Patent No. 258664A: Process Of Making Brewers Yeast

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Today in 1882, US Patent 258664 A was issued, an invention of Friedrich Meyer, for his “Process of Making Brewers Yeast.” There’s no Abstract, though it’s described this way in the application:

This invention has relation to a process for compounding brewers yeast; and it consists in forming from hops, malt, and water under certain degrees of heat a first yeast, which is afterward used in certain proportions in another step or series of steps, wherein malt, water, and hops are again employed and subjected to heat at varying temperatures to form a second yeast, which is again employed with malt, water, and hops, subjected to heat as before and tested by a saccharometer, to form a third or stock yeast, which will last from four to six months, and from which, together with malt, hops, and water, a present use yeast, which will last about one month, may be formed by compounding therewith malt, hops, and water at certain temperatures, all of which will be hereinafter fully pointed out in the body of the specification and claim.

In carrying out this process I take the proportions of about one-half ounce of hops to one-half gallon of boiling water, throw the hops into the yeast-can, and add the boiling water, and stir this mixture until the heat recedes to 190 Fahrenheit. I then add three quarts of cracked barley-malt and mash it well, after which 1 add one quart of boiling water and stir the mixture until the heat recedes to 160 Fahrenheit, when I cover the can and let the contents stand for five minutes. I then increase the heat by adding as little boiling water as possible until 176 Fahrenheit has been reached, when I again cover the can and let it stand for one hour, then cool the contents of the can by stirring them until the heat has receded to 90 Fahrenheit. I then put the liquid thus formed into a stone jar and place the jar into warm water at a temperature of about 80 or 90 Fahrenheit, and keep the heat of the Water up to that point by using boiling water until the liquid has ceased to ferment, which will be from thirty-six to forty-eight hours. As this yeast will last only from six to eight hours, the preparations for the formation of the second yeast should be completed at this time.

To make the second yeast, I take one gallon (dry measure) of cracked barley-malt and put it in the yeast can, and pour one-half gallon of boiling water thereon, and mash well together. This should be permitted to stand ten minutes, and then raised to a temperature of 176 Fahrenheit by adding boiling water to the amount of about three gallons. It should be then covered and permitted to stand for about one hour, after which it should be strained through a brass sieve into a clean tin can and placed 011 the stove, where it should boil for one hour and be skimmed during the operation of boiling. If one hours boiling should prove to be insufficient, it may be boiled a little longer. It, should register, when properly boiled, about 20 saccharometer, and the test should be made at 90 Fahrenheit. About two ounces of hops should then be added by stirring them in until the hops are thoroughly wetted, and the cover should be again replaced and the contents of the can boiled from three to five minutes longer. Remove the can from the stove and let it stand fifteen minutes, and then strain the contents of the can through a brass sieve into a stone jar, and cool it to about 94 Fahrenheit by setting the stone jar into cold water in the winter season. In summer it should be reduced to 90 Fahrenheit, as the natural temperature at this season will cause the temperature of the liquid to rise in a short time. Then add to the liquid thus produced one pint of the first yeast to each gallon of the liquid. Then wrap the jar in cloth, and set it away in a place where the temperature may be maintained at from to Fahrenheit until it is done fermenting, which’ will be about thirty-six hours. Then be ready to proceed to the formation of the third yeast, as this, which is termed the second yeast, will not keep longer than from ten to twelve hours.

To form the third yeast, I place four gallons of boiling water in the yeast-can and permit the heat to recede to 180 or 176 Fahrenheit. I then add about sixteen pounds of cracked barley-malt and mash well. The can is then rinsed down with about one-half gallon of boiling water and stirred until the temperature is about 150, and then left to stand about ten minutes. Boiling water should then be added and the contents of the can stirred until the heat reaches 176 Fahrenheit, after which it should be covered and left to stand for one hour, and should then be strained through a brass sieve. Then take this liquid and place it in a clean tin can and set it on the stove and boil it from three to five hours, skimming it during the operation of boiling, until it be comes of a consistency of 38 saccharometer under a test at 90 Fahrenheit. Then put in one-half pound of hops and stir until the hops are thoroughly wetted, and then boil from three to five minutes longer. Remove the can from the stove, stir the contents, cover the can, and let it stand covered for about fifteen minutes, during which time it should be stirred occasionally, and then strained through a brass sieve into a clean yeast-can, and reduce its temperature to 91 Fahrenheit by placing the yeast-can into cold water. Then add one quart of the second yeast above described and stir well. The temperature during this stirring should be maintained at about 00 Fahrenheit. Then wrap the can in cloth and place it in a place where the temperature may be maintained at between and Fahrenheit until fermentation ceases, which will be about forty-eight hours. This yeast, called the third yeast, will then be lit for use. This third or stock yeast will keep from four to six months, and should always be thoroughly shaken before using. This stock yeast is intended for shipment for use in making a fourth or pre-cut use yeast, which, when made as herein after described, will keep about one month.

