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Inventions and Making Beer


Today is the birthday of Albert Hoiland, a settler and inventor who was born in 1860. By age 44, Hoiland had quit farming to go into the windmill business in Nome, North Dakota, selling pumps, pipes, tanks, feed grinders and other related items.

In 1908, he started selling cars, including the Hudson-Essex. In 1911, he invented a radiator piece for that model known as the Hudson-Essex shutter. The next year, he invented the Hoiland Wild Oat Separator. Three years later, he rented out his house in Nome and moved to Fargo, where he invented a smut-treating machine.

Hoiland grew up in a large Norwegian family that moved around quite a bit. His mother and father had come over in 1848 and headed for Chicago where, it turned out, the city was in the midst of the a cholera epidemic. His father was a skilled carpenter and soon had a steady job making coffins. After a number of months, the couple started moving around. They would buy a tract of land, build on it and sell it, each time improving their circumstances. While Aadne worked as a carpenter, Johanna had babies.

In 1852, they moved to Rushford, MN, where Aadne helped build a flourmill in which he could apply his trade as a millwright. When the Civil War broke out, Hoiland was drafted, but his boss didn’t want to lose him, so he hired a man to take Hoiland’s place in the army.

Meanwhile, Hoiland was also building up a farm on which he grew hops. The beer brewing industry was flourishing, and growing hops was quite profitable. At harvest time, Hoiland had as many as 30 women and girls working for him.

Then, Hoiland got Dakota fever. By 1879, the couple, their 10 children, Johanna’s mother and two hired men had moved to a homestead near Valley City. Aadne had been doing so well that he was able to pay cash for 640 acres at $2.50 an acre, as well as stake a land claim. Using skill and frugality, the household thrived.

One of the things Aadne did on his new farm was use his knowledge of hops. Son Albert wrote: “Malt for beer brewing was prepared by putting one bushel of barley in a grain sack (which was) tied shut, fastened to a rope and submerged in the Sheyenne River...for three days. This soaking so swelled the barley that it made a whole sackful. Clean (cloth was) now spread on the upstairs’ floor when it was warm. The barley was spread on the cloth about three inches thick to sprout...”

When they were about an inch long, the sprouts were put in the oven to dry. “Care had to be taken...,” wrote Albert, “so that the barley did not burn, which would give a bitter taste... The dry barley, sprouts and all, was then coarsely ground on a common feedmill in Valley City.”

Hoiland then put his malting barley in clean oak barrels, which he filled to the top with boiling water. After six hours, the liquid was drained off and brought to a boil on the stove. To that, Aadne added a three-inch layer of hops, which he strained out after 30 minutes. From there, the boiling liquid went into a second barrel, and brewing yeast was added. After it cooled, he poured the mix into beer kegs – uncorked – for three weeks.

Albert wrote, “The beer was then ready to be served. It made a wholesome refreshing drink, especially in the summer, for it corrected the reactionary effect of the river water.”

Dakota Datebook written by Merry Helm