Patent No. 209163A: Improvement In Barrels Or Kegs

Today in 1878, US Patent 209163 A was issued, an invention of William H. Ewing, for his “Improvement in Barrels or Kegs.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes these claims:

My invention relates to certain improvements in barrels and other like packages, the heads of the same being of wood, arranged and secured in a novel manner, while the sides, or that part usually made of wooden staves, are made of sheet metal, which is manipulated in the following way: A sheet or plate of metal of suitable thickness and size is passed through a train of rolls or under a hammer in such way as to draw out or lengthen the middle of the plate in one direction. The object of this is to secure the requisite bulge or swell to the barrel or keg, both for convenience in handling and to give additional strength. The sides of the plate which correspond to the ends of the barrel or keg: are stamped or out in any convenient way, so as to form a series of three or more clips, a, thereon. These clips are used for securing the heads, and also chine-hoops, as presently described.


Beer In Ads #2070: What Not To Do At A Picnic

Friday’s ad is for Schlitz, from 1940. In this ad, entitled “What Not To Do At A Picnic,” there are several humorous cartoons illustrating bad ideas that will ruin a picnic. Given that there are eleven cartoons, it’s sort of like a second comics page. But, of course, there’s an addendum suggesting the “Right thing to do.” Their suggestion? “Take along plenty of Schlitz!”


Historic Beer Birthday: William G. Ruske

Today is the birthday of William G. Ruske (October 21, 1842-May 2, 1915). Ruske was born in Germany and came to Western Pennsylvania, co-founding the Keystone Brewing Co. 1886, and was its president. In 1899, Keystone became part of a regional trust known as the Pittsburgh Brewing Company, which was formed by the merging together of thirteen Allegheny County breweries. Ruske was initially secretary of the trust, but became president when his predecessor died. The brewery survived prohibition and today is known as the Iron City Brewing Co.


This is his obituary, from the American Brewers’ Review the year he passed away:


Pittsburgh brewery around 1919.

And here’s part of another history of Iron City Brewing, from the merger through the end of prohibition, from PA’s Big House:

As the century came to a close, breweries in the Pittsburgh area merged to form the Pittsburgh Brewing Company (PBC). The twelve local breweries included: Wainwright; Phoenix; Keystone; Winter Brothers; Phillip Lauer; John H. Nusser; Eberhardt & Ober; Hippely & Sons; Ober; J. Seiferth Brothers; Straub; and Iron City. In addition to these initial twelve breweries, nine more were included in the merger. Now, Pittsburgh Brewing Company was Pennsylvania’s largest brewery and third largest in the nation with combined assets worth an estimated $11 million. For the next three decades, PBC boasted a brewing capacity of more than one million barrels per year.

The onset of Prohibition in 1920 brought serious strain to breweries across the nation. Pittsburgh Brewing Company, however, was able to survive by using its facilities to produce ice cream, soft drinks, and non-alcoholic “near-beers.” When Prohibition was repealed in 1933, PBC was one of only 725 breweries in the U.S. still operating.

After Prohibition, the Pittsburgh Brewing Company regained market share and produced the same products it had made prior to the act. The president of the company at that time also created a new subsidiary and reinstated the original name: the Iron City Brewing Company (ICBC). ICBC’s products included Iron City Pilsner, Iron City Lager, Tech Beer, and Blue Label Beer. In 1947, the company again expanded and Iron City Brewing Company continued to grow in the market. By the mid-1950’s, ICBC became the best selling beer in Pittsburgh.


I really couldn’t find very much information on Ruske, or even his original Keystone Brewery. But one curiosity I came across was this undated tintype. But since tintypes were popular for around twenty years, from the 1860s through the 1870s, I think it’s safe to conclude that’s what this one was created. The two beer bottles on the posts are from the Keystone Brewery and the label apparently reads Cabinet Export Beer.


Beer Birthday: Lucy Saunders

because beer is food: in cooking, at the table, and by the glass …

So begins the website of beer cook Lucy Saunders, whose birthday is today. Lucy has done much to promote both cooking with beer and enjoying food with beer through her books and other writings. She’s a treasure, in more ways than one. Join me in wishing Lucy a very happy birthday Lucy.

At the beer bistro in Toronto for Stephen Beaumont and Maggie’s wedding reception.

Lucy with Stacy Williams, Brand Manager for Gambrinus, at the Hot Brands reception at the NBWA Convention, when it was in San Francisco a few years ago.

During CBC in Austin, Texas in 2007, at the Moonshine bar for an event with Lucy for her book, Grilling with Beer. Here, Lucy with three contributors to her book, myself included.

Lucy with Vinnie Cilurzo at the GABF brewers reception in Denver in 2006.

