Today in 1956, US Patent 2740049 A was issued, an invention of William C. Stein Sr., for his “Method and Apparatus for Destruction of Live Yeast Cells in Beer.” There’s no Abstract, but the description states that the “invention relates to a method and apparatus for destroying live yeast cells in beer.” When he lays out the various objects for the invention, it’s clear that the yeast is destroyed when “the beer is cascaded over violet ray tubes,” allowing for the “continuous treatment of the beer.” It apparently differs from how this was accomplished beforehand, as using this method “the beer will be subjected to a pre-carbonation pasteurization whereas under prior process the beer was pasteurized after carbonization.”
Today in 1935, US Patent 1995626 A was issued, an invention of Karl Schreder, for his “Manufacture of Minim Alcohol Beverage.” There’s no Abstract, as far as I can tell, Minim means low-alcohol. I wonder if that was a common term back then? It’s not one I hear these days. Curiously, although the invention relates to what they call “low alcohol beverages,” the percentage of alcohol is never discussed, which strikes me as odd. Here’s what is revealed:
It has been found that Termobacterium mobile (Lindner) (Pseudomonas Lindneri-Kluyver) discovered by Professor Dr. Lindner is particularly suitable for the manufacture of beverages containing a low proportion of alcohol.
A process for the manufacture of beverages of this kind forms the subject-matter of the present application.
For obtaining a high grade end product it is essential that the preparation of the malt and of the wort be carried out carefully.
Okay, but what is the “high grade end product?” Is it non-alcoholic or near beer below 0.5% a.b.v.? Or something that might be considered a session beer with an alcohol percentage lower than a beer of typical strength?
Today in 1965, US Patent 3174650 A was issued, an invention of Frank A. Bellato, for his “Bung Withdrawing Assembly.” There’s no Abstract, but the description states simply that the “invention relates to a device for removing the wooden bungs from beer kegs and similar containers after such kegs have been emptied of their contents.” Then the goals of their patent application are laid out:
A major object of the invention is to provide an auger, of special form for the purpose, having a pilot portion arranged so as to first penetrate the bung along a path axially of the bung without possible deviation from such path such as grain direction or irregularities in the wood of the bung might cause, and having a portion following the pilot portion arranged to then advance into the bung in a manner to cause the bung to be withdrawn from the bung hole and split into separate sections so that such sections will fall of themselves from the auger.
It is another and important object of the invention to provide a means for operatively mounting the auger, both for rotation and axial movement, in an upwardly facing position, and a means for supporting the keg above the auger in such a position that the bung, which as usual is in one side of the keg, will be disposed in a downwardly facing position directly in line with the auger.
The importance of having the bung disposed in an inverted position, with the auger disposed below the keg and bung, is that no chips or wood dust, as created by the action of the auger, can enter the keg but will drop down clear of the keg.
A further object of the invention is to provide a catch tray and carryotf chute in connection with and directly below the auger which will receive, and cause to be carried alway, all chips, withdrawn bung pieces, as well as any liquid residue dropping from the empty keg when the bung is withdrawn, and keep such waste matter from possibly fouling the auger supporting and operating mechanism.
The keg, when initially placed on the supporting means, may not always be disposed with the bung in the necessary downwardly facing position, and a still further object of the invention is to provide a keg support-ing means which enables the keg, after once being supported, to be easily rotated so as to dispose the bung in the proper position for engagement by the auger.
In connection with this latter feature, it is also an object of the invention to provide a clamping unit for engagement with the top of the keg, which will rst exert a yieldable hold-down action on the keg which still allows the keg to be rotated if necessary, and which will then clamp the keg against any movement. At the same time, the clamping means is mounted so that it can be readily moved clear of the keg so as to offer no interference with the placement of the keg on or removal of the same from the supporting means.
Today in 1973, US Patent DE 2145298 A1 was issued, an invention of Siegfried Beissner, for his “Instant Beer Powder — by vacuum-freeze drying.” Here’s the Abstract:
Beer is subjected to vacuum-freeze drying at -10 degrees to -20 degrees C, under a press. of about 0.5 atm. with agitation. Beer can be rapidly restored by treating the powder with water and a source of CO2 (pure CO2 or a mixt. of NAHCO3 and tartaric acid) and/or alcohol. The CO2-source and/or alcohol can be enclosed in capsules made from water-sol. gelatine and packed together with the beer powder.
Given that we’re seeing this type of product in the trade recently, and the anti-alcohol groups have been going apeshit, I would have thought this was a more recent invention. But a version of it was around at least as early as 1973, over forty years ago. I wonder why it took so long for it to make it to market?
