Historic Beer Birthday: Antonie van Leeuwenhoek

Today is the birthday of Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (October 24, 1632–August 26, 1723). He “was a Dutch tradesman and scientist, and is commonly known as ‘the Father of Microbiology.'” Apropos of nothing, “his mother, Margaretha (Bel van den Berch), came from a well-to-do brewer’s family.” Despite hi family ties, van Leeuwenhoek didn’t discover anything specifically useful to the brewing industry, but he did find that there was life pretty much everywhere he looked, using his microscope, including the “microscope—tiny “animalcules,” including yeast cells, which he described for the first time” in 1674-80.” But he laid the groundwork for later scientists to figure how exactly yeast worked. As Brian Hunt wrote in the entry for “infection” in the “The Oxford Companion to Beer,” that “the existence of yeast as a microbe was only discovered in 1674 by Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, the inventor of the modern microscope.” Or as Sylvie Van Zandycke, PhD, put it. “The yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae was used for thousands of years in the fermentation of alcoholic beverages before anyone realized it! The Dutch scientist, Anton Van Leeuwenhoek observed the mighty cells for the first time under the microscope in 1680.”


Here’s a short biography, from the Science Museum Brought to Life:

Leeuwenhoek was born in Delft in the Netherlands, to a family of brewers. He is known for his highly accurate observations using microscopes.

Leeuwenhoek worked as a draper, or fabric merchant. In his work he used magnifying glasses to look at the quality of fabric. After reading natural scientist Robert Hooke’s highly popular study of the microscopic world, called Micrographia (1665), he decided to use magnifying lenses to examine the natural world. Leeuwenhoek began to make lenses and made observations with the microscopes he produced. In total he made over 500 such microscopes, some of which allowed him to see objects magnified up to 200 times.

These were not the first microscopes, but Leeuwenhoek became famous for his ability to observe and reproduce what was seen under the microscope. He hired an illustrator who reproduced the things Leeuwenhoek saw.

In 1673 he began corresponding with the Royal Society of London, which had just formed. Leeuwenhoek made some of the first observations of blood cells, many microscopic animals, and living bacteria, which he described as ‘many very little living animalcules’. In 1680 his work was recognised with membership of the Royal Society – although he never attended a meeting, remaining all his life in Delft.

Leeuwenhoek with His Microscope, by Ernest Board (1877–1934)

Here’s a story from Gizmodo, by Esther Inglis-Arkell, explaining Antonie van Leeuwenhoek’s role and iviting readers to Meet The First Man To Put Beer Under A Microscope:

The man in the picture [the same one at the top of this post] is considered the “Father of Microbiology.” He helped to discover and sketch microorganisms. When he turned his microscope on beer, he saw some of the most useful microorganisms in the world — but he failed to recognize them.

This man above is Anton van Leeuwenhoek, and he’s wearing an absolutely bitchin’ coat because he was a draper by trade. In fact, he draped so successfully that he managed to indulge his hobbies as he got older, one of which was lens making. Anton spent his days making powerful microscopes and sketching the objects he put in front of them. He discovered many things, the most interesting of which were animalcules, things that looked like tiny little animals. His sketches and descriptions, as well as his microscopes, jumpstarted the field of microbiology.

It wasn’t long before he turned his lens on beer in the process of brewing. It was 1680 when he first trained his lens on a droplet of beer. At the time, no one knew what it was that made hops, barley, and water turn into beer. Although they knew of yeast as a cloudy substance that appeared in beer after it spent some time fermenting, they were entirely ignorant of what it did; to the point where there were laws against using anything except barley, hops, and water in the beer-making process. Naturally, as soon as Anton looked at brewing beer he saw little circular blobs. He saw the way they aggregated into larger groups. He saw the way that they produced bubbles of what he thought was “air,” and floated to the surface.


Despite his obsession with microorganisms, he utterly failed to recognize them as life. These blobs, he believed, had come loose from flour. They aggregated into groups of six as part of a chemical process. Anton was fascinated by these groups of flour globs. He modeled them in wax, because he wanted to figure out the ways six globs could stick together while all being visible from above. This is his sketch of his models.

It took another 150 years before Charles Canard-Latour figured out that the “air” was carbon dioxide and the sextets of blobs hadn’t aggregated together, they’d grown. Archaeologists believe that beer was probably first brewed around 3000 BC. That means that we used an organism for nearly 5,000 years before we realized it even existed.

