Patent No. 1171306A: Method Of Dealcoholizing Beer

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Today in 1916, US Patent 1171306 A was issued, an invention of William Becker and Daniel Hayden Montgomery, for their “Method of Dealcoholizing Beer.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

What we claim is:

1. The herein described method of dealcoholizing beverages, the same consisting in raising the temperature of a charge of such beverage to substantially 167 F., then converting the charge into spray to permit it to give off its alcohol, then raising the charge a ain to a temperature no higher than at rst, then repeating this process, and finally cooling the product and conducting it to a point of storage.

2. The herein described method of dealcoholizing beverages, the same consisting in raising the temperature of a charge of such beverage to not over 167 F., then spraying the’ charge into a sheet and subjecting the sheet to substantially the same temperature to permit it to give off its alcohol, then collecting the charge and raising it again to substantially the same temperature, then repeating this process, and finally cooling the product and conducting it to a point of storage.

3. The herein described. method of dealcoholizing beverages, the-same consisting in raising the temperature of a charge of such beverage to not over 167 F., then spraying the charge into a sheet and subjecting the sheet to substantially the same temperature to permit it to give off its alcohol, then collecting the treated beverage, cooling it, and finally conducting it to a point of storage.

4. The herein described method of dealcoholizing beverages, the same consisting in spraying the beverage, collecting the spray into a flowing sheet and subjecting it to heat to raise its temperature to not over 167 F. and cause it to give off the alcohol, then collecting the beverage without its alcohol vapors and again heating it to substantially the same temperature, then pumping it back and retreating it, and finally conveying the de-alcoholized beverage to a point of storage.

Must have been pretty important given Prohibition was about to start in just a few years.
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Historic Beer Birthday: Morton Coutts

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Today is the birthday of Morton W. Coutts (February 7, 1904-June 25, 2004) who was a “New Zealand inventor who revolutionized the science of brewing beer,” and “is best known for the continuous fermentation method.”

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Here’s a basic biography from the DB Breweries website:

Morton Coutts (1904-2004) was the inheritor of a rich brewing tradition dating back to the 19th century. Like his father, W. Joseph Coutts and grandfather, Joseph Friedrich Kühtze, Morton Coutts was more an innovator and scientific brewer than a businessman. He was foundation head brewer of Dominion Breweries Ltd under (Sir) Henry Kelliher and became a director of the company after his father’s death in 1946. He and Kelliher formed a formidable team-Coutts, the boffin-like heir to a rich brewing heritage, obsessed with quality control and production innovation, and Kelliher, a confident, entrepreneurial businessman, able to hold his own with politicians and competitors.

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Morton Coutts’ most important contribution was the development in the 1950s of the system of continuous fermentation, patented in 1956, to give greater beer consistency and product control. The continuous fermentation process was so named because it allows a continuous flow of ingredients in the brewing, eliminating variables to produce the ideal beer continuously. The system achieved this by scrapping open vats-the weak link in the old system-and replacing them with enclosed sealed tanks. Continuous fermentation allows the brew to flow from tank to tank, fermenting under pressure, and never coming into contact with the atmosphere, even when bottled. Coutts’ research showed that his process could produce consistent, more palatable beer with a longer shelf life than under batch brewing. A London newspaper described it as a “brewer’s dream and yours too”. Coutts patented the process, and subsequently the patent rights were sold worldwide as other brewers recognised the inherent benefits of continuous processes. Although many attempted to implement the technology, most failed due to their inability to apply the rigorous hygiene techniques developed and applied by Coutts. Eventually, in 1983, Coutts’ contribution to the industry was honoured in New Zealand.

And DB Breweries also has a timeline with key events in the brewery’s history, including dates from Coutts’ life.

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The Waitemata Brewery in 1933, after it became part of DB Breweries.

As for his most influential invention, continuous fermentation, here are some resources, one from New Zealand’s Science Trust Roadshow with Morton Coutts — Continuous Fermentation System. And after I visited New Zealand, I wrote a sidebar on it for an article I did for All About Beer, and also later when a German university announced something very similar a few years ago in Everything Old Is New Again: Non-Stop Fermentation.

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Coutts later in life.

Also, here’s the story of him creating DB Export The Untold Story, featuring this fun video.

Historic Beer Birthday: Louis Camille Maillard

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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.

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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.

