The Pfaudler Vacuum Fermentation Company – General Interest
By Ed Vidunas, Pittsburgh, Pa. 15203
July 25, 2020

Casper Pfaudler
Casper Pfaudler was born in Oberkochen, Germany on April 4, 1861. In 1865 his mother, Barbara, and father, Michael, along with their three sons, Charles, John and Casper arrived in America. Michael was in the brewing industry in Germany and continued in the busines in America.

In 1889 after throwing in the towel from fighting the temperance movement, he sold to British capitalists for $3.5 million. He then moved back to Germany. Casper died on June 7, 1889 in Buffalo, New York. He was
Brewmaster of the Buffalo Cooperative Brewing Co. of Buffalo, NY. Prior to that he was an apprentice at the Bartholomay Brewery. Some trade magazines in the 1900’s have identified Casper as a machinist, which may not be true. I cannot find a brewery with his name attached to it.

Conflict with place of death
Blake McKelvey writes in Rochester On the Genesee: The Growth of a City, Second Edition, Syracuse University Press, Sep 1, 1993, page 105 that Casper sold to the British and moved to Germany. Find a Grave has his death in Buffalo. One Hundred Years of Brewing also has him dying at his home in Buffalo.

The Company
The company was started in 1884 by Casper Pfaudler, a German brew master in Rochester, NY. He invented a process of fermenting beer in a glass lined vessel under a vacuum. The first plant was erected on West Avenue in Rochester in 1903. A second plant was built in 1907 in Schwetzingen, Germany. The Detroit plant was built in 1889.

The company sold its tanks and equipment entirely to the brewing industry until the passage in 1906 of Food and Drug laws. Industries such as dairy required sanitary equipment. The glass-lined tanks offered an alternative to cast iron products. With its business expanding in the food, drug and dairy companies it was able to withstand the effects of prohibition.

The Company Forms after the death of Pfaudler
Yes. He died in 1889 after selling the company. James Sargent bought the company

The Process
Casper invented the process of using vacuumed vessels to ferment wort but never lived long enough to see it in practical operation. He knew what had to be done but building equipment never before constructed proved a challenge. James Sargent perfected the method process of manufacturing glass-lined tanks. The patent was re-issued to Sargent who formed the Pfaudler Vacuum Fermentation Company in 1884.

Herman Wiley Ronnenberg, author of
Material Culture of Breweries, Routledge, Jun 16, 2016, describes the process on page 33. Wort is fermented in a tank having a partial vacuum and having sterilized air injected from time to time. The enclosed tanks being glass-lined helps prevent contamination. Ronnenberg writes the ale fermented in five to ten days and lager took fifteen to twenty-two days. Ronnenberg did not address the issue of cooling the wort in an enclosed vessel. Not only were the tanks glass-lined but so were the pipes ad fittings.

This is a great article of glass-lined equipment in brewing. It was read at a meeting of the
Midland Counties Section held at the White Horse Hotel, Congreve Street, Birmingham, 2 May 1935. It is very detailed in the manufacturing of the tanks, pipes and fittings. It is interesting to see (on page 406) that tanks were built to withstand a specific pressure and if the brewer used a higher pressure the tank would deform due to the steel tank wall thickness. Reading through the paper one can see that manufacturing these tanks were laborious and costly. Page 404 mentions Casper Pfaudler.

The process did not last as evident by the fact no brewer is using this process today. The
American Chemical Review, Volume 4, said in a reader’s request to review the process that “We have had no occasion to examine the apparatus in question, but from what we hear about it, it appears to be of doubtful value.”. Yes, the process is kaput but the use of glass-lined vessels transformed America’s food ad drug manufacturing. For that we give Casper Pfaulder a salute.

Scientific American, Volume 61, Scientific American, Incorporated, 1889 has a nice story on the company and process including an illustration. It needs to be enlarged ad may be hard to read.

Of further interest: The
History of the Brewing and Liquor Industry in Rochester, published in 1907. Page 12 calls out the Lutz Brewery in Pittsburgh.

The Patent
Seibel, J. E. editor, American Chemical Review, Volume 5, 1885, page 62 identified the patent to Casper Pfaudler. US Patent 318,793 granted on May 26, 1885.

A temporary injunction was served to the New Pfaudler Company of Rochester, NY, against James Sargent ad Casper Pfaudler restraining the defendants from using, selling, or in any manner interfering with the Casper Pfaudler Patents claimed to be the property of the plaintiffs. This was published I the
American Chemical Review, Volume 4, J.E. Siebel, 1884 on page 72. I do not know who the plaintiff was but it could have been Henry Bartholomay as he was trying to gain control of Casper’s patent as noted in Rochester on the Genesee. In 1889 an appeal was heard in Pfaudler Process Fermentation Co. v. Smith.

Pfaudler Process Fermentation Co. v. McPherson, 3 N.Y.S. 609 (1889)