America’s First Cookbook

Today in 1796, American Cookery was published. It was the first cookbook published in America and written by an American, Amelia Simmons. Not much is known about her. She’s referred to as an “American Orphan” on the title page, which isn’t terribly helpful. The first edition was published in Hartford, Connecticut, so some speculate that Simmons may have been from the area. And it appears the very first edition may have been self-published. Feeding America explores many of the questions about Simmons, but has few answers.

It was printed and reprinted for 35 years, with several people stealing her work and putting their own name to it, with some adding additional material. If you read through her biography, it appears that was happening from the very beginning and over the course of its thirteen additions. It’s 220 years old today.


It’s divided into six sections. First, there’s a Preface, followed by “Directions for Catering, or the procuring the best Viands, Fish, &c.” The chapters that follow include “2. Roots and Vegetables — Beans — Fruits,” “3. Receipts — [Meats] — [Pies],” “4. Puddings — Custards — Tarts,” “5. Cake,” and “6. Preserves — [Boiling], with a short “Errata” at the end. It’s in the public domain and you can get a copy for your eReader at Project Gutenberg.

Near the very end of the book, in Chapter “6. Preserves,” there’s a short recipe for Spruce Beer.


And here it is reprinted in more modern English:

For brewing Spruce Beer.

Take four ounces of hops, let them boil half an hour in one gallon of water, strain the hop water then add sixteen gallons of warm water, two gallons of molasses, eight ounces of essence of spruce, dissolved in one quart of water, put it in a clean cask, then shake it well together, add half a pint of emptins, then let it stand and work one week, if very warm weather less time will do, when it is drawn off to bottle, add one spoonful of molasses to every bottle.


Also, the very first recipe under Chapter “5. Cake” calls for a quart of “new ale yeast.”

Plumb Cake.

Mix one pound currants, one drachm nutmeg, mace and cinnamon each, a little salt, one pound of citron, orange peal candied, and almonds bleach’d, 6 pound of flour, (well dry’d) beat 21 eggs, and add with 1 quart new ale yeast, half pint of wine, 3 half pints of cream and raisins, q: s:

Patent No. 726427A: Beer Filter

Today in 1903, US Patent 726427 A was issued, an invention of William Haussermann, for his “Beer Filter.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

This invention relates to improvements in filters, and particularly beer-filters.

The object of the invention is to provide a beer-filter which is simple of construction, comparatively inexpensive of production, efficient in operation, and adapted to be readily and conveniently cleansed of the retained impurities.


Patent No. 1802638A: Pressed Metal Keg

Today in 1931, US Patent 1802638 A was issued, an invention of Erik J. Eriksson, for his “Pressed Metal Keg.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

My invention relates to pressed metal kegs, and more particularly to the type of keg composed of a plurality of pressed metal staves assembled with metal end pieces and hoops in the manner of the customary wooden keg.


Patent No. 2440276A: Brewing Method Using Albedo In Wort

Today in 1948, US Patent 2440276 A was issued, an invention of Abraham Arnold Klein, for his “Brewing Method Using Albedo In Wort.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

According to the present invention albedo from fruit of the genus Citrus, particularly from grapefruit or citron, is used instead of, or in addition to, hops in the manufactured beer. I have found that the lupulin of hops has in many cases undesirable effects on the human organism. Furthermore hops deteriorate easily. Albedo from citrus fruit can be used instead of hops and the bitter flavour imparted by it to the wort is of a mild and agreeable character.

So this is essentially using grapefruit or other citrus almost 70 years before Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin. But not the whole fruit, or even the rind, the albedo is the white, fleshy inner later in between the thinner, top rind layer and the inside fruit. That spongy material is, according to this patent, used in place of or with hops in the brewing process. I wonder if anybody used this method to produce commercial beer?

Patent No. EP2583934A1: Reusable Beer Keg

Today in 2013, US Patent EP 2583934 A1 was issued, an invention of Thomas W. Bates, Dan Morgan, and Leslie W. Ross, for their “Reusable Beer Keg.” Here’s the Abstract:

A reusable beer keg (1) is disclosed comprising a hollow beer keg body (2) with a dispenser tube assembly (10) having a dispenser valve (11), dispenser tube (12), and a disposable bladder (13). The dispenser valve (11) is releasably attached to a top portion of the keg body (2) and the dispenser tube (12) and bladder (13) extend into the interior of the keg body (2). When beer flows through the open dispenser valve (11) and into the bladder (13), the beer causes the bladder (13) to expand until it contacts the inside surface of the keg body (2). When the beer keg (1) has been emptied it can be returned to the brewery for reuse by cleaning the dispenser valve (11), dispenser tube (12) and disposing of the used bladder (13). The beer keg body (2) does not need to be cleaned, however, because the beer only comes in contact with the disposable bladder (13) and not the keg body (2). The beer keg parts can then be reassembled, using a new bladder in place of the used bladder.


