Patent No. 354787A: Siphon For Beer

Today in 1886, US Patent 354787 A was issued, an invention of Frederick Heyman, for his “Siphon For Beer.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes these claims:

My invention has relation to siphons for containing beer and similar beverages; and it consists in the improved construction and combination of parts of a siphon having a reservoir at its top for containing compressed air or gas for the purpose of forcing the fluid out of the siphon, as hereinafter more fully described and claimed.

When beer and similar beverages are to be contained in siphons, and to be drawn oh the siphons in small quantities, it is desirable to have air or gas compressed above the fluid for the purpose of forcing it out through the drawing-tube, and it is at the same time desirable to have the said compressed air or gas contained in such a manner that it will not mix with the fluid and thus affect the properties of the beverage; and for the purpose of having the compressed air or gas contained in such a manner that it may readily be brought to bear upon the fluid in the bottle of the siphon, and at the same time not be in constant contact with the fluid, I construct an air chamber or reservoir above the bottle in which the air or gas may be contained and from which it may be let into the bottle when the pressure is required, as I shall now proceed to describe.


Patent No. 616336A: Means For Racking Beer

Today in 1898, US Patent 616336 A was issued, an invention of Emil Kersten, for his “Means For Racking Beer.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes these claims:

The invention relates to means for racking beer contained in casks partly filled with chips or shavings, for attracting and retaining the heavier substances forming part of the products of fermentation, and for fining the beer.

The object of the invention is to provide a new and improved means for first drawing the beer in a perfectly pure and fine state from such cask without causing the beer to become turbid when running close to the sedimentcovered bottom and chips in the cask, and then drawing the remaining portion of the beer from the cask with as little sediment as possible.


Historic Beer Birthday: Michael Edward Ash

Today is the birthday of Michael Edward Ash (December 17, 1927–April 30, 2016). He “was a British mathematician and brewer. Ash led a team that invented a nitrogenated dispense system for Guinness stout, which evolved to become the beer now sold globally as Draught Guinness. As the manager in charge of the Easy Serve project, Ash is credited as the inventor of nitrogenated beer (sometimes known as “nitro beer” colloquially).”

Michael E. Ash
Michael Ash in the 1950s.

“Following graduation from Cambridge, Ash lectured in mathematics at The Bedford College for women for three years before joining Guinness & Co. at their London Brewery in Park Royal in January 1951.

After training as a brewer by 1954 Ash also had experience of running two departments (Brewing and Forwarding) and in 1955 he was given his own department the ‘Sample Room’, which had facilities for experimentation. The ‘Draught problem’ was given to Ash as part of his briefing from the managing Director, Hugh Beaver. At the time, Guinness used a convoluted draught system in which highly conditioned beer was blended with aged, nearly still beer. It was a slow, arduous process that limited the ability of draught dispense to reach a more global market.

Guinness had for years been looking for a system in which a barman with no special training could pour a glass of draught in a matter of seconds to settle quickly with a head (3/8″ in a normal ½ pint glass).

Ash realized the solution lay in the use of a blend of nitrogen and carbon dioxide (beer typically just uses the latter), but it took years to figure out a mechanism to dispense nitrogenated beer. Inside Guinness, Ash’s quest was regarded as quixotic, and other brewers chided it as “daft Guinness” and the “Ash Can.” Eventually, working with a keg designer, Ash hit on a revolutionary, self-contained two-part keg, with one chamber full of beer and the other full of mixed gas under pressure, and the introduction of nitrogen.[5] Nitrogen is less soluble than carbon dioxide, which allows the beer to be put under high pressure without making it fizzy. The high pressure of dissolved gas is required to enable very small bubbles to be formed by forcing the draught beer through fine holes in a plate in the tap, which causes the characteristic ‘surge’.

Ultimately called the “easy serve system,” it began to replace the old “high and low” taps used in Ireland and spread to Great Britain and beyond beginning in the 1960s. The invention, which made for a smoother, less characterful beer, was not without controversy, and for years a minority of Irish drinkers complained about the change. Eventually, nitrogrenated stout became a standard, not just at Guinness but among all Irish makers of stout.

