Can AI Improve How Good Your Beer Tastes?

Beer drinkers already have a wide plethora of brews to choose. From Hefeweizens to IPAs to Stouts, it seems we have a beer for every taste. And, with the upswing in microbreweries and home brewers, our choices are even more broad. 

With all of these choices, can beer get any better? It sure can.

Belgian scientists have developed AI models that can predict how consumers will rate a particular beer and what aroma compounds brewers can add to improve it.

Beer comparisons can be difficult, as they’re based on an individual’s preferences and generic terms like “fruity” and “light.” Kevin Verstrep, Professor at KU Leuven and Director of the VIB-KU Leuven Center for Microbiology and the Leuven Institute for Beer Research, wanted a better way to predict how a beer will taste.

He and his team chemically analyzed 250 different beers, measuring the various concentrations of aroma compounds. (Aroma is a large part of taste; if you lost your sense of smell during the pandemic, you likely experienced this.) A trained panel of 15 then tasted and evaluated each beer based on 50 criteria points.

The effort took five years, but the team amassed a database of chemical concentrations and detailed tasting reports for hundreds of brews. They used AI to compare the two, resulting in a model that could predict key aromas and final appreciation scores without human testers. The results were used to improve the taste of an existing Belgian ale by adding certain aromas to boost its quality, and the modified beer scored higher in blind tastings.

Raise a brew for better beer!

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