Today in 1873, US Patent 135245 A was issued, an invention of Louis Pasteur, for his “Improvement in Brewing Beer and Ale.” There’s no Abstract, but Pasteur explains in the description that this is a “process of brewing without the presence in the wort of atmosphericair, my invention has for its object to produce a better quality and greater quantity of beer from the same quantity and quality of wort, and to afford a beer which shall also embody the quality of greater degree of unalterableness during time and changes of climate, &c., in transportation and use; and to these ends my invention consists in expelling the air from the boiled wort while confined in a closed vessel or closed vessels, and then cooling it by the application of sprays of water to the exterior of such vessel or vessels, as will be hereinafter more fully explained.”
Today in 1971, US Patent 3558326 A was issued, an invention of William J. Durant, William C. Herwig, and Donald H. Westermann, assigned to Miller Brewing, for their “Process for Isomerizing and Purifying Hop Extracts.” There’s no Abstract, but they describe it as a “hop extract substantially free from waxes, oils, and nonacidic hop components is prepared by treating a waterimmiscible solvent solution of hop extract with an aqueous alkaline solution to isomerize acid hop components in the aqueous phase. The waxes, oils, and nonacidic hop components enter the nonaqueous phase and are removed with the latter. The aqueous phase is acidied, more solvent is added, and the hop acids enter the solvent phase and are recovered therefrom. The extract is used in making beer of improved light stability.”
Today in 1972, US Patent 172687 A was issued, an invention of John A. Angelbeck Jr., assigned to Pack Rite Packaging & Crating, for his “Pallet.” There’s no Abstract, but it’s described as a “pallet used for the storage and transporting of containers such as beer kegs and the like.” It’s essentially a plastic pallet, and while I’ve seen a few of them, I don’t think they’ve replaced the wooden pallet the way the inventor hoped.
Today in 1966, US Patent 3231384 A was issued, an invention of William Ernest Parker and Francis Lloyd Rigby, assigned to Canadian Breweries Ltd., for their “Continuous Boiling and Hopping of Brewers’ Wort.” There’s no Abstract, but partway down in the description is this:
The method of the present invention generally comprises forming a continuously flowing stream of hot brewers wort, causing said stream to flow in a substantially horizontal path, continuously introducing a predetermined mass of hops to said stream, heating said flowing wort, venting said stream of undesirable volatiles above said path of flow and controlling the time flow ratio of said wort and hops as to hop said wort to desired degree, and finally continuously discharging spent and hopped wort from said stream. This may be carried out with the wort and hops flowing counter-current to one another, discharging spent hops at one end of the path and hopped wort at the other. Alternatively, it may be carried out in a co-current flow.
The method may be carried out in particularly simple apparatus which may take the form, for counter-current flow, of a substantially horizontally disposed tubular vessel with provision for introducing wort towards one end thereof and hops in the other end thereof and which includes a perforated auger moving the hops in countercurrent flow to the continuously flowing wort as to cause spent hops to discharge at one end of the apparatus and hopped wort at the other, and which is a preferred type of apparatus proposed although such counter-current flow might be achieved by apparatus of other design. For cocurrent flow, the wort is introduced at one end while the hops are introduced adjacent that end and/or selectively along the length of the vessel.
Today in 2001, US Patent 1070116 A1 was issued, an invention of Matthew L. Tripp, assigned to the Green Bay Beer Company, for his “Beer Flavor Concentrate.” Here’s the short Abstract. “A beer flavor concentrate and a method for making and using the beer flavor concentrate to produce a final beer product through the addition of carbonated water and alcohol.”
While I’m not sure if this was ever marketed as, or as part of, a product, more recently concentrated beer has become available on the market. For example, Pat’s Backcountry Beverages was made primarily for camping. Over the last couple of years, both Popular Science and Gizmodo have been taken a look at how it works and if the reconstituted beer is any good.
Below is an article I wrote about beer cans nine years ago telling the story of their history.
The beer can debuted in 1935, when an otherwise obscure brewery from New Jersey — Gottfried Krueger Brewing Co. — test-marketed them in Virginia, as far from their home market as possible. Breweries may have been initially reluctant, but the public loved cans — they were an overnight sensation. By the end of that first year, Schlitz (then one of America’s biggest brewers) had their beer in cans and every other brewery quickly followed suit.