Today in 1967, US Patent 3310407 A was issued, an invention of Michael George Royston, for his “Fermentation Processes for the Production of Beer.” There’s no Abstract, and the application simply says that the “invention relates to the continuous production of beer.” It’s later summarized with this:
The invention concerns the stage at which hopped Wort including yeast, as is conventional, is allowed to ferment to produce beer as the final product. In this fermentation stage of production the rate of’conversion of the sugar in the wort is a function of the concentration of sugar and of the enzymic yeast cells in the wort.
Today in 1985, US Patent 4505941 A was issued, an invention of David W. Raines, for his “Lauter Tun For The Filtration Of Wort During Brewing.” Here’s the Abstract:
Lauter tuns are used for the filtration of wort during brewing. In use the wort runs off through a filter bed and has to be collected. Hitherto the bottom of such tuns have been flat having a number of holes through which the wort runs. If the bottom is ostensibly flat, problems can arise in that puddles accumulate in any undulations leading to possible spoilation of the wort. The bottom of a tun in accordance with the invention is formed with a series of straight parallel valleys extending across the tun and having spaced wort collection points for connection to straight wort mains or manifolds located beneath the tun.
Today in 1984, US Patent EP 0009614 B1 was issued, an invention of Kenneth Hartley Geiger, assigned to Labatt Brewing Company Ltd., for his “Brewing Process.” There’s no Abstract, but buried in the description is says that the “object of the present invention is to reduce or even eliminate the disadvantages of the above processes if the wort produced from the malt is subjected to fermentation for a period sufficient to allow the yeast to substantially develop prior to the introduction of an adjunct comprising a highly fermentable sugar and optionally, other conventional adjunct materials,” then continues with this:
This object is achieved by the present invention by initially fermenting a malt wort with brewers’ yeast until said yeast is partially developed to at least about one-half of the maximum amount of development obtainable during the fermentation, thereby providing a partially fermented wort, thereafter introducing an adjunct comprising a highly fermentable sugar into the partially fermented wort over a period of time such that the Plato value of the fermenting wort substantially does not increase and osmotic shock is avoided and then continuing the fermentation, the degree of attenuation in the brewing process being 80% or more.
Today in 2010, US Patent 20100062104 A1 was issued, an invention of Ralf Schneid, assigned to Krones AG, for his “Method For Filtering Beer.” Here’s the Abstract:
A method for filtering beer, wherein the beer to be produced is guided into a filter. For the improvement of the filtering output, the beer to be produced is subjected to a shaking process before being introduced into the filter.
Today in 1936, US Patent 2033326 A was issued, an invention of William F. Clark, for his “Method of Impregnating Beer Wort with Yeast.” There’s no Abstract, but it’s described in the introduction:
This invention which relates generally to the art of brewing is concerned with certain improvements in a method of and apparatus for produce ing beer or any liquid in which fermentation is an essential part of the process. For its objects, my invention aims to accelerate the fermenting process by the maintenance of conditions most favorable for the purpose, the utilization of apparatus which is simple, relatively inexpensive, and compact in size, and the production of a brew which is uniform at all times, which is superior in taste and flavor, which is free from turbidity and improved as to clarity, and in which a lesser amount of yeast or other fermenting agent is required.
You may recall back in 2010, an exciting discovery was made off the Åland Islands, which is a large group of islands near Finland in the Baltic Sea. In September of 2010, Beer From Early 1800s Found In Baltic Shipwreck, and additional information followed in late November of the same year with an Update On Beer Found In Baltic Shipwreck. I noted at the time that some of the beer had been tasted and they were flirting with the idea of having the beer analyzed to possibly reproduce the beers discovered. In my first post about the discovery, I wrote. “It will certainly be interesting to see what further analysis of the beer reveals.” Well, apparently they heard me, because the analysis has recently been released. Hat tip to Jason Petros from the Brewing Network, who tweeted me the link accompanied by the following pleas. “Make me smarter! What do all these words mean?”
The link is to a journal article in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry entitled Analysis of Beers from an 1840s’ Shipwreck. The work was conducted primarily by a group of scientists in Finland, with some work also done in Munich, Germany. Here’s the Abstract:
Two bottles of beer from an about 170-year-old shipwreck (M1 Fö 403.3) near the Åland Islands in the Baltic Sea were analyzed. Hop components and their degradation compounds showed that the bottles contained two different beers, one more strongly hopped than the other. The hops used contained higher levels of β-acids than modern varieties and were added before the worts were boiled, converting α-acids to iso-α-acids and β-acids to hulupones. High levels of organic acids, carbonyl compounds, and glucose indicated extensive bacterial and enzyme activity during aging. However, concentrations of yeast-derived flavor compounds were similar to those of modern beers, except that 3-methylbutyl acetate was unusually low in both beers and 2-phenylethanol and possibly 2-phenylethyl acetate were unusually high in one beer. Concentrations of phenolic compounds were similar to those in modern lagers and ales.
