Venezuela’s President Gives Brewery Ultimatum: Brew Or Go To Jail

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There’s an interesting development going on in Venezuela. Empresas Polar, the country’s largest brewer — with an 80% market share — completely shut down their operations in April, apparently because of “supply problems of its main raw materials.” The president of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, according to the drinks business, “has now threatened to take over the closed breweries, saying that the business owners risk being ‘put in handcuffs.'”

The country has been hit by a dire economic downturn over the last several years, and the president has not exactly been helping. John Oliver has covered the situation there hilariously at least twice, first in early May 2015 and then again last Sunday. In that report he mentioned that Marcos was threatening to jail owners of closed factories and have the government seize the buildings and take them over. And apparently one of those businesses he’s targeting is Polar. Here’s the rest of the story from the drinks beverage:

He said he was also ordering action “to recover the production apparatus, which is being paralyzed by the bourgeoisie”.

Meanwhile, Polar said it could no longer access the US currency needed to import the malted barley for beer production, and had to close the last of its breweries. Access to foreign exchange is currently under the control of the country’s government.

The beer shortage has had a big impact, as Venezuelans really like their beer. The tropical country has the highest per capita consumption rates of any nation in South America, and ongoing economic woes have to some extent been softened so far by the affordable luxury of a cold beer.

It’s the latest chapter in a long-running set of shortages and supply problems for beer and other food in Venezuela.

Polar’s billionaire owner, Lorenzo Mendoza, has been a vocal opponent of the President, with Maduro accusing him of waging an “economic war” on his government. Over the past year, Polar has been embroiled in a strike by brewery workers, conflict with the trade unions, and has seen its distribution centre occupied by the military.

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Apropos of the nothing, it was almost impossible to find an image of Polar Pilsen that didn’t include a model in a bikini. Go ahead, Google it and see how hard it really is.

Patent No. 5906151A: Apparatus And Method For Brewing An Alcoholic Beverage

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Today in 1999, US Patent 5906151 A was issued, an invention of Adam Firestone, Jeffers Richardson, Donald E. Othman, and Michel A. Blom, assigned to Firestone Walker, LLC, for their “Apparatus And Method For Brewing An Alcoholic Beverage and Beverage Brewed by Same.” Here’s the Abstract:

An apparatus for brewing an alcoholic beverage includes a plurality of wooden barrels including at least one first wooden barrel, at least one second wooden barrel, and at least one third wooden barrel; an enclosed trough; a plurality of first conduits providing flow communication between each of the plurality of wooden barrels and the enclosed trough; an enclosed catch pot in flow communication with the enclosed trough; a plurality of second conduits providing flow communication between the enclosed catch pot and each of the plurality of wooden barrels; and devices, such as valves, for controlling flow between each of the plurality of wooden barrels and the second conduit. The at least one first wooden barrel is a new barrel that has been filled with an alcoholic beverage up to 5 times, the at least one second wooden barrel is a middle aged barrel that has been filled with an alcoholic beverage from 6 to 12 times, and the at least one third wooden barrel is an old barrel that has been filled with an alcoholic beverage from 13 to 30 times.

This is essentially a patent for Firestone Walker’s modified Burton Union System that they pioneered when they first started, and then scaled-up when they bought the old SLO Brewery in Paso Robles and increased the size of their beer production. Jeffers, of course, is still there is the Barrelmeister, or Director of the Firestone Walker Barrelworks. That system is one of only two such brewing systems left in the world, the other being at Marston’s in Burton-on-Trent in England.
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Here’s a few photos of the system at the Paso Robles brewery in 2012.

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Patent No. DE2751778A1: Beer Piping Cleaning System

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Today in 1979, US Patent DE 2751778 A1 was issued, an invention of Heinz Stricker, for his “Beer Piping Cleaning System — with suction nozzle for disinfectant inserted in tap water circuit.” Here’s the Abstract:

A system for the cleaning out of piping between bar barrels and the taps in a bar consists of a hose which is coupled between a water tap and a beer tap and includes a suction nozzle. A beaker with a disinfectant is attached to the nozzle so that the flow of water entrains the disinfectant. The piping in the cellar is disconnected from the barrels and coupled together so that the fluid can rise to another beer tap and out into a sink. After a certain retention time the whole is flushed out with clean water. This provides a chemical cleaning in addition to the conventional sponge cleaning.