The beer can was invented by American Can, who patented “Vinylite,” a plastic lining for cans marketed under the brand name “Keglined.” Over the years, the technology continued to improve, from tin to all-aluminum, from cone tops to flat tops, from clumsy openers to pull tops, yet one seemingly intractable problem remained: metal turbity. That’s the technical term for metal leeching into the beer, and consumers increasingly complained about the tainted metallic flavor in canned beer.
But then craft beer became popular, and with it better beer evangelists preached that canned beer could never be good. And that remained conventional wisdom for decades, made virtually dogma. During that same time, however, research by the can companies solved the metal turbidity problem. Using an organic polymer — really a water-based epoxy acrylic — that was sprayed inside each can during manufacturing, it could now honestly be said that the beer never touched the metal.
Unfortunately, the only beer in cans was not the type that most beer geeks would willingly quaff. The other great hurdle to getting craft beer in a can was the cost. You could buy a cheap, used bottling line but canning lines were quite massive and very expensive. And the people who made cans were used to selling them to big breweries, and so the minimum run for a can was something on the order of a full railroad car, too many and too expensive for even the biggest microbreweries.
But then the bottom fell out of microbrewing, and by the late-1990s equipment suppliers were also feeling the pinch. Hoping to survive the economic downturn, Canada’s Cask Brewing Systems created an affordable solution. They designed a small manual canning line that was cheaper than the average bottling line and persuaded Ball Corporation (a leading can manufacturer) to significantly reduce their minimum orders. All they had to do was convince someone to try canning their beer.
And so Cask started appearing at trade shows and repeatedly sending literature to breweries. When Dale Katechis, of Oskar Blues, in Lyons, Colorado, first read the pitch, he “just laughed and laughed,” thinking there’s “no way this can be done.” But the more he looked into it, the less he laughed. A few months later — in 2002 — Dale’s Pale Ale was released, the first craft beer to be hand-canned. By 2005, Oskar Blues was the biggest brewpub in the U.S. and Dale’s was declared by the New York Times to be the best pale ale in America.
The Oskar Blues team became evangelists for canned beer with the slogan “the canned-beer apocalypse.” Other small breweries noticed Dale’s success and he was only too happy to show them the light. Today, there are nearly forty [in 2006] craft brewers hand-canning their beer.
There are almost as many kinds of beer in cans as there are styles these days, too, from extreme, strong offerings like Surly’s Furious (a 100-IBU Imperial IPA) and Old Chubb (a Scotch Ale) to more unusual beers like Maui Brewing’s CoCoNut Porter and 21st Amendment’s Hell or High Watermelon to lighter lagers like Sly Fox’s Pikeland Pils and Steamwoks Steam Engine Lager. And now that New Belgium Brewing, one of the largest American craft brewers, is canning their popular Fat Tire Amber Ale, expect to see many more beers in cans in the future.
The biggest challenge is unmaking the dogmatic perception of beer in cans as an evil. It’s a persistent prejudice, but is slowly beginning to change as the advantages to canned beer become more widely known. They keep out all UV light, avoiding the skunky taste of clear and green glass. Cans have lower oxygen levels, meaning longer shelf life. They won’t break; they chill faster and can be taken more places, especially where glass is prohibited. And they’re more environmentally friendly, using less packaging plus more of the can is recyclable, with more used in manufacturing recycled cans. Cans are also lighter, resulting in lower transportation costs and fewer fossil fuels needed.
But in the end, the only thing that matters is how the beer tastes. Side-by-side can vs. draft taste tests reveal that it is virtually impossible to tell the difference. That, coupled with the real advantages of the packaging, means that craft beer in cans is where the future of craft beer is heading.
When I originally wrote that article, around two dozen small breweries were canning their beer, and when I first posted this in 2011 that number had quadrupled, with over 100 small brewers canning their beer. In 2015, the Canned Beer Database lists 480 breweries offering their beer in cans. It’s great to see good beer in cans become more and more common, and we should continue to see more canned beer from craft brewers in the future. Why not pick up some today and see for yourself how good it now is from a can, especially as we celebrate “Beer Can Appreciation Day.”