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

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

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

Patent No. 3425839A: Continuous Beer Making Process Wherein The Wort And Yeast Are Separated By A Porous Partition

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Today in 1969, US Patent 3425839 A was issued, an invention of Michael Alan Pinnegar, assigned to Brewing Patents Ltd., for his “Continuous Beer Making Process Wherein the Wort and Yeast Are Separated by a Porous Partition.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

A potable beer is produced by circulating a body of yeast-containing liquor on one side of a partition and maintaining a moving body of wort on the opposite side of the partition. The partition is porous and has a pore size small enough to effectively bar the passage of yeast cells, but allows the passage of the soluble constituents of the wort and the soluble products resulting from the fermentation of the wort by the yeast.

The present invention relates to the production of potable beer by the fermentation of brewers wort by yeast in a continuous fermentation process. The term continuous fermentation process is used herein to refer to a fermentation process, in which brewers Wort is introduced in a stream into a fermentation zone. The stream of wort can be introduced at either constant or varying rates and may be continuous or discontinuous in the sense of being interrupted at constant or varying intervals. However in the generally preferred procedure brewers wort is introduced into the fermentation zone at a substantially constant rate over a substantial period of time e.g. not less than five days.

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Patent No. 878136A: Brew-House Equipment

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Today in 1908, US Patent 878136 A was issued, an invention of Max Henius, for his “Brew-House Equipment.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

The gist of my invention lies in centering about a single point on the brew-house floor, on which the entire apparatus employed in producing the wort is located, all the controlling means for governing and inspecting the operation of the different parts, whereby all such means are rendered conveniently accessible to the manipulation and view of a single operator whose position of duty is at such centering point.

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U. Penn Students Win Prize For 9 Times Faster Brewing Process

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I tend to be skeptical of anyone who claims to be able to shorten the brewing process, especially by up to nine times, since brewing is a pretty time-honored process, improved little by little over the centuries. And generally speaking, speeding up fermentation has rarely resulted in better beer. Of course, there was that flourish of decades beginning with the industrial revolution that speeded up that process considerably, but since then things have slowed down to a more manageable pace. But that’s exactly what got the winners of this year’s Y-Prize, from the University of Pennsylvania, the grand prize $10,000, “for developing a process that speeds up the fermentation process in beer production by up to nine times — while maintaining alcohol quality and composition.”

The three winners, Alexander David, Shashwata Narain and Siddharth Shah, are students in the Wharton School and the School of Engineering and Applied Science. They’ll received “$10,000 and the rights to commercialize the technology through their company,” which they’ve named “Fermento.”

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The Fermento Team: Alexander David, Shashwata Narain and Siddharth Shah

From UPenn:

The Fermento team selected microfluidic fabrication technology developed by Assistant Professor of Bioengineering David Issadore as the basis of their application.

The alcohol in beer is the product of yeast, which metabolically converts sugar found in barley and other grains into ethanol. This fermentation process typically occur in large batch reactors, where a concoction of boiled and strained grain liquid, known as wort, is left mixed with a carefully controlled amount of yeast.

This stage is one of the major bottlenecks of beer production. It can take up to three weeks, as maintaining the correct amount of yeast is a delicate balance.

“There is only a certain amount of yeast cells one can directly add to a batch reactor,” Narain says, “because overpopulation causes physiological stress on the yeast cells, which in turn reduces reaction rate. It takes time for yeast cells to grow and reach a critical mass to produce enough beer. Moreover, the concentration of sugar available to yeast cells is limited because in a large batch solutions, yeast cells don’t consistently interact with sugar molecules.”

Capable of delivering precisely controlled amounts of liquids to exact locations in a conveyer-belt fashion, microfluidics present a possible solution to both of these challenges. Yeast and wort can be introduced to one another in microdroplets, providing the optimal ratio for fermentation each time.

“Microdroplets to speed up fermentation have been tried in labs, but none of the technologies so far are scalable,” Narain says. “This patented technology actually makes the process industrially scalable for the first time, and in a financially feasible manner.”

So who knows. According to another report, “[t]heir advisors include executives from some of the biggest brewers in the world: MillerCoors, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Biocon India and Heineken. And say what you will about them, but those beer companies employ brewers who know how to make beer. So there may be something to it. It will be interesting to see what becomes of the idea.

