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. 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.


Historic Beer Birthday: Otto Bremer

Today is the birthday of Otto Bremer (October 21, 1867-February 18, 1951). He was born in the Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen) area of Germany, and along with his brother Adolf, settled in Minnesota, in the St. Paul area.


Bremer was a German American banker and philanthropist. He founded Bremer Bank and the Otto Bremer Foundation, which grants funds for use in the communities where the banks operate. His brother Adolf married brewer Jacob Schmidt’s daughter, and my 1901, Adolf and Otto Bremer owned 25 percent of the Jacob Schmidt Brewing Company stock. When Schmidt passed away in 1911, the Bremer brothers took control of the brewery. When Adolf died in 1939, Otto assumed the role of president of Schmidt’s brewery until he died in 1951.

Otto Bremer with a sandwich and a beer.

Here’s a partial history of the Jacob Schmidt brewery during the time the Bremers were involved, from Wikipedia:

Jacob Schmidt started his brewing career in Minnesota as the Brewmaster for the Theodore Hamm’s Brewing Co. He left this position to become owner of the North Star Brewing Co. Under Schmidt’s new leadership the small brewery would see much success and in 1899 Schimdt transferred partial ownership of his new brewery to a new corporation headed by his son in law Adolph Bremer, and Adolph’s brother Otto. This corporation would later become Bremer Bank. With the new partnership the Jacob Schmidt Brewing Company was established. In 1900 the North Star Brewery would suffer a fire that would close it for good. With the new management team in place a new brewery was needed, the new firm purchased the Stahlmann Brewery form the St. Paul Brewing Co. and immediately started construction on a new Romanesque brewery incorporating parts of Stahlmann’s original brewery along with it including the further excavation of the lagering cellars used in the fermentation process to create Schmidt’s Lager Beer

Upon Schmidt’s death in 1911 the Bremers took full control of the company and continued to see success and growth. In 1920 National Prohibition came to Minnesota and stopped the production and sale of intoxicating beverages. Schmidt’s was one of the few breweries to see success and remain open all throughout prohibition in offering nonalcoholic beverages or near beers such as Malta and City Club as well as other beverages. It was rumored that Schmidt’s continued to produce real beer during prohibition complete with a secret underground tunnel that allowed for beer to be transported from the brewery on the bluffs to awaiting ships on the Mississippi river below. None of these rumors were ever confirmed though.

Since Schmidt’s never stopped production of beverages in the brewery it was one of few breweries in Minnesota that was ready to produce real beer when prohibition was lifted in 1933. Schmidt’s re-released City Club beer as an strong beer with the new slogan of “Tops in any Town”. After prohibition Schmidt’s saw widespread success and continued to grow. This Success brought attention to the Bremer family leading to the kidnapping of Edward Bremer by the Barker-Karpis gang on the 16th of January, 1934; he was released on the 7th of February of the same year with 200,000 bail. As Schmidt’s continued to grow becoming the 7th largest brewery in the country by 1936 it was decided offering City Club in cans would be more profitable and became one of the first brewers in Minnesota to offer beer in cans. Like Hamm’s Schmidt’s offered beer in flat top cans, but became one of the only brewer to switch back to cone top cans after. During World War II Schmidt’s was granted a contract from the government to supply beer to the troops, made possible by a long standing friendship between the Bremers and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

In 1951 Otto Bremer died and City Club beer began to be phased out. In 1954 due to mounting pressure and competition from outside National Brewers the Bremers decided to leave the brewing industry and sold the company to Detroit based brewer Pfeiffer.


And here’s another biography of both Adolf and Otto Bremer, from Funding Universe:

Otto Bremer and his younger brother Adolph immigrated to the United States from Germany in 1886. The Midwest, where the young men settled, had experienced a period of rapid growth: the population had exploded and business opportunities were abundant. Otto Bremer’s first job was as a stock clerk for a wholesale hardware business in St. Paul, Minnesota. In 1887, he took a bookkeeping position with the National German-American Bank–he had three years of elementary banking training in Germany, according to a Ramsey County History article by Thomas J. Kelley. Bremer eventually became chief clerk.

The boom days of the 1880s were followed by a bust in the early 1890s. Banks in St. Paul’s sister city of Minneapolis went under. The National German-American Bank had to suspend operations for a time. By the end of the decade, the nation was in a deep economic depression.

Otto Bremer left the National German-American Bank at the turn of the century to make a run for the office of city treasurer. A well established and respected member of the community by this time, he won the election and served for five terms. (He had an unsuccessful but closely contested race for mayor in 1912.) Meanwhile, his brother Adolph was making his own headway in St. Paul’s business community. One connection led to a romance as well. Adolph married Marie Schmidt, the daughter of North Star Brewery owner Jacob Schmidt, in 1896.