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Patent No. 1959501A: Beer Dispensing Device

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Today in 1934, US Patent 1959501 A was issued, an invention of Elton F. Ross, for his “Beer Dispensing Device.” There’s no Abstract, though it’s described this way in the application:

This invention relates to a device for dispensing beer and other carbonated liquids discharged under pressure from a keg or other source of supply, and particularly to a dispensing device designed to supply measured quantities of the liquid and to control the discharge so as to prevent waste of the liquid and other objections due to wildness of the liquid.

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Patent No. 821208A: Beer Glass Tray

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Today in 1906, US Patent 821208 A was issued, an invention of Friedrich Voss, for his “Beer Glass Tray.” There’s no Abstract, though it’s described this way in the application:

This invention relates to a beer-glass tray which absorbs the drippings and conveys the same to a receiving-trough, so that cleanliness is insured.

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Patent No. WO1987002975A1: A Beer Tapping Installation

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Today in 1987, US Patent WO 1987002975 A1 was issued, an invention of Jacobus Dijkstra and Gijsbert Slootweg, assigned to Heineken Technisch Beheer B.V., for their “A Beer Tapping Installation.” Here’s the Abstract:

A beer tapping installation comprising a refrigerator having a cask cooling and installation space (2) including a revolving platform (8) on which casks (12, 13, 14) can be placed and with a space for accommodating a CO2 cylinder (15), as well as a tap (21), a beer line (20) from the cask installation space to the tap, a hollow support (17) for enveloping the beer line from the refrigerator to the tap, a cask coupling (22) on the beer line and a CO2 supply line from the CO2 container to the cask coupling. The hollow support is in open communication with the cask cooling and installation space and the beer line, together with the cask coupling and the tap, is movable longitudinally of the hollow support.

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Patent No. 4590085A: Flavor Enhancement And Potentiation With Beer Concentrate

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Today in 1986, US Patent 4590085 A was issued, an invention of Daniel R. Sidoti, John H. Dokos, Edward Katz, and Charles M. Moscowitz, assigned to Anheuser-Busch Incorporated, for their “Flavor Enhancement And Potentiation With Beer Concentrate.” Here’s the Abstract:

A new method for intensifying the inherent flavors of foods and for imparting other desirable organoleptic properties is disclosed. The method consists of adding to foodstuffs a flavor enhancing amount of a heat denatured concentrate of beer. There is also provided a process for producing the above described concentrate.

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While the abstract doesn’t tell us too much, the background from the application is very interesting, as it talks quite a bit about beer in cooking, which appears to be the primary goal of the patent’s use, although the patent has lapsed, so I don’t know if it was ever used in a commercial product. I know there have been, and even currently are, powdered beer products on the market, this one seems aimed at adding beer flavoring to cooking, rather than being able to make instant beer by adding water.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Foodstuffs of all varieties whether precooked, served hot or cold, or whether prepared without cooking have flavors, aroma, and other organoleptic properties that influence the sensory perceptions of human taste. The manufacturers of such foods as sauces, spreads, dips, soups, dressings, stuffings, garnishes, meats, fish, vegetables, salads, breads, etc. whether dry, frozen, refrigerated or canned, desire to produce products organoleptic properties closely profiling the natural flavors, aromas and textures that appeal broadly to the sensory perceptions of the consuming public. A food whose natural flavors are unduly masked may be too bland, or if overly modified with added flavor components, it may be perceived as too spicy. The availability of spices, condiments, etc., permits the individual consumer to adjust the flavor of food purchased from the shelf to suit his or her particular taste preference.

Nevertheless, food manufactures because of the nature of precooking processes, the addition of preservatives, the packaging and keeping techniques of retorting, pasturization, etc. will often times find that the desired natural flavor of the foodstuff has been suppressed below the threshold taste perceptions of the average consumer. Accordingly, techniques for addressing this deficiency have become customary to the industry.

One such technique involves the use of chemical compounds which intensify the flavors inherently present in food without adding any flavor from the chemical itself. These compounds are known as Flavor Enhancers and include, for example, linalool, 2-nonenal which is used to enhance the flavor of coffee, and certain sulfur containing amino acids which are used to enhance meaty flavors. Other chemicals serve as flavor enhancers through reacting with endogenous flavor components of food itself to synergistically promote the combined flavor effect of those components.

