Patent No. 5716850A: Monitoring The Colour And Bitterness Of Beer

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Today in 1998, US Patent 5716850 A was issued, an invention of Gurinder Takhar and Mandy King, assigned to Whitbread PLC, for their “Monitoring the Colour And Bitterness of Beer.” Here’s the Abstract:

A method of determining one or both of the colour and bitterness of beer by illuminating the beer with light of a pre-determined wavelength, typically 400±30 nm, to cause iso-α-acids in the beer to fluoresce. The fluorescence is detected over a range of wavelengths, typically 420 to 673 nm, using a fluorescence spectrophotometer. One or both of the colour and bitterness of the beer is determined by comparing an output signal from the fluorescence spectrophotometer to output signals stored for beers of known colour and bitterness.

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Historic Beer Birthday: Joe Allen

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Today is the birthday of Joe Allen (February 9, 1888-c. after 1960s). Allen’s parents were Irish and came to America, settling in Minnesota, in 1883. At some point, Joe made his way to San Francisco and was working as a brewer at the Anchor Brewery when it reopened after the end of prohibition in 1933 at 1610 Harrison Street. Unfortunately, less than a year later, in February of 1934, the brewery burned to the ground. Owner Joe Kraus then partnered with his brewmaster, Joe Allen, and they re-built the brewery in an old brick building at 398 Kansas Street, by 1st Street.

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Here, I’ll let Anchor Brewery’s website take up the story from The Era of Mass Production.

Kraus and Allen valiantly and lovingly kept Anchor afloat until Kraus’s death in 1952. By late 1959, America’s—even San Francisco’s—new-found “taste” for mass-produced, heavily marketed lighter beers had taken its toll on Anchor’s already declining sales. In July of that year, at the age of 71, Joe Allen shut Anchor down for what would, thankfully, be a brief period.

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Again, Anchor Brewing picks up the story, Surviving Another Challenge from 1960.

Lawrence Steese bought and re-opened Anchor in 1960 at yet another nearby location, retaining Joe Allen to carry Anchor’s craft brewing tradition forward. But one of Anchor’s oldest accounts, the Crystal Palace Market had already closed its doors. And Steese had an increasingly difficult time convincing loyal Bay Area establishments to continue serving Anchor Steam. By 1965, Steese—like Allen six years before—was ready to shut Anchor down.

The next year, 1961, the brewery moved to 541 8th Street, where it remained until 1977. Of course, in 1965, another owner invested in the brewery, eventually buying out the remaining partners. That, you probably already know, was Fritz Maytag. There’s not much I could find on Allen’s life before and after he worked at, and then owned, the Anchor Brewery, not even the year of his death. If anyone has any more information, please leave a comment below or contact me directly.

Patent No. EP1412490A4: Mediating The Effects Of Alcohol Consumption By Orally Administering Active Dry Yeast

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Today in 2005, US Patent EP 1412490 A4 was issued, an invention of Joe Owades, for his “Mediating the Effects of Alcohol Consumption by Orally Administering Active Dry Yeast.” It seems to be virtually identical to Patent No. 2452476A1: Mediating The Effects Of Alcohol Consumption By Orally Administering Active Dry Yeast, which was issued to Owades two years before, on January 23, 2003. So if you’re feeling a sense of déjà vu, it’s not you. Here’s the short Abstract from the previous one. “A process for lowering blood alcohol levels in humans after they imbibe alcoholic beverages by administering active dry yeast before or concomitantly with the imbibing of the beverages.”

This is most likely the origin of the hangover prevention that Jim Koch, from the Boston Beer Co., has popularized over the years, but especially after Esquire magazine ran an article about it last April, How to Drink All Night Without Getting Drunk.

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The story got picked up by NPR, Serious Eats and even Snopes took a look at it.

But I’d actually heard Jim tell the story a couple of times at various events, most recently at a beer dinner last year at the Jamaica Plain brewery in Boston celebrating the 30th anniversary of Samuel Adams.

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In telling the story, Jim did, of course, mention that the idea came from Joe Owades, who had worked as a consultant with the Boston Beer Co. since the very beginning, and off and on thereafter. But I don’t think I’d realized before now that Joe had actually patented the idea.

The claim in the patent application describes it in a nutshell. “A method of mediating the effect of alcohol consumption by a person which comprises orally administering active dry yeast containing alcohol dehydrogenase to said person prior to or simultaneously with consumption of an alcohol-containing beverage, whereby to oxidize a portion of the alcohol while still in the stomach of said person.” His own testing of the method, shown in the figures below, found that “blood alcohol level-min. was reduced by 38% by the yeast.”

