Asahi Likely To Buy Grolsch, Meantime & Peroni

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Anhesuer-Busch InBev has been trying to sell off their Grolsch, Meantime and Peroni, since acquiring SABMiller last year. ABI confirmed this morning that they’ve received a binding offer to purchase the three beer brands from Japan’s Asahi Breweries. According to Just Drinks, “Asahi has been granted a ‘period of exclusivity’ related to the purchase, which, AB InBev flagged, is ‘conditional on the successful closing of the recommended acquisition of SABMiller by AB InBev.'” The amount offered by Asahi is 2.55 billion euros (around $2.86 billion in U.S. dollars) and which, if accepted, would go a long way toward addressing regulatory concerns about the acquisition of SABMiller by ABI. Reuters also has more about the particulars.

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The Asahi Breweries headquarters in Tokyo, from a trip I took there to judge a beer competition in 2013.

Patent No. 1171306A: Method Of Dealcoholizing Beer

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Today in 1916, US Patent 1171306 A was issued, an invention of William Becker and Daniel Hayden Montgomery, for their “Method of Dealcoholizing Beer.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

What we claim is:

1. The herein described method of dealcoholizing beverages, the same consisting in raising the temperature of a charge of such beverage to substantially 167 F., then converting the charge into spray to permit it to give off its alcohol, then raising the charge a ain to a temperature no higher than at rst, then repeating this process, and finally cooling the product and conducting it to a point of storage.

2. The herein described method of dealcoholizing beverages, the same consisting in raising the temperature of a charge of such beverage to not over 167 F., then spraying the’ charge into a sheet and subjecting the sheet to substantially the same temperature to permit it to give off its alcohol, then collecting the charge and raising it again to substantially the same temperature, then repeating this process, and finally cooling the product and conducting it to a point of storage.

3. The herein described. method of dealcoholizing beverages, the-same consisting in raising the temperature of a charge of such beverage to not over 167 F., then spraying the charge into a sheet and subjecting the sheet to substantially the same temperature to permit it to give off its alcohol, then collecting the treated beverage, cooling it, and finally conducting it to a point of storage.

4. The herein described method of dealcoholizing beverages, the same consisting in spraying the beverage, collecting the spray into a flowing sheet and subjecting it to heat to raise its temperature to not over 167 F. and cause it to give off the alcohol, then collecting the beverage without its alcohol vapors and again heating it to substantially the same temperature, then pumping it back and retreating it, and finally conveying the de-alcoholized beverage to a point of storage.

Must have been pretty important given Prohibition was about to start in just a few years.
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Historic Beer Birthday: Morton Coutts

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Today is the birthday of Morton W. Coutts (February 7, 1904-June 25, 2004) who was a “New Zealand inventor who revolutionized the science of brewing beer,” and “is best known for the continuous fermentation method.”

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Here’s a basic biography from the DB Breweries website:

Morton Coutts (1904-2004) was the inheritor of a rich brewing tradition dating back to the 19th century. Like his father, W. Joseph Coutts and grandfather, Joseph Friedrich Kühtze, Morton Coutts was more an innovator and scientific brewer than a businessman. He was foundation head brewer of Dominion Breweries Ltd under (Sir) Henry Kelliher and became a director of the company after his father’s death in 1946. He and Kelliher formed a formidable team-Coutts, the boffin-like heir to a rich brewing heritage, obsessed with quality control and production innovation, and Kelliher, a confident, entrepreneurial businessman, able to hold his own with politicians and competitors.

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Morton Coutts’ most important contribution was the development in the 1950s of the system of continuous fermentation, patented in 1956, to give greater beer consistency and product control. The continuous fermentation process was so named because it allows a continuous flow of ingredients in the brewing, eliminating variables to produce the ideal beer continuously. The system achieved this by scrapping open vats-the weak link in the old system-and replacing them with enclosed sealed tanks. Continuous fermentation allows the brew to flow from tank to tank, fermenting under pressure, and never coming into contact with the atmosphere, even when bottled. Coutts’ research showed that his process could produce consistent, more palatable beer with a longer shelf life than under batch brewing. A London newspaper described it as a “brewer’s dream and yours too”. Coutts patented the process, and subsequently the patent rights were sold worldwide as other brewers recognised the inherent benefits of continuous processes. Although many attempted to implement the technology, most failed due to their inability to apply the rigorous hygiene techniques developed and applied by Coutts. Eventually, in 1983, Coutts’ contribution to the industry was honoured in New Zealand.

And DB Breweries also has a timeline with key events in the brewery’s history, including dates from Coutts’ life.

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The Waitemata Brewery in 1933, after it became part of DB Breweries.

As for his most influential invention, continuous fermentation, here are some resources, one from New Zealand’s Science Trust Roadshow with Morton Coutts — Continuous Fermentation System. And after I visited New Zealand, I wrote a sidebar on it for an article I did for All About Beer, and also later when a German university announced something very similar a few years ago in Everything Old Is New Again: Non-Stop Fermentation.

