Micro pioneer dies

After inventing light beer, Joe Owades helped develop many top specialty brands

Dec 20, 2005 - Microbrewing pioneer Joseph L. Owades, the biochemist credited with inventing light beer, died at age 86. Owades created the recipes for several leading specialty brands, including Samuel Adams Boston Lager.


Born July 9, 1919, in New York City to immigrant parents from the Ukraine, Owades developed an interest in chemistry as a youth.

After receiving a doctorate in biochemistry from Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute in 1950, he took a job in fermentation science and began developing yeast for use in food and beverages, eventually developing a process to remove starch from beer, making it lower in carbohydrates and calories.

After stints working for several beer companies, and running a consulting firm helping both Miller and Budweiser develop beer, he moved to the San Francisco Bay area in 1982 with his wife, Ruth, and became a pioneer in the microbrewing industry.

He is credited with creating the formulas for Samuel Adams, New Amsterdam Beer, Pete's Wicked Ale and Foggy Bottom Beer, among others.

"Every brewery that existed, he worked with and taught their masters how to brew," his widow said. "He was called 'the godfather of the brewing industry.'"

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