Another technique which is commercially employed to address the problem of suppressed natural flavors is that of using chemical compounds which when added to foods in very low concentrations to catalytically create desirable organoleptic properties of the foodstuff otherwise undetectable. These compounds are known as Flavor Potentiators, and like Flavor Enhancers, their taste is not itself detectable to the sensory perceptions of the ordinary consuming public.

There are drawbacks, however, to the previously known Flavor Enhancers and Potentiators. One foremost disadvantage is that these compounds are selective in their functional contribution to flavor development. The same compound which enhances coffee flavor may have a deleterious effect, if any effect at all, on, for example, cheese flavor. Accordingly, some food products such as soups, dressings and some pastries which have a combined variety of natural flavors are extremely difficult to potentiate or enhance from previously known chemicals.

Another serious drawback to previous flavor enhancement and potentiation techniques is that they require the addition of chemical compounds which have no nutritional value themselves nor are they derived from natural food or beverage constituents.

It has now been found and this finding forms the basis of this invention, that Flavor Enhancement and/or Potentiation can be achieved by the addition of denatured beer concentrate to foodstuffs of all types and varieties, whether cooked or prepared fresh, without the need to employ non-nutritional, chemical compounds.

It should be appreciated that cooking with beer is not new. The book Cooking With Beer by Carole Fahy, first published in 1972 by Elm Tree Books, indicates that the brewing of beer is known to have been practiced in Mesopotamia and Egypt at least 5,000 years ago. The Egyptians passed on their knowledge of brewing to the Greeks who in turn handed it down to the Romans who refined the Anglo-Saxon form which was already in place at the time of the Roman conquest. English ale became the basis for many religious and social festivals and is said to have accompanied bread as the sole breakfast menu of Queen Elizabeth I.

Ales and beers are all manufactured beginning with mashing barley malt and possibly grain adjuncts such as barley, corn and rice. This is filtered, brought to boil, pitched with hops and result in a wort which consists of water, dextrine and fermentable sugars. The wort is then fermented with yeast.

English ales have been traditionally distinguished from American brews or lagers primarily on the basis of the type of yeast employed to ferment fermentable sugars of the precursor wort into alcohol. Secondarily, there is a distinction between the ratio of malt and grain adjuncts in the mash in that ales customarily have far less, if any, grain adjuncts. Also there are distinctions in the level of hop addition. These factors contribute significantly to the variations in taste of American brews or lagers and ales.

Beers have gained some limited acceptance in cooking as a consequence of their richness, delightful taste, their ability to improve the texture and lightness of cakes, pies and batters; their tenderizing effect on tough meats; their contribution to preserving foods; their ability to make breads rise; their adding piquancy to dull vegetables and attractively glazing roasted meats and a few other culinary virtues. However, each of these benefits is owed to the full compliment of the beer flavor and texture attributes present naturally and, in the case of assisting cakes to rise, its fermentable state with its residual yeast in active form and its carbonation being readily apparent.

It has been determined however, that the use of beer in cooking does have its limitations. For example, if you are making a soup which requires dried vegetables according to Carole Fahy in Cooking With Beer, you must make certain that you soak them thoroughly, overnight, before use because the hard pellets will otherwise sink to the bottom of a rich vegetable beer soup apparently due to slow diffusion of beer molecules through the surface membrane and interior of the dried vegetables. Additionally, when sieving foods as for example, soups, the richer the beer is, the more difficult to push entirely through the strainer without losing some of the desired flavor. Still further, it is found necessary to cook foods longer with beer to fully develop the flavor. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, cooking with beer imparts of a clear beer flavor to the foodstuffs tending to mask the inherent natural flavors of the other foodstuffs. Accordingly, beers, although employed previously in cooking, have not been used nor thought to have any Flavor Enhancing or Potentiation functionality. Likewise, previous beer extracts or concentrates have had no utility in flavor enhancement but rather have been prepared in undenatured form in order to be reconstituted into either alcoholic or nonalcoholic beverages.

