A brewer in Cornwall has developed a beer with the help of artificial intelligence.

Barnaby Skerrett, assistant brewing manager, is using AI to kick off St Austell Brewery’s 2024 Cask Club series.

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

Despite its computerised recipe, though, the beer has been crafted by hand using St Austell Brewery’s small batch kit.

The use of AI didn’t save the brewer any time either - it was purely for novelty and experimental purposes.

Barnaby said: “The idea for the beer came from me working with AI tools in my general job with brewhouse automation. As I was talking to the AI one day I thought I’d ask it a question about brewing to catch it out 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 it cask appropriate, as it didn’t seem to know what cask was, which was quite interesting.”

Falmouth Packet: The cask ale has been named 'Hand Brewed by Robots'The cask ale has been named 'Hand Brewed by Robots' (Image: St Austell Brewery)

The beer is packed with Willamette, Cascade and Sulatana hops, giving a tropical juicy and resinous flavour to the AI-PA.

St Austell Brewery’s Cask Club series sees each brewer develop their own recipe and brew a beer in its small batch brewery, producing around 40 casks of the beer which are then sold across select pubs in the South West.

When asked about the reaction of his team 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."

Barnaby also doesn’t think there’s any threat to brewing from AI in the future.

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

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

Falmouth Packet: Barnaby Skerrett, assistant brewing manager at St Austell Brewery, used AI to develop the recipeBarnaby Skerrett, assistant brewing manager at St Austell Brewery, used AI to develop the recipe (Image: St Austell Brewery)

St Austell Brewery’s Cask Club sees a variety of experimental beers brewed St Austell’s small batch brewery each year, giving brewers the freedom to experiment.

As a result, an unusual programme of limited-edition beers in cask are available in select pubs and its Visitor Centre.

Many of St Austell Brewery’s most popular beers, including its flagship Tribute pale ale, started out as small batch releases.

Cask ale differs from kegged ale in that it doesn’t have any carbonation added – it goes through a natural fermentation process in the cask, making it one of the most natural and fresh beers on the bar.

Hand Brewed by Robots will be available in selected pubs from March 8.