Patent No. 302282A: Apparatus For Racking Beer

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Today in 1884, US Patent 302282 A was issued, an invention of Johann Pusch, for his “Apparatus for Racking Beer.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

My invention relates to an improved hermetic apparatus for racking beer, and is designed as an improvement on the apparatus described in Letters Patent No. 274,516, granted to me March 27, 1883.

As in the apparatus described in the above, named Letters Patent, the object of this invention is to effectually prevent the escape of the carbonic-acid gas contained in the beer during the process of racking; and the improvements herewith made consist, first, in the novel means employed in connection with the barrel-platform for raising and lowering the same; second, in the novel means for clearing the supply-pipes of all beer after the barrel is filled, and, third, in the novel bung-feeding mechanism, all as will be fully described and claimed.

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Patent No. 141072A: Manufacture of Beer And Yeast

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Today in 1873, US Patent 141072 A was issued, an invention of Louis Pasteur, for his “Manufacture of Beer and Yeast.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

The following is a recapitulation of the essential features of this improved process: The wort is introduced in a iling state in the apparatus, on which a cover is then placed, or the cylinder may be entirely closed and communicate with the atmosphere only by means of the pipes, cocks, and long tubes with which it is provided. Boiling water is then thrown on the a paratns, after which it is allowed to cool with or without the assistance of cold water, during which time air or carbonic-acid gas is admitted by the long tube; but previous to this one of the plug on the cover is closed by unplug, through which passes a tube, terminating in an India rubber tube and glass stopper. Pure wort is then fermented by pure yeast, and, when sufficiently advanced, the contents are poured through the tube in the stopper of the pipe on the cover of the fermenting apparatus.

If there is a supply of pure yeast from the preceding operation this may be used, as in the ordinary processes, the vessel being inverted for the purpose, it’ necessary, after fermentation has commenced; but this might lead to great inconvenience at a subsequent period, although the use of pure yeast, manufactured according to this improved process, would of itself form a great improvement on the ordinary process.

With the aid of the microscope and the method of control, before indicated, the change of condition, which might arise under the latter modes of treatment, may bc readily ascertained; but one cooling apparatus be used or a few, only the wort being p 1;- into vets,- (pitched or varnished on the exterior, which are deprived of any germs of disease, either by the use of boiling water or by the recent applying of pitch on the interior.

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Pyramid Closes Berkeley Brewery

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North American Breweries announced today that effective immediately, they’ve closed the Pyramid Brewery that’s been located in Berkeley, California since 1997. That leaves just the Walnut Creek alehouse remaining in California, after they closed the Sacramento brewpub in 2013.

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At Pyramid’s website, it offers only the following by way of explanation.

The Pyramid Berkeley Alehouse is now closed.

Thank you so much for your support and patronage over the years! We also want to thank our employees for their dedicated service. Our other locations remain open and available to provide great beers and a wonderful experience. We hope to see you there.

The East Bay Express has a bit more of the story, explaining “Berkeley’s Pyramid Alehouse (901 Gilman St.) is now permanently closed, according to a message on the restaurant and brewery’s answering machine.”

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Of course, the story isn’t complete without acknowledging that they haven’t been brewing at that location since 2013, when the brewers voted to unionize and shortly thereafter the company suspended brewing claiming it was to “fix a quality issue.” Which was obvious nonsense, especially now that the closure has gone from temporary to permanent. The original “temporary” period to “fix” the brewery was supposed to be 6-9 months, which meant it should have reopened and brought back the laid-off brewers sometime between March and June of 2014, or a little over one year ago.

This is, at least in part, what happens when breweries become part of larger businesses like equity firms, who only care about profit and bottom lines, and not the businesses themselves. Pyramid is part of North American Breweries (NAB), and was created in 2009 when equity firm KPS Capital Partners (KPS) bought it along with Magic Hat, Portland Brewing, Labatt’s USA, Genesee and a couple of other brands. In 2012, KPS sold NAB to Cerveceria Costa Rica, a subsidiary of Florida Ice & Farm Co., for $388 million.

East Bay Express later added this update, apparently from a press release from NAB:

The company decided to close its Berkeley facility in order to prepare the building for sale — “after an extensive evaluation process. “We have made the decision to focus our West Coast production in our Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington locations,” said CEO Kris Sirchio.

Frankly, that’s about as believable as the celebrity or political figure embroiled in scandal who retires “to spend more time with his family.” I’m sorry to see the brewery go, but frankly NAB has become a difficult company with many layers to get through before finding an actual live person who can, or will, answer questions about the company’s brands. When Sacramento closed, I spent hours on websites and phones just trying to find someone who would comment or answer questions, and this time I’m not even going to try, given how awful it was last time. One commenter on the EBE piece said, “[w]ord on the street is that another brewery is looking to purchase the property,” so perhaps we’ll have good news about the location soon.

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R.I.P. Pyramid Berkeley 1997-2015.

Patent No. 244695A: Process Of Purification Of Hops For Brewing Purposes

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Today in 1881, US Patent 244695 A was issued, an invention of James Walkek, for his “Process of Purification of Hops for Brewing Purposes.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

The mode or process of purifying hops for brewing purposes — to wit — by steeping the hops in water at or approximating a temperature of 100 Fahrenheit until the supernatant liquor ceases to be turbid, then drawing off the Water, and finally removing the thus purified hops direct to the brew-kettle, substantially as set forth.

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Patent No. 2354093A: Brewing Apparatus

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Today in 1944, US Patent 2354093 A was issued, an invention of Berthold Stein, for his “Brewing Apparatus.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

The present invention relates to brewing apparatus, more especially adapted for the achievement of certain improvements in the art of brewing beer, ale, near beer, or the like, with the principal object of making a more palatable and stable malt liquor, because a decided need exists for such improvement, inasmuch as a great many people do not. like to drink the present malt liquor of such general class particularly because of the unpalatable taste or odor.

