Patent No. EP2583934A1: Reusable Beer Keg

patent-logo
Today in 2013, US Patent EP 2583934 A1 was issued, an invention of Thomas W. Bates, Dan Morgan, and Leslie W. Ross, for their “Reusable Beer Keg.” Here’s the Abstract:

A reusable beer keg (1) is disclosed comprising a hollow beer keg body (2) with a dispenser tube assembly (10) having a dispenser valve (11), dispenser tube (12), and a disposable bladder (13). The dispenser valve (11) is releasably attached to a top portion of the keg body (2) and the dispenser tube (12) and bladder (13) extend into the interior of the keg body (2). When beer flows through the open dispenser valve (11) and into the bladder (13), the beer causes the bladder (13) to expand until it contacts the inside surface of the keg body (2). When the beer keg (1) has been emptied it can be returned to the brewery for reuse by cleaning the dispenser valve (11), dispenser tube (12) and disposing of the used bladder (13). The beer keg body (2) does not need to be cleaned, however, because the beer only comes in contact with the disposable bladder (13) and not the keg body (2). The beer keg parts can then be reassembled, using a new bladder in place of the used bladder.

2583934-imgaf001

Patent No. 20030075208A1: The Beerbrella

patent-logo
Today in 2003, US Patent 20030075208 A1 was issued, an invention of Mason McMullin, Robert Bell, and Mark See, for their “Beerbrella.” Here’s the Abstract:

The present invention provides a small umbrella (“Beerbrella”) which may be removably attached to a beverage container in order to shade the beverage container from the direct rays of the sun. The apparatus comprises a small umbrella approximately five to seven inches in diameter, although other appropriate sizes may be used within the spirit and scope of the present invention. Suitable advertising and/or logos may be applied to the umbrella surface for promotional purposes. The umbrella may be attached to the beverage container by any one of a number of means, including clip, strap, cup, foam insulator, or as a coaster or the like. The umbrella shaft may be provided with a pivot to allow the umbrella to be suitably angled to shield the sun or for aesthetic purposes. In one embodiment, a pivot joint and counterweight may be provided to allow the umbrella to pivot out of the way when the user drinks from the container.

US20030075208A1-20030424-D00001

US20030075208A1-20030424-D00002

US20030075208A1-20030424-D00003

US20030075208A1-20030424-D00004

500th Anniversary Of The Reinheitsgebot

reinheitsgebot bavaria-coa
It’s hard to believe it’s been 500 years since Bavaria signed what’s considered the first food purity law, the Reinheitsgebot, also known as the Bavarian Beer Purity Law, and later the German Beer Purity Law. That’s because in 1516, when the law was decreed, Germany did not yet exist, and wouldn’t for nearly 300 years, with the formation of the German Confederation in 1815, longer if you go by the German Empire, founded in 1871. Modern Germany consists of sixteen federal states, called Bundesländers, of which Bavaria is one.
reinheits-500
And it was in Bavarian town of Ingolstadt on April 23, 1516, that William IV, Duke of Bavaria wrote and signed the law, along with his younger brother Louis X, Duke of Bavaria. That 1516 law was itself a variation of earlier laws, at least as early as 1447 and another in independent Munich in 1487. When Bavaria reunited, the new Reinheitsgebot applied to the entirety of the Bavarian duchy. It didn’t apply to all of Germany until 1906, and it wasn’t referred to as the Reinheitsgebot until 1918, when it was coined by a member of the Bavarian parliament. But while today most people think of it as all about food purity, that was in reality only a small part of it, and probably not even the most important.

reinheitsgebot

Here’s a translation of the Reinheitsgebot, from a 1993 issue of Zymurgy:

We hereby proclaim and decree, by Authority of our Province, that henceforth in the Duchy of Bavaria, in the country as well as in the cities and marketplaces, the following rules apply to the sale of beer:

From Michaelmas to Georgi [St. George’s Day], the price for one Mass [Bavarian Liter 1,069] or one Kopf [bowl-shaped container for fluids, not quite one Mass], is not to exceed one Pfennig Munich value, and

From Georgi to Michaelmas, the Mass shall not be sold for more than two Pfennig of the same value, the Kopf not more than three Heller [Heller usually one-half Pfennig].

If this not be adhered to, the punishment stated below shall be administered.

Should any person brew, or otherwise have, other beer than March beer, it is not to be sold any higher than one Pfennig per Mass.

Furthermore, we wish to emphasize that in future in all cities, markets and in the country, the only ingredients used for the brewing of beer must be Barley, Hops and Water. Whosoever knowingly disregards or transgresses upon this ordinance, shall be punished by the Court authorities’ confiscating such barrels of beer, without fail.