Shaun O’Sullivan from 21st Amendment, Fergie Carey, co-owner of Monk’s, Lucy Saunders, the beer cook, and Tom Peters, also co-owner of Monk’s at the Canned Beer Dinner several Junes ago.

Patent No. 220773A: Improvement In Bungs And Stoppers For Casks

Today in 1879, US Patent 220773 A was issued, an invention of William H. Stewart, for his “Improvement in Bungs and Stoppers for Casks.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes these claims:

My invention relates to bungs and stoppers for faucet holes in lager-beer and ale casks and kegs; and it consists in the exterior form of the bung or stopper, whereby it is adapted to be more easily driven into the cask or withdrawn therefrom when desired.

Heretofore such stoppers made of wood or cork are objectionable, for the reason that the gases readily penetrate the pores of such materials and leave the beer or ale unfit for use in consequence of becoming flat or stale. The wood and cork will become saturated with the liquid, and after being once used will become sour and injuriously affect the beer.

In the use of the elastic bung or stopper I find that great difficulty exists in extracting it in the form in which it has heretofore been made from the aperture in the cask or vessel, on account of the adhesive properties of the rubber, and this especially is the case when using it for lager-beer or ale casks, where the aperture is wood or iron bound. If the bung or stopper is made very hard, or even hard enough to drive easily in the aperture, there is no certainty that the aperture will be perfectly sealed, as the harder the composition the less the elasticity,and the less the certainty of its filling any irregularities that may exist in the aperture. On the contrary, if the composition be made softer to gain more elasticity, then the difficulty of driving in the bung or stopper occurs, as the composition sticks and adheres to the sides of the aperture, and after as shown in Fig. 5, being once driven in is very difficult to extract.

The special object of my invention is to overcome these several difficulties by making a bung or stopper which can be readily driven in or extracted, and which will also perfectly seal the aperture in the cask.


Beer In Ads #2069: Any Minute Now …

Thursday’s ad is for Schlitz, from 1940. In this ad, entitled “Any Minute Now … It may happen to you!,” although the subtitle (which appears above the larger title) may go to the heart of the ad, and it reads “What Are Your Chances …” of at least four things occurring. This ad has an actual author’s byline, Herbert M. Alexander, along with a short resume, and then a two-page article about chance, statistic, superstition and luck, before naturally finishing up with how Schlitz fits into this line of reasoning, as a perfect accompaniment to such great occasions.


Ballantine’s Literary Ads: Ellery Queen

Between 1951 and 1953, P. Ballantine and Sons Brewing Company, or simply Ballentine Beer, created a series of ads with at least thirteen different writers. They asked each one “How would you put a glass of Ballantine Ale into words?” Each author wrote a page that included reference to their beer, and in most cases not subtly. One of them was Ellery Queen, who’s best known for writing a series of mystery stories.

Ellery Queen is not actually one person, but two: Frederic Dannay and Manfred Bennington Lee. They “were American cousins from Brooklyn, New York who wrote, edited, and anthologized detective fiction under the pseudonym of Ellery Queen. The writers’ main fictional character, whom they also named Ellery Queen, is a mystery writer and amateur detective who helps his father, Richard Queen, a New York City police inspector, solve baffling murders.” Today is the birthday of Frederic Dannay (October 20, 1905–September 3, 1982), and his co-writer, Manfred Bennington Lee, was born the same year (January 11, 1905–April 3, 1971).


Their piece for Ballantine was done as if it was one of their cases, but it was less a mystery and more a simple contrast of two unrelated events that both took place the same year. It seems a bit forced, actually, and comes across like pure propaganda, even more so than the other ads in this series.


1840: Edgar A. Poe was preparing to give the world its first detective story, “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” an all-time classic marked by three great qualities: Purity of conception, full-bodied plot, and a style and technique of matchless flavor.

1840: Peter Ballantine created his unique ale and sampled his first brew. Setting down his glass, he exclaimed, “Purity!” A second sip made him exclaim, “Body!” a third, “Flavor!”

Edgar Allen Poe’s Tale, Peter Ballantine’s Ale — American classics with the same three great qualities. Even the Ballantine Ale trade-mark carries out the coincidence of “threes.” For the triple overlapping rings made when Peter Ballantine set down his moist glass on the table top created his 3-ring trade-mark. To this day it sets the standard for Purity, Body and Flavor to connoisseurs of ale everywhere.


Historic Beer Birthday: Johann Georg Sohn

Today is the birthday of Johann Georg Sohn (October 20, 1817-October 24, 1876). He was born in Bavaria, but settled in Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1845, he co-founded the Hamilton Brewery, which was later known as the J.G. Sohn & Company Brewery. It was also known as the Clyffside Brewing Co., and used the trade name Feldsbrau. Johann’s sons took over after his death, and it was sold in 1907 and became known as the William G. Sohn Brewing Co. and later the Mohawk Brewing Co. After prohibition, it reopened as the Clyffside Brewing. After World War 2, it was renamed the Red Top Brewing before closing for good in 1958. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find very much biographical information about Sohn, and only a little about his brewery.


