Reading a pitch about the first Artificial Intelligence-generated beer gave me dystopian sci-fi visions at first. Crafting the perfect beer is always a blend of science and art, after all. Was this taking the science of brewing too far? Would it mean more robots and fewer brewers? Deep Liquid co-founders Denham D’Silva, Jamie Sherrah and Simon Lucey are quick to note the human brewer involvement. In fact, this AI beer innovation involves more humans in the beer making process than ever before.
“Initially, I was quite terrified of the trend,” admits D’Silva, co-founder and CEO of Deep Liquid, which is on a mission to expand AI to small and medium businesses, while also engaging customers. “I had started a craft brewery with a focus on quality. However, I soon realized awards don’t make for a viable business. Independent craft brewers unable to scale were going to struggle to create the efficiencies needed to remain competitive. I feared for the fate of small producers like me, and the public, who benefit from a broad range of craft producers.”
D’Silva, who had a previous position as Regional VP for Merrill Lynch, says he was aware consolidation would hit the beer industry. “I had seen it while I was an investment banker, smaller and mid-sized companies, unable to reach economies of scale, struggled and were often take-over targets.”
Lucey shared D’Silva’s concerns about the industry — but Lucey was much more optimistic about the opportunity of AI.
“I’ve been very fortunate to work at some of the most prestigious institutions, on the cutting edge of AI research,” says Lucey. “The chance to help direct a company with a goal to spread the thoughtful application of Machine Learning to SMEs and the broader community was too compelling an opportunity. I wanted to be part of this journey.”
Sherrah, a colleague of Lucey’s and a beer lover as well, soon became involved. Together, they formed Deep Liquid to serve as a solution to global supply issues and to ensure small and medium local producers remain competitive. Rather than replace humans, Deep Liquid augments human resources to remove guesswork to optimize labor.
“With a critical worker shortage, it has never been more vital we find ways to make every worker more productive,” says Brooks, former professor and director at MIT’s Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and creator of AI inventions such as the Roomba, who has been at the forefront of making AI more accessible. “This is the only way we increase quality of life”
How it works
The initial recipe comes from a partnership between Deep Liquid’s AI and the Brewers. They leverage machine learning to create the initial recipe and then work with the brewers to train the neural network for the first recipe.
From there, Deep Liquid’s platform brings the entire community into a conversion. Reviews (accessed by the QR code) provide further data to allow the AI to suggest recipe improvements.
This is what the group did for its proof of concept, The Rodney AI IPA, in Australia, released December of 2021. Customers reviewed the beer until late March. This data was used to update the recipe which was brewed in April. The improved recipe was entered into the Australian International Beer Awards, the largest annual beer awards in the world, where it won a high silver (missed gold by 1 point).
“The neural network allowed us to get “Rodney v2” into market 70% faster,” says D’Silva, adding, “I’m also confident it’s improved market performance was thanks to Deep Liquid’s AI augmented research and development.”
So, no, there is no rise of the machines-style takeover of technology of the brewhouse or robots in place of people needed to take advantage of AI.
“The real power is leveraging AI to process million x more data than a human can,” the team tells us. “It integrates the customer into the R&D process and allows the brewer to listen to every single consumer. It gives the brewers extra info so they can use their skills to make the best decisions. On average it takes 2-3 years of perfecting a recipe to achieve what we did (win a Silver Medal) in weeks with the help of Deep Liquid’s AI.”
Deep Liquid is partnering with Nola Brewing and New Bohemia Brewing for collaborations in the U.S.
The AI Blonde Ale will be released at a Launch Party at Nola Brewery on June 20 to coincide with CVPR, the world’s premier computer vision event.