Patent No. 106686A: Improvement In Apparatus For Cooling Beer

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Today in 1870, US Patent 106686 A was issued, an invention of William Gee, for his “Improvement in Apparatus for Cooling Beer.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes these claims:

My invention consists in a cooler made up of a series of spiral pipes, arranged with their coils one within the another, within a spiral trough, down through which latter the beer or liquid to be cooled is allowed to run, while the cooling water passes, in an opposite direction, up or through the pipes that combine strength with a large area of cooling surface, and, being independent of the bottom of the beer-trough, provide for the more perfect cleaning of the latter.

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Beer In Ads #2010: Clean Fresh Pilsner Taste


Monday’s ad is for Carlsberg, from 1990. This is another ad from a series done in July of 1990 that was designed to look older, and one presumes, nostalgic. A woman at the grocery store is adding a bottle of Carlsberg Pilsner to her basket. It was undoubtedly on her list. The text appears to claim “Yes…HOF has the clean fresh Pilsner Taste..!”

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Inside Guinness August 22, 1953

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In England, the Picture Post was the equivalent of Life magazine here in the U.S. It “was a photojournalistic magazine published in the United Kingdom from 1938 to 1957. It is considered a pioneering example of photojournalism and was an immediate success, selling 1,700,000 copies a week after only two months.”

On August 22, 1953, one of the photographers for the Picture Post — Bert Hardy — visited Dublin, Ireland, and was permitted inside the Guinness brewery at St. James Gate. I’m not sure how many photos he took, but recently Mashable featured twenty-two of them. Here are a few of them below, it’s a great glimpse into the past, and to see all of them, follow the instructions below.

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Workers drain beer from a mash tun.

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Workers watch as yeast is skimmed off the top of the beer before it is passed to vats for maturing.

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A worker fills casks in the racking shed.

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Workers at the Guinness brewery at St. James’s Gate in Dublin.

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Workers hose down casks.

You can see all 22 of them below, or visit Mashable.

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Patent No. 3685508A: Tank Construction

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Today in 1972, US Patent 3685508 A was issued, an invention of Le Roy W. Heilmann, for his “Tank Construction.” Here’s the Abstract:

A tank bottom having spaced inner and outer members, said inner member being made of relatively thin material having good heat transfer, said spaced inner and outer members forming part of a pressure chamber for heating the contents of said tank, said pressure chamber being subjected to relatively high pressures and temperatures, said inner bottom having strengthening means connected to the outer surface thereof, said strengthening means not being connected to said outer member, said inner member being strong enough to hold the contents of the tank but not strong enough to withstand the cyclical pressures within the pressure chamber over a period of use without said strengthening means.

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Beer In Ads #2009: The Royal Beer


Sunday’s ad is for Carlsberg, a.k.a. “The Royal Beer,” from who knows when. This one features quite a dandy, dressed to the nines — maybe tens with that ridiculous medal below his bow tie. Although curiously, his servant is wearing almost the same outfit, so maybe he’s just the maître d’ taking a break, and not so royal after all.

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Historic Beer Birthday: Josef Groll

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Today is the birthday of Josef Groll (August 21, 1813-November 22, 1887). He was born in Vilshofen an der Donau, Germany. Many consider the Bavarian brewer to be the inventor of pilsener beer.

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Josef Groll’s portrait.

According to the Wikipedia account:

The citizens of Pilsen were no longer satisfied with their top-fermented Oberhefenbier. They publicly emptied several casks of beer in order to draw attention to its low quality and short storage life. It was decided to build a new brewery capable of producing a bottom-fermented beer with a longer storage life. At the time, this was termed a Bavarian beer, since bottom-fermentation first became popular in Bavaria and spread from there. The climate in Bohemia is similar to that in Bavaria and made it possible to store ice in winter and cool the fermentation tanks down to 4 to 9 degrees Celsius year-round, which is necessary for bottom-fermentation.

