How can a beer bottle predict your taste?

July 11, 2017

By: Rafael Tonon

Algorithms can help you to understand what exactly you like to drink or eat – and in the near future every recipe will be made exclusively to you

Last year, a London-based startup came up with a revolutionizing idea to make some beers: from an algorithm that could determine the amount of hops, water, yeast and grains, they created four different initial styles. Each version could be adjusted by the algorithm based on customer feedback to “crowdsourcing” the recipes.

IntelligentX created survey system that uses Facebook Messenger chat bots where people could answer questions about their preferences and what was good or bad about the brew they tasted. Every detail mattered: from levels of carbonation to bitterness, from the acidity to alcohol content: all could be changed based on how people were responding.

beer bottle

The algorithm produced new recipes every month incorporating reviews and opinions, creating the beers people would love to drink. “We’re about using data to listen to our customers, get all that feedback, and then brew something that’s more attuned to what they actually want and need”, said Hew Leith, co-founder of IntelligentX.

DNA beer 

Also in London, a brewmaster decided to take the concept of a “personalized beer” to yet another level: Ciaran Giblin, the brewmaster behind Meantime brewery, one of the UK’s leading craft brewers, made a personalized beer based on his own DNA. From a saliva sample, which was analyzed by a personal genetics company to create a unique flavor profile, Giblin brewed his own beer totally designed to appeal to his taste buds.

Now, Meantime opened the service for other consumers: for a “mere” £25,000, brewers-to-be will have the opportunity of blending a custom-made brew to fit their own tastes. Customers will receive a minimum of 12 hectolitres of their personalised brew – more than 2,000 pints – to drink or to give their friends and family – and hope they will enjoy it as much as you.

beer bottle

Having a beer that suits your specific taste will be something more and more common in a near future. The recipes created in London (also by Meantime and IntelligentX) point to new ways that customers could someday give feedback on products like coffee, chocolate or any other kind of food. By real reviews made by real customers, the industry will be able to create products more aligned to what their consumers need and want.

Algorithms in a glass 

Penrose Hill is a wine commerce site that has been innovating the traditional winemaking market by implementing algorithms and surveys that better-predict what wines its customers will love. By pulling more useful information, the company uses an algorithm to find recommendations, such as the ones used by radio and music platform, who instead of generating playlists based on a questionnaire in which a client reveals his/her ideal beats per minute or the kind of lyrics you like, use an algorithm to find that information based on the songs the consumer actually listens to.

These kind of quality surveys is something that has been more and more used in the market to predict a client’s taste – something that companies such as Amazon, Spotify and Netflix use to suggest you everything from your next best artist to your next best shirt.  These tech giants have spent immense resources perfecting algorithms designed to track customer preferences and predict what items they would like to buy based on previous searches and purchases. Now the food industry seems to be going in the same direction.

penrose hill

When ordering through a delivery service, consumers allow e-commerce and online companies to track their searches and purchases, and give them the ability to add metadata to items, in search for more personal offers. Cater2.me, for example, is a plataform that connects local food vendors with companies in need of catering. By onlyne orders, they can track feedback given on meals and individual dishes and use that information to determine what other sorts of meals they like.

A tasty future

Services like OpenTable can also do something similar to the restaurants industry. By our “digital footprint”, these companies can suggest restaurants we might like by looking at the restaurants where we’ve booked reservations in the past and potentially can suggest dishes if they integrate menu data and ask what we’ve liked from past dining experiences. With portable devices, even restaurants themselves can track preferences by asking its diners to login before select from the digital menu.  Whether dining out or eating in, we can target a very tasty future of dining by focusing on preferences.

open table

With the advances of artificial intelligence technologies allied to increasingly accessible DNA scans, every consumer will be able to have a personalized beer or wine – or even a recipe created in a restaurant by a known chef. Less and less we will have recipes created for many, based on regular menus or general taste. Instead, we will watch the rise of dishes designed to meet the needs of single different palates, like mine or yours.

Rafael Tonon

+ posts by Rafael

Rafael Tonon is a journalist and food writer. He writes about food, drinks and trends in gastronomy. He contributes to many media outlets, such as Eater, Vice, Slate and more. He maintains the trend food blog What the Fork.

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