Historic Beer Birthday: Louis Camille Maillard

Today is the birthday of French physician and chemist Louis Camille Maillard (February 4, 1878-May 12, 1936) who was the Doogie Howser of his era, joining the faculty of the University of Nancy when he was only sixteen. He rose to prominence thanks to his work on kidney disorders and later taught medicine at the prestigious University of Paris.


But his biggest contribution, especially to brewing, was an accidental discovery he made in 1912, which today we call the Maillard Reaction, or Browning Reaction.

Here’s the basic description, from Wikipedia:

The Maillard Reaction a chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars that gives browned food its desirable flavor. Seared steaks, pan-fried dumplings, biscuits (widely known in North America as cookies), breads, toasted marshmallows, and many other foods undergo this reaction. It is named after French chemist Louis-Camille Maillard, who first described it in 1912 while attempting to reproduce biological protein synthesis.

The reaction is a form of non-enzymatic browning which typically proceeds rapidly from around 140 to 165 °C (284 to 329 °F). At higher temperatures, caramelization and subsequently pyrolysis become more pronounced.

The reactive carbonyl group of the sugar reacts with the nucleophilic amino group of the amino acid, and forms a complex mixture of poorly characterized molecules responsible for a range of odors and flavors. This process is accelerated in an alkaline environment (e.g., lye applied to darken pretzels), as the amino groups (RNH3+) are deprotonated and, hence, have an increased nucleophilicity. The type of the amino acid determines the resulting flavor. This reaction is the basis of the flavoring industry. At high temperatures, a potential carcinogen called acrylamide can be formed.

In the process, hundreds of different flavor compounds are created. These compounds, in turn, break down to form yet more new flavor compounds, and so on. Each type of food has a very distinctive set of flavor compounds that are formed during the Maillard reaction. It is these same compounds that flavor scientists have used over the years to make reaction flavors.

It was, and is, for food science and understanding how heat and cooking create flavors. If you want to dive deeper, the Warwick Medical School has an article on the Historical Development of the reaction, and NPR’s Food for Thought on the centenary of Malliard’s discovery posted 100 Years Ago, Maillard Taught Us Why Our Food Tastes Better Cooked.

But it was also very important to brewing, too, especially when it comes to malting and roasting malt to get different flavors and colors in the beer. For example, here’s UC Davis professor Charlie Bamforth writing about the Malliard Reaction in his book Grape vs. Grain.


Not surprisingly, John Mallett, in his recent book Malt: A Practical Guide from Field to Brewhouse, mentions Malliard’s contributions to brewing science.


The chemistry website Compound Interest has a good explanation with their post, Food Chemistry – The Maillard Reaction.


And finally, Popular Science’s BeerSci series discusses the Maillard Reaction in How Beer Gets Its Color.

Patent No. 513694A: Apparatus For Drying Barley, Malt, Etc.

Today in 1894, US Patent 513694 A was issued, an invention of James White, for his “Apparatus For Drying Barley, Malt, Etc.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

My invention has reference to apparatus for drying barley, malt, oats, wheat or other substances of a granular or pulverulent nature.

The invention mainly consists in the construction within a kiln or drying house of an inclined or vertical channel formed with foraminous sides and divided transversely at suitable intervals into chambers the bottoms of which contain cross passages, which passages When the barley or other material which is supplied to the upper end of said channel is allowed to run or flow from one chamber to that next below, transfer the material that was at and near the respective sides of the upper of the two chambers to the opposite sides of the lower chamber, whereby the material gets well mixed and turned over and is consequently more uniformly dried than if it were merely allowed to slide bodily from chamber to chamber.

The invention further consists in the combination with the said cross passages at bottom of each compartment of a central tongue or board projecting up from between said cross passages, and of a central tongue or board projecting down from between said cross passages, the said tongues serving as guides or dividers for the material as it respectively enters and leaves said passages. The lowest chamber does not require cross passages at bottom but has a slide or shutter at top and another slide or shutter at bottom.- When the apparatus is inoperative the bottom slide is normally kept closed and the upper one open, and the two slides are worked at intervals to allow the material in the several chambers to move down one stage, that is to say to the extent of one chamber. To effect this the upper slide is first closed and the bottom slide is then opened to allow the lowest chamber to empty itself into a chute or receptacle. The bottom slide is then closed and the top slide opened, when every chamber (except the lowest) will empty itself through the cross passages into the chamber next below and become filled from the chamber next above, the top chamber receiving its supply from a hopper or otherwise.


