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back to article Boffins build electronic tongue that can distinguish between BEERS

A team of Spanish scientists have built an electronic tongue capable of telling the difference between six different styles of humanity's favorite alcoholic beverage with over 80 per cent accuracy. Beer tongue Seis cervezas por favor, mi amigo va a pagar. "The concept of the electronic tongue consists in using a generic array …

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Pint

Hurrah.

But what does CAMRA think?

Beer because, well, it is.

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Re: Hurrah.

CAMRA knows that all the six styles listed are lagers*, and CAMRA only cares about ales. Real ales.

*even though only one of them is called "lager", they are all lagers. OK I'll admit that "low-alcohol" might be an ale, but the vast majority of low-alcohol beers are actually lagers.

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Outdated snark

Some of the best beers in the world right now are American. The era of "love in a canoe" is long gone.

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Re: Outdated snark

"f***ing close to water..." :-)

Agreed though, the range of US microbreweries is astonishing these days, and not hard to find in the right bar.

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The only people who know how to make good beer are the Belgians.

No one else can come close to either their quality or their diversity.

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@Pascal Monett

You are certifiably insane. The only people who know how to make good beer are Canadian microbreweries. No one else can come close to them for quality or diversity.

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The Belgians certainly do make beers with quality and diversity, but they are not the only ones who know how to make good beer.

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American beer rocks (Just not Bud, etc)

To be fair, America has a great craft beer scene as well. Personally I've switched completely on the beer front. German beer I find bland now (there are exceptions, the Leipziger gose for example) but for the most part it's a dull scene comprising of pilsner and schwarzbier. US craft beers on the other hand (talking about the likes of dogfish head, ska brewing, rogue, alesmith, etc) are mostly amazing in comparison.

Bud, Coors, etc sucks, but that's only part of the american beer industry - slowly the craft boys are making progress.

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Re: American beer rocks (Just not Bud, etc)

Isn't most craft beer just overly hopped expensive keg? or is that just the ones we get over here.

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Re: American beer rocks (Just not Bud, etc)

There's been a trend towards beers like IPA (which is by design heavily hopped) due to curiosity and demand, but it's definitely not like it was in the 80's. Thanks to relaxed brewing regulations, there are lots of microbreweries, and many of them like to experiment. For example, the state of Virginia boasts at least four microbreweries of note (O'Connor in Norfolk, the Alewerks in Williamsburg, Legend in Richmond, and Starr Hill in Charlottesville) and lots of small regional ones.

Here, some people have even started work on a map of these American breweries.

BTW, according to this map, even Utah has a few breweries in it like Zion Canyon and Epic.

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Unhappy

Please...

Don't give robots a taste for beer...

... There won't be enough left to go round for the rest of us.

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Joke

Re: Please...

Bender sez "Bite my shiny metal ass!"

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Re: Please...

I wouldn't inflict low-alcohol beer even on a robot.

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American beer?

Most of what my fellow Americans call beer would more accurately be described as 'swill'. There are some good microbrews to be found if you know where to look, but in general my advice to those visiting the US would be to stick to the whisky. The microbrews can be hard to find, and they're typically not served in bars at all. The mainstream stuff that you can find easily is just plain nasty.

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Re: American beer?

Where do you live, Utah? Non-mainstream craft brews are available at any reputable establishment and easily obtainable at most standard beer outlets (grocery/convenience stores, mega-marts, etc). Just about every state has at least one or two regional breweries, and most of the big names (Boston Brewing [Sam Adams], Anchor, Dogfish Head, Stone and Sierra Nevada, to name just a few) have large distribution networks. Take a trip to even a smallish city (pop 100K+) and I'm sure you'll find several places that sell a variety of non-BMC (Bud/Miller/Coors) brews.

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Re: American beer?

Yes, but none of them are terribly nice, are they? My experience of US craft beers (limited to Sam Adams and a couple of New Jersey/new England microbreweries was that they were all a bit 'hoppy' for my taste, rather like the dark but still very 'lagerish' beers we get in Australia, Of course, it might well be an acquired taste, but I think I'll stick to me Belgians thanks.

