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WRITER, CONSULTANT AND BROADCASTER SPECIALISING IN BEER, PUBS AND CIDER. BEER WRITER OF THE YEAR 2009 AND 2012

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Monday, 3 September 2007

Reassuringly Expensive


So I was in Burton Public Library, researching the IPA book, and I found something else interesting - in 1852 and 1875, Britain sent expeditions to the North Pole. And being British, they took beer with them. There was a public tencder to see who could brew the best beer, which was won by Allsopp's of Burton on Trent.
The expedition's leader, Captain Belcher reported that "Allsopp's Arctic Ale proved to be "a valuable antiscorbutic", helping fight off scurvy, the bane of all sea voyages in those days. He added that the beer was "a great blessing to us, particularly for our sick" and that it refused to freeze until the temperature dropped well below zero.

According to historian Colin Owen, the beer withstood temperatures of 90 degrees below freezing without a detioration in quality, "a reminder of the superb keeping qualities of Burton ale." But I don't think they expected it to keep for quite this long...

Last month, some guy with an antiques and Militaria shop in the US put a bottleof Allsopp's Arctic Ale on EBay. A bottle made it to the United States in the early twentieth century, and is now believed to be the oldest surviving bottle of beer in the world. It comes with a laminated description that tells its own story about the US in 1919...

“This ale was specially brewed and bottled in England, in 1852, for Kane’s Expedition in search of Sir John Franklin. A portion of the lot was cached in the Arctic; and was afterwards taken back to England, where it was bought by Allsopp, from whom Mr. Jus. Fennell obtained a part.

This bottle was given to me by Mr. Fennell May 13, 1919. Should I depart from this (by that time probably) dry world before consuming the contents, let my son and brethren perform my duties and enjoy my rights in that respect, on the eve of my funeral (if they find it in time) – unless such act be then illegal, in which case those of the aforesaid trustees who sufficiently learned in law shall advise ac-????? To the rule of ey fares.

Two bottles of this ale were guests of honor at the banquet given to Shackleton and Peary, in Boston, some years ago. (1907/1908) The skeletons of said guests were preserved as mementos of Sir John Franklin! (Useful suggestion regarding the “cast off shell” of the spirit.)

Signed: Percy G Bolster

So what was the closing bid on this item?

A cool $503,300.00...

7 comments:

BLTP said...

I can't believe it didn't freeze at -90 I "forgot" a bottle I was chilling in the freezer (-5c?)the other day and it exploded making light ale slush puppy (mmm delish except for the flecks of broken glass).

beeralewhatever… said...

Not sure about this one, does that mean that the oldest beer in my collection a small bottle of Abbot Ale from the 1970s is worth a few quid, or maybe the 1993 Thomas Hardy Ale, now that started out in Stoke Newington before travelling down to Somerset…

Jedidiah said...

That sounds like something my wife would do...no has done...twice! Drinking beer and ale is so enjoyable, and after reading so many good blogs, I was inspired to start my own. (drinkingwell.blogspot.com) That story is so remarkable. History is amazing, and beer history is even more amazing. For an interesting twist, I recommend "Drinking with Calvin and Luther" by Jim West. A very entertaining read. I recently tried the Alaskan ESB, and loved it! What do you know about ESB?

Anonymous said...

It was a fake bid see interview with collectordan You will read that the buyer called to tell him it was a fake bid.

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DB said...

In another unlikely link between beer and Artic exploration, The Sir John Franklin is now a dodgy pub on Commercial Road in Poplar: http://dodgyboozers.blogspot.com/2007/07/sir-john-franklin-commercial-road.html

Dodgy Boozers said...

Sorry, my link didn't work before, try this- John Franklin Pub, Commercial Rd

B.S. said...

And people say I waste too much money on beer!