Historic Beer Birthday: Joseph Bramah

Today is the birthday of Joseph Bramah (April 13, 1748-December 9, 1814). Bramah was an English engineer, and inventor, whose most famous invention was the hydraulic press. But he also made improvements and created a practical beer engine, creating his beer pump and engine inventions between 1785 and 1797.

Joseph Bramah- portrait in oils

Another summary of his achievements is quite flattering:

English engineer and inventor whose lock manufacturing shop was the cradle of the British machine-tool industry. Central in early Victorian lockmaking and manufacturing, he influenced almost every mechanical trade of the time. Like Henry Ford, his influence was probably greater for the manufacturing processes he developed, than the product itself. He took out his first patent on a safety lock (1784) and in 1795 he patented his hydraulic press, known as the Bramah press, used for heavy forging. He devised a numerical printing machine for bank notes and was one of the first to suggest the practicability of screw propellers and of hydraulic transmission. He invented milling and planing machines and other machine tools, a beer-engine (1797), and a water-closet.

As for the actual patents, there were two of them. The first was in 1785 and was for what he called a “beer pump.” Then, in 1793 he was granted Patent No. 2196 for his improved version, now referred to as a “beer engine.” It was actually a Dutchman, John Lofting, who had first invented the beer pump in 1688, but Bramah’s were more refined and practical, and more importantly, patented. Curiously, Grace’s Guide to British Industrial History lists the patent dates as 1787 and 1797, so it’s unclear which are the correct dates.

In this engraving, entitled Men of Science Living in 1807-8, Bramah is on the left side, the tenth one in the back from the left. He’s the one with the wide sash across his chest and the star-shaped badge on his jacket. Others include Joseph Banks, Henry Cavendish and James Watt.

NPG 1075a; Engraving after 'Men of Science Living in 1807-8'

There’s even a J.D. Wetherspoon’s pub in his home town of Bramley called The Joseph Bramah


Patent No. 517400A: Pitching Casks

Today in 1894, US Patent 517400 A was issued, an invention of Louis Wagner, for his “Pitching Casks.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

It is the object of my present invention to provide for heating the interior of casks, such as those used for the storage and transportation of beer, for the purpose either of applying new pitch to the same or for the purpose of melting and removing the old and impure pitch to allow of the reapplication of a fresh coating. By my improvements I provide for heating the casks interiorly in a rapid, thorough and economical manner, and at the same time enable the heat so applied to be accurately tempered in order that the heat and fuel may not be wasted or the interior of the cask or the pitch, injured. For this purpose I combine with a suitable heating chamber analogous in construction to a steam boiler and having an air inlet, a steam injecting apparatus adapted to force into the heating chamber such amount of air as will together with the steam when highly superheated produce the volume of vapor necessary for heating the cask. The steam jet forms the motive power for passing the vapor to be heated through the heating chamber and for applying it interiorly to the cask, and at the same time serves by the regulation of its amount to accurately determine the temperature of the vapor at the point where it performs its heating function. I further provide a stand of improved character to receive the Cask or keg while it is being operated upon.


Patent No. 722509A: Cooler For Kegs Or Casks

Today in 1903, US Patent 722509 A was issued, an invention of Samuel M. J≥ House, for his “Cooler for Kegs or Casks.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

My invention relates to a new and useful improvement in coolers for kegs or casks, and has for its object to provide the kegs or casks with an interior receptacle one end of which opens through one head of the keg, and into this receptacle may be placed cracked ice, liquid air, or any cooling substance for the purpose of cooling the contents of the keg or cask.


Patent No. 148297A: Improvement In Casks For Preserving Beer

Today in 1874, US Patent 148297 A was issued, an invention of Ole Heggem, for his “Improvement in Casks for Preserving Beer.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

That which I claim as new, and desire to secure by Letters Patent, is —

1. The combination, with a beer-cask, of a collapsible bag, capable of filling the entire interior of said cask, and secured to the interior of the cask at its mouth, by means of the head of the cask being set in against the edges of said bag, lying between the edges of the head and the staves, said head being provided with an open vent, as specified.

2. In combination with the bag and cask, the head, provided with a vent-hole, guarded by the plates at each side, and having the grooves 0, as specified.


Patent No. 694477A: Beer Valve

Today in 1902, US Patent 694477 A was issued, an invention of Frank E. Howland, for his “Valve.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

My invention relates to certain new and useful improvements in apparatus for carbonating and dispensing liquids. More particularly, my invention relates to a device adapted to be applied to casks, kegs, or other receptacles whereby in its use it is practicable to completely fill the receptacles in the first instance and in such filling and as the liquid is dispensed a constant recarbonating process is instituted which continues until all of the liquid is Withdrawn from the receptacle.

The device is adapted to a receptacle being filled, and by a certain manipulation of the valve part of the device an inlet into the receptacle, which permits the filling, and a vent or air-escape is provided, thus enabling the receptacle to be completely filled.


Patent No. 554806A: Filling And Bunging Apparatus

Today in 1896, US Patent 554806 A was issued, an invention of Marion Warren, for his “Filling and Bunging Apparatus.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

The object of my invention is to provide apparatus for filling packages with liquid and bunging the same expeditiously and securely, the same being especially adapted for the treatment of carbonated beverages, such as lager-beer, which by means of my improved apparatus I am enabled to place in the trade or selling package without material loss of gas or pressure.


Patent No. 3789622A: Ice Box For Beer Barrel

Today in 1974, US Patent 3789622 A was issued, an invention of Ralph Yanes, for his “Ice Box For Beer Barrel.” Here’s the Abstract:

An insulated barrel shape structure for housing and suspending a beer barrel in the horizontal position surrounded by ice. The rear circular cover of the device is removable for the installation and replacement of the beer barrel and surrounding ice. The circular front cover bears a circular opening for the spigot of the beer barrel. The structure provides for an air-seal between the sides and bottom of the housed beer barrel and the iced refrigerated area of the structure.


Patent No. 575545A: Air And Beer Connection For Beer-Casks

Today in 1897, US Patent 575545 A was issued, an invention of Peter E. Dunn and William H. Partridge, for their “Air and Beer Connection for Beer-Casks.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

This invention relates to devices for hermetically closing the outlets or inlets to beer casks and to attachments for said devices for controlling the discharge of beer therefrom, and to a system of gage and pump connections attached to said devices, the object being to provide devices of improved construction for closing beer-cask openings for transportation and for connection with said openings for operating the devices thereof and for governing the discharge of beer from said casks and the introduction of air-pressure thereto; and the invention consists in the peculiar construction of said devices, apparatus, and connections, all as fully described, and. more particularly pointed out in the claim.


Patent No. EP0142966B1: Valved Closure For Kegs Or Casks

Today in 1988, US Patent EP 0142966 B1 was issued, an invention of Roger John Hyde, for his “Valved Closure for Kegs or Casks.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

This invention relates to valved closures for pressure vessels, such as kegs or casks for beverages dispensed through the valved closure by pressure gas admitted to the keg or cask through the closure.



Patent No. 1121930A: Metal Keg Or Cask

Today in 1914, US Patent 1121930 A was issued, an invention of Lewis V. Mather, assigned to Enameled Steel Package Corp., for his “Metal Keg or Cask.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

This invention relates to kegs or casks and has for its object a cask in which the hoops and the head rings are applied to the shell in an improved manner.

This invention consists essentially in the utilization of spring tongues on the shell or staves of the cask which spring out and lock with the hoops and the. head rings when the latter have been slipped into place.