Historical Beer Birthday: John Lofting

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Today is as good a day as any to celebrate the birthday of John Lofting (1659–June 15, 1742). Like many people born centuries ago who weren’t royal or otherwise well-born, we don’t know the exact day he was born, but we do know that he died today. Lofting was a Dutchman who lived in London as an adult, and patented several devices, the most famous of which was the fire engine, but he may also have been responsible for the beer engine.

John-Lofting

Here’s his Wikipedia entry:

Originally Jan Loftingh, John Lofting was an engineer and entrepreneur from the Netherlands. His parents were Herman and Johanna. He moved to London, England, before 1686. He patented two inventions being the “sucking worm engine” (a fire engine) and a horse-powered thimble knurling machine. His mill was set up in Islington, where Lofting Road is named after him. However, in or about 1700, he moved his main operation to Great Marlow in Buckinghamshire to take advantage of the River Thames’ ability to turn a water wheel which improved productivity, enabling the production of over 2 million thimbles per year.

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The Sucking Worm Engine, from the British Museum.

And while Joseph Bramah patented the first practical beer engine, Lofting’s design made it possible for Bramah to build on and create his. Although there’s little I could find specific about Lofting’s invention, it is mentioned in the Wikipedia entry for the beer engine:

A beer engine is a device for pumping beer from a cask in a pub’s cellar.

The beer engine was invented by John Lofting, a Dutch inventor, merchant and manufacturer who moved from Amsterdam to London in about 1688 and patented a number of inventions including a fire hose and engine for extinguishing fires and a thimble knurling machine as well as a device for pumping beer. The London Gazette of 17 March 1691 stated “the patentee hath also projected a very useful engine for starting of beers and other liquors which will deliver from 20 to 30 barrels an hour which are completely fixed with brass joints and screws at reasonable rates.”

The locksmith and hydraulic engineer Joseph Bramah developed beer pumping further in 1797.

The beer engine is normally manually operated, although electrically powered and gas powered pumps are occasionally used; when manually powered, the term handpump is often used to refer to both the pump and the associated handle.

The beer engine is normally located below the bar with the visible handle being used to draw the beer through a flexible tube to the spout, below which the glass is placed. Modern hand pumps may clamp onto the edge of the bar or be mounted on the top of the bar.

A pump clip is usually attached to the handle by a spring clip giving the name and sometimes the brewery, beer type and alcoholic strength of the beer being served through that handpump.

The handle of a handpump is often used as a symbol of cask ale. Keg beer dispensers usually feature illuminated countertop fittings behind which a handle opens a valve that allows the gas pressure in the keg to force beer to the attached spout.

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A modern beer engine.

Patent No. 3486512A: Fluid Transport Line Cleaning Device And System

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Today in 1969, US Patent 3486512 A was issued, an invention of Anthony Marino, for his “Fluid Transport Line Cleaning Device and System.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes these claims:

Fluid transport line cleaning device and system inclusive of upright container having inlets for passing cleaning material and water into container for mixing in container and outlet for delivering mixture from container under pressure. Pipe having valve controlled outlets and line couplings for selectively passing mixture from container through fluid transport lines coupled thereto such as syrup lines and beer lines having tap rods and associated faucets at bar counter locations. Portion of pipe for beer lines being rigid and arranged for wall mounting at bar counter for supporting a portion of pipe and container in upright position.

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Patent No. 2065949A: Beer Cooling And Dispensing System

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Today in 1936, US Patent 2065949 A was issued, an invention of Harry J. Sandell, for his “Beer Cooling and Dispensing System.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes these claims:

The invention relates to a beer cooling and dispensing system, and has for its object to simplify and improve the efficiency of drawing beer from a storage refrigerator at one point and a dispensing 5 outlet at another.

The chief object of the invention is to provide a combination of devices adapted to contain an enclosed circulating and cooling medium, for the purpose of maintaining a uniform low temperature along a dispensing pipe contained therein.

Explanation In beer cooling and dispensing, the beer storage refrigerator is usually placed in the basement or some other convenient place that requires considerable piping and a coil to carry the beer and cool it from the storage refrigerator to the counter dispensing coil box. When this system is used, the beer leaves the cold refrigerator and runs exposed, then enters the iced coil, but due to the different go and uneven temperatures along the line of draught the beer cannot be drawn or controlled at the faucet without considerable waste.