British Patent No. 2127 describes the prepration of a nonalcoholic beer extract or concentrate. Although the concentration can be effected in any efficient vacuum evaporation apparatus, the first end to be attained is the separation of the alcohol produced by fermentation at as low a temperature as possible. After separation, as disclosed in this patent, the temperature may be raised, but the subsequent evaporation must be carefully conducted otherwise aromatic compounds present may be expelled or destroyed and the color of the product materially increased. The product is said to be pleasant to the taste and to possess all the nutritive and feeding properties of original beer before removal of the alcohol and subsequent concentration. The product is employed as an ale concentrate designed to be reconstituted into a non-alcohlic beverage by the addition of water.

British Patent No. 1,228,917 discloses a dry extract of a fermented beverage. However, it is compounded with dry yeast in live active form, together with dry fermentable carbohydrates or dry unfermented wort containing fermentable carbohydrates in order to permit fermentation when diluted. The boiling evaporation utilized to produce the extract is under a vacuum high enough to take place at the predetermined low temperature of 100° F. The original fermented beverages and their respective solids or residues and the yeast are protected during evaporation by the low temperatures. The evaporation at yeast-preserving temperatures with minimum of exposure to the heat also preserves the solubility of the enzymes of yeast and, therefore, the yeast remains in active condition so it will act vigorously when the extract is diluted with water for the preparation of a beverage.

In British Patent No. 1,290,192, a beer extract is produced from evaporating a partly fermented beverage at temperatures below 80° F. or any other suitably low temperature that will preserve the constituents of the reduced wort in a soluble state. The extract contains fermentable substances with the same characteristics of the beverage from which the extract was made. It possesses the characteristic flavor and taste of the original beverage that can be produced and imparted by yeast fermentation and is naturally alcoholic; and when suitable diluted with water, provides a beverage having the flavor and taste of the original beverage. The yeast, however, is used in large quantity for example, twice as much in respect to the amount of fermentable carbohydrates as is usually employed to pitch ordinary fermented beverages.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is an object of the present invention to provide a new and useful technique for flavor enhancement and potentiation intensifying the inherent natural flavors of food and creating desirable organoleptic properties to a broad range of foodstuffs with a derivative of a nutritious foodstuff natural concentrate despite having substantially denatured the components of flavor and color, consistency, solubility and fermentability from the concentrate.

It is a further object of this invention to provide a new and useful concentrate of beer and its method of manufacture.

These objects and others are fulfilled by heat treating a fermented malt beverage or beer at sufficiently high temperatures to substantially denature the product and adding it at very low levels to foodstuffs. The denatured beer concentrate is added in amounts below which the concentrate is detectable in taste or mouth feel, but sufficient to achieve flavor enhancement and potentiation.

Patent No. 318306A: Beer Keg Washer

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Today in 1885, US Patent 318306 A was issued, an invention of Adam Schultz, for his “Beer Keg Washer.” There’s no Abstract, though it’s described this way in the application:

My invention relates to apparatus or machinery for scrubbing or washing the external surfaces of beer-kegs, barrels, and similar articles, and has for its object the construction of an apparatus in which the entire operation of charging the Same with kegs, scrubbing the kegs, and finally discharging the cleaned kegs from said apparatus shall be accomplished mechanically, without manual labor, and with the smallest possible. consumption of water. The apparatus is also designed to clean the kegs much more rapidly than by any other method of scrubbing with which I am acquainted.

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Patent No. 227867A: Gas-Pressure Regulator And Indicator

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Today in 1880, US Patent 227867 A was issued, an invention of Frederick W. Wiesebrock, for his “Gas-Pressure Regulator and Indicator.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

I have invented certain new and useful Improvements in Gas- Pressure Regulators and Indicators; and I do hereby declare the following to be a full, clear, and exact description of the invention; and it consists in the construction and arrangement of parts, as will be more fully described hereinafter, reference being had to the accompanying drawings, in which Figure l is a front view of my apparatus, partly in section. Fig. 2 is a view of a cask with my apparatus attached. Fig. 3 is a detail view of the same.

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Patent No. 582769A: Beer-Bottling Apparatus

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Today in 1897, US Patent 582769 A was issued, an invention of Henry Wank, for his “Beer-Bottling Apparatus.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

The object of my invention is to provide means for siphoning the liquid in the barrel directly into the bottle without exposing the beer to the air to any extent, which usually deteriorates the quality of the beer, and to reduce the escape of gas in the beer to a minimum.

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