To make the fourth or present-use yeast, I take fifteen quarts of boiling water and place it in the tin yeast-can and let it reach a temperature of 170 Fahrenheit, and then place in it about sixteen pounds of cracked barley malt, mash well, and rinse down with about one quart of boiling water and stir until the temperature is about 150 Fahrenheit, then cover the can and let it stand about ten minutes. I then add boiling water until the temperature reaches 176 Fahrenheit, which requires about sixteen quarts of boiling water. I then let it stand on the stone and boiled for about three hours to thicken it, care being taken to skim the contents during the operation of boiling. The proper consistency should be about 30 saccharometer under a test at 90 Fahrenheit. When at this consistency about six ounces of hops should be thoroughly stirred in, and the contents should be boiled from three to five minutes longer. The can should then be removed from the stove and left to stand for about fifteen minutes, during which time it should be stirred occasionally. It should then be strained through a brass sieve into a yeast-can, which should be placed in cool water, stirred, and reduced to a temperature of 90 Fahrenheit. One quart of the third or stock yeast should then be added by stirring it in under a temperature of 90 Fahrenheit, and the can wrapped up and placed in a position where a temperature of from 60 to 70 Fahrenheit can be maintained until fermentation ceases, which will be about forty-eight hours, after which it will be fit for use.

The superiority of this stock yeast over the yeast now employed lies in this, that it may be kept in stock for a period of six months, and from it a present-use yeast may be made that will last for a period of about one month, while the yeasts now employed will keep but a few hours at the furthest.

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Historic Beer Birthday: Emil Christian Hansen

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Today is the birthday of Emil Christian Hansen (May 8, 1842-August 27, 1909). Hansen was a “Danish botanist who revolutionized beer-making through development of new ways to culture yeast. Born poor in Ribe, Denmark, he financed his education by writing novels. Though he never reached an M.Sc., in 1876, he received a gold medal for an essay on fungi, entitled “De danske Gjødningssvampe.” In 1879, he became superintendent of the Carlsberg breweries. In 1883, he successfully developed a cultivated yeast that revolutionized beer-making around the world, because Hansen by refusing to patent his method made it freely available to other brewers. He also proved there are different species of yeast. Hansen separated two species: Saccharomyces cerevisiae, an over-yeast (floating on the surface of the fermenting beer) and Saccharomyces carlsbergensis, an under-yeast (laying on the bottom of the liquid).

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Here’s his entry from Encyclopedia Britannica:

Danish botanist who revolutionized the brewing industry by his discovery of a new method of cultivating pure strains of yeast.

Hansen, who began his working life as a journeyman house painter, received a Ph.D. in 1877 from the University of Copenhagen. Two years later he was appointed head of the physiology department at the Carlsberg Laboratory in Copenhagen, where he remained until his death. His research was concerned mainly with yeasts that convert carbohydrates to alcohol, and in 1888 he published an article that described his method for obtaining pure cultures of yeast. The yeast grown from these single strains was widely adopted in the bottom-fermentation brewing industries. Further investigations led him to the discovery of a number of species of yeast. He defined the characters of the different species and devised a system of classification. After further study he devised additional methods for the culture and isolation of certain species.

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Emil Hansen as a young man.

This is how Carlsberg describes Hansen’s breakthrough in 1883:

The Carlsberg Laboratory made its first major scientific breakthrough when Dr. Emil Chr. Hansen developed a method for propagating pure yeast.

Fluctuations in the beer quality were not unknown at the time, but had until then been solved by thorough cleaning of all installations after suspension of production. If a brew failed, there was no use in pasteurising it; it had to be destroyed.

In 1883, the Old Carlsberg beer got infected with the beer disease and all efforts were made to find a solution to the problem.

Dr. Emil Chr. Hansen who joined the Carlsberg Laboratory in 1878 was examining the beer, and he found that it contained wild yeast. Through his studies and analyses, he discovered that only a few types of yeast (the pure yeast) are suitable for brewing, and he developed a technique to separate the pure yeast from the wild yeast cells. The problem had been solved, and the new Carlsberg yeast – Saccharomyces Carlsbergensis – was applied in the brewing process.

