Patent No. 5203181A: Container-Cooler

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Today in 1993, US Patent 5203181 A was issued, an invention of Charles E. Brossia, Philip S. Desmond, and Eckhard F. Rahn, assigned to Miller Brewing Company, for their “Container-Cooler.” Here’s the Abstract:

A container-cooler for a beverage, such as beer, includes a conventional keg-shaped outer shell, an inner vessel for containing the beverage retained within the shell, and a space between the inner vessel and the outer shell for receiving a cooling medium, such as ice.

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Patent No. 1581918A: Production Of Fermentable Worts

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Today in 1926, US Patent 1581918 A was issued, an invention of William Hastings Campbell, for his “Production of Fermentable Worts.” There’s no Abstract, but the description states that “This invention relates to the production of fermentable worts, the production of industrial alcohol and the cultivation of yeast, and has for its object to provide improvements therein.” Here’s a bit more.

The invention consists broadly in the process of producing fermentable worts and the cultivation of yeast which comprises introducing the liquor component of the wort and the solid material from which the fermentable bodies are derived into apparatus in which a plurality of superimposed inclinable diaphragms are arranged, allowing the solid material to settle on the diaphragms, withdrawing the wort and discharging the solid material from the apparatus after a suitable washing operation to extract the soluble bodies mechanically held thereby.

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The Portland Cuckoo Clock

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This post is just a bit of fun, especially if you love clocks and are intrigued by anything to do with time. This was the first time, I got to see the Portland is Happening Now cuckoo clock that was installed at Portland International Airport (PDX) in December of last year, and it is a sight to behold.

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It’s only going to be there through this fall, so if you have a chance to go through PDX, be sure to stop and stare at it for at least a few minutes in a zen-like trance. It’s 24-feet tall and weighs 7,000 pounds, which makes it the largest free-standing cuckoo clock in the United States. It was made by Nicolas Gros, and the clock was carved by native Oregon sculptor J. Chester Armstrong.

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The actual cuckoo is a rooster, but you only see him once per hour. There are, however, numerous symbols associated with Oregon, and that means beer, too. One of the twelve symbols on the gear on the clock face is a beer glass with “You’re Welcome” printed on it.

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But I’m especially keen on the two Blue Jays drinking from a mug of beer that cycles around the two doors on either side of the bottom of the clock face. It’s a curious choice, since Blue Jays aren’t native to Oregon, or anywhere on the west coast for that matter. But they’re one of my favorite birds and I grew up with them in Pennsylvania. There’s also a lot of other very cool Oregon things, like Bigfoot and bicycles, and of course a man riding a beer barrel holding a glass of beer out in joy and celebration, a smile across his face. That’s Oregon, but especially Portland.

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Patent No. 3178896A: Beer Keg Cooler

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Today in 1965, US Patent 3178896 A was issued, an invention of Bjorn P. Sandsto, for his “Beer Keg Cooler.” There’s no Abstract, but the description states that “This invention relates to a new and improved beer keg cooler for use in cooling small beer kegs and other items, characterized by the simplicity of its cooling system and the portability and freedom from moving parts of the cooler itself.”
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Patent No. 2675822A: Beer Dispenser With Means For Controlling The Head Of Foam

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Today in 1954, US Patent 2675822 A was issued, an invention of Alfred W. Redlin, for his “Beer Dispenser with Means for Controlling the Head of Foam.” There’s no Abstract, but the description states that “This invention relates to a beer dispensing system and is particularly directed to a system designed to dispense liquid beer with the full carbonization retained in solution therein, and foam in separate quantities desired.”
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Patent No. 5304384A: Rapid Cooling

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Today in 1994, US Patent 5304384 A was issued, an invention of Cameron R. Murray and William J. Van der Meer, assigned to Labatt Brewing Company Limited, for their “Rapid Cooling.” Here’s the Abstract:

A process for preparing a fermented malt beverage wherein brewing materials are mashed with water and the resulting mash is heated and wort separated therefrom. The wort is boiled, cooled and fermented and the beer is subjected to a finishing stage, which includes aging, to produce the final beverage. The improvement comprises subjecting the beer to a cold stage comprising rapidly cooling the beer to a temperature of about its freezing point in such a manner that ice crystals are formed therein in only minimal amounts. The resulting cooled beer is then mixed for a short period of time with a beer slurry containing ice crystals, without any appreciable collateral increase in the amount of ice crystals in the resulting mixture. Finally, the so-treated beer is extracted from the mixture.

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The Incredible Beerable Egg

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One of the highlights of this years Craft Brewers Conference in Portland was a potential innovation in brewing undertaken by Alan Sprints at Hair of the Dog Brewing. Alan posted a picture of his newest fermenter arriving to be displayed at the trade show, with Steve Rosenblatt from Sonoma Cast Stone, who manufactured the concrete fermenter.

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I was immediately intrigued and finding it in the trade show was one of my first missions of CBC. It turns out it was made in Petaluma, which is just down the road from where I live. The company has been making concrete fermenters for the wine industry, but this is the first one they’ve made for a commercial brewer. They have a separate website for this part of their business, Concrete Beer Tanks.

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There’s two sizes, the Amphora, which is 320 gallons and the one Hair of the Dog ordered, which is the Egg Shape, which is 476 gallons (or just over 15 barrels).