Today in 1973, US Patent 3712820 A was issued, an invention of Martin F. Walmsley and John Valentine Cross, and assigned to John Labatt Ltd., for their “Process for Making a Brewers’ Wort Beer.” There’s no Abstract, but in the description they explain that the “invention provides a process for producing a brewers wort in which an aqueous slurry of a raw starch containing material, preferably a cereal grain such as barley, is heated to 40 55 C. at which temperature it is subjected to the action of a discrete proteolytic enzyme and, optionally, a discrete ot-amylase enzyme, then heated to 65-90 C. at which temperature it is subjected to the action of a discrete a-amylase enzyme to solubilise the starch, after which it is cooled to 40-65 C. at which temperature it is subjected to the action of a discrete amylase enzyme or source thereof to produce fermentable sugars.”
From the press release:
“For two decades, we’ve welcomed guests into our brewpubs and served them creative and impeccably crafted beers,” said Joe Bisacca, Elysian CEO and co-founder, who will continue with Elysian along with his partners, Dick Cantwell and David Buhler. “After a lot of hard work, we’ve grown from one Seattle brewpub to four pub locations and a production brewery. With the support of Anheuser-Busch, we will build on past successes and share our beers with more beer lovers moving forward.”
Dick Cantwell, Elysian co-founder and Head Brewer added, “Throughout our journey we’ve been focused on brewing a portfolio of both classic and groundbreaking beers and supporting innovation and camaraderie in the beer industry through collaboration and experimentation. By joining with Anheuser-Busch we’ll be able to take the next steps to bring that energy and commitment to a larger audience.”
Elysian sold more than 50,000 barrels of beer in 2014, with Immortal IPA accounting for more than a quarter of the company’s total volume.
“Elysian’s story includes everything we look for in a partner,” said Andy Goeler, CEO, Craft, Anheuser-Busch. “The team has spent their careers brewing distinctive beers in the thriving West Coast beer community and building unique venues that celebrate beer. As the fastest growing brewer in Washington, their recipe is working. Elysian’s brands are an important addition to our high-end beer portfolio, and we look forward to working together.”
In addition to the Seattle Airport Way brewery, the acquisition includes the company’s four Seattle brewpubs, Elysian Capitol Hill, Elysian Tangletown, Elysian Fields and Elysian BAR.
Anheuser-Busch’s purchase of Elysian is expected to close by the end of the first quarter of 2015. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
Not sure what to make of the news yet, all I know is what’s in the press release. So far, there’s been no statement from anyone at Elysian, though I suspect we’ll learn more throughout the day.
Today in 1912, US Patent 1015443 A was issued, an invention of Robert Hoffmann, for his “Apparatus for Macerating Wort.” There’s no Abstract, but in the description he explains the problem and his solution:
In macerating they wort in making beer the sparging water has hitherto been poured on to the wort by means of a rotary sprayer spraying over or sparging the wort. As the sparging water falls from a certain height on to the surface of the wort it is not only impossible to avoid unintentionally mixing the wort with the sparging water,’but the latter is also undesirably cooled. Both disadvantages thus involve a loss of yield from the grain and thus mean an incomplete’ working.
Now as compared with the ordinary apparatus for maceration this invention consists in the sparging water not being, allowed to fall from a height on to the surface of the wort but being introduced in layers on to the surface of the wort, so that the grain during maceration is slowly compressed by the sparging water and does not mix therewith.
This improved apparatus consists in other’ words in the sparging water being allowed to flow on to the wort in a continuous stream without first having to fall through the air — on to the surface of the wort.
Today in 1985, US Patent 4494451 A was issued, an invention of John F. Hickey, for his “Brewing Apparatus.” Here’s the Abstract:
Brewing apparatus which comprises a first vessel including heating means, a second vessel including strainer means, a third vessel, and a valve means and pump arrangement by means of which the three vessels can be coupled as necessary for fluid transfer purposes so that the first vessel can be used firstly as a hot liquor tank to produce hot liquor which is transferred to the third vessel which serves firstly as a hot liquor container, from which in use the hot liquor is transferred to the second vessel wherein it is mashed with malt to produce a wort and which serves firstly as a mash tun, from which the wort is transferred to the first vessel therein to be heated with hops whereby the first vessel serves secondly as a brewing kettle from which the resultant brew is transferred to the third vessel which serves secondly as a fermenting vessel.