You’ve probably heard breweries use terms like handcrafted, craft brewed and artisanal to describe their products. Now a new phrase might be added to the mix: conceived by artificial intelligence (AI).
With the rise of ChatGPT, Microsoft Bing AI and a host of other chatbots, brewers have been using search engines to create beer recipes for human consumption. It’s a way to garner headlines, but also see if the technology can be put to practical use.
But how have these AI system been used in the brewing industry? And can their recipes stand up to a human-made beer? We examine that here.
What Is ChatGPT and Microsoft Bing AI?
But first, let’s define what we mean by AI systems. These digital bots automatically give detailed text responses to short prompts using a massive pool of information to which they have access. Many users have noted just how humanlike their responses tend to be. (And in case you’re wondering, yes, we had it write drinks reviews). Each chatbot differs just slightly, according to The Verge.
AI-Generated Beer Recipes
“I don’t really go for chasing trends or doing anything really crazy,” says Baki. “I like beer that tastes like beer, to be completely honest. But trends aside, Baki, who has also worked as a software developer, said he wanted to see what AI knew. He became curious about the technology and was looking to expand the brewery’s tap list and his creativity.
“I said, ‘Give me an IPA recipe that’s hazy with tropical notes that’s never been brewed before,’” Baki says. On first glance, the recipe appeared very formulaic. “I was a little skeptical that it was just regurgitating something it scraped off the web,” Baki admitted. But upon closer examination he saw the AI-generated recipe called for Nelson Sauvin hops and honey malt, which are not often used in hazy IPAs. He then asked the chat why it had selected those ingredients.
“I swear it was [responding] like I was talking to another brewer, and that’s when I started freaking out, because it really answered very intelligently,” he says. The AI-inspired beer, which also includes Galaxy, Citra and El Dorado hops, was released on draft and will be canned soon.
Baki even asked the AI to name the beer it had created, and it came up with “Solar Flare.”
“Then I asked it to spit out marketing material for me, which it did just as well as my marketing team could come up with, to be completely honest,” he says. Finally, another AI system, Jasper, was tasked with creating label art. Baki says the program spit out 170 different label designs and he picked four of them.
“I was literally just manual labor for AI for this one, which is just crazy,” he says.
Indeed, this reviewer recently had the opportunity to sample Solar Flare. It possessed a murky burnt orange color, pillowy head and juicy qualities throughout. Its pear, apricot and a faint melon flavor all mix well in the final sip before it finishes with a pleasing touch of bitterness. Yet, Solar Flair looks like a lot of other hazy IPAs on the market.
The Still-Needed Human Element
Don’t think AI advances mean human brewers are out of a job, though.
For instance, without calling attention to AI on the label, Solar Flare presented like any other human-conceived hazy IPA. It makes sense. AI can only draw from existing sources of human creativity to make something new. Brewers, on the other hand, need to come up with recipes themselves to stand out in the market. Not to mention, even with fully automated brewing systems in use around the world, tasting and selecting raw ingredients are vital to producing quality beer. Hal 9000 isn’t a brewmaster.
The drinks industry is still a while off from completely AI-run brewhouses, but early indications show that the path for such a future is beginning to emerge. Indeed, Solar Flare joins a slew of other AI-conceived beers around the world. In 2021, Toronto’s Kensington Brewery released a 6.5% alcohol-by-volume (abv) IPA called A Little Robotic with Dessa, an AI lab. Also, earlier this year at Collaboration Beer Fest in Colorado, Old 121 Brewery and Banded Oak Brewery teamed up with Chat GPT to create a “wellness beer,” named The Bots Made Us Do It.
Meanwhile, in Massachusetts, Night Shift Brewing released AI-P-A in February. “We guided the process through prompts and questions, but AI made nearly all of the relevant decisions,” the brewery wrote in a news release. “This beer hits with notes of mango, orange pith and pine.”
Also in the mix? Rio Bravo Brewing in New Mexico recently released a ChatGPT conceived beer called “Algorithm.” The brewery describes it as a pale ale that showcases everything great about the style.” Old-school hops like Centennial and Amarillo deliver the perfect balance of grapefruit flavor and dank floral notes,” while the malt bill produces “rich hues of orange marmalade” style. The brewery also had an AI program, called Midjourney, design labels for the beer.
Certainly, we can expect to see more AI in the realm of beer, not less. “I wasn’t expecting it to spit out what it did to begin with. So, [it] had already showed me [creativity] on its first go,” says Baki. “It was pretty surprising.”
Last Updated: June 6, 2023