Beer Birthday: Ralph Olson

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Today is Ralph Olson’s 65th birthday. Ralph was the general manager/co-owner of HopUnion, a co-op that supplies hops to many of the craft breweries. Ralph’s pretty much retired but can still be seen at occasional beer events throughout the country. He’s been a good friend to and very supportive of the craft beer industry. Join me in wishing Ralph a very happy birthday.

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Ralph Olson, the Big Cheese from HopUnion. If you look carefully in between his “Sponsor” and “Exhibitor” badge you can see his title really is officially “the Big Cheese.

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Ralph and me at the end of the brewer’s reception at GABF in 2007.

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Dave Keene, from the Toronado, Dave Pyle, Ralph and Becky Pyle, who are also with HopUnion, along with my friend Dave Suurballe.

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Ralph sandwiched between Jessica, the former event coordinator for the AOB and Chad Kennedy, brewer at Laurelwood Public House & Brewery in Portland, Oregon at GABF in 2006.

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With Natalie Cilurzo of Russian River Brewing, who’s accepting an award at the Alpha King Hop Challenge in 2006. If you look closely, you can find the award money.

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Ralph with the other HopUnion Ralph, Ralph Woodall, and Rob Widmer, the younger half of Widmer Brothers Brewing, at the 15th Anniversary Party for the Celebrator Beer News.

Patent No. 2187526A: Hop Picking Machine

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Today in 1940, US Patent 2187526 A was issued, an invention of Edouard Thys, for his “Hop Picking Machine.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

This invention relates to hop picking machines the picking of hops in the fields where they are grown.

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Patent No. 3552975A: Hop Flavors For Malt Beverages

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Today in 1971, US Patent 3552975 A was issued, an invention of Paul H. Todd Jr. and Leonard R. Worden, assigned to Matt Brynildson’s first company; the Kalamazoo Spice Extract Co., for their “Hop Flavors for Malt Beverages and the Like.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

Process for producing 4-deoxytetrahydrohumulone from lupulone by hydrogenolysis thereof after downward adjustment of pH into the acid range, optional subsequent oxygenation to tetrahydrohumulone, and optional isomerization and reduction to produce hexahydroisohumulone; hexahydroisohumulone itself; use of hexahydroisohumulone, in beverage flavoring; beverages flavored therewith; and employment of the portion of the non-volatile nonisomerizable hop extract fraction which dissolves in water at a pH of at least 9 as starting material in the first-mentioned production processes; use of tetrahydroisohumulone in beverage flavoring, especially by isomerizing tetrahydrohumulone in the beverage; beverages and especially malt beverages so flavored.

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Patent No. 2919806A: Hop Strainer

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Today in 1960, US Patent 2919806 A was issued, an invention of Alvin Hock and Clarence Rechtin, assigned to the Brighton Corp., for their “Hop Strainer.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

Our invention resides in the provision of a novel hop strainer especially designed for obtaining instant separation of wort from hops.

Our invention relates in general to that type of mechanism shown in Patent No. 2,412,400 which issued to Alvin Hock on December 10, 1946. Novel features, however, have been incorporated in the machinery of the instant invention as will be emphasized in the passages which follow.

It is an object of our invention to provide a hop strainer which will remove a maximum amount of Wort from the hops without bruising or crushing the hops sufficient to impart an undesirable bitterness to the Wort. Accordingly, an important feature embodied in the construction of a hop strainer according to the teachings of our invention is that of cascading the wort and hops in a sheet or sheets against a perforated plate or screen in such a manner that the combined wort and hops contact the plate or screen in such a way that the great majority of the wort will strike through the plate or screen instantly while the hops are washed along the plate or screen without driving the hops lint and seed through the plate or screen and without undue splashing.

Another very important object of our invention is to provide means for moving the hops and wort along another’ perforated plate or plates in such a Way as to accomplish further separation of the wort from the hops again without subjecting the hops to extreme pressures or harsh treatment.

A further object of our invention is to provide a final pressing action by means of which the last usable wort lis separated from the hops at the final stage in the separation process, this also being accomplished without damage to the hops and wort.

Another important object of our invention is to provide a hop strainer which may be .cleaned easily and quickly so as to protect the purity of the brew and make it economical to use.

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Patent No. 2536927A: Hop-Picking Machine

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Today in 1951, US Patent 2536927 A was issued, an invention of Porter E. Griswold, for his “Hop-Picking Machine.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

My invention relates to a machine especially designed for use in the hop-picking industry for stemming hop clusters.

