The first beer, which was named by artificial intelligence, has hit the market. Old Nation Brewing Co. from Williamston, Michigan, 75 miles (120 km) north-west of Detroit has unveiled its New England Double Dry-Hopped Saison called The Fine Stranger.
Janelle Shane, an industrial research scientist and neural network enthusiast, has set up an artificial neural network (ANN), which combines more than 100,000 beer names, which were previously entered from the website BeerAdvocate.com to create new beer names. While training the network, the algorithm looks at example data and learns to generate more like it. Shane trained the neural network separately on IPAs, strong ales, red ales, and stouts, ending up with four specialized models.
A bunch of semi-plausible but nonexistent beers resulted. “Then I heard from Old Nation Brewing in Williamston, Michigan, who were almost finished brewing a new beer, but still hadn’t managed to find a name for it. They explained what kinds of keywords they were looking for: Juice, haze, New England, Vermont, citra, Belgium, spicy, clove, saison, farmhouse, ‘all these trendy new hazy IPA names’. I searched my database for any beer names having to do with these keywords, and threw them all into the mix for the neural network,” as Shane explains on her blog.
On different levels of creativity the ANN created a bunch of beer names. “Some were innovative, some were less than stellar, some were barely comprehensible, and some were just vulgar,” as Old Nation Brewing explains on its website. Here’s a brief smattering of the brewery’s favorite failures: “Silent Plow, Farmen’s are No.10, Grapecart, Red Suck Mas Saison, Farmer Lure”.
“In spite of the failures (or maybe because of it; we barely know how this works) we ended up with a healthy amount of original, appropriate, and fun names”, as Old Nation Brewing said. “We chose the favorite and The Fine Stranger was born. It is a creative solution to a growing problem. Perhaps we’ll give it another go and see where it takes us for the next beer. We’ve also seen the Terminator movies, though, so we’ll proceed with caution.”
Old Nation Brewing, a craft brewery and a brew pub, was founded by brewer Travis Fritts. He spent time in Germany honing his craft under some of the best brewers in the world and returned to Williamston, Michigan, the place where he grew up, with master brewing credentials.