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Scientists are using AI to make beer taste even better

Scientists are using AI to make beer taste even better

Positive feedback was received on the beer's enhanced body and taste.

Just when we thought AI couldn't surprise us more, from predicting health conditions, potentially replacing millions of jobs and even predicting the date we're going to die, it's also seeping into our drinking habits.

Professor Kevin Verstrepen of KU Leuven University led research into incorporating AI technology to improve the taste of beer.

According to the Belgian researcher, AI could help unravel the complex relationship within 'human aroma perception.'

'Beer – like most food products – contains hundreds of different aroma molecules that get picked up by our tongue and nose, and our brain then integrates these into one picture. However, the compounds interact with each other, so how we perceive one depends also on the concentrations of the others,' Verstrepen explained.

Scientists have developed AI models to improve beer / Sally Anscombe/Getty
Scientists have developed AI models to improve beer / Sally Anscombe/Getty

He and his colleagues analysed the chemical makeup of 250 commercial Belgian beers across 22 different styles including lagers, fruit beers, blonds, and non-alcoholic beers.

The analysis investigated the alcohol's properties like alcohol content, pH, and sugar concentration. Additionally, the team looked at the presence and concentration of over 200 different compounds that are involved in beer flavour, like esters from yeasts and terpenoids from hops. Both of which contribute to the fruity notes you find in some beers.

16 participants took part in a tasting panel to sample and score each of the 250 beers based on 50 different factors. These included criteria such as hop flavours, sweetness, and acidity.

'Tiny changes in the concentrations of chemicals can have a big impact, especially when multiple components start changing,' said Verstrepen.

He highlighted that some traditionally off-putting substances could actually be positive in a beer's appeal, so long as they're present in lower concentrations and combined with other aroma compounds.

AI improved beer body and taste / Oscar Wong/Getty
AI improved beer body and taste / Oscar Wong/Getty

After the data was gathered, the team developed AI machine learning models to predict a beer's taste and feedback based on its composition.

The scientists noted the substances reported to be 'important predictors of overall appreciation' like lactic acid and glycerol that would enhance an existing commercial beer.

Surprisingly, the tasting panel appreciated the additions, improving the ratings for all the tested beers in terms of sweetness and body.

Luckily for us, AI is not in a place to replace the art of beer brewing anytime soon as Verstrepen notes the vital skill of brewers still continues.

'The AI models predict the chemical changes that could optimise a beer, but it is still up to brewers to make that happen starting from the recipe and brewing methods,' he said.

Featured Image Credit: Sally Anscombe/Oscar Wong/Getty