Today in 1989, US Patent 4837034 A was issued, an invention of Joseph L. Owades and Charles J. Koch, assigned to the Boston Beer Limited Partnership, for their “Preparation Of Low Calorie Beer.” Charles J. Koch was Boston Beer founder Jim Koch’s father, himself a fifth-generation brewer who apparently quit the business in the 1950s when things were looking dark for American beer and even tried to dissuade his son from going into the family business. According to family legend, “his greatest gift [to the Boston Beer Co.] lay in an old trunk stored in his attic. That trunk contained family brewing memorabilia and beer recipes dating back to the 1800s.” And the story goes that he gave Jim a recipe from the trunk created by his great-great grandfather, Louis Koch, which was the basis for their flagship beer, Samuel Adams Boston Lager. Joe Owades was the first to create low-calorie light beer when he was at Rheingold and eventually through M&A it turned into Miller Lite and later in life he did consulting work and helped Boston Beer tweak the Louis Koch’s recipe and make it into their Boston Lager. As I understand it, Owades continued to do work with them from time to time over the years, and that’s likely how Joe and Charles ended up working on the patent which, I presume, eventually became Samuel Adams Light Beer.
Here’s the Abstract:
A low-calorie, all-malt beer characterized by full body and flavor of a conventional all-malt beer and a method of preparing the same without any external enzymes is described. A wort is prepared by blending warm malt mash with hot water under conditions which avoid exposing the blend of hot water and the malt mash to temperature between about 52° C. and 75° C., and the resultant wort is converted to beer by fermenting the wort with Brewer’s yeast. The wort extract is oxygenated with substantially pure oxygen in place of air normally used in the fermentation, and the Brewer’s yeast is added to the wort extract at a rate of about 30 to 60 grams pressed yeast per 100 liters wort so as to absorb, within the yeast cells of the Brewer’s yeast, substantially all harsh and grainy flavor compounds contained in the wort extract.