Methods of Making Beer – Brewing Techniques
Patenting Methods of Making Beer
New methods of making beer are patentable. We recently posted an article about opportunities for patenting new beer varieties as compositions of matter. In addition to claiming the new beer as a composition of matter, the brewer could also patent methods of making beer. Given the number of variables in beer making (selecting ingredients, selecting quantities, temperature, mixing, timing, yeasts, etc.), the brewing art is open to a wide variety of improvements in techniques. As discussed below, inventing new brewing methods may also give rise to new devices for making beer.
As a rough guide, a new brewing method could be patentable if it deviates from the accepted methods in the craft. A new method should subert and influence the tradition of brewing. A patentable method of brewing beer should involve doing something different during the brewing process that no one else has ever done before. As Sam Calagione (owner of the Dogfish Brewery) describes it, the technique should “push the envelope” or “stretch the boundaries of the definition of good beer.”
Below, are two examples of inventive methods of making beer: Continuous Hopping and Real Time Hopping. Both were pioneered by Mr. Calagione, who aims to make “off-centered ales for off-centered people.” His dedication to “not brew beers that maintain the status quo” has led to much innovation in beers, brewing techniques, and brewing apparatus.
Continuous Hopping Invention
Continuous hopping illustrates one recent advance in brewing techniques. In 2001, Dogfish Head introduced the world it’s “continuously hopping” technique with the release of it’s “90 Minute” IPA.
At the time, continuously hopping a beer was a dramatic deviation from the traditional brewing methods. Brewers added their hops at the beginning and end of the boil phase of brewing. Contrary to conventional wisdom, Mr. Calagione invented a brewing process, which continuously added hops to the beer, adding hops continuously throughout the boil.
Real Time Hopping Invention
“Real time hopping” represents another recent advance in brewing methods. According to Sam Calagione, real time hopping is a “method in which you add hop character to the beer at the point that you are actually serving it.” Real time hopping only works when the beer is being served through a tap. It requires a special device, called an organoleptic hop transducer.
According to their webpage, “Randall, a true Dogfish Head invention, is an organoleptic hop transducer module. What’s that you say? A double-chamber filter that you connect to a tap of your favorite beer and fill with flavor-enhancing ingredients.”
New Brewing Methods Gives Rise to New Devices
Notably, in each of the above new methods for making beer, the brewer also invented a new piece of brewing apparatus. That new devices would be considered a separate invention. For example, the inventor could have pursued patent coverage for both (1) Randall, the Enamel Animal and also (2) methods of infusing hop character into beer. The inventor would have needed to claim the invention within one year of disclosing it to the public. According to the USPTO database, Mr. Calagione did not pursue either route. (He is not listed as an inventor on any US patents or applications). Accordingly, it appears that Mr. Calagione has generously dedicated his innovations to the good of all brewers.