The propagating method revolutionised the brewing industry. Rather than to patent the process, Carlsberg published it with a detailed explanation so that anyone could build propagation equipment and use the method. Samples of the yeast – Saccharomyces Carlsbergensis – were sent to breweries around the world by request and young brewers came to Carlsberg to learn the skills.

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This is the entry from Wikipedia on the history of Saccharomyces Carlsbergensis:

So-called bottom fermenting strains of brewing yeast were described as early as the 14th century in Nuremberg and have remained an indispensable part of both Franconian and Bavarian brewing culture in southern Germany through modern times. During the explosion of scientific mycological studies in the 19th century, the yeast responsible for producing these so-called “bottom fermentations” was finally given a taxonomical classification, Saccharomyces pastorianus, by the German Max Reess in 1870.

In 1883 the Dane Emil Hansen published the findings of his research at the Carlsberg brewery in Copenhagen and described the isolation of a favourable pure yeast culture that he labeled “Unterhefe Nr. I” (bottom-fermenting yeast no. 1), a culture that he identified as identical to the sample originally donated to Carlsberg in 1845 by the Spaten Brewery of Munich. This yeast soon went into industrial production in Copenhagen in 1884 as Carlberg yeast no. 1.

In 1904 Hansen published an important body of work where he reclassified the separate yeasts he worked with in terms of species, rather than as races or strains of the same species as he had previously done. Here Hansen classified a separate species of yeast isolated from the Carlsberg brewery as S. pastorianus, a name derived from and attributed to Reess 1870. This strain was admitted to the Centraalbureau voor Schimmelcultures (CBS) in 1935 as strain CBS 1538, Saccharomyces pastorianus Reess ex Hansen 1904. In a further publication in 1908, Hansen reclassified the original “Unterhefe Nr. I” as the new species Saccharomyces carlsbergensis and another yeast “Unterhefe Nr. II” as the new species Saccharomyces monacensis. The taxonomy was attributed to Hansen 1908 and the yeasts entered into the Centraalbureau voor Schimmelcultures in 1947 as CBS 1513 and CBS 1503 respectively.

Since the early 1900s, bottom-fermenting strains of brewery yeast have been typically classified as S. carlbergensis in scientific literature, and the earlier valid name assigned to a bottom-fermenting yeast by Reess in 1870 was rejected without merit. This situation was rectified using DNA-DNA reallocation techniques in 1985 when Vaughan-Martini & Kurtzman returned the species name to S. pastorianus under the type strain CBS 1538 and relegated the two former species assigned by Hansen in 1908, S. carlsbergensis CBS 1513 and S. monacensis CBS 1503, to the status of synonyms. These experiments also clearly revealed the hybrid nature of the lager brewing yeast species for the first time, even though one of the parental species was incorrectly classified in retrospect. Nonetheless, over the last decades of the 20th century, debate continued in scientific literature regarding the correct taxon, with authors using both names interchangeably to describe lager yeast.

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Although most accounts mention that he wrote novels to put himself through school, one has a slightly different take, though I’m not sure how true it is. “Emil earned his bread and butter as a painter but he yearned for another life and left Ribe so he could study. He graduated from High School relatively late – he was 29 years old.”

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Emil Christian Hansen, taken in 1908, a year before his death.

Patent No. 2281457A: Aeration Of Fermenting Wort In The Manufacture Of Yeast

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Today in 1942, US Patent 2281457 A was issued, an invention of Sven Olof Rosenqvist, for his “Aeration of Fermenting Wort in the Manufacture of Yeast.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

In the manufacture of pressed yeast it is known to blow air into the worts to increase the yeast yields; As a rule the fermentations are now performed with the use of the running-in method, the level of the wort in the vat being considerably lower at the commencement than at the termination of the fermentation. As a rule, it is desired during the start and at the termination of the process to supply less air to the wort than during the main portion of the fermentation. During the main portion of the fermentation it may also be of interest sometimes to be able to supply air quantities of different magnitudes.

Generally, one or more compressors of the same or of different types would operate on a ‘common pressure conduit branched off to the various vats’. By employing large compressor units, the air of which would be distributed to a plurality of vats, a rather low installation cost would be obtained for the compressor system. At the same time, however, the disadvantage would be incurred that the pressure on the air piping always would have to be maintained at a value corresponding to the highest back pressure prevailing in any vat.

