...his contributions to the world are vast :cry:
A funeral will be held today for Joseph L. Owades, the "godfather of the brewing industry," who invented light beer and ushered in the age of the micro-brewery in America.
A shy man until the subject of beer came up, he helped turn the beer-making backwater that America had become after Prohibition into a kind of sanctuary for suds aficionados. A nationally known brewmaster, he trained virtually every brewer of note in the country, and developed the formulas for many of the nation's leading beers, including Samuel Adams Boston Lager.
It was at Rheingold where Mr. Owades finally applied his college training to his profession, developing a process to remove the starch from beer, making it lower in carbohydrates and calories and, thus, cholesterol.
The new beer was called Gablinger's, which became a product of Meister Brau, all of which was eventually purchased by the Miller Brewing Co. Miller Lite was made famous by the company's "tastes great, less filling" advertising campaign, but it was exactly the same product that Mr. Owades had invented in his laboratory years before.
Mr. Owades also worked in Athens, Greece, for the K. Fix Brewing Company, for Anheuser-Busch in St. Louis and the Carling Brewing in Boston before starting his own consulting firm in 1975, helping both Miller and Budweiser develop beer. He moved to San Francisco's Russian Hill in 1982 after his wife sold a mail-order catalog business she had founded to Williams-Sonoma. The couple also bought a home in Sonoma.
As a Bay Area resident, Mr. Owades became the guru of the microbrewing industry, creating the formulas for Samuel Adams, Tuborg, New Amsterdam Beer, Pete's Wicked Ale and Foggy Bottom Beer, among others. Rheingold Beer, which was the first and last beer to be brewed in New York City, resurrected the brand several years ago, hiring Mr. Owades to re-create the flavor he invented some 40 years before.
In 1992, he created a beer made with the herbal root ginseng. Called Yen Sum beer, the concoction was eventually bought by a beer distributor and is no longer on the market.
He taught courses called "Art and Science of Brewing" and "All About Beer" at San Francisco's Anchor Brewing Co. until his death.
"Every brewery that existed, he worked with and taught their masters how to brew," said his widow. "He was called 'the godfather of the brewing industry.' "
In Sonoma, he was exposed to wine making and, his wife said, he was such a good chemist that he was soon in demand from winemakers.
Although he liked wine, beer -- with its complex mix of yeast, hops and malt -- was much more fascinating to him, said his wife, because all the chemistry in wine is contained in the grapes.
In fact, in a 1992 interview with The Chronicle, Mr. Owades said: "The making of wine does not require the skills of a biochemist."
Mr. Owades wrote the section on beer and the human response to alcohol in the Encyclopedia of Food, Science and Technology. He held 25 patents and wrote more than 50 technical papers on beer and brewing.
Among his other inventions is Prequel®, a safe, all-natural pill that, when taken before drinking, reduces the effects of alcohol. His wife once asked him why all the competing beer companies that he worked for trusted him.
"I know their secrets, but I would never tell them to anyone else," he told her. "They know that and that's why they trust me.
"When he died," she said, "he took those secrets with him."
In addition to his wife, he is survived by sons Stephen of Cambridge, Mass., and William, of New Rochelle, N.Y.; and a brother, Henry of Norwalk, Conn.
The funeral will be held at 11 a.m. today at Congregation Emanu-El, 2 Lake St. at Arguello, in San Francisco. He will be buried at Home of Peace Cemetery, in Colma.