While serving as city treasurer, Otto Bremer became a charter member of the board of directors for the American National Bank. The bank was formed in 1903 through the merging of two St. Paul banks. Bremer held 50 of the 2,000 shares of capital stock. The charter members of the board of directors, well aware of potential pitfalls, operated a conservative banking business, unlike the days of wild growth when banks and customers were extended beyond their means.

Brother Adolph’s responsibilities also continued to grow. When the brewery was reorganized as the Jacob Schmidt Brewing Company in 1899, he was named president. Adolph Bremer took over operating control when Schmidt died in 1910. He brought Otto in as secretary and treasurer shortly thereafter.

As Adolph gained ownership in the brewery, Otto Bremer increased his holdings in the bank, becoming a major shareholder by 1916. Adolph joined his brother on the American National Bank board of directors that year.

In 1921, Benjamin Baer, the bank’s second president and an original board member, died. Otto Bremer was named chairman. He also bought much of Baer’s stock and by 1924 gained controlling interest in the bank.

The brewery and its sales agencies in rural Minnesota, North Dakota, and Wisconsin provided a direct link to the Bremers and American National Bank in St. Paul. The brewery or the Bremers owned the land or buildings the sales agencies occupied, creating a starting point for further business relationships in the communities.

Otto Bremer became an advisor to local bankers, who often formed corresponding partnerships with American National. Dependent on the cyclical agricultural economy, country banks needed loans from city banks with a more diverse and therefore a more stable of base of business. Otto Bremer formed a deep commitment to the rural communities, and when economic disaster struck he was there to help.

Trouble began with a ramp-up of farm production in response to the needs created by the United States’ entry into World War I. Farmers began planting more acres and buying expensive machinery. Agricultural land increased in value. Farmers took out larger loans to drive the expansion. Demand collapsed following the war. Harsh weather conditions in the Midwest further hampered farmers. Loans went unpaid. A recession hit the nation in 1920, taxing city banks supporting the stressed country banks.

“Bent on maintaining the public trust in the country banks, Otto Bremer loaned them his good name and his money. Throughout the 1920s banks came into the fold of the American National Bank or the Bremer group,” wrote Kelley. Eventually, Bremer had to begin borrowing against his assets to keep country banks afloat.

By 1933, he held large or controlling interests in 55 banks in Minnesota, North Dakota, Wisconsin, and Montana, apart from his holdings in American National. However, he was $8 million in debt. The backing of Adolph Bremer’s shares in the Jacob Schmidt Brewing Company and a loan from the Federal Reconstruction Finance Corporation helped Otto Bremer keep his stock in American National and the country banks in the family.

Despite the one-two punch delivered by the farm recession and Great Depression, the Bremer brothers had kept control of both the brewery and the bank. When Adolph Bremer died in 1939, Otto Bremer succeed him as president of the Jacob Schmidt Brewing Company.

Otto Bremer in 1943.

In 1943, he created the Otto Bremer Company. The bank holding company consolidated his holdings in the country banks and would protect them from being sold to settle his estate, according to the Kelley article.

The Otto Bremer Foundation was formed the next year to make charitable grants in the communities served by the country banks. The ownership of the Otto Bremer Company was transferred to the foundation in 1949. After Bremer’s death in 1951, the banking chain entered an extended period of consolidation. The brewery was sold in 1954, but descendants of Adolph Bremer held stock in American National until it was sold to Milwaukee-based Firstar Corp. in 1996.


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.


Historic Beer Birthday: Johann Georg Sohn

Today is the birthday of Johann Georg Sohn (October 20, 1817-October 24, 1876). He was born in Bavaria, but settled in Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1845, he co-founded the Hamilton Brewery, which was later known as the J.G. Sohn & Company Brewery. It was also known as the Clyffside Brewing Co., and used the trade name Feldsbrau. Johann’s sons took over after his death, and it was sold in 1907 and became known as the William G. Sohn Brewing Co. and later the Mohawk Brewing Co. After prohibition, it reopened as the Clyffside Brewing. After World War 2, it was renamed the Red Top Brewing before closing for good in 1958. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find very much biographical information about Sohn, and only a little about his brewery.