You can also read it online as a pdf, laid out on the page as it would appear in the journal. One thing stands out initially. In the initial reporting over the find, the bottles were believed to have been from between 1800 and 1830, but apparently further analysis dates them closer to the 1840s.
In the summer of 2010 the wreck of a schooner (M1 Fö 403.3) was discovered in the Baltic Sea a short distance south of the Åland Islands, Finland, at a depth of about 50 m. Archeological evidence suggests the shipwreck occurred during the 1840s, but the schooner’s name, its destination, and its last port-of-call have not yet been identified. The cargo consisted of luxury items, including more than 150 bottles of champagne. Five bottles that look like typical early 19th century beer bottles were also brought to the surface. One of these cracked in the divers’ boat. The liquid that foamed from the cracked bottle looked and, according to the divers, tasted like beer.
Although at least one older (1825) beer sample has been reported, we are not aware of previous chemical analyses of any beer this old. Here we compare the physicochemical characteristics and flavor compound profiles of beer from two of these about 170-year-old bottles with those of modern beers. In contrast to the 100-year-old Scotch whiskey excavated from the ice under Shackleton’s 1907 base camp in the Antarctic and then thoroughly analyzed, these beers have not been stored under ideal conditions, as evidenced by some deterioration in quality. However, although both spontaneous and microbiologically driven chemical changes have occurred, the results give some indication of the original nature of the beers and the techniques used to manufacture them.
Opening the Shipwreck Beer Bottles
Bottles A56 and C49 were raised to the sea surface, and their corks and necks were protected with plastic wrappings. The bottles were stored in water at 2–4 °C and brought from Åland Islands to VTT’s laboratories in Espoo, Finland. The bottles were opened (on separate occasions) under sterile conditions because samples were also taken for microbiological examination (R. Juvonen, M. Raulio, A. Wilhelmson, and E. Storgårds, manuscript in preparation). The part of the cork protruding from the bottle was cut off. A slightly slanting hole was drilled through the rest of the cork using a sterilized drill. A surgical needle fitted with an air filter was inserted into the cork to allow sterile air to enter the bottle to replace the beer withdrawn. (During this procedure, the cork of bottle A56 broke horizontally into two pieces. The upper two-thirds of the cork was removed from the bottle by hand. The lower third remained tightly in the neck of the bottle, but later fell into the beer during an attempt to remove it.) A sterile steel pipe was inserted to the bottom of the bottle. Samples of beer were then slowly removed by syringe through this pipe. Samples for physicochemical analyses were centrifuged twice (10 min at 1000g, then 10 min at 9000g). The supernatants were analyzed immediately or stored in portions at −25 °C. Samples (50 mL) for hop analyses were sent to the Technical University of Munich, Germany, packed in dry ice.
The article then details the methods used to analyze the beers, comparing them to modern control beers. It’s long and detailed, but very interesting if you love this sort of thing. The results also go into a great deal of detail. For example, upon first opening the bottles.
Bubbles of gas, presumably CO2, formed during sampling, producing a light foam. Both beers were bright golden yellow, with little haze. Both beers smelt of autolyzed yeast, dimethyl sulfide, Bakelite, burnt rubber, over-ripe cheese, and goat, with phenolic and sulfury notes. As the samples warmed to room temperature, the smell of hydrogen sulfide disappeared and that of butyric acid (particularly strong in C49) strengthened.
After the lengthy analysis, and an even longer discussion begins based on their findings. Here are some highlights, but I encourage you to read the entire article.
The overall shape and detailed features of bottles A56 and C49 indicate a high-quality technology that was not yet used in Finland in 1840, but had been used to manufacture beer bottles for two or three decades in central and northern Europe (personal communication; Risto Aalto, Riikka Alvik, Markku Annila, Ulla Klemelä, and Kaisa Koivisto). The presence of hop components (extensively degraded), maltose, and maltotriose identifies the bottles’ contents as beers. The higher concentrations of hop components in beer C49 than in A56 cannot be explained by different degrees of chemical degradation or dilution by seawater and indicates that the bottles contained two different beers. Both shipwreck beers contained too little protein (Table 1) to permit protein identification by 2D gel electrophoresis. Most of the original protein was probably hydrolyzed (e.g., by proteolytic activity of lactic acid bacteria) and partially consumed by microorganisms during aging (both beers contained large numbers of dead bacteria and yeast). Peptides that may have been liberated by hydrolysis and still present in the beer would not have been detected in the protein assay employed as the acetone precipitation step is much less efficient for peptides than for proteins. The amino acid profiles of both beers were broadly similar to those of modern commercial beers (Table 4) and clearly different from, for example, that of apple cider. Features such as the relatively high free proline content are consistent with the raw material being cereal grain but do not distinguish between barley and wheat, which have very similar amino acid profiles. Furthermore, the amino acid profiles of the shipwreck beers have been disturbed by the activity of microbial contaminants.
