Inventions in Everything: The Beerbrella

With record hot temperatures this summer, the IIE team has been inspired to seek out inventions that promise to deliver the one thing many on the team crave this time of year: a cool, refreshing beverage!

Better still, what we want is something that will help keep our canned or bottled beverage cool enough, long enough so we can enjoy consuming its contents at a leisurely pace. Because when it is as hot as it has been, the last thing we want to do is expend more energy to consume our drink of choice at a rushed pace before it gets too warm to be worth consuming.

That brings us to today's featured invention, for which inventors Mason McMullin, Robert Bell, and Mark See were issued U.S. Patent 6,637,447 on 28 October 2003. Here's Figure 1 from the patent, which illustrates not just what the invention is, but also acts as an instruction manual for how to install it in the field, so to speak.

U.S. Patent 6,637,447 Figure 1

In case it is not clear from the figure, here is the description of the invention from the patent's abstract:

The present invention provides a small umbrella ("Beerbrella") which may be removably attached to a beverage container in order to shade the beverage container from the direct rays of the sun. The apparatus comprises a small umbrella approximately five to seven inches in diameter, although other appropriate sizes may be used within the spirit and scope of the present invention. Suitable advertising and/or logos may be applied to the umbrella surface for promotional purposes. The umbrella may be attached to the beverage container by any one of a number of means, including clip, strap, cup, foam insulator, or as a coaster or the like. The umbrella shaft may be provided with a pivot to allow the umbrella to be suitably angled to shield the sun or for aesthetic purposes. In one embodiment, a pivot joint and counterweight may be provided to allow the umbrella to pivot out of the way when the user drinks from the container.

That latter capability is key, because otherwise, one would have to expend excess energy to constant detach and reattach the invention while drinking.

At this point, you might think an invention like the Beerbrella is somewhat redundant. After all, haven't there been any number of inventions whose purpose is to keep a can or bottle of beer colder for longer after being removed from a refrigerated environment through the miracle of insulation?

Alas not, according to the Beerbrella's inventors, who describe where previous inventions have fallen short by providing incomplete coverage.

For example, the popular insulated beverage sleeve known as a "coozie" may be provided, manufactured of soft expanded polyurethane foam. These beverage sleeves are typically provided with an applied graphic advertising a beverage brand or the name of the company giving away the device as a promotion. A can, glass, or bottle may be inserted into the sleeve. The sleeve acts as an insulator to prevent ambient heat as well as heat from the user's hands, from warming the beverage.

Similar devices are known for use specifically with bottles beverages. In this variation, a tailored expanded polyurethane jacket may be provided, replete with zipper, to encapsulate substantially all of a bottle.

Various devices are known for supporting beverages, such as coasters and the like as well as beverage stands, trays, and supports. One example is illustrated in Foley et al., U.S. Pat. No. 5,823,496, issued Oct. 20, 1998 and incorporated herein by reference. Foley provides an outdoor stand with a stake or pole which may be inserted into the ground to support a beverage container.

Similia, U.S. Pat. No. 4,638,645, issued Jan. 27, 1987 and incorporated herein by reference, discloses a beverage container cooler for receiving a single beverage container (e.g., can) and providing a location for ice or the like to cool the beverage.

One problem with these Prior Art devices is that although they do provide insulation for beverages, they do not shield the beverage from the direct rays of the sun. A beverage left out in the sun, even if insulated or cooled with ice, quickly warms due to the effect of the intense infrared radiation from the sun, particularly on hot, sunny summer days.

Thus, it remains a requirement in the art to provide a means for shielding a beverage from direct sunlight.

They convinced a U.S. patent examiner with this irrefutable logic, who proceeded to award them with a U.S. patent for their invention of the Beerbrella.

Unfortunately, we could find no examples of where the Beerbrella could be purchased today, over 17 years after its patent was issued. It would appear consumers have settled on the alternative strategy of simply drinking their beverages slightly faster whenever their drinks are at risk of becoming too warm for optimal consumption when exposed to direct sunlight.

From the Inventions in Everything Archives

The IIE team has previously covered the following related inventions: