Today in 1947, US Patent 2414669 A was issued, an invention of Gustave T. Reich, for his “Art of Brewing.” There’s no Abstract, but the description explains that the “invention relates to a continuous process of brewing beer from malt and cereal. Among its objectives are the securing of the maximum diastatic action in the minimum time thus permitting advantageous continuous saccharincation, the preventing of the destruction of the diastase and peptase by heat prior to the sacchariflcation of the mash so that the full effect of all the diastase is released in the sacoharifying step, the effecting of the maximum digestion of the malt by the peptase largely prior to the saccharibody of the hulls is not fication, the avoiding of dissolving objectionable soluble materials found in the malt hulls by digesting the malt while the hulls are largely intact.”
Here’s an interesting little item that speaks to the image that a brewery can, and often strives, to create. While small in and of itself, given the changes we’re seeing in brewery ownership and other business dealings, an important one. This is especially true in the wake of another prominent up and coming Oregon brewery that witnessed a pretty severe backlash for selling an interest in the company to Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI) last year. And witness how the tribe reacted to the lawsuit that Lagunitas initiated for trademark infringement against Sierra Nevada, despite it being a perfectly reasonable and understandable business decision. What those recent incidents have taught us, if anything, is that perception often matters more in the eyes of customers than following traditional business practices. Apparently, this really isn’t your father’s brewing company, and woe be to any brewery that doesn’t at least follow its own heart, if not the perceived heart of its fanbase.
Ninkasi Brewing, of Eugene, Oregon, announced that they were ending their relationship with their large beer distributor, owned by ABI, and signing with two smaller, locally owned distributors to cover the same territory — “Eugene-based Bigfoot Beverage Distributors and Bellevue, Washington-based Odom Corp.” Apparently, the only reason Nnkasi was with ABI distributors in the first place was because of a buyout a few years ago of the beer distributors that originally sold their beer to the larger ABI-owned one.
According to a story in the Register-Guard, CEO and co-founder Nikos Ridge remarked that this “arrangement did not fit well with Ninkasi’s world view” and added. “We are committed to being an independent and locally owned craft brewery, and feel we will be better aligned long term with independent and locally owned wholesalers.”
It’s interesting that Ninkasi wants to stay true to their roots, even as they expand into other markets, preferring local distributors over potentially more efficient and possibly more effective ones. Even at the expense of their business, they chose what they perceive to be the better fit with their company ethos. That’s a lesson many other brewers will have to learn as they navigate the landscape of the modern age of beer. These things matter to a lot of people, even if they rarely even understand how to run a business, what are the intricacies of trademark law, or what’s involved in signing with a distributor. Perception is your street cred in this day and age, and that’s likely to only intensify as a growing number of breweries are vying for your attention, your loyalty and most importantly, your business.
Today in 1896, US Patent 553269 A was issued, an invention of Gustave Sobotka and Adolph Kliemetschek, for their “Method of Manufacturing Beer or Ale.” There’s no Abstract, but the description explains that the “invention relates to methods of manufacturing beer and ale, and the objects are mainly to provide an improved process whereby a superior quality of beer or ale may be produced and in a much shorter time than is required when made according to methods heretofore in use, thereby effecting a saving of both time and labor, and also to avoid the loss of the aromatic principle or constituents of the hops, which necessarily results from ordinary methods of boiling the hops with the Wort in the copper, and further to reduce the quantity of hops usually required for the manufacture of a given quantity of beer or ale by utilizing the flavoring, disinfecting, and preserving qualities of the hops to better advantage, and thereby also effect a saving of material.”
Antioch’s brewpub Schooner’s Grille & Brewery is currently looking for a space to build a production brewery and begin offering their award-winning beers in bottles. The restaurant and brewery was purchased by new owners last May, and they planned from the beginning to start packaging the beer. But recently they decided to close the restaurant as of February 1, 2015. So Schooner’s beer will likely be a little harder to find for a few months, while they transition from brewpub to production brewery.
I spoke to longtime brewer at Schooner’s, Craig Cauwels, and he tells me they hope to be brewing in a new space by mid-to-late summer. They may contract some beer during the downtime, but a final decision on that hasn’t been made yet, and will most likely be dependent upon how the search for a new building for the brewery is going. They expect to know more about potential sites for the brewery over the next month.