Patent No. 1084943A: Process Of Manufacturing Malt

Today in 1914, US Patent 1084943 A was issued, an invention of John Von Der Kammer, for his “Process of Manufacturing Malt.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

I have invented certain new and useful Improvements in Processes of Manufacturing Malt,

ing substances in a tightly closed tank for the purpose of obtaining preliminary germination, and after the discharges of the solution, it is left to itself in the tank which is again closed, until the greatest possible quantity of water has been absorbed. Thereupon the barley is continuously moved in the closed tank until the formation of enzymes and conversion into a complete state of mealiness, without any further addition of nourishing substances in order to prevent an over-germination.

A sectional view of an apparatus preferably employed in carrying out the present process is illustrated in the accompanying drawing.

A rotatable drum is preferably used as a germination tank, the. wall of which may consist, as shown in the-accompanying drawing, of a casing a of perforated sheet metal surrounded by a corrugated;-sheet metal casing b with the casing a resting on the corrugations. In that way, on the one hand, the casing a is strengthened, and, on the other hand, conduits 0 are formed through which the liquid escaping from the drum may be discharged.

The process is carried out in the following manner: The barley, without having been previously steeped, is placed in the drum, and then moistened with such’a quantity of nourishing substance liquid that the said liquid submerges the barley. The impurities contained therein, rise to the surface, and are discharged through an opening 12 in one of the end walls of the drum. After a short action, for instance up to half an hour, it is discharged through the conduits 0, and the apparatus is closed, so that air cannot enter from the outside. After the grain has been left to itself for several hours, nourishing liquid is again added. The moment for the supply of new nourishing liquid is indicated by the fact that the barley appears dry. This process is repeated three or four times or as many times until 30-36 hours have passed. Then no more nourishing liquid is supplied, but the barley is left to itself in the closed apparatus for 6268 hours, according to the nature of the barley and to the kind of the nourishing substances, and then at once brought into the drying kiln. With the exception of short intervals for the supply and discharge of the nourishing substance solution, the drum is rotated during the Whole of the process.

Owing to the barley which is to germinate, not having been previously steeped, as has been the rule hitherto, the substances of the grain intended for the germination and formation of enzymes are retained and utilized in the germinating process. Owing to that, the germination begins more quickly, and therefore enzyme are formed earlier. Both processes are assisted by the supply of nourishing solution, whereby the consumption of endosperm substances for nourishing the germs is limited or entirely avoided. Owing to the omission of steeping as a process separate and distinct from the process of germination and development of the enzymes, a considerable economy is moreover effected in the first cost and the cost of maintenance. Moreover, a complete swelling up of the barley and therefore a proper. loosening up of the endosperm substance, is obtained. During the first six hours of the process there takes place, as shown by practical experiments, such ‘a strong absorption of water that the increase in weight of the barley amounts to about 45%. After another six hours, it’ amounts to about 50%, and after the first period of the process, that is to say, during the first 30-36 hours,’during which nourishing liquid added, to about -70%. During the first period, a germination takes place with the formation of roots, the said. germination being completed in the next 14-18 hours of the second period. At the same time, an over-germination is prevented not only by the complete suppression and consumption ‘of nourishing substance solution and moisture, but also by the continuous movement of the barley. At the same time and during the next 418 hours, the multiplication and, the activity of the enzyme continuously increase, and a conversion to a complete state of mealiness and therefore a better quality of the green malt is insured, and a higher yield of malt is obtained than with the known processes.


Patent No. 2295931A1: A Method For Identifying A Barley Variety And A Barley Having A Brewing Property

Today in 1999, US Patent 2295931 A1 was issued, an invention of Makoto Kihara, Takafumi Kaneko, Kensuke Fukuda, and Kazutoshi Ito, assigned to Sapporo Breweries Ltd., for their “A Method For Identifying a Barley Variety and a Barley Having a Brewing Property.” Here’s the Abstract:

A method for identifying barley with good brewing properties using the thermostability of the barley .beta.-amylase as an indicator. The thermostability of the barley .beta.-amylase significantly affects the degree of the apparent attenuation limit. A method for determining the enzyme activity of an extract solution from one barley seed, an indirect method by an isoelectric point, and an indirect identifying method by DNA polymorphisms of the region containing the .beta.-amylase structural gene have been developed as a method for determining the type of thermostability for a barley .beta.-amylase. The selection method is not affected by environmental or climatic conditions.


