Today in 1938, US Patent 2115335 A was issued, an invention of Samuel A. Hurst and Harrie A. Keck, for their “Can Filling Machine.” There’s no Abstract, but the description states that the “invention relates to an improvement in’ machines for filling cans and other receptacles with various kinds of materials, and more particularly to an improvement in machines for filling receptacles.”
Today in 1934, US Patent 1956218 A was issued, an invention of George J Huntley and Harry A Rau, assigned to the Crown Cork & Seal Co., for their “Capping Head.” There’s no Abstract, but the description summarizes it. “The present invention relates to an improvement in capping heads and, more particularly, comprises a means for feeding closure or cap blanks to the capping mechanism of the capping head.”
Today in 1973, US Patent 3729321 A was issued, an invention of N.L. Vacano, assigned to Rainier Companies, for their “Preparation Of Beer.” There’s no Abstract, but the description summarizes it. “This invention relates to the production of beer. More particularly, this invention is concerned with improvements in the process of producing beer starting with the wort, fermenting the wort with yeast to form green beer, aging of the beer and the subsequent finishing operation, as Well as improved apparatus for producing beer.”
Today in 1901, US Patent 672788 A was issued, an invention of Albert Lieber and August Meimberg, for their “Device for Hoisting and Transferring Bottled Beer in Bottling Establishments.” There’s no Abstract, but in the description summarizes it by stating that they’ve “invented new and useful Improvements in Devices for Hoisting and Transferring Bottled Beer in Bottling Establishments by Means of Air-Hoists and Transverse Carriers.” But below is a more detailed account.
Our invention relates to an improvement in the means for handling of large quantities of bottled beer for the purpose of pasteurizing. During the operation of this process the bottled beer has to be transferred in trays by means of trucks from the place of filling to the pasteurizing-tanks. Arriving at the tanks, the trays loaded with bottled beer must be elevated, so that the tray may be moved over the steaming-tank and then lowered into the same. It has been customary heretofore to perform these operations by means of hand or chain-hoists, necessitating the employment of a large number of men.
Our invention comprehends, in addition to the pasteurizing tank or tanks and the trays in which the bottled beer is contained while being transported and pasteurized, a raising and lowering means which travels on overhead tracks and carries the beer to position over the tank in which it is to be pasteurized and `from said tank after it (the beer) has been pasteurized. The raising and lowering means preferred by us comprises a cylinder having therein a piston-head and provided with a piston-rod having means by which a tray is detachably connected therewith. Said cylinder is also provided with means by which a suitable means or medium, preferably compressed air, is conveyed thereto for the purpose of actuating the piston and raising and lowering the tray with its contained bottles of beer. The construction is preferably such that the compressed air enters the cylinder at points which are both above and below the limits of travel of the piston-head and is conveyed to the inlets by pipes which have their contiguous ends joined by a valve-casing having a suitable valve, actuable to cause the compressed air to enter the upper part of the cylinder in order to drive the piston downward,and thereby lower the tray, with its contained bottles of beer, into the pasteurizing-tank or onto a truck after the beer has been pasteurized and to cause the air to enter the lower port in the cylinder when it is desired to raise the piston, and thereby lift the tray and beer from a truck or from said pasteurizing-tank. This means of raising and lowering the trays, with their contained bottles, by compressed air or other suitable fluid admitted below and above the piston-head, respectively, has especial advantages in the handling of bottled goods, as the action of the piston in both directions of its travel is cushioned by said duid, and said piston, together with the parts carried thereby, is caused to move slowly, steadily, and without jar, whereby the liability of breaking the bottles is reduced to a minimum and is materially less than it would be if the piston were caused to descend by gravity. The means adopted for detachably connecting the hoisting device with the trays are of peculiar construction and include pendent eyes or loops carried by said device to engage hooks on the trays, together with a slidable or movable safety device adapted to prevent accidental disconnection of the parts from each other.
Today in 1901, US Patent 672819 A was issued, an invention of Alfred Blackie, for his “Apparatus For Drying Hops.” There’s no Abstract, and it takes a lot to explain everything, but essentially it’s a “kiln having an open sparred floor and a number of portable hop-receptacles having porous bottoms and tops, whereby currents of heated air may be passed through said floor and through said receptacles containing the hops for drying them.” But that’s pretty simplified, here’e more:
The present invention is illustrated in the accompanying drawings, in which Figure 1 is a plan view of the floor of a round kiln suitably prepared to receive the frames containing the hops to be dried, and Fig. 2 is a similar view showing such floor with the frames in position thereon. Fig. 3 is a perspective view showing one method of manipulating the frames. Fig. 4 shows a number of the frames as arranged on the cooling-floor after drying when it is desired to cool the hops quickly; and Fig. 5 showsthe manner of arranging such frames when the cooling is to take place more gradually. Fig. 6 is a plan view of a square kiln with frames suitably arranged thereon, and Fig. 7 shows an arrangement which may be used in connection therewith for manipulating the frames. Fig. 8 shows a modification of such arrangement. Fig. 9 is a sectional view showing one method of attaching the lids or covers of the frames in position, and Fig. 10 illustrates a modified arrangement for the same purpose. Fig. 11 is a plan view, and Fig. 12 a transverse section illustrating the method I prefer to employ for attaching the porous cloth or other suitable material to the lids or covers and bottoms of the frames.
