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Give Me a Drink, HAL: Artificial Intelligence Helps Design New Beer

IntelligenceX uses AI to guide its brewmaster’s tweaks

(IntelligentX)
smithsonian.com

There are plenty of nerdy beers out there, like the Dogfishhead Oktoberfest brewed with real moon dust or Lost Rhino’s amber ale fermented with yeast collected from a 35-million-year-old whale fossil. But the newest brews by IntelligentX may be the geekiest of all: beer that is designed with input from artificial intelligence.

According to James Temperton at Wired UK, the project is a collaboration between the London machine learning company Intelligent Layer and the marketing firm 10x.

Starting with four basic beer recipes for a golden, amber, pale and black beers, the company includes a code on its bottles directing imbibers to a Facebook Messenger bot where they answer a series of yes or no and multiple choice questions. The answers are then fed into an AI algorithm dubbed ABI (Automatic Brewing Intelligence), which analyzes customer likes and dislikes.

With that feedback, the brewmaster is able to tweak the brews. So far, Temperton writes, the beer recipes changed 11 times over the last 12 months based on customer feedback during trials. Now, the beer is available to the public at UBrew in London and is being stocked at several tech startups.

“There’s a craft brewing revolution happening across the world right now. People’s tastes are changing faster than ever before as a result. And AI is the perfect way to respond,” IntelligentX co-founder Hew Leith and CEO of 10x says in a video.

“The AI is about putting all the customers in the same room as the brewer,” says Intelligent Layer Founder Rob McInerney.

Their ultimate goal, according to a press release, is for the algorithm to eventually win a major beer competition, such as the Campaign for Real Ale’s Champion Beer of Britain. It’s also a way for Leith to get publicity for his company: “This project demonstrates 10x’s ability to invent, create then launch the world’s most remarkable products,” according to the press release.

Not only are robots coming up with our beer recipes, they are also starting to do the brewing themselves. Over the last few years, several companies have designed self-contained brewing systems like BrewBot, the PicoBrew Zymatic and Brewie. And as long as brew-guzzling bots don’t drink up too much of the end product, these new products add an interesting twist to the beer market.

About Jason Daley

Jason Daley is a Madison, Wisconsin-based writer specializing in natural history, science, travel, and the environment. His work has appeared in Discover, Popular Science, Outside, Men’s Journal, and other magazines.

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