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. 3789622A: Ice Box For Beer Barrel

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Today in 1974, US Patent 3789622 A was issued, an invention of Ralph Yanes, for his “Ice Box For Beer Barrel.” Here’s the Abstract:

An insulated barrel shape structure for housing and suspending a beer barrel in the horizontal position surrounded by ice. The rear circular cover of the device is removable for the installation and replacement of the beer barrel and surrounding ice. The circular front cover bears a circular opening for the spigot of the beer barrel. The structure provides for an air-seal between the sides and bottom of the housed beer barrel and the iced refrigerated area of the structure.

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Patent No. 667478A: Hop-Drying Box

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Today in 1901, US Patent 667478 A was issued, an invention of Adolf Wolf, for his “Hop-Drying Box.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

My invention relates to boxes for holding loose material, such as hops, in the process of drying the same, and has for its object to provide a construction which permits the box to be readily turned upside down without discharging the contents thereof and while leaving the top open for a thorough evaporation and escape of steam. For this purpose I provide the box with a removable top and a removable bottom, constructed and secured in a novel manner, as will be fully described hereinafter, and particularly pointed out in the appended claim.

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Historic Beer Birthday: Louis Camille Maillard

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Today is the birthday of French physician and chemist Louis Camille Maillard (February 4, 1878-May 12, 1936) who was the Doogie Howser of his era, joining the faculty of the University of Nancy when he was only sixteen. He rose to prominence thanks to his work on kidney disorders and later taught medicine at the prestigious University of Paris.

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But his biggest contribution, especially to brewing, was an accidental discovery he made in 1912, which today we call the Maillard Reaction, or Browning Reaction.

Here’s the basic description, from Wikipedia:

The Maillard Reaction a chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars that gives browned food its desirable flavor. Seared steaks, pan-fried dumplings, biscuits (widely known in North America as cookies), breads, toasted marshmallows, and many other foods undergo this reaction. It is named after French chemist Louis-Camille Maillard, who first described it in 1912 while attempting to reproduce biological protein synthesis.

The reaction is a form of non-enzymatic browning which typically proceeds rapidly from around 140 to 165 °C (284 to 329 °F). At higher temperatures, caramelization and subsequently pyrolysis become more pronounced.

The reactive carbonyl group of the sugar reacts with the nucleophilic amino group of the amino acid, and forms a complex mixture of poorly characterized molecules responsible for a range of odors and flavors. This process is accelerated in an alkaline environment (e.g., lye applied to darken pretzels), as the amino groups (RNH3+) are deprotonated and, hence, have an increased nucleophilicity. The type of the amino acid determines the resulting flavor. This reaction is the basis of the flavoring industry. At high temperatures, a potential carcinogen called acrylamide can be formed.

In the process, hundreds of different flavor compounds are created. These compounds, in turn, break down to form yet more new flavor compounds, and so on. Each type of food has a very distinctive set of flavor compounds that are formed during the Maillard reaction. It is these same compounds that flavor scientists have used over the years to make reaction flavors.

It was, and is, for food science and understanding how heat and cooking create flavors. If you want to dive deeper, the Warwick Medical School has an article on the Historical Development of the reaction, and NPR’s Food for Thought on the centenary of Malliard’s discovery posted 100 Years Ago, Maillard Taught Us Why Our Food Tastes Better Cooked.

But it was also very important to brewing, too, especially when it comes to malting and roasting malt to get different flavors and colors in the beer. For example, here’s UC Davis professor Charlie Bamforth writing about the Malliard Reaction in his book Grape vs. Grain.

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Not surprisingly, John Mallett, in his recent book Malt: A Practical Guide from Field to Brewhouse, mentions Malliard’s contributions to brewing science.

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The chemistry website Compound Interest has a good explanation with their post, Food Chemistry – The Maillard Reaction.

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And finally, Popular Science’s BeerSci series discusses the Maillard Reaction in How Beer Gets Its Color.

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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Alice Cooper And Chicken And Beer, Oh My!

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Today is the birthday of American rock singer and songwriter Alice Cooper (born Vincent Damon Furnier; February 4, 1948- ). Apparently early in Alice Cooper’s career, there was an incident at a 1969 show in Toronto that helped to create his bad boy persona and get him noticed in the world of rock and roll. That became known as the Chicken Incident, and there are different versions of it that have been told, with this one coming from Wikipedia.

Alice Cooper’s “shock rock” reputation apparently developed almost by accident at first. An unrehearsed stage routine involving Cooper, a feather pillow, and a live chicken garnered attention from the press; the band decided to capitalize on the tabloid sensationalism, creating in the process a new subgenre, shock rock. Cooper claims that the infamous “Chicken Incident” at the Toronto Rock and Roll Revival concert in September 1969 was an accident. A chicken somehow made its way onto the stage into the feathers of a feather pillow they would open during Cooper’s performance, and not having any experience around farm animals, Cooper presumed that, because the chicken had wings, it would be able to fly. He picked it up and threw it out over the crowd, expecting it to fly away. The chicken instead plummeted into the first few rows occupied by wheelchair users, who reportedly proceeded to tear the bird to pieces. The next day the incident made the front page of national newspapers, and Zappa phoned Cooper and asked if the story, which reported that he had bitten off the chicken’s head and drunk its blood on stage, was true. Cooper denied the rumor, whereupon Zappa told him, “Well, whatever you do, don’t tell anyone you didn’t do it.”