Hops are generally grown on trellises from sixteen to twenty feet high, the vines being trained over these trellises. In picking by machinery, the vine stalks are out about four feet from the ground and passed through the hop-picking machine, the hops being removed mechanically from the vines during the traverse of the latter through the machine. Some of the hops are removed from the vine -in the form of clusters or bouquets, such clusters having more or less of the stems or small branches, which are undesirable in the finished product, and it is necessary to pull these clusters apart to free the hops from this trash.

The object of the present invention is to design a simple, practical machine of large capacity for this work..

The invention consists of the parts and the construction and combination of parts as hereinafter more fully described and claimed, having reference to the accompanying drawings, in which Figure 1 is a plan view of the invention, one-half of the outer casing being broken away to show the inner stemming centrifugal cone. Fig. 2 is a side elevation in partial section of the invention. Fig. 3 is a detail of the cooperating series of outer and inner, or stationary and movable, pickers.

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Patent No. 1013505A: Hop-Cluster Stemmer

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Today in 1912, US Patent 1013505 A was issued, an invention of George E Miller, for his “Hop-Cluster Stemmer.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

My invention relates to a machine especially designed for use in the hop-picking industry for stemming hop clusters.

Hops are generally grown on trellises from sixteen to twenty feet high, the vines being trained over these trellises. In picking by machinery, the vine stalks are out about four feet from the ground and passed through the hop-picking machine, the hops being removed mechanically from the vines during the traverse of the latter through the machine. Some of the hops are removed from the vine -in the form of clusters or bouquets, such clusters having more or less of the stems or small branches, which are undesirable in the finished product, and it is necessary to pull these clusters apart to free the hops from this trash.

The object of the present invention is to design a simple, practical machine of large capacity for this work..

The invention consists of the parts and the construction and combination of parts as hereinafter more fully described and claimed, having reference to the accompanying drawings, in which Figure 1 is a plan view of the invention, one-half of the outer casing being broken away to show the inner stemming centrifugal cone. Fig. 2 is a side elevation in partial section of the invention. Fig. 3 is a detail of the cooperating series of outer and inner, or stationary and movable, pickers.

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Patent No. PP24125P3: Hop Plant Named ‘HBC 369’

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Today in 2013, US Patent PP24125 P3 was issued, an invention of Eugene G. Probasco and Jason Perrault, assigned to the Hop Breeding Company, LLC., for their “Hop Plant Named ‘HBC 369.’” Here’s the Abstract:

A new hop plant named ‘HBC 369’ is disclosed. The cones of ‘HBC 369’ mature in mid September, and yield a crop of 1600 to 2000 pounds per acre. ‘HBC 369’ is used for its unique aromatic quality, resistance to powdery mildew, high alpha acid content and exceptional yield.

HBC 369 was recently given a name, and it’s probably one you’re familiar with: Mosaic. Mosaic, nee HBC 369, has quickly become a very popular hop variety. The Hop Breeding Company has more info about Mosaic at their website, and co-inventor Gene Probasco gave a presentation at an MBAA meeting in 2012. This how Yakima Chief describes it. “Mosaic™ Brand HBC 369 cv is a daughter of the YCR 14 cv hop variety and a Nugget derived male. It has high alpha acids and tropical, blueberry, tangerine, floral, and earthy aromas.” But alert readers might notice that Hop HBC 369 was patented before, on November 22, 2012. As far as I can tell, they look identical, but perhaps the newer one supersedes the older filing, perhaps correcting some information. But it certainly seems strange that it was patented twice, with the only mention of the duplication being one line in the newer application: “Also published as US20120297512.” But I’m still not sure why that would be the case.

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Patent No. 2226813A: Hop Picking Machine

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Today in 1940, US Patent 2226813 A was issued, an invention of Charles John Gray, assigned to Guinness Son & Co. Ltd., for his “Hop Picking Machine.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

In this machine, although a number of hops are successfully separated from the bine, some of them are not so successfully separated, as they are either detached in clusters or singly, upon the short stalks or stems by which they were originally attached to the bine.

It has been proposed to provide a machine of this kind with an endless screen, or wire mesh, having its respective ends passed around drums which serve to support it, and which drums are suitably driven to in turn drive the screen.

In this proposed arrangement, the wire mesh screen has been so arranged as to permit all the properly picked hops to fall down through it whilst retaining upon its upper surface any hop bearing stalk or stem portions and carrying them beneath fingers, between which and the screen such relative movement takes place as will cause said fingers to, in effect, sweep said screen in a longitudinal direction, and, in so doing, cause the hops to be caught up against the sides of the mesh openings of the screen and so become detached in this manner from the stalks, or in some cases the fingers directly detach them.