Mind you, none of them prepared me for the disappointment I had in New York when we found a bar that served Amstel draught. Weak as piss and most of the flavour gone. Someone told me that Amstel for import to the US is watered down from 4.6% alcohol to 2.5, although I don't know how true that is. But it certainly tasted like it was. I was tempted to buy it and pour it straight into the urinal to cut out the middle man.

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Roo
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Re: American beer? @ DiViDeD

"Yes, but none of them are terribly nice, are they? My experience of US craft beers (limited to Sam Adams and a couple of New Jersey/new England microbreweries was that they were all a bit 'hoppy' for my taste,"

I tend to be put off by 'hoppy' beers too, I usually drink an Ale if one is available...

Over in Portland I found Black Butte Porter by Deschutes Brewery to be delicious (definitely not hoppy), and much to my surprise they also did extremely hoppy beer that was delicious. 'Cinder Cone Red - it tastes a bit like how pinecones smell - which is perfect at the end of a long hot day. :)

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Re: American beer?

Where do you live, Utah?

Not Utah, but just as bad. No alcohol sold between midnight and 6am, none at all on Sundays, and you can't get it in grocery stores any time. And heaven help you if you crack one open with a child in the room (I have a friend who had to prove he wasn't an alcoholic to child services because his 4 year old said something to the effect of "Daddy likes beer").

Yes, but none of them are terribly nice, are they? My experience of US craft beers (limited to Sam Adams and a couple of New Jersey/new England microbreweries was that they were all a bit 'hoppy' for my taste

They run the gambit really. You can get really hoppy ones or meads with no hops at all. I found a honey mead I liked (yes, yes, not technically beer, I know), but I can't get it in this state anymore thanks to our insane religion inspired liquor laws.

Someone told me that Amstel for import to the US is watered down from 4.6% alcohol to 2.5, although I don't know how true that is.

I wouldn't be surprised. It's a lot easier to transport 2.5% around the US than anything higher.

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Re: American beer?

Not surprised. It's the jesus freaks that are responsible for America's crappy beer to start with. Prohibition killed off a lot of the companies, and the ones that managed to survive lost the recipes, equipment, and skilled manpower to make good beer.

It's strange. I can go to a bar and get blitzed and have to drive home drunk, but if I ask to take some of the brews home, so I don't have to drive drunk, it's illegal. And people wonder why drinking & driving is such a problem here.

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Re: American beer?

WW2 grain rationing put a real crimp on those breweries that survived the Depression. It was around that point that Americans got used to thin beer out of necessity and are only recently growing out.

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Re: American beer? @ DiViDeD

@ DiViDeD, I'll bet you just haven't tried the right American craft beer. Tell us what style you like and I'm sure several people on these forums could give you many good suggestions to try. Might be hard to find a Belgian as good as you get back home, but they are out there.

@ Roo, you've found one of the many good ones. Deschutes makes some of my favourite beers (Obsidian stout, Black Butte porter). I like their others as well, including the hoppy ones, just not as much. The Pacific Northwest is an excellent area for craft beer, although I have found many in the northeast and in little pockets across the country -- even in small towns like Wibaux, Montana. I have also found plenty of craft beers that are done poorly or I just don't like (e.g. I love porters but dislike Magic Hat's porter).

That said, like anything, taste in beer is a personal thing (and yet, I have a hard time understanding why people like any mainstream beers -- American or otherwise).

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Pint

Re: American beer?

Haven't had American beer for quite a while so cannot comment on latest developments (had some fairly decent stuff in a bar in San Diego in 2008). It is not readily available here, due to its horrible reputation. I must say the last time I tasted American Budweiser (1996 or so) it did not compare favourably with the original Czech Budweiser from Budvar. When next I am in the US, I will be quite happy to change my mind over US beer (though I will need to have a statistically significantly large sample ;-), all in the interest of fairness ).