Here’s a short biography from Find-a-Grave:

Clyffside Brewing Company is a defunct brewery in Cincinnati, located on the site of Hamilton Brewery, founded in 1845 by Johann Sohn and George Klotter as the Hamilton Brewery. By 1853, the company becane known as the Klotter, Sohn and Company. In 1866, Sohn bought out Klotter, and Klotter went on to establish his own brewery on Klotter Street. Sohn renamed the brewery the J.G. Sohn & Company Brewery, and it became the tenth largest of its type in Cincinnati. In November 1900, the company was reorganized as the William S. Sohn Brewing Company when Sohn sold out his interest. In 1907, Sohn was purchased by Mohawk Brewery, and was known for its Zinzinnati Beer.


Cincinnati Brewing History has the following to say about the brewery:

George Klotter left the Klotter, Sohn, & Co. Brewery partnership to pursue his own proprietorship, at which point Johann George Sohn brought in Louis Sohngen and Heinrich Schlosser as partners. The new partnership would operate under the name of J.G. Sohn & Co. Brewery. Sohn ran the business until his death in 1876.

After Sohn’s death, leadership of the company was assumed by his sons, J.G. Sohn Jr., William, and J. Edward. J.G. Sohn Jr. died in 1880 and the other two brothers continued to operate the brewery together until 1900, at which time J. Edward left to join the Schaller Brothers Brewery. Shortly thereafter William would rename the brewery as the William S. Sohn Brewery, however he died in 1902. After William’s death his wife, Lena Jung Sohn ran the brewery until 1907, as she was intimately familiar with the industry by way of her father, another Cincinnati brewer.


Abandoned, the story of a forgotten America, also has a page about the Clyffside Brewing Company




The London Beer Flood Of 1814

Today was a dark day in a certain part of London, known as the Parish of St. Giles. On October 17, 1814, an incident which became known as the London Beer Flood took place. Here’s the basic account, from Wikipedia:

At the Meux and Company Brewery on Tottenham Court Road, a huge vat containing over 135,000 imperial gallons (610,000 L) of beer ruptured, causing other vats in the same building to succumb in a domino effect. As a result, more than 323,000 imperial gallons (1,470,000 L) of beer burst out and gushed into the streets. The wave of beer destroyed two homes and crumbled the wall of the Tavistock Arms Pub, trapping teenage employee Eleanor Cooper under the rubble. Within minutes neighbouring George Street and New Street were swamped with alcohol, killing a mother and daughter who were taking tea, and surging through a room of people gathered for a wake.

One source claimed this engraving appeared shortly after the incident, an artists rendition, so to speak, but I’ve since learned it very recent, created by a London artist, Chris Bianchi, for Completely London, and given the title “It’ll All End in Beer.”


The flood occurred at Meux’s Brewery Co Ltd., which was established in 1764, It was a London brewery owned by Sir Henry Meux. Meux, like many modern brewers, bought out smaller breweries. One of the breweries it acquired was the Horse Shoe Brewery (founded by a Mr Blackburn, and famous for its ‘black beer’), located on the junction of Tottenham Court Road and Oxford Street, London. Atop the Horse Shoe stood several large vats of beer. The largest was the porter vat – a 22-foot-high monstrosity that held 511,920 litres of beer, in turn held together by a total of 29 large iron hoops. For some idea of its vastness, The Times report of 1 April, 1785 read:

There is a cask now building at Messrs. Meux & Co.’s brewery…the size of which exceeds all credibility, being designed to hold 20,000 barrels of porter; the whole expense attending the same will be upwards of £10,000.

Meux’s Horse Shoe Brewery, c. 1830.

The following account of the incident is from Historic UK:

On Monday 17th October 1814, a terrible disaster claimed the lives of at least 8 people in St Giles, London. A bizarre industrial accident resulted in the release of a beer tsunami onto the streets around Tottenham Court Road.

The Horse Shoe Brewery stood at the corner of Great Russell Street and Tottenham Court Road. In 1810 the brewery, Meux and Company, had had a 22 foot high wooden fermentation tank installed on the premises. Held together with massive iron rings, this huge vat held the equivalent of over 3,500 barrels of brown porter ale, a beer not unlike stout.

On the afternoon of October 17th 1814 one of the iron rings around the tank snapped. About an hour later the whole tank ruptured, releasing the hot fermenting ale with such force that the back wall of the brewery collapsed. The force also blasted open several more vats, adding their contents to the flood which now burst forth onto the street. More than 320,000 gallons of beer were released into the area. This was St Giles Rookery, a densely populated London slum of cheap housing and tenements inhabited by the poor, the destitute, prostitutes and criminals.