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Patent No. WO2000078665A1: Beer Container

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Today in 2000, US Patent WO 2000078665 A1 was issued, an invention of William Field Warwick, assigned to Carlton and United Breweries, for his “Beer Container.” Here’s the Abstract:

A beer container comprises an inner hollow shell (11) of blow moulded PET to hold beer, an outer hollow shell (12) of moulded high density polyethylene enclosing and supporting the inner shell and a spear structure (13) including a dispenser tube (14) extending from a bottom interior region of the inner shell (11) through to a dispensing outlet (16) at the top of the outer shell (12). Spear structure (13) incorporates valves (25, 26) for supply of pressurising gas into the interior of inner shell (11) and for dispensing beer through the dispensing outlet (16), both valves being formed of PET. When the container has been emptied of beer, the outer shell (12) can readily be separated from the inner shell (11) and spear structure (13) to allow separate recycling of the high density polyethylene material and the PET material.

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Patent No. 2141221A: Beer Drawing And Cooling System

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Today in 1938, US Patent 2141221 A was issued, an invention of John Panagopoulos, for his “Beer Drawing and Cooling System.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes these claims:

This invention relates to a beer drawing and cooling system.

The principal object of this invention is the provision a beer drawing and cooling system formed in a compact unit.

A further object of this invention is the provision of refrigeration coils formed as a part of the beer drawing and cooling system.

A further object is the provision of a beer drawing and cooling system provided with means for circulating a cooling agent through a plurality of beer kegs each having a heat exchanging device incorporated therein.

A still further object is the provision of a beer drawing and cooling system designed to convey beer or similar beverages from the keg to the dispensing spigot, and cool it at the same time.

The beer drawing and cooling system shown and described in this application has been designed so as to form as simple and compact a unit as possible, the entire system being self contained, with of course the exception of a refrigerant compressor which can be readily positioned along side of the unit when in operation. The unit has been designed to cool and dispense beer or similar beverages from one or more kegs as desired, and is particularly adapted for multiple keg installations utilizing kegs of the kind described above.

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Patent No. 1985739A: Vehicle Body For Barrels

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Today in 1934, US Patent 1985739 A was issued, an invention of Paul Murray, for his “Vehicle Body For Barrels.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes these claims:

My invention relates Ito vehicle bodies for the transportation of barrels and particularly for the transportation of half barrels of beer.

The objects of my invention are to provide the economical and efficient handling of beer half barrels.

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Patent Nos. 3115149A & 3115150A: Tapping Valve For Beer Kegs

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Today in 1963, both US Patent 3115149 A and US Patent 3115150 A were issued, and both are related inventions of Victor A. Sariotti and Arthur J. Tonna, assigned to the Burgermeister Brewing Corp., under the same name: “Tapping Valve For Beer Kegs.” There’s no Abstract, although the description for both patents is virtually identical, as is the accompanying drawings, although you can see a few minute differences if you look at them side by side:

This invention relates to the valve art, and more particularly to an improvement in a tapping valve for beer kegs.

One of the well known and long used beer keg pressurizing and dispensing systems is known as the Golden Gate system. in such a system the keg is characterized by the presence of a fitting in its upper wall for connection to a source of pressurized gas, a normally closed fill opening in its side Wall, a tapping valve fitted into the side wall adjacent the bottom wall, and a tapping device adapted to be fitted into the valve and locked thereto by rotative movement, the rotative movement being effective to open the valve. Reverse rotative movement of the tapping device serves to close the valve and to free the tapping device for disengagement from the valve.

In the valves of this type which are in use, the outlet port of the valve is located as much as an inch or more above the bottom of the keg. As a consequence, this port is uncovered to the pressurized gas before the keg is fully emptied. The keg still contains a number of quarts of beer. To minimize the loss of this beer, the keg is tipped, tipping blocks being regularly provided for this purpose, to maintain the valve outlet port submerged as long as possible. Even so, many ounces of residual beer remain in the keg and is lost to the purchaser.

it has been suggested that the valve be provided with a radially disposed tubular extension, the inlet opening of which is disposed immediately adjacent the bottom of the keg when the valve is open, thereby enabling substantially complete draining of the keg. The patent to Lamoureux 2,545,620 discloses such an arrangement. But while the tubular extension type of valve shown in this patent enables a substantially complete emptying of the keg, it does not lend itself to conventional keg handling practice.