Bavarian beer had an excellent reputation, and Bavarian brewers were considered the masters of their trade. Thus, the citizens of Pilsen not only built a new brewery, but also hired Josef Groll, a Bavarian brewer. Josef Groll’s father owned a brewery in Vilshofen in Lower Bavaria and had long experimented with new recipes for bottom-fermented beer. On October 5, 1842, Groll produced the first batch of Urquell beer, which was characterized by the use of soft Bohemian water, very pale malt, and Saaz hops It was first served in the public houses Zum Goldenen Anker, Zur weißen Rose and Hanes on 11 November 1842, and was very well received by the populace.

Josef Groll’s contract with the Bürgerliches Brauhaus (citizens’ brewery) in Pilsen expired on April 30, 1845 and was not renewed. Groll returned to Vilshofen and later inherited his father’s brewery. The Pilsen brewery was directed by Bavarian brewers for nearly sixty years until 1900.

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Groll around age 60.

Here’s a description of Groll and his development of pilsner from the German Beer Institute:

The modern Pils may be a northern German brew, but it was a Bavarian brewmaster, Josef Groll, who started it all a scant 160 years ago, when he accepted a new job. Groll, who was born in 1813 in the Bavarian village of Vilshofen (some 100 miles northeast of Munich), prepared a new mash on October 5, 1842, at his new place of employment, the Burgher Brewery in the Bohemian city of Pilsen. As it turned out, the brew that Josef was mixing in the mash tun that day was truly revolutionary…it was the very first blond lager. It was a brew that was to set the style for an entirely new line of beers. The beer that resulted from that first brew was first served on November 11, 1842…and it has conquered the entire world ever since.

Until Groll made his new beer, the standard drink in Pilsen was a top-fermented brew, an ale. But not all was well with the Pilsen ale, because on one occasion, the city council ordered that 36 casks of it be dumped in public. It had become all too frequent that the beers available to the good burghers of Pilsen had been unfit to drink. This caused them to stick their heads together and to hatch a drastic plan: They would invest in a new, state-of-the art brewery and contract a competent brewer to come up with a better beer. In the 1840s, that meant a brewery capable of making Bavarian-style bottom-fermented brews, that is, lagers. Because of the reputation of Bavarian beer, Bavarian brewmasters, too, were held in high regard. So the citizens of Pilsen not only built a Bavarian brewhouse for Bavarian beer, they even engaged a Bavarian brewer to rescue the Pilsner beer from oblivion.

The fellow they engaged for the job was the above-mentioned Josef Groll of Vilshofen. He was an intrepid brewer who clearly rose to the challenge. Instead of using the standard dark malts of his day, he kilned his malt to a very pale color — a technique that had only recently been perfected in Britain. Groll then made use of only the finest of local raw materials. He flavored the brew with plenty of hops from the Saaz region of Bohemia (today, Czech Saaz hops is considered one of the finest aroma hops money can buy) and, of course, brewed with the city’s extremely soft water. From these ingredients he made an extract, which he fermented with good Bavarian lager yeast — and a new beer was born. Nobody before Groll had ever made such an aromatic golden-blond, full-bodied lager.

When Joseph’s contract was up, on April 30, 1845, he went back home to his native Bavaria, but his new beer’s reputation spread quickly beyond the limits of Pilsen. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Joseph Groll sure had cause to feel flattered. Initially, the designation Pilsner beer was just an appellation of origin — a beer made in the city of Pilsen. But soon the new brew was copied everywhere. The first imitators were in adjacent towns with similarly soft water and equal access to Saaz hops. This was the beginning of the Bohemian Pilsner style. But breweries across the border, in Germany, began also to be interested in the Bohemian phenomenon … they had to, because it started to eat into their own sales. This was the time in Europe, when the emerging railway network made the transportation of beer possible to just about any major city.

