. This increasing popularity points to a wide demand for an ale of very high quality and strength which can be drunk in place of short drinks.

To celebrate the centenary of Arctic Ale. the Company will be bringing its name to an even wider public with full-page colour advertisements in the more popular national weekly magazines.
The Red Hand, 1951, pages 16 - 19.

I wonder if they really had to get the wort out of the copper with buckets. It sounds rather unlikely. OK, the gravity is North of 1100º, but there were plenty of William Younger beers regularly brewed with similar gravities. They didn't seem to have any problem getting wort out of the copper.

Dark brown and tasting like Madeira? Sounds very like the 1875 Arctic Ale I drank.


Matt said...

Do you know where Allsopps' symbol came from Ron? Is there a connection with Ulster?

Ed said...

...and when did it become the Ind Coope symbol?

Ed said...

I did once have to scoop wort out of the copper, fortunately it was only homebrew scale. It was a strong beer with a ridiculous amount of hops and post boil it was almost gelatinous. The fermentation sorted it out though and it re-liquefied.