Researchers at KU Leuven University have started a project to make Belgian beer even better using artificial intelligence. Led by Prof Kevin Verstrepen, they’re studying how we taste flavors to understand the different smells in beer.

The researchers experimented with 250 Belgian beers of different kinds to see what makes them taste the way they do. They checked things like how much alcohol they have, how acidic they are, and what flavors are in them.

“Tiny changes in the concentrations of chemicals can have a big impact, especially when multiple components start changing,” Prof. Kevin Verstrepen, of KU Leuven university, who led the research, said.

Then they asked a group of 16 people to taste the beers and describe how they tasted. This took three years! At the same time, they collected 180,000 reviews of different beers from the online consumer review platform RateBeer and looked at what people said about these beers online.

The researchers used all this information to make computer programs that can predict how a beer will taste based on what’s in it. They then used these predictions to make existing beers even better by adding certain flavors.

“The AI models predict the chemical changes that could optimise a beer, but it is still up to brewers to make that happen starting from the recipe and brewing methods,” Prof. Verstrepen said.

The results were amazing. People liked the beers even more, saying they tasted sweeter and fuller. But even with this new technology, Verstrepen reminds us that the skill of the brewers is still very important.

AI’s changing a lot of things. But in the context of beer, it’s combining old traditions with new ideas to ensure Belgian beer stays as great as ever.

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