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Also, today in the same year, US Patent 2354092 A was issued, another invention of Berthold Stein, for his “Art of brewing beer, ale, or near-beer.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

The present invention relates to certain improvements in the art of brewing beer, ale, near beer, or the like, with the principal object of making a more palatable and stable malt liquor, because a decided need exists for such improvement, inasmuch as a great many people do not like to drink the present malt liquor of such general class particularly because of the taste unpalatable or odor.

The drawing file with this patent looks virtually identical to the other one, too.
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Patent No. 3746550A: Method Of Continuous Mashing

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Today in 1973, US Patent 3746550 A was issued, an invention of Lars Karl Johan Ehnstrom, for his “Method of Continuous Mashing.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

The present invention relates to a method of continuous mashing in connection with micro-biological processes, where the mash is heated to a predetermined temperature which is intended to be maintained uniformly when the mash passes through a mashing stage in which enzymatic reactions take place.

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Duvel Invests In Firestone Walker

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Earlier today Firestone Walker Brewing — in a carefully worded press release — announced that Duvel Moortgat and Firestone Walker “will combine their two companies in the USA.”

Here’s they said it on their website, at Firestone Walker news:

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And this was the press release sent out:

July 16, 2015 – Kansas City, Mo., & Paso Robles, Ca. – In an agreement signed earlier this week, Firestone Walker Brewing Company and Duvel Moortgat will combine their two companies in the USA. The California brewery will continue to operate independently in Paso Robles under its current leadership of David Walker and Adam Firestone.

David Walker and Adam Firestone, joint founders of Firestone Walker said: “The Firestone Walker and Duvel Moortgat families have combined forces to broaden their capacity and scope as brewers. Long admirers of each other’s beers, culture and breweries, the two teams saw the perfect fit for an alliance. The partnership will allow Firestone Walker to develop our capacity across the US in a conservative and thoughtful way by consummating a life long tie with this family-owned international craft brewer, who continue their commitment to participating in the American Craft Revolution.”

“The relationship I have built with David and Adam made Firestone Walker the perfect fit for future growth,” said Michel Moortgat, CEO of Duvel Moortgat. “We share the same values; have a great mutual respect for each other’s achievements and a deeply-held belief in exceptional quality as a platform for long-term success. Bringing Firestone Walker together with Boulevard, Ommegang, Duvel and the other craft breweries in our family creates a stronger platform in the USA for us both and allows us to collaborate on brewing in different locations across the USA”

“The most important thing that we can do for Firestone Walker is to help David and Adam manage the exponential growth that their team and their brewery is experiencing right now by providing financial and production capacity to support them,” said Simon Thorpe, President of Duvel Moortgat USA. “We are not integrating our organizations. Both Boulevard and Ommegang are also enjoying tremendous success and we still have much to do in realizing our dream for both these breweries.”

The transaction between Duvel Moortgat and Firestone Walker is expected to close later this year. It is an agreement between two private, family-owned companies, so no financial or contractual details will be disclosed.

It will be interesting to see how this is the same or different from the deal Duvel did with Boulevard Brewing almost two years ago, from which Boulevard seems to have emerged unscathed and doing well, both in terms of quality and public perception. At this point, it appears it may be similar, with very little changing in terms of day to day operations of the brewery and with all the key people remaining in place.

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Patent No. 860390A: Hop-Jack

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Today in 1907, US Patent 860390 A was issued, an invention of George Edward Laubenheimer, for his “Hop-Jack.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

The Object of this invention is to provide a hop jack in which the screen or strainer is so constructed that the wort quickly drains oh and the hops are quickly and, thoroughly sparged and removed from the greater portion of the surface of the screen by mechanical means, thereby obviating n great deal of the manual lahoi’ usually required where a lalsc bottom is employed.

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Patent No. 5648246A: Process For The Continuous Preparation Of Wort

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Today in 1997, US Patent 5648246 A was issued, an invention of Christiaan Willem Versteegh, assigned to Heineken Technical Services B.V., for his “Process For The Continuous Preparation Of Wort.” Here’s the Abstract:

This invention relates to a process for the continuous preparation of wort, including the continuous enzymatic conversion of malt in one rotating disc contactor and separation of spent grain from mash in a separation unit. Further, a process for the continuous preparation of wort, including the continuous gelatinization and enzymatic liquefaction of a mixture based on unmalted grain, malt and/or an enzyme source and water in a rotating disc contactor, addition of malt and/or enzyme source to the product obtained, enzymatic conversion of the product obtained and separation of the spent grain from the mash in a separation unit.

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Patent No. 4212950A: Fermenting Apparatus

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Today in 1980, US Patent 4212950 A was issued, an invention of Robert P. Adams, assigned to The Virtis Company, Inc., for his “Fermenting Apparatus.” Here’s the Abstract:

Apparatus providing for the growth of cells in a nutrient bath under controlled conditions includes a pressure vessel with a surrounding dimpled jacket. The pressure vessel is adjustably mounted on three vertical mounting columns, from which it is thermally isolated. Temperature control for the pressure vessel is achieved by a closed heat transfer system which includes a pair of heat exchanger sections in series, one for heating and one for cooling the heat transfer fluid. A removable head or lid for the pressure vessel is lifted by three cables running through a common pulley mounted above the pressure vessel. Impeller blades for agitating the contents of the fermenting apparatus have a drive shaft that extends through the head and is connected to a gear box by a removable driving link. The gear box, and an associated drive motor, are affixed to a common mounting bracket that is pivotable to permit maximum displacement of the head.

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