Although van Leeuwenhoek did write about the wood used in beer barrels:


Patent No. 635474A: Keg Refrigerator

Today in 1899, US Patent 635474 A was issued, an invention of August Grap, for his “Keg Refrigerator.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes these claims:

This invention relates to an apparatus for preserving the volatile hop essences or aromas coming from the copper or boiler in which the wort is boiled with the hops in order to improve the quality of the beer and like brews.

The method and apparatus comprised in the present invention consists in arranging a specially constructed condenser in communication with the top of a copper whereby the vapor arising from the heated contents of the latter will pass to and be condensed in the former.

The condensed vapor or steam is delivered to a supplementary cooling .coil and thence to a mixing chamber where it is brought into contact with the non-condensable or practically non-condensable odoriferous gases for fumes which pass from the upper end of the condenser and are collected and delivered to the said chamber in a convenient way.

The liquid resulting from the condensation of the steam or vapor given out from the copper absorbs the aroma of the odoriferous gases or fumes in the mixing chamber and as a result is richer in flavor and aroma than the original liquid contents of the said copper. The liquid is conveyed. from the mixing chamber to an open vessel or chamber from which it is delivered to a ferment ing vat.


Patent No. 1202662A: Condensing Apparatus

Today in 1916, US Patent 1202662 A was issued, an invention of Thomas Breheny, for his “Condensing Apparatus.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes these claims:

This invention relates to an apparatus for preserving the volatile hop essences or aromas coming from the copper or boiler in which the wort is boiled with the hops in order to improve the quality of the beer and like brews.

The method and apparatus comprised in the present invention consists in arranging a specially constructed condenser in communication with the top of a copper whereby the vapor arising from the heated contents of the latter will pass to and be condensed in the former.

The condensed vapor or steam is delivered to a supplementary cooling .coil and thence to a mixing chamber where it is brought into contact with the non-condensable or practically non-condensable odoriferous gases for fumes which pass from the upper end of the condenser and are collected and delivered to the said chamber in a convenient way.

The liquid resulting from the condensation of the steam or vapor given out from the copper absorbs the aroma of the odoriferous gases or fumes in the mixing chamber and as a result is richer in flavor and aroma than the original liquid contents of the said copper. The liquid is conveyed. from the mixing chamber to an open vessel or chamber from which it is delivered to a ferment ing vat.



Several weeks ago, while researching the birthday of Pennsylvania brewer Henry Fink, I happened upon the advertising poster below. Intrigued, because I’m fascinated with symbols, I couldn’t make out what they were because the largest image I could find is this one. All I could figure out at the time was that it had something to do with a song.


Eventually I gave up, and moved on, because if I’m not careful I’ll keep going off on tangents and down rabbit holes until I’ve gotten myself well and truly lost, not to mention wasted hours of unproductive time. But I kept coming back to it, and eventually, I had to figure out what exactly it was or go crazy. So I started taking a closer look into the poster and figured out that they’re all over the place and it’s a famous German song called the “Schnitzelbank.” And the Fink’s ad poster, or versions of it, is everywhere and has been used by breweries, restaurants and others for years. Which makes sense because, although it’s a “German-language ditty for children and popular among German Americans with an interest in learning or teaching German to their offspring,” it’s also commonly sung by adults for entertainment and nostalgia, and usually while they’re drinking beer.


In German, Schnitzelbank apparently “literally means ‘scrap bench’ or ‘chip bench’ (from Schnitzel ‘scraps / clips / cuttings (from carving)’ or the colloquial verb schnitzeln “to make scraps” or “to carve” and Bank “bench”); like the Bank, it is feminine and takes the article “die”. It is a woodworking tool used in Germany prior to the industrial revolution. It was in regular use in colonial New England, and in the Appalachian region until early in the 20th century; it is still in use by specialist artisans today. In America it is known as a shaving horse. It uses the mechanical advantage of a foot-operated lever to securely clamp the object to be carved. The shaving horse is used in combination with the drawknife or spokeshave to cut down green or seasoned wood, to accomplish jobs such as handling an ax; creating wooden rakes, hay forks, walking sticks, etc. The shaving horse was used by various trades, from farmer to basketmaker and wheelwright.”

A traditional shaving horse around 200 years old.

And that’s also why the posters always include a Schnitzelbank, because in addition to it being the title, it’s also how the song begins.