Cauwels also will be investing in the new brewery, and will become a partner in the venture, which is exciting, because Craig is an incredibly talented brewer and it will be great for him to have a stake in the company. Schooner’s was named “Brewery of the Year” at last year’s California State Fair Brewery Competition, and has won countless awards over the years. His Old Diablo Barley Wine is consistently one of the best barley wines you’ve never heard of (but should have) and hopefully will soon be available in bottles, along with many of Schooner’s other beers. Look for bottles of Schooner’s beer on store shelves soon, or at least by the end of the summer if all goes according to plan.
Today in 1936, US Patent 2028283 A was issued, an invention of Jules Howard and Sanford E. Richeson, for their “Foam Controlling Beer Faucet.” There’s no Abstract, but the description explains that the “invention relates to beer and like taps or valves for drawing off foamy liquid from a cooler or other container.” It was designed “to prevent loss of the liquid incident to foaming in the glass after standing for some time in the cooler or container, and at the same time to regulate the depth of the head or cap of foam at the top of the glass.”
Tuesday’s ad is another one for Schlitz, from 1936. Between the recipe for “Famous Schlitz Rarebit” and the man pouring a little Schlitz into whatever that dish is — soup, dip, etc. — it’s clear that Schlitz is cooking with beer. Based on the look on his face, I’d say he’s had a few beers before the guests are even due to arrive. And his wife in the shiny blue dress looks like she’s been keeping up, and is bringing in the next round. It’s going to be a great dinner party!
While I don’t put any stock in astrology, Bartram’s Brewery in Suffolk, England, did a series of zodiac sign beers. The brewer describes the idea as a fun “marketing ploy,” explaining. “Each month I brew a 4.2% beer using the same grist, Maris Otter plus 10% Crystal and then varied the hops so there is a whole load of experimentation going on! It has been an experience for me as I have been able to try out new hops each month.” In addition, each new beer has a new pump handle, with original art by Cherry Burns Salmond. In 1980, Guinness put out a calendar with each month representing one of the zodiac signs, which I posted throughout 2011, so I thought it would be fun to share these throughout this year.
Aquarius, the water-bearer, is from January 20-February 19.
To learn more about Aquarius, see:
Today is the 49th birthday of Chris Nelson, better known as The Beer Geek. Chris and his wife, Merideth Canham-Nelson, recently completed an around the world beer festival tour, but are still traveling the globe searching for great beer. A few years ago his wife also published Teachings From the Tap, her account of the year they spent circling the globe visiting beer destinations. Join me in wishing Chris a very happy birthday.
At the OBF media tasting: Rick Sellers, from Pacific Brew News, Merideth and Chris Nelson, The Beer Geek, and Meagan Flynn (at right) with her assistant, Annalou, former publishers of Beer NW during the 2007 Oregon Brewers Festival.
Today in 1976, US Patent 3933282 A was issued, an invention of Frederick F. Stevens, Jr., and assigned to Hoff-Stevens, Inc., for his “Universal Tavern Unit for Keg Tapping Device.” Here’s the Abstract:
A universal tavern unit for a keg tapping device comprises a basic tavern unit for connection to a keg unit permanently or semi-permanently connected to a keg. The basic tavern unit is adapted to cooperate with the keg unit to provide inlet and outlet passageways which communicate with the interior of the keg for the introduction of gas under pressure into the keg and the discharge of beer or other liquid therefrom. The universal tavern unit further includes a pressure relief check valve adaptor assembly for connection to the basic tavern unit to adapt it to the requirements of an associated beer or liquid distribution system.
Today is the birthday of Scott Ungermann, who’s the Production Director at Anchor Brewing. When I first met Scott, he was the Brewmaster at the Anheuser-Busch brewery in Fairfield, a position he held for almost six years, plus brewing stints at other AB facilities for over thirteen years. When I was working on my latest book, he gave me and my son Porter a great tour of the facility and I discovered we had several mutual friends since he was a 1995 graduate of U.C. Davis. Scott’s a very passionate brewer, and I was thrilled to run into him at the annual Anchor Christmas party, discovering that in April of last year he joined the team at Anchor. Join me in wishing Scott a very happy birthday.
Scott being interviewed in 2010 for a segment on KCRA Channel 3 NBC television in Sacramento.