Belgian Trapist beers are far more popular here, and for good reason. Friends from the US thought beer with 5% alcohol by volume was strong. One Westmalle Tripel (9.5% alcohol) later they new better

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Re: American beer?

Those monks really seems to know a thing or two about brewing. Spent a long weekend in Belgium a few years back, was rather enjoyable.

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Pint

Re: American beer?

@ sisk: Oh, dear Bob! What state are you in, so I can make sure to avoid it. It sounds even worse than Maryland.

The Craft brewing in the states is taking off, and even the Coors/Miller/Bud "Big Boys" are getting craft-y, with small experimental batches. We are getting tired of being the country everyone picks on for beer. Having said that, over 50% of our beer consumption is the Crap CMB, love-in-a-canoe, horse piss.

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Pint

Re: American beer?

a bit 'hoppy' for my taste, rather like the dark but still very 'lagerish' beers we get in Australia

Oh come on! We have literally HUNDREDS of great microbreweries all over Australia!!! Get out and experience some good beer and educate your palate!!!!!!!!!!!!

Here, let me help you find one near you.

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Re: American beer? @ DiViDeD

"..I'll bet you just haven't tried the right American craft beer.."

That's what I thought, which is why I didn't want to trash American beers straight off. I think the issue is that you can go into (almost) any pub in Europe and find a beer that you're going to like. I found in the US that all the regular bars seem to serve the same selection of <pardon the term> weak cat's piss.

I'm sure there are some great American beers out there, but you have to search.

A bit like going to the Boxmoor Working Mens' Club* and trying to find a working man - not impossible, just hard work.

* of course there is an argument that taxi drivers, chartered accountants and graphic designers *are* working men. YMMV

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Anonymous Coward

When US Microbreweries learn to make proper beer

then I might drink it.

What I mean is to use proper 'bottom fermenting yeast' rather than 'top fermenting lager yeast'.

Now I'm off for a pint of Harveys' Best (Harvey's of Lewes) or possibly a Pint of Kings (Horsham).

Proper beer not odd lager.

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Re: When US Microbreweries learn to make proper beer

You've got it backwards -- lager yeasts are bottom-fermenting (yeast tends to "drop out" or sink to the bottom at lagering temperatures). Ale yeasts are the ones that produce the big head of krausen in the vats.

And doesn't Harveys use their own private strain of yeast?

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But, how long before it can discriminate between:

-- chocolates

-- saliva

-- cow's milk vs almond milk

-- growth-hormone products vs non-ghp's

-- quality of perspiration

-- formondon cheese/feet cheese

-- phosgene vs other refrigerants

And other things? And, get it down to the household level? That'd be some kewl distribution of tech.

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Re: But, how long before it can discriminate between:

If your refrigerator uses Phosgene, I think we have found the problem with your beer.

As for Utah beers, Polygamy Porter ("Why have just one?") is not bad, although I really just bought it for the bottle.

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Coffee/keyboard

Re: But, how long before it can discriminate between:

"Polygamy Porter ("Why have just one?")"

You sir owe me a new keyboard

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Not Japan?

When I read the headline, I was laughing, expecting it to be hailing from Japan. After all, didn't Japanese recently create a mouth/wagging tongue that could articulate when it speaks words?

They and the Spanish team should hook up. Could produce an interesting product. Especially if it helps those with tongue cancer or surgical procedures that removed parts of the mouth and tongue.

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Joke

Re: Not Japan?

Plus once you've got a robotic tongue, all you have to do is make it longer to create a robotic tentacle.

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Re: Not Japan?

I was at a conference (IEDM) back in the 90's where some Japanese researchers had a machine that could not only identify what BRAND of beer, but which of that company's breweries it was from. The results were pretty much limited to Japanese beers, because that's were they developed it, but still superior to the machine in this article.

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Re: Not Japan? Well, at that point...

Once it tastes and speaks, it's just a waggin' away from being an AI Cunning Linguist...

(Cue the recollections of Data on the Bridge chiming in with his attempt at humor:

"There ONCE was a woman from VEnus, whose forehead was shaped like a..."

