Thursday, 26 July 2012

Arctic Ale again

Many thanks to Carl Miller for sending me this passage about Arctic Ale.

It's humbling to think that I got to drink the very beer discussed:

"Arctic Ale.
When we suggested in our issue of December last that, in view of the apparent opposition of Peary and Nansen, the Arctic explorers, against the use of strong alcoholic drinks in Northern latitudes, that a good supply of strong beer should be laid in for future ventures of all kinds, we didn't know that a similar experiment had been successfully made long ago.

But just at the same time the London "Strand Magazine" contained an interview with the British Rear Admiral, Markham. in which the latter mentioned that an ale especially brewed by Allsopp for the Arctic expedition he commanded on board of the "Alert" in 1875, did him excellent service. Communicating with Mr. Maxwell Tod (managing director of Allsopps Limited), the magazine learned the following concerning the particular brew:
"The special qualities which rendered this beer so valuable for the purposes of the expedition were its strength and its nutritive qualities. It is one of the strongest ales ever brewed by Allsopps, and it may be mentioned in passing that the consistency of the wort was such that it would 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 thai the sustaining qualities of a beer such as this are far greater than those of wine and spirits. Allsopps have only at the present time eleven bottles of this beer left. It has been re-corked, as if it were Waterloo port. It is almost "still," and, indeed, has never been very effervescent, although not at all flat. Its color is a rich brown, and its flavor is suggestive of old Madeira. It is to-day as sound as on the day of its birth twenty years ago."
"American Brewer", January 1896, Page 7.

I'm slightly puzzled at there only being 11 bottles left in 1896. I believe that there are more than that currently at the National Brewing Centre in Burton.

The beer described sounds remarkably like the one I tried a few weeks ago: more like a wine than a beer.


Alan said...

Funny bit of Read Admiral forgetfulness even before that as Allsopp was going to the Arctic in the early 1850s. I wonder how often ships heading north had these beer on board.

Edward said...

Are we going to get a "Lets Brew" with an Arctic Ale Recipe?

Ron Pattinson said...


I'm afraid I don't have one.

Arctic Alchemy said...

I have seen this passage before, and it's also been quoted on the Elvenden Ales website. I had also found a quote about there being only 14 bottles left in 1926 when W. H. Beable tried the ale (which contradicts an earlier account total) , this ale is certainly legendary, and full of mystery.

Anonymous said...

Allsopps may very well have had only 11 or 14 (or whatever) bottles on hand, but surely some bottles remained from the expedition and were taken home by the expeditioners and kept as mementoes of the most significant event of their lives. Presumably this accounts for the greater proliferation of this beer than one might otherwise expect.