Air taken out from the pipe system for a vat with a lower back pressure thus would have to be reduced by a valve from the higher to the lower pressure, which obviously would involve losses of energy.

With large compressor units, the losses in idle running would also be considerable at a low load.

Any control of the air quantity for the various fermentation vats could only take place manually with the arrangements described and with loss of energy. A control of the air quantity to a fermentation vat from the common conduit would entail disturbances in the air supply to the remaining vats and in order to limit such disturbances the pressure above atmospheric in the main conduit would have to be maintained at. an unnecessary high value. The arrangements as hitherto used consequently could not, owing to the fact that the control would be less accurate or too expensive, ensure the proper air supply to each of the fermentation processes proceeding in the various fermentation vats at an energy cost as low as possible. By reason of the fact that the supply of the quantities of air undertaken at the fermentations could not be properly adapted with respect to the process otherwise carried out in connection with these fermentations, the lowest cost for the aeration work, the best yield of the raw materials and the best quality of the finished product consequently could not be obtained.

The present invention refers to an arrangement for the supply of air to fermenting wort in the manufacture of pressed yeast, in the use ‘of which the above described disadvantages are avoided.

The arrangement according to the invention is principally distinguished by a compressor apparatus adapted to be controlled with respect to the delivery of air, the pressure conduit of which apparatus is connected to the plant of fermentation vats, and by an arrangement with a continuously driven member adapted to control the intensity of aeration in accordance with a previously determined aeration scheme, and which may actuate the air delivery of the compressor apparatus by influencing the compressor apparatus itself, its suction or pressure conduit or its driving machinery, or two or more of these arrangements, and which is so arranged as to adjust the compressor apparatus automatically and in accordance with an aeration scheme determined beforehand, to deliver air in a quantity and at a pressure required by the scheme at any moment. Preferably, a measuring device is provided to indicate the amount of air passing on its way to the fermentation vat, said measuring device being adapted to give impulses to the controlling doling device. According to an embodiment of the invention, the controlling doling device is adapted directly or indirectly to actuate a device, in ,order, in the case of double acting compressors, to convey a portion of the air to that part of the compressor which operates at a pressure below atmospheric. According to a further embodiment, a measuring device for the air in the inlet or outlet of the compressor “is arranged to transmit impulses for the control of the number of revolutions of the driving engine of the compressor.

Also. a measuring device for the air may be arranged to effect throttling in the inlet or outlet of the compressor so as to control the quantity of air in this way. If a compressor be used. a turbo-compressor adapted to be controlled with respect to the number of revolutions thereof is preferably made use of.

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Patent No. WO2010042896A1: Novel Yeast Strain a.k.a. Dinosaur Yeast

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Today in 2010, US Patent WO 2010042896 A1 was issued, an invention of Raul Cano, assigned to the Fossil Fuels Brewing Company, for his “Novel Yeast Strain and Methods of Use Thereof.” Here’s the Abstract:

The present disclosure relates to an isolated yeast strain deposited as NRRL Y-50184. The present disclosure also relates generally to methods of manufacturing of products, including a fermented beverage or a fermented food using yeast cell from the isolated yeast strain or a cell culture derived from the strain.

This is one of three patent applications filed by Cano and Fossil Fuels Brewing, of which this is the earliest. They all have the same priority date of October 10, 2008. The second, EP 2350262 A1, was published August 3, 2011 and the third, US 20110293778 A1, was published December 1, 2011. All three seem virtually identical to one another.

In 2006, I wrote about this story for the Celebrator Beer News, and two years later, in 2008, online under the title Dinosaur Beer, after it was reported in the Washington Post, with several errors and odd discrepancies. Here’s that story, from 2008:

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No, I don’t been those lumbering giants making flavorless beer-like industrial beverages which we all hope might one day become extinct, I’m talking about a beer made with roughly 45-million-year old yeast found in a bug entombed in amber, and extracted just like the plot of Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park. This time around, the story involves Fossil Fuels Brewing Co., whose owners include Dr. Raul J. Cano, the Emeritus Professor at Cal. Poly in San Luis Obispo who originally made the discovery. According to the story in today’s Washington Post, the breakthrough came last month.

“I was going through my collection, going, ‘Gee whiz — this is pretty nifty. Maybe we could use it to make beer,’ ” says Cano, 63, now the director of the Environmental Biotechnology Institute at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo.