Here’s one description of the Schnitzelbank song:

A Schnitzelbank is also a short rhyming verse or song with humorous content, often but not always sung with instrumental accompaniment. Each verse in a Schnitzelbank introduces a topic and ends with a comedic twist. This meaning of the word is mainly used in Switzerland and southwestern Germany; it is masculine and takes the article “der”. It is a main element of the Fasnacht celebrations in the city of Basel, where it is also written Schnitzelbangg. Schnitzelbänke (pl.) are also sung at weddings and other festivities by the Schitzelbänkler, a single person or small group. Often the Schnitzelbänkler will display posters called Helgen [which is “hello” in German] during some verses that depict the topic but do not give away the joke.

Often the songleader uses the poster to lead people in the song, pointing to the symbols as they come up in the lyrics, as this photo from the Frankenmuth Bavarian Inn Lodge illustrates.


The song uses call and response, with the leader singing one lyric, and the chorus repeating it back as it goes along. So here’s what the traditional version of the song sounds like:

Some Sauerkraut with Your Schnitzelbank? has an interesting reminiscence of a visit to a Fasching Sonntag in the St. Louis area around 1982, and includes his experience taking part in the singing of the Schnitzelbank song.

In the evening, everyone moved upstairs to the parish hall, which was the typical multipurpose gymnasium with a stage at one end. Set up with long tables in parallel rows on both sides, the band in place on the stage, and the large crowd ready for the music to begin, the hall had lost its bland, bare, everyday atmosphere. On the stage, off to one side, was a large easel with a poster on it. I didn’t pay much attention to it, thinking it was for announcements later in the evening. The band started, and the dancing began in the clear space down the middle of the hall, mostly polkas and waltzes, with a few variety numbers like the dreaded Duck Dance, which explained the need for pitchers of beer. Finally, when the crowd was well exercised and well lubricated, someone approached the easel with a pointer in his hand. People started shouting “Schnitzelbank! Schnitzelbank!” The music began, and the person with the pointer called “Ist das nicht ein Schnitzelbank?” and the crowd heartily responded “Ja, das ist ein Schnitzelbank!” Then came a chorus of music, to which everyone sang, “O Die Schoenheit un der Vand, da das ist ein Schnitzelbank.” And so it continued for several verses, the person on stage pointing to another object on the poster with “Ist das nicht ein.…?” and the crowd responding at the top of their voices. I was puzzled at first, but eventually joined in and didn’t think much more about it. I’m pretty sure that only a few people knew all the German words, and that some had memorized it over the years, while the ones in front were close enough to the poster to read the words under the pictures—everyone else just shouted a cheerful approximation of what they thought their neighbor was saying.


The Schnitzelbank, or Schnitzel Bank, is a song with short verses, meant to be sung the way it was at the Fasching Sonntag, with a leader and group response. It is sung in some areas of Germany for Fasching, Fastnacht, or Karnival, and also during Oktoberfest, and other occasions where there is a happy, celebratory crowd. In America, the posters are displayed at a few German restaurants and some tourist attractions with a German American heritage, such as the Amana Colonies in Iowa and some Pennsylvania Dutch locations. Singing the Schnitzelbank in America dates at least to the turn of the 20th century, which is when the John Bardenheier Wine and Liquor Company printed its version on an advertising poster.

According to “The Book of World-Famous Music: Classical, Popular, and Folk,” first published in 1966, the melody first appeared in 1761 by a French composer and lyrics were written a few years later, n 1765, and it was known as “Ah! Vous Dirai-Je, Maman,” but it became far more well-known as “Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star” and “Baa Baa Black Sheep” in subsequent years. Apparently it first appeared as “Schnitzelbank” in 1830.


This is the most common version of the poster, and as far as I can tell the symbols have become more or less fixed sometime in the mid-20th century. Perhaps it’s because one company is licensing the imagery to various purposes, or the song has simply evolved to its modern form, made easier by recordings and a growing number of shared experiences.


So let’s break down the most common version of the song:


            Symbol Translation
schnitzelbank1 Is this not a Schnitzelbank?