"DATA!" Picard interjects. "Another time, perhaps...")

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Re: Old Handle

Thank you so much for that mental image from a bad anime. Geh.

Someone pass the brain bleach.

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Go

Could be useful

Once they miniaturise it, they could make it into a dipping stick that sets off an alarm if you're about to drink a Fosters.

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"Not American boffins, obviously"

In fairness, the Yanks launched a similar detector, but it was entirely temperature based

If $temp<3 then $beer=true

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Um, don't the Yanks still use the Fahrenheit scale?

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Joke

Yes they do still use the Fahrenheit scale, and they drink their beer REALLY cold!

(Yes I know about the fantastic craft beer scene they have these days, it's just a cheap joke, OK?)

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Spanish beer culture

Beer was made popular in Spain early sixteenth century when Emperor Charles V moved from Flanders to Spain, taking with him an entourage of brewers.

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Pint

Re: Spanish beer culture

I'd always assumed the SPB was based in Spain for weather reasons...

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Pint

shock horror colonial beer is very good....!

Imagine my surprise when I came back over here in July to find that nearly every bar was selling "craft" beer, and *strong* too. I think the weakest beer in some places is 5.5% and the harpoon brewery in Boston has a 10% that tastes very good (not sweet at all). But the median was about 7.5.

For those of you who like microbiology, you might like to know it is a commercial strain of yeast that apparently is being used by all these microbreweries.... hence the sudden rise in EtOH vol....

My only complaint is there are not enough "Cask conditioned" brews, because they taste almost *identical* to a decent UK Bitter....

P.

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Re: shock horror colonial beer is very good....!

There are many commercial strains of yeast being used by microbreweries. There are two main yeast suppliers, check out the list of different yeast strains they offer: White Labs, Wyeast.

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Terminator

Uh oh...

"... capable of telling the difference between six different styles of [beer] with over 80 per cent accuracy."

That's disturbing as most of the "humans" around here are unable to do that.

Well not for the entire evening anyway.

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Plenty of good beer in the US

While I agree that there are still some determined rednecks that drink Bud/Coors/Miller pisswater, you can't swing a cat without hitting a microbrewery these days. A store near me boasts beer from all over including local micros. They have enough brands for me to try a different one every week of my life until I'm geriatric or my liver explodes. There are several brew pubs within a 20-mile radius of where I live. (good ones too)

Americans might have once been idiots and tasteless when it comes to beer, but the times they are a changin'.

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Schwarzbier, lager, double malt, Pilsen, Alsatian and low-alcohol?

Unless it can tell the difference between Hobgoblin, Fusty Ferret and Black Gold what use is it?

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Trollface

I made an American brew once

Then i zipped up and washed me hands.

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Pint

American Microbreweries

Interesting to see comments that suggest good beer is noweasy to get in the USA. However I find the opposing comments much easier to believe. However it is seven years since I last was on the wrong side of the Atlantic, so things may have improved.

However, between 1994 and 2006 (inclusive) I visited the USA several times, and sampled the products of microbreweries at places recommended by Americans in Seattle, LA, SF, Cambridge MA, and Chicago. Everything I found was close to undrinkable - a great deal worse even that American imitation draft Guinness. I also tried to find drinkable beer in New Hampshire (I think there were no microbreweries there then) and ended up drinking anything but beer.

I've drunk beer in Scotland, England, Wales, Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium, Fdance, Mongaco, Spain, Italy, Jugoslavia (in each of what are now Serbia, Bosnia, Coatia, Slovenia), Austria, Germany, Czeck Republic, Romania, Hungary, India, Barbados, Egypt, and Sri Lanka, and in all but the last three I could get vastly better beer in any bar I walked off the street into than any I've ever found in the USA - and in teh last three the beer in the hotels, while not as good as European beer, was better than anything I ever found in the USA.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: American Microbreweries

I suppose each person's experience is clouded by personal bias. Blind taste tests try to remove those biases, and in those, American beers have had their fair share of wins in various categories.

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