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Coutts later in life.

Also, here’s the story of him creating DB Export The Untold Story, featuring this fun video.

Patent No. 123390A: Improvement In Beer And Water Coolers

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Today in 1872, US Patent 123390 A was issued, an invention of Charles Geenen, for his “Improvement in Beer and Water Coolers.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

My device relates to that class of coolers or refrigerators which have an interior ice-receptacle, an outer inclosed chamber, in which is placed some non-conducting material or substance, and an intermediate chamber or chambers, in which, and through which, the beer is made to pass directly from the barrel or vessel in which the beer is contained. The object which I have in viewing my device is to furnish a cooler or refrigerator which Shall be portable, cheap, and conveniently handled or moved from one place or position to another in a store or other room, wherever it may be required to use it, and, at the same time, easily attached, by means of pipes, flexible or otherwise, to the barrel or vessel containing the beer which it is desired to cool; but my improvement will be more clearly understood by reference to the annexed drawing, whereon all that I claim as pertaining thereto is very clearly shown, and on Which- Y Figure l represents a perspective view of the cooler as when complete and ready for use. Fig. 2 is a vertical section of the same.

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Patent No. 3425839A: Continuous Beer Making Process Wherein The Wort And Yeast Are Separated By A Porous Partition

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Today in 1969, US Patent 3425839 A was issued, an invention of Michael Alan Pinnegar, assigned to Brewing Patents Ltd., for his “Continuous Beer Making Process Wherein the Wort and Yeast Are Separated by a Porous Partition.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

A potable beer is produced by circulating a body of yeast-containing liquor on one side of a partition and maintaining a moving body of wort on the opposite side of the partition. The partition is porous and has a pore size small enough to effectively bar the passage of yeast cells, but allows the passage of the soluble constituents of the wort and the soluble products resulting from the fermentation of the wort by the yeast.

The present invention relates to the production of potable beer by the fermentation of brewers wort by yeast in a continuous fermentation process. The term continuous fermentation process is used herein to refer to a fermentation process, in which brewers Wort is introduced in a stream into a fermentation zone. The stream of wort can be introduced at either constant or varying rates and may be continuous or discontinuous in the sense of being interrupted at constant or varying intervals. However in the generally preferred procedure brewers wort is introduced into the fermentation zone at a substantially constant rate over a substantial period of time e.g. not less than five days.

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Historic Beer Birthday: Adolph Coors

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Today is the birthday of Adolph Coors (February 4, 1847-June 5, 1929) whose full name was Adolph Hermann Josef Coors, although it’s probable that the Coors surname was originally spelled Kuhrs, or something like that. Coors was born in what today is Germany, in the town of Barmen, part of Rhenish Prussia, or Rhineland. After being orphaned as a fifteen-year old boy, he continued the apprenticeship he’d begun earlier at the Wenker Brewery in Dortmund, and later on was a paid employee. When he was 21, he stowed aboard a ship in Hamburg and made his way to New York City, where he changed the family name to its present spelling. By spring he’d moved to Chicago, and shortly thereafter became a foreman of John Stenger’s brewery in nearby Napierville, where he worked for the next four years.

At the beginning of 1872, he resigned and headed west, to Denver, Colorado. Coors took a few odd jobs, and then he purchased a partnership in the bottling firm of John Staderman, buying out his partner later the same year, assuming control of the entire business. But it was the following year, on November 14, 1873, that the Coors empire really began. On that day, Adolph Coors, along with Denver confectioner Jacob Schueler, bought the Golden City Tannery, which had been abandoned, in Golden, Colorado, and transformed it into the Golden Brewery. “By February 1874 they were producing beer for sale. In 1880 Coors purchased Schueler’s interest, and the brewery was renamed Adolph Coors Golden Brewery.”

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And here’s a short biography from the Colorado Encyclopedia:

Adolph Coors (1847–1929) immigrated to the United States in 1868 after serving as a brewery apprentice in western Germany and then in the Kingdom of Prussia. After working in Chicago breweries, he moved to Colorado in 1872 and purchased a bottling company. He transformed it into the Coors Brewing Company and became one of Colorado’s wealthiest and most influential men during the early twentieth century.

After moving to Denver, Coors promptly bought into a bottling company and became the sole owner by the end of the year. In 1873 he started looking for a place to build a brewery with access to clean mountain water and found one at the abandoned Golden Tannery. He partnered with candy store owner and fellow German Jacob Scheuler to purchase the tannery and turned it into the Scheuler and Coors Brewing Company, one of the first breweries in the area. By 1874, even in the midst of economic crisis, the company was making 800 gallons of beer a day. Their beer was valued for its taste, consistency, and crispness.

