Necessity (sort of) is the mother of beer invention

FROM TIME to time, I like to check in with the U.S. Patent Office for a progress report on the exciting field of beer inventions.

Over the years, we’ve seen brilliant ideas, ranging from tooth protectors on beer bottles to beer pong tables that keep your beer cold. Honestly, if we could channel some of that ingenuity into, say, theoretical aerodynamics, we’d have those rocket packs by now.

So, what’s new? Here’s a handful of recent patent applications.

Shotgun Accessible Beer Can (#2015-0183547).

While this is not the first invention to improve chugging (see “Compartmented fluid dispensing apparatus” a/k/a beer bong), it is the first to claim that it reduces the risk of injury.

Shotgunning, for those who’ve managed to forget [Editor’s Note: or to avoid] fraternity hazing rituals, involves puncturing a can at the bottom, putting it in the mouth, then opening the flip top for a quick gush of suds. It can get messy, and a bit gory if you cut your tongue on the jagged edge of the punctured opening.

An easily opened perforated slot at the base of the can solves that problem. No more blood.

Bottles with Means to Prevent Gushing (#2015-0197371).

Don’t you just hate it when some joker clinks the top of your longneck bottle, forcing an explosion of foam onto your lap?

Scientists at Belgium’s University of Leuven hate it, too. Their solution: a thin film of molecules, called hydrophobes, that repel liquid. Sprayed on the inside of bottles, this film makes it impossible for bubbles to form on the neck.

No more wet pants!

System of Illuminated Tap Handles (#2015-0146412).

The so-called IllumiTap – a tap handle lit with LEDs – has been around for a few years. But now the company behind the invention has made them interactive.

Using a simple Bluetooth connection, beer-drinkers can receive text messages from the tap handles. That’s right, instead of a bartender patiently telling you that it’s a barrel-aged Russian imperial stout with a hint of vanilla, the tap handle can now share tasting notes.

You might think this is a dandy advance . . . until Judgment Day, when all our tap handles are controlled by Skynet.

Bottle Opener On Wrist (#2015-0114184).

The beer opener, I’ve argued, is the single most important invention in the history of beer. Of course, this argument also has gotten me tossed out of otherwise reputable bars, so my theory hasn’t exactly survived peer review.

Nonetheless, the inventor of this handy opener emphatically notes that bartenders frequently drop their hand-held openers “and because bars are dark, finding them on the floor was a time-consuming and annoying hassle. “

The solution? No, not a surgically embedded church key (though, tell me that wouldn’t be cool). This invention is an opener attached to a leather strap and then worn on the wrist. Somehow, you (oomph!) twist your wrist to (ugh!) pop off the cap.

The line for carpal tunnel lawsuits forms on the left.

Pedal-Powered Brewing System (#2015-0075386).

Sounds like someone has been watching too many episodes of “Gilligan’s Island. ” Pedaling a bike to generate electricity? That’s like whittling sticks to start a fire.

Those who are happily connected to the grid will laugh this one off – but the inventor offers an entrepreneurial twist. His idea is to line up bikes in a microbrewery, get customers to pedal like mad and then pay them back in the form of the beer they’ve helped brew.

The hell with that. I say this is contraption is the perfect opportunity for cheater Lance Armstrong to finally pay his debt to society.

Beer Pong (various, including #2014-0265136, #907087B2, #2014-0252718).

Who says tossing ping-pong balls into cups is a waste of tuition? College freshmen have submitted dozens of patent applications for various beer pong inventions. Among them:

– A tilted game table. Instead of arranging the cups on a flat surface, this device pivots the cups upward, like a skee-ball game.

– A device for adjusting the circumference of smaller cups to rest in larger cups. With this handy invention, you can fit a smaller Jell-O shot into a wider (and easier to hit) 16-ounce red Solo cup.

– A modular table. It’s a beer pong table that can fit into a briefcase . . . no doubt invented by a law-school student aiming for a summer internship. Bonus: It floats.


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