This apparatus comprises an oast-house or kiln of any suitable form provided with an ordinary sparred floor 1, composed of slats or spars disposed apart from each other, leaving open spaces between them for the passage of air, and hop receptacles or frames 4, having porous tops and bottoms, disposed on said floor. When the hop-receptacles are placed directly on the floor, portions of the heated air for drying the hops rise through the floor between the receptacles and around the ends thereof and have no effect upon the hops and the heat is consequently wasted. To avoid this waste of heat, intermediate strips 2 of wood or other suitable material, together with similar end strips 2 and 2 are disposed on the floor 1 in such manner as to form completely-walled enclosures or compartments approximating in shape the hop-receptacles. The intermediate strips 2 are arranged in such position that they come immediately below the joints in the hop-receptacles 4 when the latter are placed in position in the kiln, and the end strips 2 close the end spaces under the outer ends of said receptacles adjacent to the inside wall of the cast-house or kiln and the strips 2 close the spaces under the inner ends of the receptacles, so as to prevent the escape of air around the frames. By this means the heated air will pass upward through the hop-receptacles only, and consequently the Whole thereof will be utilized in drying the hops, as the whole floorspace, except the parts beneath the porous hop-receptacles, is entirely closed or sealed. The strips referred to may be covered with felt, if desired. It continues from there.
I admit there’s a certain “duh” factor to this, but it’s still interesting to see the numbers. With IPA and other hoppy beers accounting for over 20% of the craft beer market, there’s not enough hops being grown to keep up with current demand, and it will only get worse as interest continues to grow, as it seems likely the popularity of hoppy beers will be with us for the foreseeable future. This is from the May 2015 issue of Popular Science, which has a short article entitled Craft Beer is Annihilating the Hop Supply, which adds that demand for hops has “nearly quadrupled in the past decade.”
The article is subtitled “why that might be a good thing,” presumably alluding to the increased demand, but never really answers that question satisfactorily. There’s a quote from the former director of the Hop Growers of America, Doug MacKinnon, saying “Craft brewing is sucking up every pound of hops in the U.S. Growers can’t expand fast enough,” and suggesting that’s opening up the market beyond Washington, Oregon and Idaho, where U.S. hop growing has been concentrated at least since prohibition ended.
The article cites as proof that “single-acre hop operations are popping up on other types of farms across the country, including “Growers in New York, Minnesota, and Colorado,” and I’m also aware of similar efforts with commercial farms in Maine, Wisconsin and California, and I’m sure I’m forgetting somebody. Hops-Meister, which is near Clearlake, started in 2004 and grows ten different varieties on at least 15 acres. Co-owner Marty Kuchinski will be talking to my class tonight about hop farming. California used to grow more hops than any other state prior to prohibition, but never rebounded as farmers here found they could make more per acre growing grapes, but it’s why that legacy includes the town of Hopland and the Hop Kiln Winery. And New York used have an entire hop industry in the 19th century, until a downy mildew problem and other issues forced many to move production out west. So it’s little surprise that, with more modern farming methods, this growing demand would bring back hop farming to many parts of the country, not to mention a strong desire for brewers to have more local ingredients.
But the numbers just seem crazy: 27 million pounds of hops in 2014, and an estimated 31 million pounds this year.
Today in 1987, US Patent 4659662 A was issued, an invention of Win-Pen Hsu, assigned to J. E. Siebel Sons’ Company, Inc., for his “Batch Fermentation Process.” Here’s the Abstract:
Ethanol and fermented beverages such as beer or wine are produced in a batch process by contacting a fermentable substrate with yeast cells encapsulated within a porous, semi-permeable material. Contacting is carrier out in a vessel containing the substrate and a semi-permeable retaining means submerged in the substrate. Encapsulated yeast cells are maintained below the retaining means and in contact with the substrate during fermentation while being freely movable in a portion of the substrate. The retaining means is permeable to the substrate and is substantially impermeable to the encapsulated yeast cells. Preferably, the matrix encapsulating the yeast cells is an alginate gel.
Today in 1926, US Patent 1581918 A was issued, an invention of William Hastings Campbell, for his “Production of Fermentable Worts.” There’s no Abstract, but the description states that “This invention relates to the production of fermentable worts, the production of industrial alcohol and the cultivation of yeast, and has for its object to provide improvements therein.” Here’s a bit more.
The invention consists broadly in the process of producing fermentable worts and the cultivation of yeast which comprises introducing the liquor component of the wort and the solid material from which the fermentable bodies are derived into apparatus in which a plurality of superimposed inclinable diaphragms are arranged, allowing the solid material to settle on the diaphragms, withdrawing the wort and discharging the solid material from the apparatus after a suitable washing operation to extract the soluble bodies mechanically held thereby.