Patent No. EP2258828A2: Improved Grain Kilning Device

Today in 2010, US Patent EP 2258828 A2 was issued, another invention of Denis Julien, assigned to Malteurop Groupe, for his “Improved Grain Kilning Device.” Here’s the Abstract:

The device (1) for kilning grains in a chamber (3) having controlled atmosphere, comprises a kilning tank (5) having a grid bottom for receiving the grain, and a unit for holding kilning tank inside the chamber so that the grid bottom is raised with respect to a floor of the chamber. The floor of the chamber is made in the form of a floor slab (7). The holding unit comprises legs supported on the floor slab. The grid bottom of the kilning tank rests on each of the supporting legs. The kilning tank has a cylindrical shape and the grid bottom has a circular shape. The device (1) for kilning grains in a chamber (3) having controlled atmosphere, comprises a kilning tank (5) having a grid bottom for receiving the grain, and a unit for holding kilning tank inside the chamber so that the grid bottom is raised with respect to a floor of the chamber. The floor of the chamber is made in the form of a floor slab (7). The holding unit comprises legs supported on the floor slab. The grid bottom of the kilning tank rests on each of the supporting legs. The kilning tank has a cylindrical shape and the grid bottom has a circular shape, while the chamber has cylindrical shape and the floor slab is rectangular or square. The chamber has a sidewall (11) along the floor slab and rising vertically from the floor slab to top of the kilning tank. A platform and a unit for holding the platform in the chamber are arranged in the kilning device so that the platform extends transversely from the side wall to the vicinity of the kilning tank. The kilning tank comprises a sidewall along the grid bottom, in which sealing elements are arranged between the sidewall of the kilning tank and a proximal end of the platform. The grid bottom comprises slab grids each floating with respect to underlying supporting legs. The supporting legs comprise a telescopic body. The chamber further comprises a side wall made in the form of a building wall or a partition, where the side wall has stiffening ribs.


Patent No. 3846397A: Process For Utilizing Barley Malt

Today in 1974, US Patent 3846397 A was issued, an invention of John H. Ernster, for his “Process For Utilizing Barley Malt.” Here’s the Abstract:

Grain residues from mashed barley malt are separated from wort thereby produced and heated in an alkaline solution to solubilize protein. The alkaline solution is separated from the unsolubilized grain residues and acidified to precipitate water soluble protein. Beer is brewed from the wort and the unsolubilized grain residue can be used as animal feed.


Patent No. EP0949328A1: Gluten-Free Beer Containing Rice Malt

Today in 1999, US Patent EP 0949328 A1 was issued, an invention of Marina Pieranna Bellini, Francesco Collavo, Giovanni Maccagnan, Antonio Pat, and Gian Luca Ragg, assigned to Heineken Italia S.p.A., for their “Gluten-Free Beer Containing Rice Malt.” Here’s the Abstract:

A gluten-free beer obtained from a mixture of starting materials comprising buck wheat, rice malt and optionally a component chosen from the group comprising corn, sorghum, millet and/or syrups thereof; this component is preferably corn syrup; the beer is obtained by saccharifying the above-mentioned mixture, optionally in the presence of amylolytic enzymes and glucanase, and it is particularly suitable for consumption by gluten-intolerant individuals.

Surprising this patent was issued in 1999, a bit before gluten-free became “a thing.” I was taking classes at UC Davis when Anheuser-Busch was sending samples of their gluten-free Redbridge to Dr. Michael Lewis, who had recently discovered he suffered from celiac disease. I ended up doing an article about the science behind gluten-free beer for Zymurgy magazine and did a tasting of gluten-free beers for it at Davis right after A-B debuted Redbridge, and that was in 2006. As far I know, I haven’t seen a gluten-free beer from Heineken, although I seem to recall that their beer is low in gluten.