Last month? Hold on just a second. First of all the article mentions the following:

In April, at the World Beer Cup in San Diego, “we had one judge give us the highest marks, one just below and one who didn’t like it,” says Chip Lambert, 63, the company’s other second microbiologist. “We learned that the issue was that in these competitions, you brew to match the traditional concept of the style, which these yeast just don’t do.”

Ignoring for the moment that the World Beer Cup isn’t judged like that (there are no “highest marks” or anything similar), the Washington Post published this article yesterday, September 1. That would mean the World Beer Cup took place five months ago, not to mention that to enter that competition you have to register and submit your beer well in advance of the actual judging. I’m not trying to quibble with the story, a least that wasn’t my original intent, but this just doesn’t add up. Last month? Setting all that aside for the moment, I wrote about this two years ago, when Stumptown Brewing, in Guernville, California, made a beer called Tyrannosaurus-Rat, also using Dr. Cano’s ancient yeast.

This is part of what I wrote in Fall of 2006 in the Celebrator Beer News, reviewing a beer and barbecue festival held along the Guernville River at Stumptown:

But as good as the barbecue was, I was there for the beer. I was particularly keen to try what Stumptown was billing as a beer made with the world’s oldest yeast. Their “Tyrannosaurus-Rat” — or T-Rat for short — was essentially their popular “Rat Bastard,” but brewed using yeast that was 30 million years-old, give or take a few million years! How it got to be in Stumptown’s beer is nearly as interesting as the beer itself. It was discovered in the Dominican Republic trapped inside of a bee that was also trapped inside of a piece of amber, a terrific preservative. And the bee had been there for somewhere between 25 and 40 million years. Dr. Raul J. Cano, Emeritus Professor at Cal. Poly in San Luis Obispo, made the discovery in 1995 and managed to extract living bacterium, including a few strains of yeast, directly from the bee’s stomach. The ancient microorganisms were patented and also inspired the movie “Jurassic Park II.” It fell into Stumptown’s lap during a ski trip where the Hackett’s met a friend of Dr. Cano, and the rest, as they say, is literally ancient history.

I tried the T-Rat alongside of its modern counterpart, Rat Bastard, as they were the same in all respects except for the yeast. The Rat Bastard is a well-made pale ale, with good aromas and a crisp, clean palate. It has a generous hop bite that finishes bitter, then drops off sharply in the end. The T-Rat was much smoother, with softer, fruity flavor characteristics and just a touch of lemony sweetness that wasn’t tart. The finish is quite clean, with just a quiet hop presence lingering. While they’re both good beers, I think the T-Rat has a more complex, developed taste profile but its smoothness makes it great. The fact that it was made with such an old yeast is fascinating and given how good the beer is, no mere novelty.

There are also other anomalies. In my story, which relied primarily on Stumptown’s information, the yeast was found in a bee from the Dominican Republic. The Washington Post account, however, lists the Lebanese weevil as the yeast carrier. On top of that Dr. George Poinar, who was also involved in finding and extracting the DNA from amber, says on his biography web page that its age was 125 million-years old.

And here is the original press release for Stumptown’s version of the beer, from June 27, 2006:

For the first time, 25-40 million year old yeast has been used to brew a commercial batch of beer (“Tyrannosaurus Rat”) to be made available to the public on July 8th at Stumptown Brewery (15045 River Rd. Guerneville, Ca.). Dr. Raul Cano, Lewis “Chip” Lambert, and Peter Hackett will be celebrating this historic event and available for questions from 11:00A.M. on Saturday July 8th.

The public tasting of the T-Rat is the culmination of coincidences that involved a 20-40 million-year old bee trapped in amber and discovered in the Dominican Republic, a pair of renowned scientists, a ski weekend and an award winning microbrewery.

Amber is nature’s perfect preservative. It desiccates its specimens and protects them from damaging radiation of all types. Man has successfully used it to preserve their dead for thousands of years; Nature has preserved many of its inhabitants, including the recently identified spider web, in their elegant tombs for tens of millions of years.

Dr. Raul J. Cano, Emeritus Professor at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, reported in Science (Volume 268, May 19, 1995) that he extracted a living bacterium from the gut of a stingless bee entombed in amber 25 – 40 million years ago. Independently, Lewis (Chip) Lambert, Fremont, CA, at the time Director of Pre-Clinical Research at a Bay Area biotech company, confirmed his work in a very skeptical scientific environment that has, for the most part, accepted its validity. In addition, Raul’s work became the underlying premise for the movie Jurassic Park.

