St Austell Brewery has developed a beer with the help of artificial intelligence. 

Assistant brewing manager Barnaby Skerrett has used AI to kick-off the annual Cask Club series. 

The recipe for Hand Brewed by Robots, a 4.2 per cent American AI-PA, was created by an online generator fed with instructions based on ingredients Barnaby wanted to use, and the beer flavours required.  

Despite its computerised recipe, the beer has been hand-crafted using St Austell Brewery’s small batch kit. The use of AI didn’t save the brewer any time, and was purely for novelty and experimental purposes.   

“The idea for the beer came from working with AI tools in my general job with brewhouse automation,” said Barnaby. “As I was talking to the AI one day, I thought I’d ask it a question about brewing as I was interested to see the results. 

“I told it to write me a recipe on some broad parameters of colours and flavours and it sent me some ideas, so I decided to turn them into a recipe.” 

There were a couple of tweaks to make the ale cask appropriate. “AI didn’t seem to know what cask was, which was quite interesting.” Cask ale has no carbonation added, instead going through a natural fermentation process.  

The beer, packed with Willamette, Cascade and Sulatana hops, will give a tropical juicy and resinous flavour to the AI-PA. St Austell Brewery’s Cask Club series sees each brewer develop experimental recipes to brew in its small batch brewery, producing around 40 casks of the beer to be sold across selected South West pubs.  

Popular beers including the flagship Tribute pale ale started out as small batch releases.  

When asked about the reaction to his experimental AI trial, Barnaby said: “The other brewers think it’s quite funny – they all know I’m a bit of a nerd with computers so they think it’s appropriate.” 

He doesn’t think AI posed any future threat to brewing. 

“On the beer side, too much requires human input, whether that’s checking the ingredients or other quality checks that can’t be done by AI,” he added. 

“It’s the same when the beer comes out the other side. AI can never properly tell you whether that beer tastes fantastic or if it’s not up to scratch.”