To Make Beer Without Any Alcohol

Prohibition wouldn’t make its way into the Constitution for another nine years, but the movement already had momentum. There was a Prohibition political party, and in the 1850s thirteen states had passed laws prohibiting alcohol. Those experiments were not popular.

So is it a blessing or a curse that someone figured out how to make non-alcoholic beer?

“Mr. Overback [of the Criterion Restaurant] said that last year he discovered that he could drive carbonic acid gas produced from soda and sulphuric acid — therefore not fermentation gas with ethers or alcohol — through beer when he raised the temperature to above 70 degrees Fahrenheit, and that the gas contained traces of alcohol as it escaped after having been driven through the beer in such conditions that the latter was converted into froth. When the temperature of the beer was raised to 120 degrees Fahrenheit, and carbonic acid gas was driven through it, the percentage of alcoholic content becomes constantly less until the liquid might be made absolutely alcohol free.

“Before these experiments were made it was considered absolutely impossible to abstract alcohol from beer without placing that liquid under such conditions that it could not reasonably be hoped to continue the fermentation afterward on account of the heat required to separate the noxious excreta or alcohol. By the above-mentioned process he dealcoholized absolutely brilliant beer free from all except ultra-microscopical traces of yeast, and he continued the process by carbonic acid gas at 120 degrees Fahrenheit until the percentage of alcohol in the beer had been lowered from above 4 per cent to .2 absolute.”

This scientific breakthrough reached its ultimate pinnacle in 1992, when pranksters at Princeton threw a keg party and served non-alcoholic beer instead of the real deal, without telling anybody. Hilarity ensued.


From March 5, 1911

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