The patented ancient microorganisms (USPO#5,593,883) became the focus of a new company based on the potential use of these microbial isolates for industrial and medical applications, and the hunt began. From the ancient-amber library came a few yeast strains and with them, the question, could they be used to make beer? The answer was a resounding yes as very good beer was brewed for the Jurassic Park II cast party and Raul’s daughter’s wedding reception.

After this initial success, Fossil Fuels Brewing Company was born with the motto “We bring good things back to life.” Using ancient yeasts that had all been thoroughly tested and selected for their beer-making properties, Fossil Fuels Brewing Co. planned to produce high quality distinctive beers with yeasts that had been isolated from amber.

The partners then proposed trials of these ancient yeasts to numerous microbreweries. Much to their surprise, in an industry that thrives on innovation, found a lack of enthusiasm among commercial breweries.

Fast forward a few years to the snowy slopes of Alpine Meadows where Carla Hackett was taking a ski lesson from Raul’s now friend and business partner, Chip. Carla had all the attributes of a great skier that her husband, an Aussie who owns the Stumptown Brewery in Guerneville, lacks. On the second, never the first, ride up the chair lift, an important relationship was established when the question was raised, “would you like to make some beer with some patented, 35-million year-old yeast?” The affirmative response started a brewing relationship between Stumptown Brewery and Environmental Diagnostics, Inc.

This random path led the ancient yeast to Stumptown Brewery on May 6th where Peter, Owner/Brewer, put the yeast to work. On June 21st came the news that “T-Rat” had finished fermenting and was conditioning. Perhaps most importantly, that it’s “very good, very unique. The yeast character is unusual, exotic, and very pronounced”.

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On page two of the Post piece they finally do mention Stumptown’s involvement. The new versions, which include a wheat beer and a pale ale, are made at Kelley Bros. Brewing, which is in Manteca, California. I really enjoyed the pale ale version that Stumptown brewed and will eagerly try these two new versions. But I’m still a bit bewildered by the discrepancies that seem to accompany this story. But I guess history itself is a lot like that, so maybe it’s fitting after all. I wonder what “Cheers” is in dinosaur-speak? “Here’s tar in your eye?”

Subsequent to that in 2008, I got a snarky e-mail from someone chastising me for not covering the story more, but I was unable to find out any new information. Supposedly Cano had set up a company to make the beer with the ancient yeast he discovered, Fossil Fuels Brewing Company, but the website has been static with no news for eight years.

In late 2008, this was posted on their website:

1. WHERE CAN I GET THE BEER?

The beer is available through two of our partners: Kelly Bros. Brewing Co. [now out of business] and Stumptown Brewery. Both breweries are located in beautiful Northern California. These are the ONLY locations as of right now that brew our beer and offer it on tap. The Fossil Fuels beer and atmosphere is always worth a road trip. (Make sure to leave room for the growlers on the way home).

2. WHEN IS THE BEER GOING TO BE DISTRIBUTED?

Rest assured we are working hard to spread our beer around the nation as soon as possible. As a young company the passion to bring our beer to you is immense but equally matched by legal restrictions, overhead, and distribution licenses.

3. IS THE BEER GOING TO BE BOTTLED?

The decision was made to pursue and distribute kegs to pubs and restaurants before we moved into bottling our beer. Luckily most of these vendors will have growlers for you to take home. Bottles are definitely in the works and we’ll make sure you know as soon as they are available.

4. CAN I HAVE A BOTTLE/KEG SHIPPED TO ME?

This is probably the most frequently asked question and the most painful to answer. The simple answer is no. It’s hard for us to reply this way, but it keeps us out of jail. As we grow the company new channels of distribution will allow us to legally distribute through the mail and over state and country lines (SGT Nuckols, Bart W.E. thanks for your service in Korea, we’re working on it). We are thrilled at the level of enthusiasm and interest from everyone and we are aware of all our supporters.

5. CAN I HAVE THE YEAST TO BREW MY OWN BEER?

Our unique yeast is what distinguishes us from every other beer on the planet. However, once the patents are complete and genetic markers have been placed in the ancient yeast, Fossil Fuels will be able to distribute the yeast to our fellow craft brewers (along with a confidentiality agreement, of course).

6. WILL YOU BE AT THE GABF?

Before we released the beer to the public we did enter the Great American Beer Festival (GABF). And, although receiving excellent marks (5/5 from some judges) our beer was a victim of its own uniqueness. We entered our extra-pale ale style beer, but due to its distinct taste profile, it did not fit with more common styles of beer. The assigned “experimental” category was full of chocolate, pumpkin and other bizarre flavors. Fossil Fuels is definitely distinct but in it’s own unique way. After seeing the results of the last competition, the decision was made to forego the GABF for the time being. However, we will be attending other brew fests, competitions and festivals in the future and hope to raise a pint with you.