Should, however, an innkeeper in the country, city or markets buy two or three pails of beer (containing 60 Mass) and sell it again to the common peasantry, he alone shall be permitted to charge one Heller more for the Mass or the Kopf, than mentioned above. Furthermore, should there arise a scarcity and subsequent price increase of the barley (also considering that the times of harvest differ, due to location), WE, the Bavarian Duchy, shall have the right to order curtailments for the good of all concerned.

Notice that the first two decrees have to do with pricing and when beer can be sold. It isn’t until paragraph six, the second last one, that the issue of what ingredients will be allowed comes up. If it had been the most important part, is seems more likely they would have led with it. Even then, it wasn’t about purity, but again commerce. Barley was designated as the only grain so that others, notably wheat and rye, were set aside to be used for baking bread.

Also, a lot of hay has been made about it not mentioning yeast, with the idea that it was because yeast wasn’t discovered until Louis Pasteur in the 19th century. But early brewers did know something about yeast, even if they didn’t have the full scientific understanding that came later. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have been able to make consistent batches of beer. At the end of your brew, you’ll find a layer of billowing foam and other indeterminate matter at the bottom of the fermenter, which the Germans called “Zeug,” which means “stuff.” And early German brewers had a person, called a “hefener,” whose job it was to scoop out the Zeug, which was in effect the leftover yeast, and pitch it in the next batch of beer. So it’s hard to say they didn’t have some understanding of yeast.

Reinheitsgebot-Bier-stamp
A German postage stamp celebrating the 450th anniversary of the Reinheitsgebot in 1983.

The Germans, of course, have set up a website for the 500th anniversary, and so does the Bayerischer Brauerbund, which is a a Bavarian brewers trade group along with the German Brewers Group. They also created a 50-second film marking the anniversary.

And the media is covering the Reinheitsgebot’s Quincentenary. A few examples include the BBC, Food and Wine, NPR, Spiegel, and Wired. But by far the most thorough examination of the Reinheitsgebot was by Jeff Alworth in All About Beer magazine, Attempting to Understand the Reinheitsgebot.

reinheitsgebot-replica

It’s great that it’s been 500 years, and that German brewers are justly proud of the Reinheitsgebot. It’s clearly helped create the unique German beer scene and their many native styles. But it’s also been used as a shameless marketing tool, been used as an exclusionary tactic, and has even had little-known exceptions to its rules for years, ones that most people are not even aware of, not to mention the use of other items in the brewing process that are also not mentioned by the law, but which because they’re not strictly “ingredients” more modern brewers have interpreted as not being prohibited.

Many people have voiced criticisms against it over the years. One that’s particularly thorough is The German Reinheitsgebot — Why it’s a Load of Old Bollocks. The German magazine Spiegel’s recent coverage is entitled Attacking Beer Purity: The Twilight of Germany’s Reinheitsgebot.

Back in 2001, Fred Eckhardt wrote an entertaining tale for All About Beer entitled The Spy who Saved the Reinheitsgebot, about how a brewer was able to prove Beck’s was using adjuncts and was not in adherence with the German law.

In another recent article in First We Feast, Sam Calagione, of the Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, is quoted with an opinion I suspect many American brewers hold. “I hate the concept of the Reinheitsgebot, but I am essentially happy it exists.”

Reinheitsgebot-Bier-stamp-2016
Deutsche Post’s 2016 commemorative stamp.

ABI Buys Birra Del Borgo

ABI birra-del-borgo-blk
Anheuser-Busch InBev announced yesterday that they’ve notched another brewery, this time it’s Italy’s celebrated Birra del Borgo. Under the terms of the deal, Birra del Borgo will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of AB InBev, though the price was not disclosed.

From the press release:

Birra del Borgo is happy to announce that it has decided to partner with Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev). The partnership will give Birra del Borgo, one of the leading craft brewers in Italy, a unique opportunity to make the necessary investments for expansion while continuing to independently manage its business and define how to grow.

AB InBev will provide the support to allow Birra de Borgo to expand its brewery know how and infrastructure, continue to innovate and bring new great beers on the market through its distribution system. Founder Leonardo Di Vincenzo will continue to lead Birra Del Borgo as CEO of the company.

In 2005, Birra Del Borgo was founded by Leonardo Di Vincenzo in Borgorose, a small town in the province of Rieti on the border between Lazio and Abruzzo in Italy. Leonardo started brewing beer at home for enjoyment while at University studying biochemistry. He traveled frequently throughout Europe to explore the traditional beer styles; getting to know the German and Belgium master brewers was crucial to his education. One of Leonardo’s most formative experiences was brewing at the Starbess brewery in Rome, which later led to his conception of Birra del Borgo. Leonardo’s initial inspiration comes from English & Belgian beers, but he then reinvented the styles to root them in the Italian gastronomy culture. Leonardo currently produces ten beers year round, some famous such as ReAle, Duchessa, DucAle. Other Birra del Borgo products include 4 Seasonals inspired by local ingredients and several unique beers brewed with original techniques, under the “Bizzarre” family. Leo’s inspiration is dictated by the moment and seasonality related to the main ingredient, with a passion to reinvent styles and push boundaries.