Patent No. 3840435A: Malting Apparatus

Today in 1974, US Patent 3840435 A was issued, an invention of Rees Damon, assigned to Rahr Malting Co., for his “Malting Apparatus.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

Apparatus for malting barley including an elongated germination compartment and a plurality of vertically extending, transversely spaced augers moveable longitudinally within the compartment for intermittently mixing the barley during the germination period. To remove the malted barley from the germination compartment, the compartment floor includes a centrally positioned, longitudinally extending opening. A plurality of longitudinally spaced pairs of gates are pivotably mounted within the floor opening; the gates comprising each pair are pivotally attached to opposite edges of the opening for pivotal movement between a generally horizontal floor-forming position closing the opening and a downwardly inclined position allowing the malt within the compartment to pass through the opening to suitable means (e.-g. a conveyor) for transporting the malt to a drying kiln. A transversely extending auger is removeably mounted immediately behind the vertically extending augers and adjacent the compartment floor for moving the barley transversely within the germination compartment toward the centrally positioned floor opening during the compartment unloading operation. Pneumatic switches are positioned along the side of the germination compartment to automatically and independently pivot (i.e., open) the floor gates at successive predetermined positions of the transversely extending auger.


Patent No. 2998351A: Process For The Continuous Malting Of Grain

Today in 1961, US Patent 2998351 A was issued, an invention of Noel Keir, Frederick Richard Graesser, Wilbert E. Stoddart and Douglas L. Thompson, assigned to Dominion Malting Ontario Ltd., for their “Process for the Continuous Malting of Grain.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

The present invention avoids most of the disadvantages of the prior art and provides for simple continuous processing through which not only complication is avoided but the processing may be reduced to a period of three days or less in comparison with approximately ten days or more, and is subject to minute control which has been difficult in prior batch processes. In fact the present continuous process provides for continuous processing through stages or zones maintaining constant conditions, varied as to one another, according to requirements necessary in regard to the character of the grain, and through which the grain continuously passes in effect to provide the continuous yield of a substantially uniform malt. Moreover, other attendant advantages result as labour required per unit of production will be reduced, resulting in greater economy, the weight and strength of complete equipment will be reduced and initial costs of buildings thus lessened; whereas the process provides for an extremely wide range of control as to time and processing, moisture content and temperature gradient, so that the conditions of manufacture may be adapted to the quality and type of grain being processed as to provide for the production of malt of superior quality and of generally uniform character in which all factors of production have been closely controlled throughout.

The invention generally embodies the steps of continuously forming and moving a bed of grain in a predetermined path, subjecting said moving grain bed to intermittent periods of water spray and periods of rest and periods of humid aeration at temperatures between 50 and 100 F., and finally moving said bed through a drying zone at elevated temperatures. Preferably the processing includes in said steps a period of drenching the bed followed by dry aeration. The grain may be introduced to the processing steps in any suitable manner, such as by pumping it together with water to the point of preliminary processing, which may start with the dispersing of the grain in water, and allowing the sound grain to settle, while the lighter grain and low gravity extraneous material may be continuously removed from the surface of the water body in which it is dispersed and delivered to a suitable recovery unit.


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Patent No. 409956A: Malting And Germinating Apparatus

Today in 1889, US Patent 409956 A was issued, an invention of Joseph P. Gent, for his “Malting And Germinating Apparatus.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

My invention relates to apparatus for the continuous malt-ing or germinating of grain; and it consists in certain improvements in construction and combination of parts, hereinafter fully described.

What I claim, and desire to secure by Letters Patent, is

1. An apparatus for malting or germinating grain, consisting of an outer casing, a series of perforated floors one above the other, provided with automatically dumping sections, said floors having each a central aperture, an air-supplying pipe extending through said apertures and provided with apertures to discharge air beneath each of said floors, a shaft for rotating said floors, also extending through said openings, and a water pipe extending Within said openings and provided with a discharge above each floor, substantially as described.

2. An apparatus for malting or germinating grain, consisting of perforated floors one above the other, having central apertures in each, a shaft for revolving said floors extending vertically through said apertures, and a water-supply pipe extending also vertically through said apertures and having a spraying-discharge above each floor, the said floors having pivoted automatically-dumping sections, the dumping-point of each floor being a short distance in advance of the dumping point of the floor above, substantially as described.

3. An apparatus for malting or germinating grain, consisting of an inclosing-casing, revolving perforated floors one above the other, an air-pipe extending centrally through said floors and having a discharge-opening beneath each floor, an air-forcing and air moistening device communicating with said pipe, a water-supply pipe extending within said air-pipe and provided with a spraying discharge above each floor, and stirring and leveling devices above each floor, the said floors being provided with pivoted automatically dumping sections, the dumping-point of each floor being slightly in advance of the floor above, substantially as described.