(“Yes this is a Schnitzelbank”)

schnitzelbank17 Short and Long
schnitzelbank2 Him and Her
schnitzelbank3 Criss and Cross
schnitzelbank6 Shooting Gun
schnitzelbank18 Wagon Wheel
schnitzelbank4 Crooked and Straight
schnitzelbank5 Big Glass
schnitzelbank7 Oxen Bladder
schnitzelbank19 Heap of Manure
schnitzelbank9 Cantankerous Boy
schnitzelbank10 Heavy Woman
schnitzelbank8 Fat Sow
schnitzelbank11 Tall Man
schnitzelbank12 Fir Tree
schnitzelbank14 Wedding Ring
schnitzelbank15 Dangerous Thing



schnitzelbank-frankenmuth-clockFrom Mader’s Famous Restaurant in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Here’s another band performing the song. This is the Gootman Sauerkraut Band at the Bravarian Pretzel Factory 2014.

As I mentioned, this all started because a brewery used the Schnitzelbank poster as an advertisement. Apparently that was not unique, and I’ve find a number of others who did likewise. Here’s a few of them:

The Eastside Brewery of Los Angeles, California, from the 1930s.

Drewery’s, the Canadian brewery, from the 1940s.

The Huebner Brewery of Toldeo, Ohio, from sometime prior to prohibition.

This one, though not for a specific brewery, was for Sitter’s Beverages, a distributor of beer, wine, liquor and cordials in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. It’s undated, but given that the telephone number is “1917” (yes, just those four numbers) I suspect it’s pre-prohibition. One source puts the date between 1912 and 1919.

A promotional towel, from Koerber’s Brewery, also from Toledo, Ohio.

The Pearl Brewery of San Antonio, Texas


Jacob Ruppert’s Brewery of New York City, 1907. Though notice that the almost uniform symbols were changed for Ruppert’s ad, substituting his own beer and brewery, along with other more beer-friendly items into the song list.


Although it’s possible that the symbols weren’t quite as settled in the early 20th century, as this postcard, also from 1907, has several that deviate from the standard symbols, including some also in the Ruppert’s poster, but also some that are not in that one.


Yuengling Brewery also apparently had their own Schnitzelbank poster, based on the Ruppert’s design. This one is a linen towel being used as a window shade, though it’s too small for me to read the date.


Though the Ruppert’s design appears to be copyrighted again in 1934, based on this generic one found by someone in an antique store.


Likewise, this one for Falstaff Beer uses the traditional symbols, but adds two more, one for “Gutes Bier” (good beer) and “Falstaff Here.”


This one’s also not from a brewery, but the Alpine Village Inn in Las Vegas, Nevada. This one’s newer, as it opened in 1950, became somewhat famous, but then closed in 1970.


This one is labeled as being a “Pennsylvania Dutch Schnitzelbank” and has 20 symbols rather than the standard sixteen. And only eight of those are the usual ones. I don’t know how I missed it growing up (I grew up near Pennsylvania Dutch country in Pennsylvania, and in fact my grandparents grew up on Mennonite farms, but were the first generation to leave them).


Apparently it’s also a big deal in Amana, Iowa, where there’s a gift and toy store called the “Schnitzelbank” and where, in 1973, the Amana Society created this Schnitzelbank poster.


The Schnitzelbank Restaurant in Jasper, Indiana, uses the poster as their placemats.

This random German poster, which translates as “Oh you beautiful Schnitzelbank” has only about half of the standard symbols on it. I’m not sure when this one was created but it’s available on Polka Time as an “Oktoberfest Poster.”

Also more modern, the New Paltz Band has their own version of the song using non-standard symbols.


And speaking of music, Marv Herzog used the poster on an album cover. The album, of course, included the Schnitzelbank song.

And lastly, the Animanics did their own version of the Schnitzelbank song in episode 56 entitled “Schnitzelbank,” which aired in 1994. It’s described as “a traditional German song that the Warners learn in German from Prof. Otto von Schnitzelpusskrankengescheitmeyer. The lyrics were adapted by Randy Rogel.”

From Henry Sticht’s “Schnitzelbank Two-Step,” 1907.

Patent No. 635514A: Apparatus For Drawing And Preserving Beer

Today in 1899, US Patent 635514 A was issued, an invention of Theodor Schnutz, for his “Apparatus For Drawing and Preserving Beer.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes these claims:

I have invented new and useful Improvements in Apparatus for Drawing and Preserving Beer, and what I claim, and desire to secure by Letters Patent of the United States, is …

1. The combination with the storage-chamber containing the ice-box having water chamber H, of the box 7 above the said chamber and having the superimposed box It, the pipe Z connecting the box 70 with the said water-chamber, the coil Win the ice-box having pipe connection Z with the box it and also connected with the chamber H, and the overflow-pipe Z for the box 7r, substantially as described.