Leonardo will remain the CEO of Birra Del Borgo.

Leonardo Di Vincenzo said: “Our voyage since we started in 2005 has been a great adventure. Today the beer sector has become very competitive and it necessary for us to make a next step to ensure that we can continue to evolve in terms of brewing techniques and in terms of the complexity and taste variation we can offer to consumers. We believe partnering with AB InBev is a great opportunity to do exactly that: it will allow Birra del Borgo to grow in a sustainable way while staying true to our unique identity and the philosophy that we have followed since the very beginning.

The partnership with AB InBev will bring us many advantages, from technological improvements and access to scientific research to the possibility to grow from a commercial point of view. Moreover, this partnership also means that we will be able to focus much more on what we enjoy most and do best: creating and experimenting with exciting new beers and pushing the boundaries of beer evolution in Italy.

He added: “We will continue brewing all of our beers in Borgorose, which will allow us to grow by continuing to invest in our local community, as we have always done. At Birra del Borgo, we have a great team with enormous enthusiasm and love for what we do every day. It is with this team that we start this exciting second chapter in Birra del Borgo’s history. The heart and soul of Birra del Borgo will remain unchanged and it is with the very same passion and love for beer that we will continue Re(Thinking) Ale”.

Simon Wuestenberg, Country Director for AB InBev Italia, said: “We have been very impressed by what Leonardo and his team have built since 2005. They have been at the forefront of redefining beer in Italy, bringing a unique mix of inspired innovation, quality and consistency. Leonardo’s vision for beer and his passion for brewing will be great inspirations to our whole team, and we’re very excited about partnering up and growing together. As a challenger on the Italian market, we have been successfully developing our business with a great portfolio of premium and specialty brands in the last few years. Today, that portfolio becomes even stronger with some of the best of “Made in Italy.”

del-borgo-2016

Patent No. 5009082A: System For Cooling Beer For Remote Dispensing

patent-logo
Today in 1993, US Patent 5009082 A was issued, an invention of Martin J. Abraham III, for his “System For Cooling Beer For Remote Dispensing.” Although it’s not strictly speaking, a beer patent, it is somewhat related, and it was too interesting not to include. Here’s the Abstract:

A system for cooling beer to be dispensed from a container housed in a preliminary air cooled environment that is cooled with a primary heat exchanger includes a first flowline for dispensing beer from the container and an auxiliary heat exchanger having a glycol reservoir for receiving the first flowline, the first flowline traversing the reservoir in heat exchange relation therewith. The second flowline includes at least a pair of side-by-side internal bores having a first bore in fluid communication with the first flowline downstream of the glycol reservoir and a second bore carrying glycol from the reservoir in close proximity and in heat exchange relation with beer in the first bore, the second flowline being extended in length so that beer and glycol can travel to remote positions away from the container. A spigot is provided for dispensing the beer at the remote position after transmitted thereto via the second flowline. The first flowline includes one or more fittings forming connections between the container and the reservoir that produce substantially laminar flow between the container and the reservoir.

US5009082-1
US5009082-2
US5009082-3

Patent No. 698184A: Method Of Refining, Aging, Mellowing, And Purifying Alcoholic Liquors

patent-logo
Today in 1902, US Patent 698184 A was issued, an invention of James Franklin Duffy, for his “Method of Refining, Aging, Mellowing, and Purifying Alcoholic Liquors.” Although it’s not strictly speaking, a beer patent, it is somewhat related, and it was too interesting not to include. There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

My invention relates to a certain improved method or process for the treatment of liquors in the same particulars as is usually accomplished through a considerable period by the ordinary aging process.

Under the term liquor as used herein I include all alcoholic or spirituous fluids, either distilled or fermented; and it is the purpose of the invention to purify said liquors,to eliminate all injurious qualities therefrom, and to supply the ripe, pure, and mellow qualities which time alone has done heretofore.

The invention consists in the treatment of the liquor by means of the various steps of the process, all of which will appear from the description and be clearly pointed out in the claims.