The flood reached George Street and New Street within minutes, swamping them with a tide of alcohol. The 15 foot high wave of beer and debris inundated the basements of two houses, causing them to collapse. In one of the houses, Mary Banfield and her daughter Hannah were taking tea when the flood hit; both were killed.
In the basement of the other house, an Irish wake was being held for a 2 year old boy who had died the previous day. The four mourners were all killed. The wave also took out the wall of the Tavistock Arms pub, trapping the teenage barmaid Eleanor Cooper in the rubble. In all, eight people were killed. Three brewery workers were rescued from the waist-high flood and another was pulled alive from the rubble.

All this ‘free’ beer led to hundreds of people scooping up the liquid in whatever containers they could. Some resorted to just drinking it, leading to reports of the death of a ninth victim some days later from alcoholic poisoning.

‘The bursting of the brew-house walls, and the fall of heavy timber, materially contributed to aggravate the mischief, by forcing the roofs and walls of the adjoining houses.’ The Times, 19th October 1814.
Some relatives exhibited the corpses of the victims for money. In one house, the macabre exhibition resulted in the collapse of the floor under the weight of all the visitors, plunging everyone waist-high into a beer-flooded cellar.

The stench of beer in the area persisted for months afterwards. The brewery was taken to court over the accident but the disaster was ruled to be an Act of God, leaving no one responsible.

The flood cost the brewery around £23000 (approx. £1.25 million today). However the company were able to reclaim the excise duty paid on the beer, which saved them from bankruptcy. They were also granted ₤7,250 (₤400,000 today) as compensation for the barrels of lost beer.

This unique disaster was responsible for the gradual phasing out of wooden fermentation casks to be replaced by lined concrete vats. The Horse Shoe Brewery was demolished in 1922; the Dominion Theatre now sits partly on its site.

Toten Hall house in Tottenham Court Road, destroyed by the beer flood.

This is from h2g2 The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: Earth Edition.

Come October of 1814, the beer had been fermenting atop the brewery for months (as was the need with porter), and the metal and wood of this huge vat was, unbeknownst to the majority of the brewery workers3, beginning to show the strain of holding back the thousands of litres. Suddenly, at about 6.00pm, one of the heavy metal hoops snapped and the contents of the porter vat exploded out – quite literally – causing a chain reaction with the surrounding vats. The resulting noise was apparently heard as far away as five miles!

A total of 1,224,000 litres of beer under pressure smashed through the twenty-five foot high brick wall of the building, and gushed out into the surrounding area – the slum of St Giles. Many people lived in crowded conditions here, and some were caught by the waves of beer completely unaware. The torrent flooded through houses, demolishing two in its wake, and the nearby Tavistock Arms pub in Great Russell Street suffered too, its 14-year-old barmaid Eleanor Cooper buried under the rubble. The Times reported on 19 October of the flood:

The bursting of the brew-house walls, and the fall of heavy timber, materially contributed to aggravate the mischief, by forcing the roofs and walls of the adjoining houses.

Fearful that all the beer should go to waste, though, hundreds of people ran outside carrying pots, pans, and kettles to scoop it up – while some simply stooped low and lapped at the liquid washing through the streets. However, the tide was too strong for many, and as injured people began arriving at the nearby Middlesex Hospital there was almost a riot as other patients demanded to know why they weren’t being supplied with beer too – they could smell it on the flood survivors, and were insistent that they were missing out on a party! Calm was quickly restored at the hospital, but out in the streets was a different matter.

Back at the brewery, one man managed to save his brother from going under the vast wave, but as the tide receded the true damage could be discovered. The beer tsunami left nine people dead4; many had drowned (like Mary Mulvey and her 3-year-old son Thomas), others were swept away in the flood and died of the injuries they sustained (two young children: Hannah Banfield, 4, and Sarah Bates, 3), and the final victim actually succumbed some days later of alcohol poisoning – such was his heroic attempt to stem the tide by drinking as much beer as he humanly could.

Because of the poverty of the area, relatives of the drowned took to exhibiting their families’ corpses in their homes and charging a fee for viewing. In one house, though, too many people crowded in and the floor gave out, plunging them all into a cellar half full of beer. This morbid exhibition moved locations, attracting more custom – and eventually the police, who closed the doors on the horrible circus. Later, the funerals of the dead were paid for by the St Giles population, coins left on their coffins. The stench of the beer apparently lasted for months, and after the initial excitement, many found both their homes and livelihoods swept away with the flood. In amongst the misery of clearing away the dead and cleaning up the streets, though, there was compassion. The Times concluded:

The emotion and humanity with which the labourers proceeded in their distressing task excited a strong interest, and deserves warm approbation.