Patent No. 20030075208A1: The Beerbrella

Today in 2003, US Patent 20030075208 A1 was issued, an invention of Mason McMullin, Robert Bell, and Mark See, for their “Beerbrella.” Here’s the Abstract:

The present invention provides a small umbrella (“Beerbrella”) which may be removably attached to a beverage container in order to shade the beverage container from the direct rays of the sun. The apparatus comprises a small umbrella approximately five to seven inches in diameter, although other appropriate sizes may be used within the spirit and scope of the present invention. Suitable advertising and/or logos may be applied to the umbrella surface for promotional purposes. The umbrella may be attached to the beverage container by any one of a number of means, including clip, strap, cup, foam insulator, or as a coaster or the like. The umbrella shaft may be provided with a pivot to allow the umbrella to be suitably angled to shield the sun or for aesthetic purposes. In one embodiment, a pivot joint and counterweight may be provided to allow the umbrella to pivot out of the way when the user drinks from the container.





Patent No. 5009082A: System For Cooling Beer For Remote Dispensing

Today in 1993, US Patent 5009082 A was issued, an invention of Martin J. Abraham III, for his “System For Cooling Beer For Remote Dispensing.” Although it’s not strictly speaking, a beer patent, it is somewhat related, and it was too interesting not to include. Here’s the Abstract:

A system for cooling beer to be dispensed from a container housed in a preliminary air cooled environment that is cooled with a primary heat exchanger includes a first flowline for dispensing beer from the container and an auxiliary heat exchanger having a glycol reservoir for receiving the first flowline, the first flowline traversing the reservoir in heat exchange relation therewith. The second flowline includes at least a pair of side-by-side internal bores having a first bore in fluid communication with the first flowline downstream of the glycol reservoir and a second bore carrying glycol from the reservoir in close proximity and in heat exchange relation with beer in the first bore, the second flowline being extended in length so that beer and glycol can travel to remote positions away from the container. A spigot is provided for dispensing the beer at the remote position after transmitted thereto via the second flowline. The first flowline includes one or more fittings forming connections between the container and the reservoir that produce substantially laminar flow between the container and the reservoir.


FredFest Coming May 15

If you’re not familiar with FredFest, it was created to mark the 80th birthday of legendary Portland beer writer Fred Eckhardt. That first festival took place in 2006 and the festival became an annual event put on by Hair of the Dog Brewing. Last year’s event celebrated Fred’s 89th birthday. Unfortunately, in August of last year, Fred passed away, which means this will be the first FredFest that he will be unable to attend. Hair of the Dog brewmaster and owner, Alan Sprints, wants to make this year a special one and make the festival a celebration of Fred’s life and his contributions to craft beer, especially in Portland. So it certainly sounds like this is the one to be at, and I’m planning on flying up for it, as well. It’s a short hop of a flight from the Bay Area, and there will be some great beers, and people, there.

Alan Springs and Fred Eckhardt during OBF Week at the Hair of the Dog Brewery in 2008.

If you want to join me and celebrate Fred’s life, tickets are available at the Events page at Hair of the Dog. The events itself is from 1:00 to 5:00 PM on Sunday, May 15 at the Hair of the Dog Brewery located at 61 SE Yamhill Street, in Portland. A ticket gets you “a commemorative glass, endless beer food buffet, and over 25 Beers from a special selection of Brewers.” Also, since “100% of FredFest ticket sales go to charity” — Hair of the Dog covers all expenses for the event — they “encourage you to pay more than the suggested ticket price,” to help support the charities, which are the Mittleman Jewish Community Center (where Fred was once an instructor) and Guide Dogs for the Blind.

Fred and me after the OBF Parade in 2011.

The breweries expected to pour their beer at the fest include 10 Barrel, Avery, Barley Brown’s, Beachwood, Bear Republic, Berryessa, Big Island, Block 15, Breakside, Crooked Stave, Chuckanut, Commons, Ecliptic, Firestone Walker, Golden Valley, Hill Farmstead, Hair of the Dog, Holy Mountain, Jester King, Shelton Brothers (importers), Sixpoint, Stone Brewing, and Upright, with a few more to be announced as we get closer to the event.

The only remaining questions are how can I get there, and “What Would Fred Drink?” (WWFD?). Figure out the first, and we’ll help with the second. See you in Portland.


Patent No. 698184A: Method Of Refining, Aging, Mellowing, And Purifying Alcoholic Liquors

Today in 1902, US Patent 698184 A was issued, an invention of James Franklin Duffy, for his “Method of Refining, Aging, Mellowing, and Purifying Alcoholic Liquors.” Although it’s not strictly speaking, a beer patent, it is somewhat related, and it was too interesting not to include. There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

My invention relates to a certain improved method or process for the treatment of liquors in the same particulars as is usually accomplished through a considerable period by the ordinary aging process.

Under the term liquor as used herein I include all alcoholic or spirituous fluids, either distilled or fermented; and it is the purpose of the invention to purify said liquors,to eliminate all injurious qualities therefrom, and to supply the ripe, pure, and mellow qualities which time alone has done heretofore.

The invention consists in the treatment of the liquor by means of the various steps of the process, all of which will appear from the description and be clearly pointed out in the claims.


Patent No. 3129730A: Tapping System For Liquid Container

Today in 1964, US Patent 3129730 A was issued, an invention of John F. Simon, for his “Tapping System For Liquid Container or the Like.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

This invention relates to a tapping system for liquid containers or the like such as, for example, casks having a gas-charged beverage or other liquid therein. In particular, this invention relates to a quick coupling and uncoupling tapping system for new beer kegs or the like or for the conversion of conventional beer kegs or the like to provide prompt placement of liquid containers in service, the removal thereof from service when substantially empty and the maintenance of prompt and sound delivery of the liquid during service in optimal condition.