The presence of hop-derived bitter compounds confirms the use of hops for bittering the beers. Kettle-boiling induces the transformation of α-acids to iso-α-acids and that of β-acids to hulupones. The lack of α- and β-acids and the presence of iso-α-acids and hulupones therefore indicate that hops were added to the worts before kettle-boiling. The amounts of cis-iso-α-acids were higher than those of the corresponding trans-iso-α-acids, which is in line with the higher stability of cis-iso-α-acids and literature findings that trans-iso-α-acids are readily transformed into tri- and tetracyclocohumols, scorpiohumols, and tricyclolactohumols by proton catalysis during aging of beer. Compared to modern beers, rather high amounts of these four compounds were detected; for example, 7.76 and 4.24 μmol L–1 of tri- and tetracyclocohumol were found in C49 compared to 1.00 and 0.46 μmol L–1 in a fresh Pilsner-type beer. The high levels of these aging products can be explained by the low pH and long “reaction time” in the shipwreck. Interestingly, the unexpectedly large amounts of β-acid degradation products hulupones and hulupinic acid are consistent with old hop varieties containing higher levels of β-acids than modern varieties, which have been bred to maximize the α-acid content.
A comparison to modern beers.
Compared to modern beers, beer A56 contained less maltose and both beers contained much less maltotriose and relatively high concentrations of glucose (Table 1). A plausible explanation is that after the initial (yeast-driven) fermentation, contaminating microbes excreted enzymes (e.g., amyloglucosidase) able to degrade residual carbohydrates to glucose. This glucose supply probably supported the growth and fermentative activity of lactic acid bacteria and other microbes. As conditions deteriorated (e.g., acidity increasing), the production of glucose exceeded the fermentative capacity of the remaining viable microbes, and glucose began to accumulate. This hypothesis would explain the high glucose and low maltotriose in the shipwreck beers, but does not immediately explain the relatively high maltose in beer C49.
Despite the unpleasant organoleptic features probably resulting from bacterial spoilage, chemical analyses revealed profiles of yeast-derived flavor compounds broadly similar to those of modern beers (Figure 2). There were some notable peculiarities. Both beers contained very little 3-methylbutyl acetate, but rather high levels of 2-phenylethanol and 1-propanol; A56 contained a high level of 2-phenylethyl acetate, but C49 contained very little; A56 (but not C49) contained a high level of ethyl decanoate and C49 especially contained a high level of ethyl hexanoate. A problem is to determine how much these results reflect the original character of the two beers rather than chemical changes during 170 years at about 4 °C. To our knowledge, there are no studies of the chemical stability of beer over such a long time. Vanderhaegen et al. studied the stability of top-fermented beer for 6 months at 0, 20, or 40 °C. Rates of change were very temperature-sensitive. Many compounds that changed markedly in 6 months at 20 or 40 °C were stable at 0 °C. The amounts of ethyl acetate and 3-methylbutyl acetate decreased by 25 and 60%, respectively, at 40 °C, but did not change at 0 °C. Thus, possibly both shipwreck beers originally contained only little 3-methylbutyl acetate, an important flavor component (banana) of modern beers. More probably, its concentration has decreased during the long aging. Lambic beers contain little 3-methylbutyl acetate, and this is thought to result from the activity of an esterase produced by Dekkera (Brettanomyces) yeasts during the lambic fermentation. Considering the lack of ethylphenol compounds in the beers, it may be more likely that an esterase derived from lysed Saccharomyces cells contributed to the loss of 3-methylbutyl acetate.
In summary, these two about 170-year-old bottles contained two different beers, one (C49) more strongly hopped than the other (A56) with the low α-acid yielding hop varieties common in the 19th century. Both beers exhibited typical profiles of yeast-derived flavor compounds and of phenolics. Present knowledge of the long-term chemical and microbiological stability of these compounds is not adequate to assess how closely the observed profiles indicate the original flavor of the beers. The flavors of these compounds were hidden by very high levels of organic acids, probably produced by bacterial spoilage. The composition of the microbial mixture used to produce these beers is unclear, but it probably did not include many strains producing the Pad1 enzyme responsible for the volatile phenols characteristic of wheat beers. Pad1 activity is common in wild yeast, and its absence suggests that the yeasts employed were domesticated rather than wild.
Jason, barring a degree in chemistry, I doubt I can make you any smarter than you already are, which is smart enough at least to send me the link. Thanks, buddy.