Blueiskewl also has another account, with some additional context. Stemming from the infamous chicken incident, at some time in the 1970s, Cooper managed to be in the same room as Colonel Sanders — Harland David Sanders — the founder and face of Kentucky Fried Chicken, a connection not lost on Cooper.

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A perplexed Colonel Sanders posing with Alice Cooper, who’s holding a beer, sometime in the 1970s.

During an interview which was taped for a showing of the film Super Duper Alice Cooper in 2014, Cooper answered a question about his meeting Colonel Sanders in the 1970s.

“Here comes this nice old man in a white suit,” said Cooper. “Suddenly I realize that this is the Hannibal Lecter of chickens. I have the death of exactly one chicken on my hands, and this guy has a score of 10 billion. Yet everyone loves this guy, and hates me for being a chicken killer! The irony of the two of us being in the same room at the same time was not lost on either me or the Colonel.”

And in yet another one by Interviewly, he talks about tying the two together.

What can you tell us about meeting Col. Sanders? Did he bring chicken?

There was an INCREDIBLE thing that happened in the early 70’s! Somebody threw a chicken onstage, I threw the chicken in the audience, the audience tore it to pieces, and then in the newspaper the next day the headline read “Alice Cooper tears chicken to pieces.” It’s the most notorious story about Alice Cooper that’s been going on forever. And I thought “it just one chicken and I didn’t even kill it, the audience killed it, so I thought why not take a picture with the mass murderer of chickens Colonel Sanders?” so to me it had a sense of humor to it. I mean, one chicken for me, seven BILLION chickens for Colonel Sanders. And yet I’m the villain. I would say if you interviewed the chickens they would be more terrified of him than me.

Unfortunately, I can find no specifics about exactly when or where this meeting took place. It looks like it was in someone’s house, or maybe a hotel, but no one seems to know for sure. Perhaps it’s better to leave it mysterious and enigmatic. If it weren’t for the photos, we may not believe it every actually happened.

Anyone want to hazard a guess as to what beer it was? 19702 and with a foil neck and probably label. It’s not Michelob and it doesn’t strike me as a Lowenbrau. It might be something more local or regional, but given that we don’t know the location that’s not much help. It doesn’t look like the Colonel joined Cooper for a beer.

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Patent No. 2230905A: Beverage Cooling Apparatus

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Today in 1941, US Patent 2230905 A was issued, an invention of Louis L. Popky, for his “Beverage Cooling Apparatus.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

The present invention relates to new and useful improvements in apparatus for cooling and dispensing beer and similar beverages, and has for its primary object to provide a dispensing cabinet of a portable nature in which the dispensing faucet is mounted, the faucet being connected to the keg positioned in a room remotely disposed with respect to the cabinet and providing a mechanical cooling unit for circulating air over a set of cooling coils through the cabinet as well as through the room in which the keg is positioned.

A further important object is to provide air ducts leading from the storage room for the beer keg into the cabinet where the same is subjected to the cooling influence of the refrigerant coil and also providing an air duct leading from the cabinet to the storage room for delivering the cooled air to the latter and mounting a beer pipe from ‘the keg in the storage room to the faucet in said cold air duct to further lower the temperature of the beer before the same reaches the faucet.

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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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Norman Rockwell’s Beer

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Today is the birthday of American illustrator and painter Norman Rockwell (February 3, 1894-November 8, 1978) one of the 20th centuries most famous artists. Known for his wholesome depictions of everyday American life, his paintings appeared on the covers of the Saturday Evening Post for almost fifty years, and he frequently did work involving the Boy Scouts, Boys’ Life and such patriotic subjects as “The Four Freedoms.” For a long time, I had assumed his conspicuous absence from the “Beer Belongs” series of ads that the brewing industry did from the 1940s through the 1960s employing some of the best known illustrators of the day, was because he wanted to maintain his wholesome image. But I later found out that he had done quite a bit of advertising work, including for at least one beer company, the Jacob Schmidt Brewing Co.

There’s also “Man with Sandwich and Glass of Beer,” which I believe was painted for an unspecified beer ad, between 1947 and 1950. I far as I can tell, it was never used, as I’ve been unable to turn up the illustration in any actual advertisement. If someone as famous as Rockwell had done the ad, it would be highly collectible and would turn up somewhere.

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But several years earlier, in 1930, he did do an illustration for the Jacob Schmidt Brewing Co., and specifically for their brand, Schmidt’s City Club Beer, which they started brewing in the 1920s as a non-alcoholic beer, though after 1933 it became a golden lager.

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The City Club Beer label in 1933.

It looks like they continued to use the image, and who can blame them, for years afterwards, both in other ads and merchandising. For example, they used the artwork as the back of a deck of promotional playing cards for the brewery in 1954.

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I’d seen the ad before, and searched in vain for a decent size image of it, finding only small ones. But then over the summer, “thrifting” (which is what my son calls going to yard sales and thrift shops), I found a coffee table book of Norman Rockwell’s advertising work published in 1985. And lo and behold, there was the beer ad. So I picked up the book, scanned the ad, and here it is below in all of its glory. One of the few beer ads by one of the best known illustrators in America. It includes all his trademark folksy charm, and it still relatively subtle for an advertisement, which the wooden case of beer being the most prominent sign of the brand. The bottles have the City Club labels on them, but they’re hard to see sitting on the table. A very cool ad and definitely one of my favorites.

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Click here to see the artwork full size.