The Meux Brewery Company was taken to court over the accident, but the judge ruled that although devastating, the flood was an ‘Act of God’ and the deaths6 were simply by ‘casualty’. In other words, no party was to blame, and the company continued working despite the incident. Up until 1961 that is, when it was sold to Friary, Holroyd and Healy’s Brewery Ltd of Guildford. The firm became Friary Meux Ltd for only three years, before being bought outright by Ind Coope (& Allsop) of Burton-on-Trent.

Apparently the only eyewitness account to the flood was from an American tourist who chose the wrong shortcut:

All at once, I found myself borne onward with great velocity by a torrent which burst upon me so suddenly as almost to deprive me of breath. A roar as of falling buildings at a distance, and suffocating fumes, were in my ears and nostrils. I was rescued with great difficulty by the people who immediately collected around me, and from whom I learned the nature of the disaster which had befallen me. An immense vat belonging to a brew house situated in Banbury street [sic – now Bainbridge Street], Saint Giles, and containing four or five thousand barrels of strong beer, had suddenly burst and swept every thing before it. Whole dwellings were literally riddled by the flood; numbers were killed; and from among the crowds which filled the narrow passages in every direction came the groans of sufferers.


There are quite a few more accounts, such as History Nuggets, Damn Interesting, the History Channel, and The Independent. But naturally, the best account os from Martyn Cornell, the Zythophile, in So what REALLY happened on October 17 1814?

Meux’s Horseshoe Brewery, around 1906.

This version of the story, a bit altered from reality, appeared in the comic book “Doctor Who #4″ (December 2012), with a script by Brandon Seifert, pencils by Philip Bond, inks by Ilias Kyriazis, colors by Charlie Kirchoff, and letters by Tom B. Long:



Layout 1

Layout 1

And here’s a short video on the flood, from American Adventure Survival Science (and please note, the host is wearing a Bagby Beer Co. shirt):

Patent No. 266126A: Beer Pump

Today in 1882, US Patent 266126 A was issued, an invention of John Fowler, for his “Beer Pump.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes these claims:

This invention has relation to beer-pumps used in distilleries for pumping beer and mash; and it consists in the novel construction and arrangement of parts, as will be hereinafter fully described, and particularly pointed out in the claims.


Patent No. 286637A: Beer Chip

Today in 1883, US Patent 286637 A was issued, an invention of Edward Fitch, for his “Beer Chip.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes these claims:

My invention consists in a “beer-chip,” so called, for clarifying the beer, which is perforated for the purpose of increasing its superficies and allowing a-circulation of liquid, the holes extending in parallel rows with those of the other, one row alternating with those of the other, so as to least weaken the article; also, in producing a roughened splintery edge on the veneer by breaking or splintering the same.

Heretofore beer-chips have been cut to a certain width by means of saws, knives, or shears, which gives the chip a comparatively smooth, edge,to which no particles in the beer will adhere, confining the clarifying functions to be performed solely through the surfaces of the chip. Should, as sometimes happens, two chips lie one upon the other, (which is never the case with the edges of a chip,) the surfaces of such chips, and consequently the chip itself, will be inoperative and useless as a clarifier in the vat. In order to meet this deficiency and increase the clarifying properties of the chip in general,l make the edges of the chip splintery. as shown in Fig. 2. Amore minute description of forming such splintery edges in the chip is given hereinafter. It will be seen and admitted that to the splintery edges of a chip impurities in the beer will readily ad here and be retained until cleansed and removed by the action of the water in the re= by subjecting the wood or veneer to the action of a pair of cutting-rolls. The wood or veneer is passed through the said-cutting-rolls, is wedged between the male and female cutters, which breaks or slits the veneer into chips, producing the desired splintery edges on the chips.


Patent No. EP1979462A1: Use Of Cacao Polyphenols In Beer Production

Today in 2008, US Patent EP 1979462 A1 was issued, an invention of Herwig Bernaert, for his “Use of Cacao Polyphenols in Beer Production.” Here’s the Abstract:

The present invention relates to a solvent-derived, cocoa extract comprising between 25 and 65% by weight of polyphenols, and uses thereof for improving a beer production process and the resulting beer product. The invention further relates to a method for improving a beer production process as well as the beer product resulting from it. The invention further relates to a beer product with improved quality such as enhanced colloidal, taste and flavor stability. The invention also provides a beer with exogenous polyphenols and a beer comprising at least one cocoa polyphenol. Furthermore, the present invention includes a use of exogenous polyphenols as process enhancer and a use of cocoa for enhancing filtration processes.