By the turn of the 19th century, it had become chic from Paris to Vienna and from Hamburg to Rome to drink the beer from Pilsen. The beer’s name had become a household word, usually in its abridged form of Pils. The term Pils had evolved from an appellation of origin to a designation for a new beer style, the very model of a modern lager beer. When Groll died in the village of his birth, in little Vilshofen, on October 22, 1887, he probably had no idea how profound a revolution he had brought about in the world of beer!

Groll’s beer was taking the continent by storm and was even making inroads in Munich, where brewers were starting to make their own variation on the Groll brew. The Burgher Brewery of Pilsen, however, where it had all started, was far from flattered by the imitations its beer had spawned. This brewery was far more interested in supplying the demand for Pilsner beer itself than having other breweries usurp what it considered its proprietary brand name. In 1898, therefore, the Burgher Brewery of Pilsen went to court in Munich. It sought an injunction against the Thomass Brewery, which had come out with a blonde lager, named “Thomass-Pilsner-Bier.” The verdict that the court handed down in April 1899, however, went against the plaintiff. The court argued that “Pilsner” was no longer an appellation, but had become a universal style designation.

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A diorama of Groll in his lab at the Pilsner Urquell Museum.

And this account is from Food Reference, but appears to have been written by Pilsner Urquell:

Most importantly, Martin Stelzer also discovered a brewmaster who would change the way that beer was brewed forever: a young Bavarian called Josef Groll.

The first brewmaster, a visionary, young Bavarian Josef Groll, revolutionized how beer was brewed, looked and tasted.

Beer as we know it has always been produced using the same basic ingredients, hops, barley and water, and for thousands of years was brewed in open vats with fermentation occurring at the top of the brew.

Groll was able to look beyond what was possible and combine his knowledge of an innovative new bottom fermenting process, known as ‘lagering’, with his access to the finest local ingredients at Plzen: a special type of two-row fine-husk barley, the locally grown Saaz hops and of course the uniquely soft local water.

In 1842 Josef Groll’s vision became reality. He succeeded in making a beer the best it could be.

Josef Groll was an unlikely hero, so rude and bad-tempered he was described as the ‘coarsest man in the whole of Bavaria’ by his father.

But it is the fate of every genius to challenge those around him. Throughout history those who have made a step change in their fields, those who have had an idea of true originality, have had one thing in common, the ability to see beyond the ordinary, and create something extraordinary.

Sir Issac Newton observed an apple, and it changed how we see the world. A certain Mr Columbus discovered the New World by rejecting how everyone had seen the old one. And in 1842 Josef Groll created a beer that changed the way the world would see beer.

From the dawn of civilization, beer had been a dark, murky liquid. Then a protest by the citizens of Plzen, Bohemia, inspired the change that would influence the entire beer industry and set the standard for all lagers.

After furious citizens had dumped no less than 36 barrels of undrinkable sludge into the city’s gutters in 1838, it sparked off a remarkable chain of events – a new brewery building, an innovative new brewmaster and finally the world’s first golden beer.

On 4 October 1842 in St Martin’s market, Plzen, Josef Groll unveiled his new creation to widespread sensation, after all a golden beer had never been seen before.

News of this remarkable Plzen beer spread throughout Bohemia. The arrival of the railway and the beer’s popularity amongst German and French tourists soon meant that Plzen’s famous brew gained international appeal.

But with success inevitably came competition. Josef Groll’s original golden beer soon spawned many imitators, many of which also claimed to be Plzen or Pilsner beer, whether they came from Plzen or not. In fact, today Pilsner has become a generic term around the world for any bottom-fermented golden beer sold as ‘pils’ or ‘pilsner’.

In 1898, the brewery acted to protect itself against inferior competitors and the beer’s name was changed to Pilsner Urquell- a German phrase meaning literally “from the original source, Plzen”.

Some say the name was changed to satisfy consumer demand for the original golden beer. But as those who know their beer will tell you: you can tell the original Pilsner by its slightly darker shade of gold, and of course by its taste which is a world apart.