The short stalks or stems from which the hops 35 are separated as just described, are carried along by the screen until they fall off it as it passes around one of the screen carrying drums. Leaves also fall through the mesh with completely picked hops, and are subsequently separated in any suitable manner from these hops. The arrangement just described has been found to be open to the objection that all the hops are not detached from the aforesaid short stalk or stem portions.

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Patent No. 3418135A: Light-Insensitive Malt Beverage

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Today in 1968, US Patent 3418135 A was issued, an invention of Peter D. Bayne, assigned to Schlitz Brewing Co., for his “Light-Insensitive Malt Beverage and Process of Producing the Same.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

This invention relates to a process of producing a malt beverage such as beer, and more particularly to a process of producing a malt beverage which is insensitive to light.

Malt beverages such as beer and ale are not stable to light. When subjected to light, the beer develops an odor and flavor characterized as skunky. To prevent the development of the sunstruck or skunky odor, beer is generally packaged in colored bottles which minimizes exposure to sunlight. Even though packaged in colored bottles or in cans or kegs, the beer can nevertheless develop the sunstruck odor by virtue of the short exposure to sunlight in drinking glasses.

It has been found that the presence of isohumulones are responsible for the development of the sunstruck odor in beer. The hops, which are boiled with the wort, contain resins and oils which are contained in the lupulin. The resins include the alpha and beta resins, with the alpha resins containing a bitter acid called humulone and the beta resins containing an acid called lupulone. The alpha acids provide the bitter flavor for the beer while the beta acids have low solubility in the Wort and do not appreciably enter into the brewing process.

During the brewing-process, the humulone fraction is isomerized to the corresponding isohumulones. The sunstruck odor substance in beer has been identified as a mercaptan,3-Inethyl-2-butene-l-thiol, which is formed by the photolysis of the siX-membered side chain on the isohumulone molecule. The free radical formed by the intervention of sunlight splits Off carbon monoxide, forming the 3-methyl-2-butenyl radical. This product, in turn, reacts with hydrogen sulfide, which is formed from proteins or amino acids by photochemical action, to form 3- methyl-Z-butene-l-thiol. This mercaptan is considered to be the main component of the sunstruck odor in malt beverages.

To prevent the sunstruck odor, it has been proposed to convert a carbonyl group of the isohumulones into a secondary alcohol by reduction. In this reduced form, the molecule becomes insensitive to sunlight and there is no formation of odor on exposure to sunlight. This conversion has been carried out in the past by use of sodium borohydride as disclosed in Patent No. 3,079,262, but the use of sodium borohydride has not been completely successtul in that the reaction is difiicult to control. The contact time between the sodium borohydride and the isohumulone must be accurately controlled in order to effect a complete reduction of the isohumulones In addition, the sodium borohydride is a relatively costly material which adds to the overall cost of the beer.

The present invention is directed to a process for producing a light-insensitive malt beverage by reducing the isohumulones by use of an alkali metal dithionite. More specifically, the process consists of initially extracting ground hops with a solvent, such as hexane. The solvent is then evaporated, leaving a dark resinous oil which is isomerized in a dilute alkaline solution. After the isomerization, the material is neutralized to pH of 6.0 to 7.0 with a mineral acid and the lupulone, wax and chlorophyll are removed by further extractions with a solvent. The aqueous phase is then further acidified to a pH in the range of 1.0 to 2.0 and the isohumulones extracted with a solvent such as diethyl ether. The reduction is then accomplished by contacting the ether-isohumulone extract -with an aqueous solution of sodium dithionite.

After the reduction, the reduced isohumulone extract is separated from the dithionite solution and washed with brine. The ether is then removed by distillation to produce the reduced isohumulone concentrate.

The reduced isohumulone when added to a standard unhopped wort or beer produces a beer which does not develop the characteristic sunstruck odor when subjected to sunlight and at the same time allows precise control of the isohumulone bitterness levels which was hitherto impossible by traditional hopping methods.

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Patent No. 3927680A: Machine For Picking Hops

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Today in 1975, US Patent 3927680 A was issued, an invention of Hermann Daum and Johann Stefan, for their “Machine For Picking Hops.” Here’s the Abstract:

This invention relates to a hop picking machine and more particularly to a hop picking machine which includes a device for performing a secondary picking operation.

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