Such kegs are returned to the brewery for cleaning while the valve is closed and subsequent refilling. Caustic solution is employed in the cleaning operation, and the tubular extension will entrap and retain an amount of cleaning solution, thereby rendering the use of such a valve unsatisfactory in practice.

In summary, the present invention is an improvement on the described tubular extension type of valve, in that means are embodied in the valve to render it self-clearing of cleaning fluids during the cleaning operation.

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Patent No. 6666358B1: Beer Container

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Today in 2003, US Patent 6666358 B1 was issued, an invention of William Field Warwick, for his “Beer Container.” Here’s the Abstract:

A beer container comprises an inner hollow shell of blow moulded PET to hold beer, an outer hollow shell of moulded high density polyethylene enclosing and supporting the inner shell and a spear structure including a dispenser tube extending from a bottom interior region of the inner shell through to a dispensing outlet at the top of the outer shell. The spear structure incorporates valves for supply of pressurizing gas into the interior of inner shell and for dispensing beer through the dispensing outlet, both valves being formed of PET. When the container has been emptied of beer, the outer shell can readily be separated from the inner shell and spear structure to allow separate recycling of the high density polyethylene material and the PET material.

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Patent No. 2917906A: Portable Cooler, Gasser, And Dispenser For Keg Beer

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Today in 1959, US Patent 2917906 A was issued, an invention of George Craig Woolley, for his “Portable Cooler, Gasser, and Dispenser for Keg Beer.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes these claims:

This invention relates to a readily portable device for supporting and completely servicing a keg or small barrel of beer or other beverage which requires for proper draught and taste characteristics, cooling, gassing and controlled dispensing. My present invention is particularly designed and conceived for home rather than commercial use where it is desired to dispense a draught beverage such as beer to a group of people, from a keg.

At the present time the distributors of various malt beverages supply to their customers, cooling and gassing apparatus for small gatherings, usually employing a helical coil to be placed in a box of ice and an air pump or carbon dioxide cylinder of heavy construction. The apparatus is hooked up at the home and in many instances, the keg heats up (since only the discharge through the coil is cooled), the saturation level of the gas is consequently decreased in the beer and more gas is released, resulting in foam when the beverage is dispensed. The coil, if not thoroughly cleaned and sterilized after each use, is unsanitary and gives the next user an off taste beer; Cleaning time of such-coil requires from a half to a full hour and is often disregarded by the dissumption of the entire contents of the keg.

A further object is the provision of a device of the class described wherein a simple, compact wheeled chassis serves the multiple functions of a keg-support, a refrigerating chamber, a mounting for controlled gassing and dispensing mechanism and in addition, a valuable source of advertising for the distributor or manufacturer of the beverage.

Another object is to provide a compact, rugged device of the class described of simple and inexpensive construction affording a high degree of sanitation and provision for sterilizing of the few dispensing parts.

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Patent No. 3628468A: Plastic Pallet With Reinforcing Members

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Today in 1971, US Patent 3628468 A was issued, an invention of John A. Angelbeck Jr., assigned to Pack Rite Packaging & Crating, for his “Plastic Pallet with Reinforcing Members.” Here’s the Abstract:

A pallet used for the storage and transporting of containers such as beer kegs and the like. The pallet is formed as a unitary plastic member in a rotational molding operation and includes a pair of spaced outer skins which are internally connected by a plurality of properly spaced webs for internal strength. The skins also have a plurality of strategically located apertures which extend through each of the skins and are formed by webs which extend between the skins. A pair of reinforcing members formed of wood, metal or the like extend longitudinally through the pallet and engage the interiorly presented surfaces of a portion of the skins. The pallet has a plurality of downwardly extending shoulders for engagement with containers on its underface and is also provided with supporting areas on its upwardly presented surface for removably supporting a plurality of like containers.

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