Big investment in beer research based on sensors and artificial intelligence

Scientists at iNANO, Aarhus University, are collaborating with Carlsberg, Microsoft and DTU on a research study with the purpose of measuring and sensing flavours and aromas in beer. The project aims at establishing a sensor platform that reduces time and cost to develop new beers with diverse flavours based on the most advanced services and software within artificial intelligence. The development of a sensor platform can hold enormous potential for broader research and facilitate new start-ups, as a sensor platform to distinguish flavours and aromas does not exist today. Innovation Fund Denmark is investing DKK 18 million in the project.

2017.11.07 | Peter F. Gammelby

Professor and Director Jochen Förster, Carlsberg Research Laboratory, hopes that the new technology will enable him to develop novel types of brewer’s yeast and new beers. Photo: Carlsberg

The research study called ‘The Beer Fingerprinting Project’ was founded on the idea of Jochen Förster from the Carlsberg Research Laboratory. He expressed a need to develop simple sensors to measure flavours and aromas when designing and developing novel brewing organisms – which eventually lead to new beers. Even though it might sound like an ideal job to taste several beers a day, it is impossible to tell the difference between the approximately 1,000 different beer samples that are produced daily at the Carlsberg Research Laboratory.

“No rapid assays exist today for the determination of flavour compounds in beverages, but it is crucial that we can do this to ensure that the laboratory continues to develop beer of the highest possible quality and provide a model for brewing in Denmark and the rest of the world,” says Professor Jochen Förster, Director of Yeast Fermentation, Carlsberg Research Laboratory.

We are excited to be part of a team with Aarhus University, the Technical University of Denmark and Microsoft, and push the boundaries in sensor technology for flavour determination. This will enable us to select and develop novel brewer’s yeast for application in craft, specialty, core and alcohol-free beers at much higher speed and even better quality,” says Professor Förster.

Good chemistry at matchmaking event

The idea of a joint project between the Carlsberg Research Laboratory and iNANO at Aarhus University was sparked by a research matchmaking event at Carlsberg, which was attended – among many others – by Associate Professor Brigitte Städler from iNANO.

“It is exciting for my research group to contribute with the development of chemical sensors to this multidisciplinary project. In a collaborative effort, the complementary expertise of the four involved partners will allow us to advance flavour detection technologies well beyond the current state of the art,” says Associate Professor Städler.

DTU Chemical Engineering brings expertise within reactor parallelisation and integration as well as data processing to the project. Microsoft delivers the most advanced services and software within the area of artificial intelligence to support the project, and Innovation Fund Denmark is behind a financial investment. The aim is now to validate and mature the technology and make it applicable for high throughput screening of novel brewing organisms.

“This research study puts advanced analytics and intelligent cloud technology as a corner stone of the project and combines expertise within several fields of research. We are excited to see the project unfold and determine whether it will accelerate Carlsberg’s go-to-market processes,” says Ricky Gangsted-Rasmussen, Industry Lead – Retail, Microsoft Denmark.

New start-up adventure

Today, no such rapid technology for discrimination of complex flavour mixtures exists. Developing methods for fast and reliable assessment of flavours in complex mixtures such as in beer or other alcoholic and alcohol-free beverages is of interest for product development, quality control and safety. Researchers at iNANO, Aarhus University, have already developed a solution to use novel sensors and proof-of-principle to differentiate between four Carlsberg beers – Carlsberg Pilsner, Tuborg Pilsner, Wibroe and Nordic – as part of a pilot project. The outcome of this project will not only strengthen the Danish position in the world beer market represented by Carlsberg, but is also expected to lead to new start-ups as the technology can be used for other industries than beverages, such as the environmental, pharmaceutical and food industries.


Contact details

Innovation Fund Denmark, Press Officer Patrick Lehto Larsen, +45 6190 5008

Microsoft Denmark, 2800 Kgs. Lyngby, Communication Manager Helle Rosendahl, +45 2240 9540

Carlsberg Laboratory, 1778 Copenhagen V, Professor Jochen Förster, +45 3327 3300

Aarhus University, 8000 Aarhus C, Associate Professor Brigitte Städler, +45 8715 6668

Technical University of Denmark, 2800 Kgs. Lyngby, Professor Krist Gernaey, +45 4525 2970

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