Pint glasses full of Fossil Fuels Beer are raising eyebrows around northern California. This could be due to the fact that the unique ingredient for the line of Fossil Fuels beer is a yeast strain dating back to the Eocene Epoch, which is about 45 million years ago. A team of scientists, Dr. Raul Cano (Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, CA) and Lewis “Chip” Lambert (Fremont, CA), are partnering with brew masters Peter Hackett (Stumptown Brewery, Guerneville, CA), Joe Kelley (Kelley Bros. Brewing, Manteca, CA) and attorney Scott Bonzell (Oakland, CA) to produce what is surely one of the most interesting and unique beers of this or any time. With the green light from beer critics, brewers and end consumers alike, the team that comprises Fossil Fuels Brewing Co. is gearing up to share the product with the public in the summer of 2008.

The history of the yeast literally dates back before the dawn of man, to a time when the earth was warm, tropical and teeming with life. Modern mammals that we see today were beginning to appear in what is known as the Eocene epoch (from the Greek word eos meaning “dawn”). During this time, a snapshot of biological life was trapped by tropical tree sap. Over the course of millions of years, the sap hardened into amber, which preserved and protected its contents. That is, until Dr. Cano, using amber obtained from locations around the world (including Burma, Central and North America), isolated and revived a bacterium, which had lain dormant in the gut of an encased bee for approximately 40 million years (Science 268, pp. 1060-1064, 1995). During his research, Dr. Cano, periodically working with Mr. Lambert, isolated a few yeast strains that resembled modern Saccharomyces cerevisiae. In other words, they are similar to the yeast we use every day for brewing and baking, except the newly discovered yeasts were much further back in the evolutionary chain. Essentially, Dr. Cano isolated the long lost ancestors of modern brewing yeast.

Through chance and circumstance, a small group of people teamed up to form Fossil Fuels Brewing Co., which is utilizing the unique yeast strains to brew exceptional beer. Although not widely publicized, last summer a select few northern Californians had the opportunity to try some of the pilot brews and they raved about new (old?) pale ale. Jay R. Brooks, the tasting director of the exalted Celebrator Beer News Magazine commented when comparing the Fossil Fuels brew to an identical pale ale differing only in the strain of yeast (Celebrator, October/November 2006, pp:27-29):

[Fossil Fuels] is smoother, with softer fruity flavor characteristics and just a touch of lemony sweetness that isn’t tart…It has a more complex and well-developed taste profile, and its smoothness makes it great. The fact it is made with such old yeast is fascinating, and given how good the beer is, no mere novelty.

Peter Hackett, long time pub owner and award winning brew master called Fossil Fuels:

A remarkably unique beer that tastes like nothing I’ve ever had before, in a very good way.

Fossil Fuels Brewing Co. hosted a launch party at Kelly Brothers Brewing Co. in Manteca California July 26, 2008 to commence the release of their new beer brewed with its truly remarkable yeast to the public.

The following year, the website changed to a story format, which is what remained there online for a few years, changing once more to a more streamlined tale. Last fall, the site went down, but more recently it’s the current streamlined version, but there’s virtually no information there now, though you can sign up to “be the first to know when something awesome happens,” which seems optimistic, but who knows. The beer I had using the yeast was interesting, but I’m not sure it’s enough to build a successful business around, especially in the competitive market of today. I’ll be happy to be proved wrong, but only time will tell. With the recent changes to the site, maybe they are finally ready to launch it again.

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Patent No. 918096A: Apparatus For Separating And Washing Yeast

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Today in 1909, US Patent 918096 A was issued, an invention of Otto Selg and Carl Guntrum, assigned to Selg Brewery Apparatus Co., for their “Apparatus For Separating and Washing Yeast.” There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes this summary:

This invention relates to improved means for washing yeast and separating the lighter particles and impure matter from the pure heavy particles in a quick, simple and efficient manner.

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Patent No. CA2133272A1: Preparation Of Beer, Probably Samuel Adams Triple Bock

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Today in 1995, CA 2133272 A1 was issued, an invention of Charles J. Koch, though the “Applicant” is listed as Charles J. Koch, Boston Beer Company Limited Partnership D/B/A Boston Beer Company (The), A Massachusetts Partnership; General Partner, Boston Brewing Company, Inc., for his “Preparation Of Beer.” Here’s the Abstract:

High alcohol beer having a full, round flavor is prepared by employing as the yeast a wine or champagne yeast, and a sweetened wort.