Coors hired many German immigrants to run his beer factory, bottling plant, malt house, and icehouse. He invested heavily in new technology, such as metal bottle caps and increased automation. In 1879 he married Louisa Weber. The couple had six children – three daughters and three sons. That same year, he bought out Scheuler and became the sole owner of Coors Brewing. He allowed his workers to join the United Brewery Workmen of the United States and paid them well. The brewery famously provided free beer to its workers during breaks. By 1890, Coors was a millionaire, a US citizen, and a medal winner at the Chicago World’s Fair.

The movement to abolish alcohol began to gather momentum in the late nineteenth century. Coors correctly diversified his investments; beer may be recession-proof, but it would not weather Prohibition. In 1916, when Prohibition began in Colorado, Coors shifted his manufacturing from beer to milk products and porcelain. In 1933, with the repeal of Prohibition, Coors returned to his preferred product but continued to manufacture other goods.

Coors generally remained aloof from Denver high society, but he felt great kinship with his employees and identified with them as a craftsman. He instituted more breaks, better working conditions, and higher wages for his workers than did almost all other brewers. But Coors became disillusioned with his product in the early twentieth century, after pasteurization (the heating of beer to kill microbes) and mass marketing transformed the beer industry. Coors took his life in 1929 by jumping from his hotel balcony in Virginia Beach. In his will, he stipulated that his hotel bill be paid in its entirety; otherwise, he left no note and no reason for his action. Coors is remembered for his entrepreneurial spirit, his rags-to-riches immigrant story, and his dedication to the craft of brewing beer.

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A portrait of Adolph Coors by artist Bill Moomey

Coors was elected to the Colorado Business Hall of Fame in 1990, who produced a short film of his life for the induction ceremony:

And here’s an early postcard depicting the Coors Brewery in Golden, Colorado. It’s a remarkable place and you should definitely take the tour if you ever get near that part of the world.

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Patent No. 878136A: Brew-House Equipment

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Today in 1908, US Patent 878136 A was issued, an invention of Max Henius, for his “Brew-House Equipment.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

The gist of my invention lies in centering about a single point on the brew-house floor, on which the entire apparatus employed in producing the wort is located, all the controlling means for governing and inspecting the operation of the different parts, whereby all such means are rendered conveniently accessible to the manipulation and view of a single operator whose position of duty is at such centering point.

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U. Penn Students Win Prize For 9 Times Faster Brewing Process

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I tend to be skeptical of anyone who claims to be able to shorten the brewing process, especially by up to nine times, since brewing is a pretty time-honored process, improved little by little over the centuries. And generally speaking, speeding up fermentation has rarely resulted in better beer. Of course, there was that flourish of decades beginning with the industrial revolution that speeded up that process considerably, but since then things have slowed down to a more manageable pace. But that’s exactly what got the winners of this year’s Y-Prize, from the University of Pennsylvania, the grand prize $10,000, “for developing a process that speeds up the fermentation process in beer production by up to nine times — while maintaining alcohol quality and composition.”

The three winners, Alexander David, Shashwata Narain and Siddharth Shah, are students in the Wharton School and the School of Engineering and Applied Science. They’ll received “$10,000 and the rights to commercialize the technology through their company,” which they’ve named “Fermento.”

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The Fermento Team: Alexander David, Shashwata Narain and Siddharth Shah

From UPenn:

The Fermento team selected microfluidic fabrication technology developed by Assistant Professor of Bioengineering David Issadore as the basis of their application.

The alcohol in beer is the product of yeast, which metabolically converts sugar found in barley and other grains into ethanol. This fermentation process typically occur in large batch reactors, where a concoction of boiled and strained grain liquid, known as wort, is left mixed with a carefully controlled amount of yeast.

This stage is one of the major bottlenecks of beer production. It can take up to three weeks, as maintaining the correct amount of yeast is a delicate balance.

“There is only a certain amount of yeast cells one can directly add to a batch reactor,” Narain says, “because overpopulation causes physiological stress on the yeast cells, which in turn reduces reaction rate. It takes time for yeast cells to grow and reach a critical mass to produce enough beer. Moreover, the concentration of sugar available to yeast cells is limited because in a large batch solutions, yeast cells don’t consistently interact with sugar molecules.”

Capable of delivering precisely controlled amounts of liquids to exact locations in a conveyer-belt fashion, microfluidics present a possible solution to both of these challenges. Yeast and wort can be introduced to one another in microdroplets, providing the optimal ratio for fermentation each time.

“Microdroplets to speed up fermentation have been tried in labs, but none of the technologies so far are scalable,” Narain says. “This patented technology actually makes the process industrially scalable for the first time, and in a financially feasible manner.”

So who knows. According to another report, “[t]heir advisors include executives from some of the biggest brewers in the world: MillerCoors, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Biocon India and Heineken. And say what you will about them, but those beer companies employ brewers who know how to make beer. So there may be something to it. It will be interesting to see what becomes of the idea.

