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Belgian Beer's Flavour Set to Improve with AI

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Photo: Belgian Beer's Flavour Set to Improve with AI. Source: Pixabay
Photo: Belgian Beer's Flavour Set to Improve with AI. Source: Pixabay

Belgian researchers are using artificial intelligence to enhance the taste of beer. Professor Kevin Verstrepen from the University of Leuven, who led the study on using AI in brewing, says that AI can help understand the complex relationships related to human perception of aromas, as reported by The Guardian.

Verstrepen and his colleagues claim to have analysed the chemical composition of 250 commercial varieties of Belgian beer across 22 different styles, including lagers, fruit beers, blondes, West Flanders ales, and non-alcoholic beer.

Among the properties studied were alcohol content, pH, sugar concentration, as well as the presence and concentration of over 200 different compounds involved in shaping the taste, such as esters produced by yeast and terpenoids from hops that contribute to fruity notes.

"Beer, like most food products, contains hundreds of different types of aromatic molecules that are detected by the tongue and nose, and our brain then integrates them into one picture. However, these compounds interact with each other, so how we perceive one of them also depends on the concentration of others," said Kevin Verstrepen.

A tasting panel of 16 participants selected samples and evaluated each of the 250 beer varieties based on 50 different characteristics such as hop aroma, sweetness, and acidity. The overall study duration lasted over three years.

Using all the data sets obtained, the team built AI-based models to predict the taste of beer and its rating based on its composition.

They then used the results to enhance existing commercial beer by essentially adding substances identified by the models as important factors in the overall beer rating, including lactic acid and glycerin. The results showed that these additions improved the ratings of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beer varieties.

But beer enthusiasts shouldn't worry that the new technology might ruin a rich heritage, as Verstrepen noted that the skill of brewers remains crucial.

"Artificial intelligence models predict chemical changes that can optimize beer, but it's the brewers themselves who must bring this to life, starting from the recipe and brewing methods," he said.

Recall that The Gaze reported on a bar with a beer fountain appearing in a former 16th-century brewery in Poland.

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