US698184-0
US698184-1
US698184-2

Patent No. 3129730A: Tapping System For Liquid Container

patent-logo
Today in 1964, US Patent 3129730 A was issued, an invention of John F. Simon, for his “Tapping System For Liquid Container or the Like.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

This invention relates to a tapping system for liquid containers or the like such as, for example, casks having a gas-charged beverage or other liquid therein. In particular, this invention relates to a quick coupling and uncoupling tapping system for new beer kegs or the like or for the conversion of conventional beer kegs or the like to provide prompt placement of liquid containers in service, the removal thereof from service when substantially empty and the maintenance of prompt and sound delivery of the liquid during service in optimal condition.

US3129730-0

Patent No. 2280336A: Protector For Beer Can Openers

patent-logo
Today in 1942, US Patent 2280336 A was issued, an invention of Herman J. Maihack, for his “Protector For Beer Can Openers.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

This invention relates to protectors for beer can openers, and the like, andy has for one of its objects the production of a. simple and efficient means in the nature of a hood or cap which is adapted to be carried by a piercing can opener so as to overhang the pierced opening within the top of a can and prevent the spray of beer or other liquid outwardly through the opening which is being cut in the top of the can.

A further object of this invention is the production of a simple and efficient means for attaching the protector to the well-known type of piercing opener.

US2280336-0

Indian Gov’t Issues Arrest Warrant For Mendocino Brewing Owner Vijay Mallya

mendocino
Those of you who’ve been in the beer world for a few decades will no doubt remember the tumultuous period around 1997 when Vijay Mallya, and his UB Group, which also owns the Indian beer Kingfisher, started buying up breweries. They picked up Nor’Wester Brewing first, along with a few others, and UB Group consolidated their U.S. holdings under the name “United Craft Brewers, Inc.,” or simply “United Craft.” The first five included Nor’Wester Brewing Company of Portland, OR; Aviator Ales of Woodinville, WA; Mile High Brewing of Denver, CO; Bayhawk Ales of Irvine, CA; and North Country Brewing of Saratoga Springs, NY. United Craft later added Mendocino Brewing Co. of Hopland, CA and Humboldt Brewing of Arcata, CA, and then Carmel Brewing of Carmel, CA. United Craft lists a Sausalito address, which is coincidentally where owner Vijay Mallya also built a multi-million dollar home. But essentially only Mendocino Brewing remains of the breweries as a viable brand, although Humboldt was sold off.

I remember when UB initially bought Mendocino Brewing and Mallya began visiting their distributors. He would attend distributor meetings with an actual entourage, including bodyguards, which was not exactly endearing to anybody. Within a short time the Mendocino brand, which had been very successful locally, began to fall precipitously. It’s never really recovered, though they do quite a bit of contract brewing out of their Ukiah facility. Mallya has a fairly ruthless reputation for his business practices, and I’ve spoken to at least two people who’ve done business with him in other industries who’ve had nothing flattering to say about the way he conducts himself, so the news being reported by the Drinks Business came as no surprise, except perhaps as to why it took so long. Undoubtedly, there, as here, the rules for billionaires are different than it is for you and me.

According to Drinks Business report, “Indian authorities have issued an arrest warrant against Vijay Mallya, the former head of United Spirits, just days after freezing his passport.”

The warrant was issued on the “third strike and out” practice of the Indian Enforcement Directorate (ED) when the colourful former tycoon failed to appear at the third time of asking at a Mumbai court to answer allegations of misuse of funds loaned to his Kingfisher Airlines by a state-owned bank, IDBI.

This is one of 17 Indian banks seeking to recover some $13 billion from Mallya. Last month they rejected his proposed scheme to repay $600 million.

It is alleged that Mallya used part of the $134m loan from IDBI to buy properties overseas. The airline, which was never profitable, collapsed into bankruptcy in 2012 with debts approaching £1bn.

Mallya has consistently denied impropriety and his private holding company, UB Group, said that the full loan, including up to $65m alleged to have been diverted to Mallya’s personal use, had been “used for legitimate business purposes only”.

The statement said that the arrest warrant was “erroneous and unjustified”.

Mallya, who is thought to be in Britain, has been ordered by India’s supreme court to disclose all his assets to the authorities.

P1050563
Inside the newer Mendocino brewery in Ukiah.

Patent No. 581206A: Apparatus For Aerating Liquids

patent-logo
Today in 1897, US Patent 581206 A was issued, an invention of Peter Cooper Hewitt, for his “Apparatus for Aerating Liquids.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

My invention is applicable to aerating waters, beer, and other liquids.

In the manufacture of beer by some methods the carbonic acid in the beer is extracted and it becomes necessary to replace the gas thus taken out.

The object of my invention is to thoroughly aerate the beer while it is in the form of a highly-attenuated film.

My invention consists in a centrifugal machine of peculiar construction adapted to reduce the liquid to the form of an extremely thin film, the centrifugal machine being operated in a closed vessel suitable for the required pressure.

US581206-0
US581206-1