Historic Beer Birthday: Johann Schiff

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Today is the birthday of Johann Schiff (February 1, 1813-?). Schiff was born in Rohrbach, Germany, but appears to have emigrated to Ohio by at least 1850, but probably earlier. He was a co-owner on the Eagle Brewery in Cincinnati, Ohio, which was known by various names names, such as the Schaller & Schiff Brewery and later the Schaller-Gerke Brewery and finally the Gerke Brewing Co. Accounts seem to vary about his involvement, and especially with the names of the brewery as they changed, but here’s the timeline from the Queen City Chapter’s page, entitled Cincinnati Brewing History-Preprohibition 1811-1919

1829: William Lofthouse and William Attee operate THE EAGLE BREWERY located on Fourth Street from 1829 until 1843. William Lofthouse becomes the sole proprietor of the brewery after William Attee dies in 1843 and he operates the brewery until his own death in 1850. His widow leases the brewery to Joseph Schaller and Johann Schiff who continue to use the EAGLE BREWERY name and operate the facility from 1850 to 1857.

1854: Joseph Schaller and Johann Schiff purchased land on the Miami-Erie Canal near Plum Street and construct a new brewery which they operate from 1854 to 1866. They continued to use the EAGLE BREWERY name. In 1866 Schaller buys out Schiff and he becomes a partner with John Gerke. The brewery name becomes SCHALLER & GERKE, EAGLE BREWERY. They continue in business together until 1882.

1861: Joseph Schaller buys out his partner, Johann Schiff, and continues to operate THE EAGLE BREWERY. In 1866, John Gerke becomes a partner in the business and the brewery operates until 1882.

1882: After John Gerke‘s death, his son, George, takes his place in the brewery and the business is incorporated as THE GERKE BREWING CO. In 1904, a new building is erected but is soon sold to the French-Bauer Dairy and the Gerke Brewing Co. is out of business by 1912.

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I have been unable to find any portraits of Johann Schiff, or indeed much biographical information of any kind. There’s a bit more about the fate of the brewery after Schiff was bought out, and it became known as the Gerke Brewing Co. For example, Lagering Cellar 1861 has some Gerke Brewery History.

Joseph Schaller came to America as a young man. Working as a laborer in Cincinnati and on the Erie Canal, he saved his money to start a vinegar works. He purchased the old Lofthouse Brewery (located on 4th Street) with Johann Schiff in 1850. While not trained as a brewer, he hired well. They quickly grew the business and built the Eagle Brewery at the corner of Plum and Canal in 1854.

The brewery was located at the Plum Street bend of the Miami & Erie Canal, and had large arched windows unique to Cincinnati breweries0 These windows are duplicated in the doors to the elevator room you came through. Partnering with John Gerke, he grew the brewery to be one of the largest and most modern in the city, producing about 140,000 barrels of beer a year. Before retiring, he helped his three sons start the Schaller Brothers Main Street Brewery. Gerke continued brewing until 1912. Brewery was replaced with the French Bauer Ice Cream Factory in 1917, which still exists as the Court Street Center building today.

Gerke continued brewing until 1912.

Schaller & Schiff, Eagle Brewery (4th Street) 1850 – 1857
Schaller & Schiff, Eagle Brewery 1854 – 1866
Schaller & Gerke, Eagle Brewery 1866 – 1882
Gerke Brewing Company 1882 – 1912

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The first brewery on this corner was the Eagle Brewery from 1854 to 1866, owned by Joseph Schaller and Johann Schiff. In 1866, Schiff left the company and John Gerke joined in. The name was changed to Schaller & Gerke, Eagle Brewery and they continued together until 1882. The Schallers left the business then to purchase the Main Street Brewery and after the death of his father John, George Gerke continued the business at Canal and Plum Streets.

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Founded in 1854 as the Eagle Brewery closer to the Ohio River, Joseph Schaller and John Gerke built a new brewery at the bend of the Miami and Erie Canal in 1866. Beer was brewed there until 1910.

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The brewery equipment was sold at auction October 15, 1913.

Patent No. 642548A: Bottle-Filling Machine

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Today in 1900, US Patent 642548 A was issued, an invention of Thomas Howard, for his “Bottle-Filling Machine.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

My invention relates to machines for filling bottles with beer or other liquids and is designed to provide certain improvements in the construction of the same whereby the bottles may be fed to and removed from the filling devices from either side, the bottle-necks automatically sealed, except vas to the supply tubes and vent-pipes, when the bottles are in the filling position, the supply of liquid to the bottles automatically turned on and automatically cut off when the mouths of the filling tubes are reached, and the surplus liquid in the filling-tubes and vent-pipes automatically fed into the bottles as the latter are being removed from the filling-tubes.

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