Historic Beer Birthday: Gerardus Johannes Mulder

Today is the birthday of Gerardus Johannes Mulder (December 26, 1802–April 18, 1880). He “was a Dutch organic and analytical chemist,” who wrote several technical chemical publications analyzing various substances, including one entitled “The Chemistry of Beer,” in 1856 or 57 (sources vary).

“He became a professor of chemistry at Rotterdam and later at Utrecht. While at the Utrecht University, Mulder described the chemical composition of protein. He claimed that albuminous substances are made up of a common radical, protein, and that protein had the same empirical formula except for some variation in amounts of sulfur and phosphorus, long before the polymer nature of proteins was recognized after work by Staudinger and Carrothers.

He was the first to use this name, protein, coined by Jöns Jacob Berzelius in a publication, his 1838 paper ‘On the composition of some animal substances’ (originally in French but translated in 1839 to German). In the same publication he also proposed that animals draw most of their protein from plants.”


Here’s a biography of Mulder from Encyclopedia.com:

Mulder studied medicine at the University of Utrecht (1819–1825), from which he graduated with a dissertation on the action of alkaloids of opium, De opio ejusque principiis, actione inter se comparatis (1825). He practiced medicine in Amsterdam and then in Rotterdam, where he also lectured at the Bataafsch Genootschap der Proefondervindelijke Wijsbegeerte and taught botany to student apothecaries. At the foundation of a medical school at Rotterdam (1828), Mulder became lecturer in botany, chemistry, mathematics, and pharmacy. His attention was directed primarily to the practical training of his students. In 1840 Mulder succeeded N. C. de Fremery as professor of chemistry at the University of Utrecht. He applied for his retirement in 1868 and spent the rest of his life in Bennekom. Besides publishing on scientific subjects, Mulder took an active part in education, politics and public health. The works of Faraday and Berzelius exerted a great influence on him; his Leerboek voor Scheikundige werktuigkunde (1832–1835) was written in the spirit of Faraday’s Chemical Manipulation. Mulder edited a Dutch translation by three of his students of Berzelius’ textbook of chemistry as Leerboek der Scheikunde (6 vols., 1834–1845). His difficult character caused problems with some of his pupils and with other chemists.

From 1826 to 1865 Mulder edited five Dutch chemical journals (see bibliography), in which most of his work was published. He worked in physics and in both general and physical chemistry, the latter in combination with medicine, physiology, agriculture, and technology. Most of his work had a polemic character. His most important contributions are in the field of physiological chemistry and soil chemistry, in which he published two extensive works that attracted much attention in translation despite their many mistakes and erroneous speculations.

Studies on proteins led Mulder to his protein theory (1838): he supposed that all albuminous substances consist of a radical compound (protein) of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen, in combination with varying amounts of sulfur and phosphorus. The differences among proteins resulted from multiplication of the protein units in conjunction with the two other elements. Thus, casein was formulated as

10 protein units + S,

And serum albumin as

10 protein units + SP2.

In 1843 Mulder published the first volume of a treatise on physiological chemistry, which was translated into English as The Chemistry of Vegetable and Animal Physiology (1845–1849). At first both Liebig and Berzelius accepted Mulder’s analysis of proteins; but Liebig soon opposed the theory vigorously, and a deep conflict with Mulder ensued. In 1839–1840 Mulder investigated humic and ulmic acids and humus substances and determined the amounts of geic acid (acidum geïcum), apocrenic acid (acidum apocrenicum or Quellsatzsäure), crenic acid (acidum crenicum or Quellsäure), and humic acids in fertile soils (1844). The structure of these various brown or black substances is unknown. They are a group of aromatic acids of high molecular weight, which can be extracted from peat, turf, and decaying vegetable matter in the soil. The difference between these acids is the oxygen content. In the decay of vegetable matter ulmic acid is formed. According to Mulder, this has the formula C20H14O6(in modern equivalents). In contact with air and water more oxygen is absorbed, which results in the successive formation of humic acid (C20H12O6, geic acid (C20H12O7), apocrenic acid C24H12O12, and crenic acid (C12H12O8).

His studies on agricultural chemistry led to the treatise De scheikunde der bouwbare aarde (1860). Mulder confirmed Berzelius’ suggestion that theine and caffeine are identical (1838) and was the first to analyze phytol correctly in his researches on chlorophyll. Among his other works are technical chemical publications on indigo (1833), wine (1855), and beer (1856), detailed research on the assaying method for analyzing silver in relation to the volumetric silver determination of Gay-Lussac (1857), and a study on drying oils (1865).


While I can’t find the book itself, Julius E. Thausing mentions it in his “Theory and Practice of the Preparation of Malt and the Fabrication of Beer,”published in 1882.



Patent No. 531356A: Apparatus For Carbonating Beer

Today in 1894, US Patent 531356 A was issued, an invention of Carl Barus, for his “Apparatus For Carbonating Beer.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes these claims:

The object of my invention is to produce improved apparatus for impregnating beer, or the like, with carbonic acid gas.


Patent No. 20100323060A1: Method Of, And Apparatus For, Flavor Recovery In Beer Brewing

Today in 2010, US Patent 20100323060 A1 was issued, an invention of Wilhelm Wolfgang-Peter, assigned to Krones Ag, for his “Method of, and Apparatus for, Flavor Recovery in Beer Brewing.” Here’s the Abstract:

A beer-brewing method, and an apparatus implementing the method, where vapors escaping from the wort during a boiling phase are passed, on the steam side, to a rectifying column connected to a wort boiler and the vapors are rectified, at least one flavor-containing distillate being recovered from the vapors and being fed to the wort following the boiling phase.


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.