Ash left the brewing side of Guinness in 1962 to become managing director of Crooks Laboratories in Park Royal (owned by Guinness). Crooks moved to Basingstoke in 1965. At Crooks Ash was responsible for acquiring the licence for the anti-depressant Prothiaden (Dosulepin) in 1967. From 1970 onwards Ash followed various interests including business education and was a founding governor of Templeton College Oxford.”

Ash with Pete Brown.

Pete Brown, who’d met Ash recently, wrote his obituary for the Morning Advertiser after he passed away in April of this year at 88 years old, entitled The man who created the nitro stout.

A photograph of Ash taken by Jeff Alworth during his visit to Guinness in early 2016.

Similarly, Jeff Alworth wrote a piece for All About Beer Magazine, The Man Who Invented Nitro the month after he passed away.

Alworth’s article online includes an audio clip of Michael Ash describing the process he used to create Draught Guinness using nitrogen.

And this biography of Ash was prepared by Guinness’ marketing department:

Michael read mathematics at Trinity College, Cambridge and was awarded a triple first in his studies – top scholar that year in Cambridge. Between 1948 – 1950, Michael was allowed to reduce his national service conscription by teaching Maths at a University (other than Oxbridge). He taught at Bedford College. Up to the end of World War Two, the Guinness Company had a policy of recruiting only first class honours science graduates from Oxford or Cambridge. Michael was the first non-brewer to be recruited into Guinness.

It was in this role, he led a team of over 20, and their primary role was to seek to improve the shelf life of bottled Guinness. However, Michael felt that the real prize was in developing a proper system for Draught Guinness and began dedicating his time to the ‘Draught Problem’.

The rise of lagers available on draught, especially in the UK in the 1940s and 1950s, was encroaching on traditional Guinness sales, and Michael felt that there was a great opportunity for Guinness, should the stout be available in Draught format. However, the essential problem was with the gas. Carbon dioxide was used to pressurise kegs of bitter and lager, and it was easy and effective for everyone concerned. Guinness, though was too lively to be draughted with carbon dioxide alone.

Of the 20 plus men on his Sample Room team, he could only afford to assign 2 people to work part-time with him on ‘Daft Guinness’ as it became known with the Park Royal Brewery. Michael talks about working weekends and late nights over a long period of time to eventually come up with a nitrogen gas solution.

He worked hand in hand with Eric Lewis, of Alumasc, who supplied Michael with prototype after protoype of metal kegs with different experimental gas chambers. The fact that nitrogen is an inert gas meant that they bubbles lasted longer and were smaller. The right amount of nitrogen, created the ‘surge’ and allowed for a controlled, creamy head that lasts for the whole pint.

The eventual solution was a ‘mixed gas dispense’ system. Known initially as ‘The Ash Can’, The Easy Serve Cask was a self-contained, two-part keg, with one chamber full of beer and the other full of mixed gas under pressure.

Having seen the possibilities, [the company] was in a hurry to get Draught Guinness out into the market place, and he demanded that it should be launched in 1959 – the year of the Guinness bicentenary. At a board meeting of 9 December 1959 – Viscount Elveden (later 3rd Lord Iveagh) reported that about half the draught Guinness outlets had now been changed to the Easy Serve system, and the changeover of the remainder should take place by mid-January 1960.

Here’s a short video that Guinness made about Michael Ash:

Patent No. 121902A: Improvement In Preserving And Using Hops In Brewing

Today in 1871, US Patent 121902 A was issued, an invention of Jacob Seeger and John Boyd, for their “Improvement in Preserving and Using Hops in Brewing.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes these claims:

It is well known that the active principle of hops is soon dissipated and the flavor changed or lost upon exposure to atmospheric action, and that, therefore, fresh hops command in the market two or three fold the price of hops grown the year previous. They are also readily injured by dampness, and their shipment by water is, therefore, attended with risk.

