Monday, March 7, 2011
A PILGRIMAGE to Burton by an American brewer has led to the discovery of a priceless haul of one of the town’s great lost beers.
Chris Bowen, from Pennsylvania, discovered a bottle of Arctic Ale, originally brewed in Burton for an ill-fated naval expedition in 1852, while touring the former Allsopp’s Brewery headquarters in Station Street last year.
However, further searches of the building’s vaults have now revealed 38 rare bottles of the ale, an original bottle of which reportedly fetched a whopping half amillion US dollars on internet auction site eBay in 2007.
The majority of the bottles, which contain a later brew from 1875, will be placed under lock and key at the town’s National Brewery Centre under the care of master brewer SteveWellington.
However, a select band of aficionados, including members of the Burton and South Derbyshire branch of CAMRA and beer writer Roger Protz, sampled the illustrious ale in a tasting session at the museum last week.
Burton CAMRA chairman May Arthur told the Mail: “We were amazed at the quality of it as we didn’t even expect it to be drinkable.
“It had a beautiful taste, a bit like a barley wine, with a fruity aroma and a hint of Marmite. It was hard to believe it was 136 years-old.”
The beer was originally brewed for an expedition led by Sir Edward Belcher to discover the fate of a previous, doomed voyage seven years earlier by Sir John Franklin, who had been tasked with mapping the Arctic coastline and searching for the illusive NorthWest Passage.
Belcher’s expedition was a failure but the beer, designed to withstand the rigours of a long sea voyage, was a success, hailed by the explorer as ‘a great blessing to us, particularly for our sick’, which ‘refused to freeze until the temperature dropped well below zero’.
It was brewed again in 1875 and 1887 and was later sold on the home market after the merger of Allsopp’s with fellow town brewer Ind Coope.
Mr Bowen is such a fan of the beer he travelled by motorcycle to Arctic Canada to brew his own version based on the classic Burton recipe.
Mrs Arthur said: “I find it really intriguing what Chris is doing and I couldn’t believe that someone from America would be so passionate about one of our beers.”
Kamran Khazai, owner of the former Allsopp’s building, currently being converted into offices and accommodation, said he had ‘no regrets’ about donating the potentially valuable bottles to the town.
He said: “It was a joy to me to see how much the discovery of the beer meant to the CAMRA members. I felt that the beer belonged to them as it was part of the history of Burton and of the brewing industry.”
Burton CAMRA will be holding a further tasting session for its members and invited guests on a date to be fixed.
Posted by Voyage Adviser at 9:30 AM