Joseph Bramah and his beer engine

Who was Joseph Bramah and what he had in common with beer?
Today, a few words about pumping.


At the outset, I cordially invite you to read the previous two posts for Real Ale: What is Real Ale? and Cask vs. fastcask.
I placed there a definition of “real ale”, which must fulfill the conditions of such a beer, and I discussed the advantages and problems associated with the barrels (casks) and how to proceed with casks in pubs.

Today’s post is a continuation of this theme. I decided to put some information concerning the dosing of beer in a pub, that is, to put it simply – how ale is poured from cask into a glass.

Anyone who has ever visited a British pub seen how the beer is poured by the bartender.
A common use for this is hand pump, by means of which ale is poured. As a result, we get a full pint of beer with a beautiful cap of foam.

However, not everyone knows what is the history of the origin of such a pump and how it works. And I think that every fan of beer, especially visiting pubs, should something about it to know.


The history of beer pump has a beginning … attention, attention … in Barnsley!
Yes, indeed, I currently live in the city, where was born in 1748 – Joseph Bramah, English inventor.


Joseph Bramah

His education began near Barnsley, then he moved to London, where he developed and patented a number of completely novel inventions.

He started with that he improved existing toilets where the water had a tendency to freeze during the winter. In 1778, he patented a flushing toilet, which was producing in his own plant and flush according to his project were produced even in the nineteenth century.

Then he took up the subject of door locks.
Joseph Bramah designed, patented and implemented to produce its own lock, which become famous as the safest, based all attempts to break.

He patented also for example: hydraulic press, rotary engine, fire engine with a water pump, a machine for printing and automatic numbering of banknotes, fountain pen, machinery for making gun stocks and much more..

Joseph Bramah is really a very interesting figure, worthy of more detailed cognition.



Well, but we are interested in most of his two constructions: patented in 1785 beer pump and its enhanced version of 1793, so-called beer engine.
To be honest to the end, should be mentioned here that such a pump was invented in 1688 by a man named John Lofting – Dutchman from Amsterdam, who moved then to London. However, it was Joseph Bramah refined the invention, patented it and propagated.


beer pump


Pump, which we see in a British pub is mounted on the bar desktop and has a handle fitted with a pump clip with the name of the beer.
Pump is connected through a pipe with cask, which is usually located in the basement of the pub.

The beer is poured through a curved spout – swan neck, which is often additionally provided with a tip with a small holes, so-called sparkler, whereby the beer foams up and the result is a beautiful foam on the surface.

It should be added that a sparkler is not always met with enthusiasm.
With it, the beer is more aerated but loses part of the natural carbon dioxide that goes into foam. Beer is therefore softer and has sweeter flavour due to the loss of normal CO2 acidity. Opponents of the sparkler claim that it has an impact on aroma and flavour – reduces the intensity, especially of the hops, in some beers.



beer engine & swan neck


And something else, such a small curiosity…
In Barnsley, hometown of Joseph Bramah, there is a pub opened in 2006, which bears the name… Joseph Bramah.
It is located right next to visited by me pub Old No.7.
The memory of this inventor is still so alive.


Joseph Bramah - pub in Barnsley




I conclude on this today’s post.
But I think that to this subject I will return soon, because it is worth looking more closely at how the beer is dispensed from the kegs – also commonly present in pubs, and the case of dosing looks a bit different there.

I also invite you to the next post in which I describe the effect of another tasting.
See you!


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

eighteen − 13 =

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.