2. In a beer drawing and refrigerating apparatus, the combination with the storagechamber containing a refrigerating vessel, of the box 7.; having the superimposed ice-box k, a pipe leading from said ice-box 7a to the said refrigerating vessel, the gas vessel B located in the box 7; and connected with a pipe containing mercury, said last-mentioned pipe intersecting the ice-water pipe, and a valve a adapted to regulate the flow of said ice-water, substantially as described.


Patent No. 3767829A: Method For Warming Carbonated Beverages In Sealed Containers

Today in 1973, US Patent 3767829 A was issued, an invention of Fred A. Karr, for his “Method for Warming Carbonated Beverages in Sealed Containers.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes these claims:

A method and apparatus are provided for continuously heating to ambient temperatures the contents of a plurality of sealed containers (e.g. bottles or cans) filled with carbonated beverage (e.g. beer and carbonated soft drinks). The method is useful as applied to containers freshly filled with cold carbonated beverage to avoid the formation of condensation on the containers. The method is also applicable to heating a beverage to pasteurizing temperatures from either cold filling or room temperature.

One embodiment of the apparatus include a conveyor formed of an endless perforate heat-resistive conveyor having upper and lower runs, and an elongated open-bottomed tunnel oven disposed above said upper run having side walls adapted to retain beverage containers carried by said upper run. Elongated stationary, dry-heating means disposed between upper and lower conveyor runs below the oven means are provided to supply a plurality of beverage containers to the upstream end of said upper run for movement through said oven. In this manner, the underside of the beverage containers are preferentially heated. Control means are associated with the heating means capable of adjusting the heat intensity along the container path of travel. One embodiment of the dry heater means includes a plurality of infrared heater elements transverse to the direction of travel of the conveyor with each element including an upper heat radiating surface and air-fuel gas mixture feed. Another embodiment of the dry heating means includes a plurality of spaced apart rows of open-flame natural draft burners capable of impinging upon the underside of the beverage containers.

In another embodiment of the apparatus, the conveyor is of vibratory type. The upstream end of the deck of the vibratory conveyor is disposed proximate and transverse to an infeed conveyor and the discharge end of the deck is proximate and transverse to a discharge conveyor so that the containers are conveyed directly to and from the conveyor deck without the interposition of a deadplate.

According to the process, the sealed containers filled with carbonated beverages are moved on a conveyor of one of the above types over a dry heat source so that the dry heat emitted therefrom impinges upon the underside of the containers to heat the carbonated beverage therein in progression proceeding from the bottom toward the top of the containers so that an elevation of the temperature of the beverage is induced while permitting the head space to remain relatively cool. Heating the beverage before the gaseous head space reduces the danger of superheating the gaseous head space and also eliminates the requirement of transmitting heat through the poorly-conductive gaseous head space in order to warm the beverage. The containers on a vibratory conveyor are vibrated sufficiently to increase heat transfer by convection from the bottom toward the top of the container.

In general, it is an object of the present invention to provide a method and apparatus for warming carbonated beverage in containers of either the glass bottle or metal can type to avoid the formation of condensation on the containers.

It is another object of the invention to provide a method and apparatus elevating the temperature of beer in a container of the above type to a value at which pasteurization can occur and which also overcomes the disadvantages of the prior art.


Patent No. 287357A: Beer Faucet

Today in 1883, US Patent 287357 A was issued, an invention of William A. Babcock, for his beer “Faucet.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes these claims:

My invent on applies more especially to} faucets for the dispensing of beer or other beverages kept on draft in bars or similar; places; and the chief object of my improvement is to keep the liquid in the faucet free from any metallic taint or flavor, and also to preserve it in a cool condition, ready to be discharged into the next glass in a perfectly palatable state.


Patent No. 3407121A: Fermenter Yeast Cropping And Washing Device

Today in 1968, US Patent 3407121 A was issued, an invention of Gerald Einar Wilson and Louis A. Le Seelleur, assigned to John Labatt Breweries, for their “Fermenter Yeast Cropping and Washing Device.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes these claims:

A fermenter vessel containing a yeast cropping and cleaning device consisting of a rotatable header pipe in the upper portion of the vessel with an end of the pipe extending outside the vessel and a series of orifices opening from the header into the vessel. The orifice outlets are offset a substantial distance radially from the axis of rotation of the header pipe either by providing an offset portion in the header pipe itself or by providing a series of branch pipes extending laterally from the header pipe with nozzles on the outer ends thereof. Conduit means connected to the external end of said header pipe by means of a connector and suction means associated with said conduit for cropping the yeast.