We propose by grinding or otherwise pulverizing the hops, and by then packing the same in air-tight packages to secure the following advantages in an improved article of manufacture and trade: First, the bulk is reduced at least fifty per cent. in packing the hops after being pulverized. Second, the hops pulverized and packed in air-tight vessels or packages may be stored for an indefinite length of time without deterioration as to quality, weight, or flavor. Third, the expense and labor of transportation is greatly reduced. Fourth, hops pulverized and packed in air-tight packages may be transported by Water-carriage without risk or damage by dampness. For the purpose of retail trade the pulverized hops are packed in cans or packages holding a pound, more or less, while for the convenience of large consumers, breweries, &c., the packages may be boxes or barrels. In packing pulverized hops the contents of an ordinary bale may be reduced to the dimensions of a flour-barrel, and, therefore, the labor of handling and the expense of transportation will be proportionately reduced.

The large consumer is enabled by our method to store his years supply without danger of deterioration as to quality, flavor, or weight, and with a material saving as to quantity required and space occupied. The dealer is enabled by our method to handle his hops and to ship them to any market without risk from atmospheric causes or dampness, which now makes a material advance in the price in markets remote from the place of production; or he can hold his stock over and wait an advance in price. This latter fact will tend to equalize prices and relieve the market of a glut at one time or a dearth at another.


Patent No. 8601936B2: Combined Brewing System

Today in 2013, US Patent 8601936 B2 was issued, an invention of Ian Stuart Williams and Anders Gordon Warn, assigned to Williamswarn Holdings Limited, for their “Combined Brewing System.” Here’s the Abstract:

A combined brewing system for small scale brewing of fermented alcoholic beverages, particularly beer, and to a method of making fermented alcoholic beverages. The brewing system comprises a single pressurizable vessel. The beer is naturally carbonated to the desired level during fermentation. Sediment is collected and substantially separated from within the vessel and removed from the vessel while the vessel is under pressure. Compressed gas is added for maintaining natural carbonation levels, so that the contents of the vessel can be drawn off at a desired pressure. The vessel has a temperature control system to selectively control the temperature during processing.


Patent No. 3923897A: Production Of Hoplike Beverage Bittering Materials

Today in 1975, US Patent 3923897 A was issued, an invention of Leonard R. Worden, assigned to the Kalamazoo Spice Extract Co., for his “Production of Hoplike Beverage Bittering Materials.” If the Kalamazoo Spice Extract Co. sounds familiar, that’s where Firestone Walker brewmaster Matt Brynildson worked as in intern in college and then as his first job afterwards, as a hop chemist. Here’s the Abstract:

Production of hoplike beverage bittering materials by the peracid oxidation of 3′,5′-dialkyl-2′,4′,6′-trihydroxyacylphenones to 6-acyl-2,4-dialkyl-2-hydroxycyclohexane-1,3,5-triones (tetrahydrohumulones or tetrahydro-alpha acids) and isomerization thereof to 2,4-diacyl-5-alkyl-4-hydroxycyclopentane-1,3-diones (tetrahydroisohumulones or tetrahydroiso-alpha acids).


Patent No. WO2007113292A3: Mashing Process

Today in 2007, US Patent WO 2007113292 A3 was issued, an invention of Niels Elvig, for his “Mashing Process.” Here’s the Abstract:

The present invention provides processes for production of wort and beer from a granular starch adjunct grist mashed-in at a temperature below the gelatinization temperature of said starch.


Patent No. 268186A: Measuring Vessel

Today in 1882, US Patent 268186 A was issued, an invention of George J. Gave, for his “Measuring Vessel.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes these claims:

This invention relates to that class of measuring-vessels designed to automatically indicate from the outside the quantity of beer or other fermenting liquor as it is poured into said measuring vessels, the object being to save labor and material in the construction and render the vessels less liable to get out of repair.