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Patent No. 7882975B2: Double Walled Beverage Container

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Today in 2011, US Patent 7882975 B2 was issued, an invention of Jason M. Kelly, assigned to Miller Coors, LLC, for his “Double Walled Beverage Container and Method of Making Same.” Here’s the Abstract:

A double walled container is provided for insulating a beverage. An outer insulating shell or container is secured to the inner container that holds the beverage. A gap exists between the outer container and inner container and the air in the gap acts as an insulating barrier. The inner container is preferably a standard aluminum container. The outer container is preferably made from aluminum or a plastic polymer.

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Historic Beer Birthday: Andrew MacElhone

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Today is the birthday of famed bartender Andrew MacElhone (February 8, 1923-September 16, 1996) whose father opened the famous Harry’s New York Bar in Paris, France in 1911.

It was originally founded by American jockey Tod Sloan, who so wanted to create the atmosphere of a New York saloon that he actually bought one in New York, had it dismantled, shipped to Paris and rebuilt it where it stands to day at 5 rue Daunou (Sank Roo Doe Noo). It’s original name was simply the New York Bar when it opened on Thanksgiving Day in 1911. Sloan initially hired a Scottish bartender from Dundee named Harry MacElhone to run it, who twelve years later bought the bar in 1923 and added his first name to it. Shortly after opening, it began attracting American expatriates and celebrities, including such “Lost Generation” writers as F Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein and Ernest Hemingway. George Gershwin supposedly wrote “An American In Paris” there, and it has been visited by many movie stars over the years, from Humphrey Bogart to Clint Eastwood. In the book Casino Royale, Ian Fleming’s character Bond said it the best place in Paris to get a “solid drink.” It’s also where the Bloody Mary was first conceived, as well as the White Lady and the Sidecar.

Andrew started working in the bar in 1939, when he was 16, and never left. He took over for his father Harry MacElhone in 1958 and continued to run the bar for 31 years, until 1989. He’s also credited with creating the Blue Lagoon cocktail in the 1960s, when Blue Curaçao was first available in bottles.

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Harry’s New York Bar in Paris.

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: Lüder Rutenberg

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Today is the birthday of Lüder Rutenberg (February 8, 1816-June 14, 1890) who was born in Bremen, Germany. He was an architect, a builder and one of the co-founders of Beck’s Brewery, formally known as Brauerei Beck & Co. “The brewery was formed under the name Kaiserbrauerei Beck & May o.H.G. in 1873 by Lüder Rutenberg, Heinrich Beck and Thomas May. In 1875, Thomas May left the brewery which then became known as Kaiserbrauerei Beck & Co.”

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Here’s a short biography of Lüder Rutenberg, translated from his German Wikipedia page:

Rutenberg — son of the builder Diedrich Christian Rutenberg — learned after visiting the Remberti and the grammar school with his father. He studied from 1836 to 1840 in Berlin physics, chemistry and technology. From 1841 he was an employee at his father.

In 1847 he became an independent architect. Its operation was one of the largest construction companies in Bremen. Lüder Rutenberg was especially during the expansion of the Bremen suburbs as a builder for the typical residential streets with one- or two-story terraced houses successfully. Men of his profession erected at that time for its own account and sold whole streets of houses or flats profitably. 1849 by the Bremen Senate a request Rod Berg refused to be allowed to build in Bremen similarly large tenement houses such as in Hamburg or Berlin. Had been such application is approved, this greatly affect the appearance of many neighborhoods Bremen would have had.

1853 rose Rutenberg in the brewery business and acquired with his sister and his brother-in as a partner, the Runge brewery, which he in St. Pauli Brewery renamed and goal for until 1870 the largest brewery in Bremen. Later he bought along with the master brewer Heinrich Beck several smaller breweries and participated in 1873 in the construction of a brewery in the New Town, the then Kaiser brewery was later large brewery Beck & Co.

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Patent No. 1170839A: Barley Or Rice Huller

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Today in 1916, US Patent 1170839 A was issued, an invention of John J. Molloy, for his “Barley or Rice Huller.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

This invention relates to grain hullers and particularly to barley and rice pearlers. It is an object of this invention to provide a simple, practical, automatic-feed continuously operating hulling machine of high efficiency in capacity and cleanness of product particularly designed for handling rice. A further object is to provide a huller in which the quantity of the discharge may be readily and accurately controlled and whereby the degree of pressure of the grain in transit is regulated and maintained uniform.

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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. 4802344A: Portable Cooler For Beverage Kegs

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Today in 1989, US Patent 4802344 A was issued, an invention of Mark L. Livingston and Michael Babcock, for their “Portable Cooler For Beverage Kegs.” Here’s the Abstract:

A thermally insulated cooler for enclosing a beverage keg having a pre-chilled beverage temperature to be maintained. The cooler is of a soft sided composition cylindrical is shape having a permanently closed bottom end and a removable lid zippered at the other end for affording access to the storage compartment. A zippered access opening centrally located in the lid enables a dispensing tap connected to the keg to extend outward thereof without exposing the key to ambient temperatures. A strap extending longitudinally on opposite sides and across the bottom end enables the cooler with keg in place to be conveniently carried by hand.

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