Today in 1994, US Patent 5304384 A was issued, an invention of Cameron R. Murray and William J. Van der Meer, assigned to Labatt Brewing Company Limited, for their “Rapid Cooling.” Here’s the Abstract:
A process for preparing a fermented malt beverage wherein brewing materials are mashed with water and the resulting mash is heated and wort separated therefrom. The wort is boiled, cooled and fermented and the beer is subjected to a finishing stage, which includes aging, to produce the final beverage. The improvement comprises subjecting the beer to a cold stage comprising rapidly cooling the beer to a temperature of about its freezing point in such a manner that ice crystals are formed therein in only minimal amounts. The resulting cooled beer is then mixed for a short period of time with a beer slurry containing ice crystals, without any appreciable collateral increase in the amount of ice crystals in the resulting mixture. Finally, the so-treated beer is extracted from the mixture.
One of the highlights of this years Craft Brewers Conference in Portland was a potential innovation in brewing undertaken by Alan Sprints at Hair of the Dog Brewing. Alan posted a picture of his newest fermenter arriving to be displayed at the trade show, with Steve Rosenblatt from Sonoma Cast Stone, who manufactured the concrete fermenter.
I was immediately intrigued and finding it in the trade show was one of my first missions of CBC. It turns out it was made in Petaluma, which is just down the road from where I live. The company has been making concrete fermenters for the wine industry, but this is the first one they’ve made for a commercial brewer. They have a separate website for this part of their business, Concrete Beer Tanks.
Their brochure lists the benefits of a concrete fermenter:
- Concrete has natural temperature stability, and our tanks offer an optional, embedded glycol system for precise control.
- Concrete allows the design of organic shapes, promoting convectional fermentation flow with no corners for fluid to pocket or stagnate.
- The porosity of concrete allows for micro-oxygenation to aid in initiating the fermentation process.
Apparently the wine industry has been using these increasingly in recent years, but they have been used for centuries prior to the advent of stainless steel. Just a quick search reveals quite a few articles about their growing use in winemaking. For example, in Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, Wines and Vines, Seattle Magazine and the North Bay Business Journal. And there’s at least one other domestic manufacturer, Vino Vessel and a German company, Speidel, that makes a Gärei Fermentegg, or Fermentation Egg.
Here’s how Speidel describes their fermentation egg:
The organic fermentation in the egg-form is based on the golden ratio without corners and edges. Wine, beer and cider could move fluently during the fermentation and storage. This gentle process guarantees on keeping the completely development of the product. The idea of fermentation or aging in the egg is just to come back to the ancient methods but with the new materials. Already in the ancient times beer has been placed for resting into the egg-formed amphoraes. Recently there were several successful tests for storage wine in the egg-formed fermentation vessels made of concrete. Shortly after Speidel has developed the fermentation egg made of food-safe polyethylene.
The fermentation egg is appropriate for the fermentation of wine, beer and cider. Fans and devotees of the fermentation egg confirm that the fermentation process runs spontaneous, therefore wine and beer taste more filigree and complex. Check it out and convince yourselves! Our food-safe polyethylenes have high permeability of oxygen. This ensures the evenly influence of oxygen and perfect conditions for the fermentation and maturation. It is very easy to clean the egg because of its smooth surface inside.
Sonoma Cast Stone online has their reasons why brewers should consider concrete beer tanks:
Winemakers love concrete…
Winemakers all over the world are rediscovering the benefits of using concrete as a medium for fermentation, finding the virtues of both of oak and stainless steel with the drawbacks of neither. Now, most of the world’s highest-rated wines are made in concrete.
The craft beer industry is at least as creative and dynamic as the wine industry, and we at Sonoma Cast Stone are thrilled to offer you artisans of fermentation a new medium to create with. We predict a renaissance of innovation, producing an exciting, new generation of wild beers, sour beers, meads and porters.
Concrete is cool! No… really.
Concrete can take the heat, or the cold. It’s a natural insulator and will stabilize the temperature of whatever is inside of it. This stability makes for a smooth and gradual fermentation, because there are no temperature spikes to make the yeast become aggressive.
Sonoma Cast Stone also offers a unique temperature control system. Our system is hidden within the walls of the tank itself and does not make contact with that wine.
Concrete is porous, albeit on a microscopic scale, and that’s where it beats stainless steel. The environment in stainless steel is too perfect to be ideal for fermentation. A gradual introduction of micro-oxygenation, the wine remains flat. It cannot breathe and evolve.
Wine fermented in concrete has the round mouthfeel of wine fermented in oak, but it has much greater purity of fruit flavor, even a greater intensity of fruit color. For fermentation, storage or aging, concrete is simply phenomenal.
Even neutral oak is not neutral. All oak will give a bit of itself to your beer, whether you like it or not. Concrete makes for a truly neutral vessel, imparting only a slight and desirable minerality.
What this means for a beer maker is control. Control over what your beer tastes like, and with the optional, embedded glycol tubing system, you also have precise control over the temperature you maintain throughout fermentation.
Hair of the Dog Brewing had their new concrete tank delivered yesterday and it should be installed and ready to go shortly. Alan told me that Adam will be the first beer he makes in concrete. It will be interesting to see how the new Adam tastes, especially in comparison to the old version.