Here’s a short biography from Find-a-Grave:

Clyffside Brewing Company is a defunct brewery in Cincinnati, located on the site of Hamilton Brewery, founded in 1845 by Johann Sohn and George Klotter as the Hamilton Brewery. By 1853, the company becane known as the Klotter, Sohn and Company. In 1866, Sohn bought out Klotter, and Klotter went on to establish his own brewery on Klotter Street. Sohn renamed the brewery the J.G. Sohn & Company Brewery, and it became the tenth largest of its type in Cincinnati. In November 1900, the company was reorganized as the William S. Sohn Brewing Company when Sohn sold out his interest. In 1907, Sohn was purchased by Mohawk Brewery, and was known for its Zinzinnati Beer.


Cincinnati Brewing History has the following to say about the brewery:

George Klotter left the Klotter, Sohn, & Co. Brewery partnership to pursue his own proprietorship, at which point Johann George Sohn brought in Louis Sohngen and Heinrich Schlosser as partners. The new partnership would operate under the name of J.G. Sohn & Co. Brewery. Sohn ran the business until his death in 1876.

After Sohn’s death, leadership of the company was assumed by his sons, J.G. Sohn Jr., William, and J. Edward. J.G. Sohn Jr. died in 1880 and the other two brothers continued to operate the brewery together until 1900, at which time J. Edward left to join the Schaller Brothers Brewery. Shortly thereafter William would rename the brewery as the William S. Sohn Brewery, however he died in 1902. After William’s death his wife, Lena Jung Sohn ran the brewery until 1907, as she was intimately familiar with the industry by way of her father, another Cincinnati brewer.


Abandoned, the story of a forgotten America, also has a page about the Clyffside Brewing Company




Patent No. 7604147B2: Keg With An Inner Bag

Today in 2009, US Patent 7604147 B2 was issued, an invention of Ian Anderson, assigned to Anheuser-Busch InBev S.A., for his “Keg with an Inner Bag.” Here’s the Abstract:

An interlocking collar (72) secures a bag neck (46) in a keg aperture (42) of an alcohol beverage keg container (22). The interlocking collar is mounted in press fit surrounding relation with a peripheral wall portion of the bag neck. The collar has an outer peripheral wall portion sized larger than that of a keg aperture. The collar (72) has a recessed groove (76) in the collar outer peripheral wall portion for receiving in press fitting and sealing relation a keg flange (40) that defines the keg aperture. The collar outer peripheral wall portion has a resilient edge portion (78) adjacent the recessed groove that deflects to permit the interlocking collar to pass through the keg aperture and receive the keg flange in the recessed groove. The interlocking collar has a plurality of locking passageways (80) placed around the interlocking collar and axially extending through the interlocking collar between the neck and recessed groove. A latch member (82) has a plurality of locking fingers (84) that extend axially through the locking passageways to prevent deflection of the resilient edge portion of the interlocking collar after the collar is placed in the keg aperture.




Beer Birthday: Sean Paxton

Today is the 44th birthday of Sean Paxton, a.k.a. The Homebrew Chef. Sean is a mad alchemist in the kitchen and puts on some wonderful food and beer spectacles. Plus he’s a terrific homebrewer, an even better human being and a great friend. He’s spent the last year redoing his website with great new recipes and an amazing interface that allows you to search, scale the recipes, convert measurements and much more. For just $5 per month, you’ll get a steady stream of newly created and tested recipes, along with videos and articles to teach you how to cook like Sean and answer your questions. Check it out. Join me in wishing Sean a very happy birthday.

At this year’s Great American Beer Festival in 2008. Bruce Paton, the Beer Chef, Sean and Dave Keene, from the Toronado, in the convention center.

Sean Paxton, with his daughter Olivia
Sean with his daughter Olivia at the Pliny the Elder release earlier this year.

Working with nitrogen at the 11-course Belgian Brunch, or Blunch, held at the Toronado.

My wife, Sarah, with Sean after the 10th annual beer dinner at the Northern California Homebrewers Festival held at Lake Francis Resort in Dobbins, California.

Matt Bonney, Stephen Beaumont, Sean Paxton, Pete Slosberg & Rick Sellers
Matt Bonney, Stephen Beaumont, Sean, Pete Slosberg & Rick Sellers at the Bistro for the Double IPA Festival this year.

Randy Mosher and Sean Paxton
With Randy Mosher at the world’s biggest beer dinner at CBC in Chicago.