Patent No. 20090028999A1: Beer Brewing Kit And Brewing Method To Prepare Wort For The Kit

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Today in 2009, US Patent 20090028999 A1 was issued, an invention of Klaus U. Melisch and Stefan Riedelsheimer, for their “Beer Brewing Kit and Brewing Method to Prepare Wort for the Kit.” Here’s the Abstract:

A kit for home brewed beer which comprises a bottle, wort substantially filling the bottle, and a cap which has venting means to permit escape of gas from the bottle when pressure therein exceeds a predetermined value. There is also disclosed a brewing method wherein lactic acid is added to the wort to reduce the pH to level 4.6 and a predetermined amount of yeast is added to the wort to cause a short fermentation while maintaining the alcohol level below 0.5% by volume.

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Fred Eckhardt’s Treatise on Lager Beer Paste-Ups

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You probably saw the news that the papers of the late, great Fred Eckhardt were donated to the Oregon Hops & Brewing Archives, which describes itself as “a community archiving project housed in the Special Collections & Archives Research Center at the OSU Libraries & Press. We’re actively collecting materials that tell the story of hops production and the craft beer industry.” The Brew Historian, who may or may not be Tiah Edmundon-Morton, has been teasing out Fred’s papers since acquiring the collection, and has a Tumblr so you can follow along. Today, the OHBA posted a particularly fun one.

In his early Seventies book, A Treatise on Lager Beer, Fred apparently did all of the layout himself. And they found the originals among his personal papers. These, below, are “the original construction paper paste-ups for his Treatise on Lager Beer,” and believed to have been created around 1970. Pretty cool.

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Patent No. WO2012011807A1: A Method Of Stabilising Yeast Fermented Beverages

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Today in 2012, US Patent WO 2012011807 A1 was issued, an invention of Tom Reinoud Noordman, Anneke Richter, and Marcel Van Der Noordt, assigned to Heineken Supply Chain B.V., for their “A Method of Stabilising Yeast Fermented Beverages.” Here’s the Abstract:

The present invention provides a method of preparing a yeast fermented beverage, said method comprising the steps of: a. fermenting wort with a biologically active yeast to produce a fermented liquid containing yeast, alcohol, polyphenols and protein; b. optionally removing yeast from the fermented liquid; c. combining the fermented liquid with polyvinylpolypyrrolidone (PVPP) particles to bind at least a fraction of the polyphenols and/or the proteins contained in the fermented liquid to said PVPP particles, at least 80 wt.% of said PVPP particles having a diameter in the range of 5-300 µm; d. removing a slurry containing the PVPP particles from the fermented liquid; e. filtering the slurry over a filter having a pore size in the range of 0.1-80 µm to produce a PVPP-enriched retentate and a PVPP-depleted filtrate; f. regenerating the PVPP particles contained in the PVPP-enriched retentate by desorbing polyphenols and/or protein from said PVPP-particles and separating the desorbed polyphenols and/or the desorbed protein from the PVPP particles; and g. after optional further refining of the regenerated PVPP particles, recirculating the regenerated PVPP particles to step c. The method can be operated with single use PVPP as well as regenerable PVPP. Furthermore, the present method does not require capacious filter hardware for regenerating the PVPP. The invention further provides an apparatus for carrying out the aforementioned method.

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Patent No. 5384135A: Process For The Manufacture Of An Alcohol-Free Beer Having The Organoleptic Properties Of A Lager Type Pale Beer

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Today in 1995, US Patent 5384135 A was issued, an invention of Henri J. J. Caluwaerts, assigned to Brasserie Du Cardinal Fribourg S.A., for his “Process for the Manufacture of an Alcohol-Free Beer Having the Organoleptic Properties of a Lager Type Pale Beer.” Here’s the Abstract:

A process for the manufacture of an alcohol-free pale beer (AFB) whose organoleptic properties are those of a lager beer, comprising the manufacture of a lager type alcoholic pale beer from pale malts containing 20 to 30% of brown malts, mashed to obtain a wort whose attenuation is of the order of 50% and the dealcoholization of the alcoholic pale beer, by evaporation, under high vacuum, of at least about 50% of the volume of this beer. The concentrate obtained by evaporation may be rediluted with water, flavored and sweetened until a concentration of 4° Brix is obtained in order to produce the AFB. The concentrate may also be subjected to a second vacuum evaporation at a temperature of less than 60° C. until a concentrate assaying between 45° and 65° Brix is obtained which is storable for several months before the redilution into an AFB.

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