Brewing with AI – what does that mean for the industry? Does it involve incalculable risks or unimagined opportunities when brewing processes are controlled by means of artificial intelligence? We explain why brewing beer with AI should not be a nightmare and why robots can never replace a master brewer.
What is artificial intelligence?
Artificial intelligence is the ability of a machine to mimic human abilities such as reasoning, learning, planning, and creativity. AI enables technical systems to perceive their environment, deal with what they perceive, and solve problems to achieve a specific goal. The computer receives data, processes it, and responds. AI systems are able to adapt their actions by analyzing the consequences of previous actions and working autonomously.
To what extent can AI be used in beer brewing?
Brewing beer is a complex process. The most important factor is the composition of the raw materials – primarily malt, hops and water. However, temperatures and times, such as when the hops are boiled, as well as resting temperatures and times also have an influence on the end product. In order to facilitate processes, an AI software is fed with a great deal of this data in the form of beer recipes. It is programmed to recognize patterns and regularities that are repeated in the beer recipes. It can therefore determine how a beer must be put together in order for it to “taste” good. At the same time, it is able to derive solutions from this. Among other things, this means it learns how best to combine different types of malt and hops and is able to generate new recipes as a result.
Breewing beer with AI: Switzerland as a pioneer
What experiences do we already have with this?
Around the world, experts have been tinkering for several years with solutions for how artificial intelligence can simplify and improve processes in the brewing industry. In 2020, for example, researchers at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Switzerland presented the first IPA beer designed by an artificial intelligence. The recipe for it was generated by a machine learning tool called “Brewer AI.” “Deep Liquid” was also the first craft beer brewed using artificial intelligence in the USA in 2022. In spring 2023, the AI beer “Autonomous” caused a sensation when Beck’s brewery launched a limited edition to mark its 150th anniversary. Every detail of this product, from the recipe to the packaging and logo design to the advertising campaign, was designed using AI.
How can breweries benefit from it?
Will robots replace the brewmaster in the future?! This is the spectre that shoots through many people’s minds when they hear about AI in beer brewing (for the first time). However, this is by no means the point! Ideally, humans and systems work together reliably. The human trusts the system and the collected data. However, it is still the human’s task to control and finally evaluate the process: Has the data been collected and processed correctly? Do the desired and actual results match? In the future, algorithms can help shorten product development times. By avoiding failed tests, brewing with AI can save raw materials, reduce costs and relieve the strain on brewers. The goal of AI tools for beer brewing is not to make humans obsolete as brewers. Rather, humans and AI should work together to find new unique recipes.
Where is beer brewing headed with AI?
As in almost all industries, AI will also become increasingly important in beer brewing. However, machine learning is also helping research when it comes to developing innovative solutions for brewing beer. For instance, a team of U.S. synthetic biology researchers: aided by artificial intelligence, they are investigating how to modify individual molecules at the DNA level to produce, for example, an IPA beer with a hop flavor but without “real” hops. According to the researchers, the technique is economically advantageous. After all, growing real hops consumes a lot of water and energy, and a consistent taste cannot always be guaranteed. The fact is that AI will offer many more fields of application and opportunities in beer brewing in the future, which open-minded brewers can profitably utilize for themselves.