This invention relates to a yeast cropping and washing device for closed fermenting vessels used in the brewing industry.

The fermentation of wort is one of the most important steps in the brewing process. Brewers yeast, having the ability to assimilate simple nitrogenous compounds and reproduce and break down sugars to carbon dioxide and alcohol are introduced into the wort, whereupon through a controlled biological fermentation process, the wort is transformed into beer. The fermentation of wort is usually an operation carried out under relatively low pressure (1-3 p.s.i.g.) in large metal fermenting vessels capable of holding thousands of gallons of wort. The modern fermenting vessel is a closed vessel such as that described in applicants co-pending application entitled, Multipurpose Process Vessel for Heat Transfer Operations.

During the fermentation, top fermenting yeast forms on the surface of the liquid in the vessel and this is normally removed by skimming or is allowed to work over the rim of a tank into chutes or troughs. In the closed vessel it is, of course, necessary to use some form of yeast cropping device and according to the present invention a new device has been developed which can be used both for cropping yeast from the surface of the beer in the fermenter and for cleaning the fermenter after the beer has been removed.

The cropping and cleaning device according to this invention consists of a horizontally extending pipe which is rotatable within the fermenter and the rotatable pipe has a series of orifices which are adapted to draw off yeast from the fermenter or to spray cleaning solution into the fermenter. The pipe is arranged such that by rotating it the elevation of the orifices can be varied to permit the yeast to be drawn off to the desired level. One end of the rotatable pipe has a fluid connection to an external pipe through a connector which permits relative rotation between the two pipes while fluid is passing through. Suitable valve means are provided so that cleaning solution can be forced into the vessel or yeast can be drawn out of the vessel through the connector and rotatable pipe.


Patent Nos. 548587A & 548588A: Machine For Blowing Glass

Today in 1895, both US Patent 548587 A and US Patent 548588 A were issued, and both are related inventions of Michael J. Owens, under the same name: “Machine For Blowing Glass.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes these claims for the first one:

This invention relates to a partially-automatic machine for blowing glass into pastemolds, the object being to provide a machine which is susceptible of practical use for the rapid production of large quantities of glass vessels or objects of a given shape.

The machine of this invention embodies a means for supporting the blow-pipe with its one end in communication with the air-supplying device and its other in operative proximity to or within the mold; certain means for automatically admitting air through the blow-pipe; a sectional mold, which is adapted to be closed about or adjacent the gathering end of the blowpipe and to be also automatically opened, whereby the paste covered inner surface thereof may be subjected to a sprinkling action; means for automatically effecting the closing and afterward the opening of the mold-sections and for imparting to them while they are closed rotary motions, and means for automatically causing a sprinkling of the paste-lined mold-sections while opened. The automatic operations are instituted by and in consequence of the placing of the blow-pipe which has the gathering of glass thereon in the machine in its position of support and for the reception of air communication therethrough.


And here’s a description of the claims for the second patent:

This invention relates to improvements in machinery for blowing glass into sectional [O molds, and particularly to the organization in a machine of means for severally and respectively performing automatically and mechanically operations which heretofore have been done manually or through the operation of implements or devices which have been manipulated or in some manner actuated by or dependent upon hand, foot, or lung power.


With these two patents under his belt, Michael Owns co-founded, along with Edward Drummond Libbey, the Owens Bottle Machine Co., which today is Owens-Illinois. O-I supplies a lot of beer bottles to the brewing industry, of course.


Patent No. 548618A: Steep Tank

Today in 1895, US Patent 548618 A was issued, an invention of William H. Prinz, for his “Steep Tank.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes these claims:

This invention relates to a novel construction in a steep-tank employed for steeping barley and like cereals, and more especially relating to a steep-tank for steeping barley to bring the same to a condition for germinating in the manufacture of malt.

The object of the invention is to provide a construction whereby the steeping can be can ried on and the steep-tank emptied under the most favorable circumstances, at the same time providing means whereby the steep-water can be admitted from the upper or lower end of the tank.