Beer Sweden also has a nice two-part account, as does Brewing Techniques and Food Reference. Pilsner Urquell’s Czech website also has a brief history and a timeline. Brewer K. Florian Klemp wrote Presenting Pilsners for All ABout Beer, which includes Groll’s story.

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Patent No. 4165388A: Torrefied Barley For Brewer’s Mashes

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Today in 1979, US Patent 4165388 A was issued, an invention of Robert D. Bryce, for his “Torrefied Barley For Brewer’s Mashes.” Here’s the Abstract:

Torrefied, expanded barley for use as a partial replacement for malt in brewer’s mashes is prepared by heating unmalted barley having a protein content of at least about 12% to a temperature sufficient to expand the barley to a degree that a given volume of barley before heating weights about 1.4 to about 1.75 times the weight of the same volume of barley after heating. Before heating, the unmalted barley preferably has a moisture content of about 12% to 20% by weight.

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Patent No. 29666A: Attachment Of Covers To Glass Vessels

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Today in 1860, US Patent 29666 A was issued, an invention of Robert D. Bryce, for his “Attachment of Covers to Glass Vessels,” or “Pitcher Cover.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes these claims:

I have invented a new and useful Improvement in the Mode of Attaching Metallic Covers to Mugs, &o.; and I do hereby declare the following to be a full, clear, and exact description thereof, reference being’ had to the accompanying drawings, forming part of this specication, in which Figure l is a perspective representation of a glass mug, with a metallic cover attached thereto on my improved plan. Fig. 2 is a side view of the metallic cover, detached from the mug showing a vertical section of the hinge piece, and the handle of the mug in the same plane. Fig. 3 is a View of the cover and part of t-he handle of a mug similar to Fig. 2, showing a slight modification of the mode of attachment.

In the several figures, like letters of reference denote similar parts.

There are several articles of domestic use, which it is convenient to furnish with metallic covers, to open readily with a hinge, such as lager-beer mugs, cream-pitchers, molasses-pitchers, and other vessels. These metallic covers are made with a. hinge usually placed near the handle, the hinge piece being in two pieces, united by a pin or pivot, the upper hinge piece being united to, and forming part of the cover, and the lower hinge piece being attached to the vessel and thereby securing the cover to the vessel. It has been found difficult, however, to limit the lower hinge piece of the cover to the vessel, so as to form a neat and workmanlike job, without casting it on to the handle of the mug, pitcher, but this is expensive in itself, and is very apt to break the vessel, if it be made of glassware.

My improvement consists in attaching the upper hinge piece of the cover immediately to the handle, or to a projection on or near the rim of the vessel, so as to dispense with the lower hinge piece of metal.

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Patent No. 656418A: Device For Drawing Steam Beer

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Today in 1900, US Patent 656418 A was issued, an invention of James O’Connor, for his “Device For Drawing Steam Beer, Etc.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes these claims:

My invention relates to an apparatus which is designed for drawing liquids under pressure; but it is especially useful when connected with casks containing what is known as steam-beer or beer in which carbonic acid gas is contained to produce a high pressure and head within the cask.

It consists of connections between one or more casks and a distributing-chamber and connections between said chamber and a cylinder containing a piston which is reciprocable within the cylinder, so that when beer is admitted into the cylinder the piston will be moved toward the opposite end until the de sired amount of beer has been admitted, which is shown by a suitable recording device. The beer is drawn from the cylinder through a discharge-cock, and the gas in the beer is so diffused and caused to escape from the beer that little or no foam results when it is drawn from the cylinder. A second cylinder in line with the first contains a piston, the piston-rod connecting the pistons in both cylinders, so that they move in unison. A four-way cock is interposed between the cylinders, and water under pressure is brought through this cock and allowed to enter the second cylinder while the beer is entering the first and the cock is turned so as to allow the water to escape from this cylinder and to enter the first cylinder to return the piston therein to its normal position after the boot has been drawn.

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