Robot brews: How AI could flavor your next beer

It's an ancient brew, but beer can learn some very modern tricks from artificial intelligence.

Erin Carson Former Senior Writer
Erin Carson covered internet culture, online dating and the weird ways tech and science are changing your life.
Expertise Erin has been a tech reporter for almost 10 years. Her reporting has taken her from the Johnson Space Center to San Diego Comic-Con's famous Hall H. Credentials
  • She has a master's degree in journalism from Syracuse University.
Erin Carson
2 min read

The secret ingredient in these beers? Artificial intelligence.


What if the Terminator served you a bespoke specialty cocktail instead of trying to blow away your whole family?

Well, you might not get the chance to hear Arnold Schwarzenegger ask "Do you want to start a tab?" but artificial intelligence and alcohol are indeed coming together. In fact, London-based firm IntelligentX is using AI to brew beer.

The idea is that after trying one of IntelligentX's four beers -- named Amber AI, Black AI, Golden AI and Pale AI -- consumers use a Facebook chat bot to give feedback on what they liked and didn't like about the flavor. The algorithm, named ABI (Automated Brewing Intelligence) takes that feedback and gives it to the master brewer to tweak the next batch.

In turn, using reinforcement learning and something called bayesian decision making, the AI will learn from experience when a tweak is successful. As the algorithm gets better, IntelligentX hopes it will eventually help the team win a major beer competition by strengthening its recipes.

"We're using AI to give our brewer superhuman skills, enabling them to test and receive feedback on our beer more quickly than ever before," said Hew Leith, co-founder of IntelligentX, in a statement.

IntelligentX is a partnership between a machine-learning startup called Intelligent Layer and a creative agency called 10x.

Machine learning is one of the signature capabilities of AI. Rather than relying on rote programming, a computer fermented in AI can make adaptations and decisions of its own accord based on input from a variety of factors. That's how, for instance, a Google AI system learned on its own, through image recognition, what a cat is, and how a coming generation of personal assistants will get to know each of us intimately.

This isn't the first time people have wielded tech in the quest for a better beer. Fizzics is a countertop device that uses sound waves to make bottled beer taste like it was poured from a tap. There's also a slew of automatic beer brewers like the PicoBrew Zymatic, a Wi-Fi-enabled device that mashes the grain, adds hops and eventually fills your glass.

IntelligentX expects its beer to become available to buy online in the coming weeks.