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Their brochure lists the benefits of a concrete fermenter:

  • Concrete has natural temperature stability, and our tanks offer an optional, embedded glycol system for precise control.
  • Concrete allows the design of organic shapes, promoting convectional fermentation flow with no corners for fluid to pocket or stagnate.
  • The porosity of concrete allows for micro-oxygenation to aid in initiating the fermentation process.

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Apparently the wine industry has been using these increasingly in recent years, but they have been used for centuries prior to the advent of stainless steel. Just a quick search reveals quite a few articles about their growing use in winemaking. For example, in Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, Wines and Vines, Seattle Magazine and the North Bay Business Journal. And there’s at least one other domestic manufacturer, Vino Vessel and a German company, Speidel, that makes a Gärei Fermentegg, or Fermentation Egg.

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Here’s how Speidel describes their fermentation egg:

The organic fermentation in the egg-form is based on the golden ratio without corners and edges. Wine, beer and cider could move fluently during the fermentation and storage. This gentle process guarantees on keeping the completely development of the product. The idea of fermentation or aging in the egg is just to come back to the ancient methods but with the new materials. Already in the ancient times beer has been placed for resting into the egg-formed amphoraes. Recently there were several successful tests for storage wine in the egg-formed fermentation vessels made of concrete. Shortly after Speidel has developed the fermentation egg made of food-safe polyethylene.

The fermentation egg is appropriate for the fermentation of wine, beer and cider. Fans and devotees of the fermentation egg confirm that the fermentation process runs spontaneous, therefore wine and beer taste more filigree and complex. Check it out and convince yourselves! Our food-safe polyethylenes have high permeability of oxygen. This ensures the evenly influence of oxygen and perfect conditions for the fermentation and maturation. It is very easy to clean the egg because of its smooth surface inside.

Here’s a drawing of the tank.
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Sonoma Cast Stone online has their reasons why brewers should consider concrete beer tanks:

Winemakers love concrete…

Winemakers all over the world are rediscovering the benefits of using concrete as a medium for fermentation, finding the virtues of both of oak and stainless steel with the drawbacks of neither. Now, most of the world’s highest-rated wines are made in concrete.

The craft beer industry is at least as creative and dynamic as the wine industry, and we at Sonoma Cast Stone are thrilled to offer you artisans of fermentation a new medium to create with. We predict a renaissance of innovation, producing an exciting, new generation of wild beers, sour beers, meads and porters.

Concrete is cool! No… really.

Concrete can take the heat, or the cold. It’s a natural insulator and will stabilize the temperature of whatever is inside of it. This stability makes for a smooth and gradual fermentation, because there are no temperature spikes to make the yeast become aggressive.

Sonoma Cast Stone also offers a unique temperature control system. Our system is hidden within the walls of the tank itself and does not make contact with that wine.

Just breathe!

Concrete is porous, albeit on a microscopic scale, and that’s where it beats stainless steel. The environment in stainless steel is too perfect to be ideal for fermentation. A gradual introduction of micro-oxygenation, the wine remains flat. It cannot breathe and evolve.

Wine fermented in concrete has the round mouthfeel of wine fermented in oak, but it has much greater purity of fruit flavor, even a greater intensity of fruit color. For fermentation, storage or aging, concrete is simply phenomenal.

Staying neutral…

Even neutral oak is not neutral. All oak will give a bit of itself to your beer, whether you like it or not. Concrete makes for a truly neutral vessel, imparting only a slight and desirable minerality.

What this means for a beer maker is control. Control over what your beer tastes like, and with the optional, embedded glycol tubing system, you also have precise control over the temperature you maintain throughout fermentation.

Hair of the Dog Brewing had their new concrete tank delivered yesterday and it should be installed and ready to go shortly. Alan told me that Adam will be the first beer he makes in concrete. It will be interesting to see how the new Adam tastes, especially in comparison to the old version.

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Patent No. 3246825A: Beer Keg Container

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Today in 1966, US Patent 3246825 A was issued, an invention of Harold G. Zastrow, for his “Beer Keg Container.” There’s no Abstract, but the description states that the “invention relates to an improvement in a beer keg container and deals particularly with a paperboard container including a small keg of beer or a similar product and in which the keg may be carried and retained.”
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Patent No. 2114727A: Hop Picking Machine

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Today in 1938, US Patent 2114727 A was issued, an invention of Edouard Thys, for his “Hop Picking Machine.” There’s no Abstract, but in the description states the following, at least part of it, because it’s a long application:

This invention relates to hop picking machines ing between the rows of vines atA a slow speed. and particularly to a portable machine to permit The machine contains a main feeding and picking picking of hops in the field where they are grown. unit and separating and cleaning units.

The picking of hops by means of machinery is picked and cleaned hops are sacked and hauled to now a comparatively old art, as machine picking the dry kilns, while all waste material, such as the has been in continuous use on a comparatively picked vines, leaves, stems, etc., is left in the field large scale in California and other States, at least as the machine advances.

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Patent No. 256550A: Cooling Beer

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Today in 1882, US Patent 256550 A was issued, an invention of David W. Davis, for his “Cooling Beer.” There’s no Abstract, but in the description states the following:

My invention consists in a new process ot cooling beer, which process can be applied to most of the devices in use for that purpose, und especially to that class of coolers known as the Baudelot Cooler, and the process is produced by the device that will be fully hercinafter described.

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