While I can’t be sure, I think this is essentially for Samuel Adams’ Triple Bock, which was first released in 1994. While the patent wasn’t granted until 1995, it was filed in the fall of 1994, but the “priority date” listed is October 6, 1993. The “inventor” listed is Charles J. Koch, who was Jim Koch’s father, although under “applicant” the Boston Beer Co. is also listed. In addition, I recall Jim explaining that it was in fact Champagne yeast that was used to create the beer. So it certainly seems likely that they patented the process used to make that unique beer. I still have a few bottles of it in my cellar though the last couple I opened tasted a lot like soy sauce. To be fair, the bottles that were opened during an anniversary dinner that I was lucky enough to attend in Boston Beer Co.’s barrel room a few years ago were tasting quite good. Although the OCR errors make it difficult reading, it’s still interesting to see the thought process and how they went about it laid out. I may have to open another bottle soon.

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Patent No. EP1412490A4: Mediating The Effects Of Alcohol Consumption By Orally Administering Active Dry Yeast

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Today in 2005, US Patent EP 1412490 A4 was issued, an invention of Joe Owades, for his “Mediating the Effects of Alcohol Consumption by Orally Administering Active Dry Yeast.” It seems to be virtually identical to Patent No. 2452476A1: Mediating The Effects Of Alcohol Consumption By Orally Administering Active Dry Yeast, which was issued to Owades two years before, on January 23, 2003. So if you’re feeling a sense of déjà vu, it’s not you. Here’s the short Abstract from the previous one. “A process for lowering blood alcohol levels in humans after they imbibe alcoholic beverages by administering active dry yeast before or concomitantly with the imbibing of the beverages.”

This is most likely the origin of the hangover prevention that Jim Koch, from the Boston Beer Co., has popularized over the years, but especially after Esquire magazine ran an article about it last April, How to Drink All Night Without Getting Drunk.

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The story got picked up by NPR, Serious Eats and even Snopes took a look at it.

But I’d actually heard Jim tell the story a couple of times at various events, most recently at a beer dinner last year at the Jamaica Plain brewery in Boston celebrating the 30th anniversary of Samuel Adams.

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In telling the story, Jim did, of course, mention that the idea came from Joe Owades, who had worked as a consultant with the Boston Beer Co. since the very beginning, and off and on thereafter. But I don’t think I’d realized before now that Joe had actually patented the idea.

The claim in the patent application describes it in a nutshell. “A method of mediating the effect of alcohol consumption by a person which comprises orally administering active dry yeast containing alcohol dehydrogenase to said person prior to or simultaneously with consumption of an alcohol-containing beverage, whereby to oxidize a portion of the alcohol while still in the stomach of said person.” His own testing of the method, shown in the figures below, found that “blood alcohol level-min. was reduced by 38% by the yeast.”

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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. 6326185B1: Method For Decontaminating Yeast

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Today in 2001, US Patent 6326185 B1 was issued, an invention of Michael C. Barney, Kathleen M. Carrick, Alfonso Navarro, and David S. Ryder, assigned to Miller Brewing Company, for their “Method For Decontaminating Yeast.” Here’s the Abstract:

An improved method for reducing colony forming units bacteria in yeast is disclosed. The method involves contacting the yeast with a hop acid in an amount sufficient to give a final concentration of the hop acid of at least about 40 ppm.

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Patent No. 20140234480A1: Enhancement Of Beer Flavor By A Combination Of Pichia Yeast And Different Hop Varieties

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Today in 2014, US Patent 20140234480 A1 was issued, an invention of Sofie Sarens and Jan Hendrik Swiegers, assigned to Chr. Hansen A/S, for their “Enhancement of Beer Flavor by a Combination of Pichia Yeast And Different Hop Varieties.” Here’s the Abstract:

In the beer fermentation process, Pichia spp. yeast strains can be combined with normal beer yeast strains and with different hop varieties to produce synergistic effects, including the increased production in the fermentation product of esters, e.g., increased levels of isoamyl acetate, isobutyl acetate, ethyl propionate, ethyl valerate, ethyl butyrate, ethyl decanoate, and ethyl octanoate. Additionally, the Pichia spp. strain interacts differently with different hop varieties, such that the flavor profile of beer can be tuned by employing different combinations of Pichia spp. strains and hops.

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