Patent No. WO1999060090A1: Premix Composition For Clarifying Beer

Today in 1999, US Patent WO 1999060090 A1 was issued, an invention of Mustafa Rehmanji, Andrew Mola, Robert Ianniello, Kolazi S. Narayanan, and Tom Cheng, assigned to Isp Investments Inc., for their “Premix Composition For Clarifying Beer.” Here’s the Abstract:

A premix composition for clarifying beverages like beer includes, by weight, (a) about 40 to 90 %, preferably 60-85 %, of silica xerogel having less than 10 % water therein, preferably 5 % or less, and a particle size, as defined by its mean volume average diameter MV, in both the dry state and as a 10 % aqueous slurry, of less than 50 ν, preferably about 5-30 ν, and (b) about 10 to 60 %, preferably 15-40 %, of crosslinked polyvinylpyrrolidone having a particle size as defined, in the dry state, of about 10 to 50 ν, and about 30-60 ν in a 10 % aqueous slurry, and a process of obtaining, chill-haze stabilized beer with substantial reduction in high molecular weight proteins, as well as polyphenols, flavanoids and tannins, in an efficient and effective single-step process at a rapid filter-flow rate, with undetectable residual soluble polyvinylpyrrolidone thereafter, and no microbiological growth in the premix, effective haze stability after time, and advantageous redispersibility of the premix used in the process.


Patent No. 775780A: Art Of Brewing

Today in 1904, US Patent 775780 A was issued, an invention of Joseph Schneible, for his “Art Of Brewing.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes these claims:

This invention relates particularly to the preparation of beer-wort, and has for its object to make-it possible to produce with certainty a wort of definite character, with reference particularly to the relationship between sugar and non-sugar, maltodextrins and dextrin, etc.

According to the methods of brewing now practiced the production of a wort of a definite or the best character in so far as it is dependent upon the relative amounts present in it of the different starch derivatives is practically impossible. This is largely due to the fact that the malt mash is subjected for a time long enough to permit conversion of the starch to take place to varying temperatures without so controlling the temperatures as to obtain the different starch derivatives in the desired proportions. This variation of temperature necessarily results from delivering, as is the customary practice, the cooked unmalted cereal mash or other heating medium,”such as hot water, which in some systems of brewing is used to raise the temperature of the malt mash, at substantially the boiling temperature to the mash-tub, which already contains the peptonized malt mash, which is at a temperature much below the boiling-point. The stream of boiling-hot cooked mash raises the temperature of the adjacent portions of the malt mash to a heat approximating its own temperature,which unduly elevated temperature continues long enough for conversion of the starch obviously where the hot cereal to begin. mash or other heating medium is thus introduced into the malt mash it is not only impossible to regulate the temperature to which portions of the malt mash are thus raised, but it is also impossible to regulate the quantity of the malt mash which has its temperature thus unduly raised, and the degree and extent Serial No. 186,592. (No specimens) of conversion or saccharification is therefore impossible of regulation under such methods.

According to the present invention the temperature of the peptonized malt mash is raised to the proper converting degree by the heat of the cooked unmalted cereal mash or other heating medium; but the attainment of the desired temperature .,is effected in so short a space of time that no reaction at other temperatures will take place, the contact of the malt mash at the peptonizing temperature with the substantially boiling hot cooked mash or other heating medium being only momentary, or rather the thorough mixture of the two being so quickly effected that no undesired reaction takes place. The contact or mingling of the malt mash and cooked mash or other heating medium preferably takes place as the two mashes or the malt mash and heating medium are moving on together in a comparatively small stream, and no portion of the malt mash remains in contact for any appreciable length of time with the cooked mash or other heating medium while the latter is at boiling temperature. In other words, the malt mash is raised to the desired converting temperature without subjecting the malt mash to reaction at any temperature other than that which is predetermined.

It will be obvious that the invention can be practiced in different ways and with different forms of apparatus, the most convenient and practicable mode of practicing the invention being to thoroughly mingle the malt mash and the hot cooked mash or other heating medium while in movement from the respective tanks or sources of supply tothe common mash-tub or strainer-tub, so that the desired converting temperature is attained at once in the commingled mashes or commingled malt mash and heating medium. After being so mingled the combined liquor is allowed to stand for the usual period of time required for conversion.