When Brewers at Old Nation Brewing Company couldn't find the right name for their new double dry hopped saison, they decided to turn to neural networks for help and well, they succeeded. Introducing The Fine Stranger: World’s very first beer named by a neural network.

According to the Michigan Brewery, considering the drink is a “blend of Old World and New” and combines a “strong, peppery, fruity Belgian Saison yeast strain with the low-bitterness/high-flavor hop goodness of the New England style,” the name The Fine Stranger suits the beer quite well.

"We've been struggling naming with beers," said Travis Fritts from Old Nation Brewing in a statement to Gizmodo. "There have been tens of thousands beers named in use most of which have trademark protection."

The neural network naming method was introduced to the brewery by research scientist Janelle Shane, who makes use of the char-rnn neural network framework to train the computer to "speak" using only beer words, then turns on the creativity and makes it think.

For Old Nation Brewing Company, Shane only trained the neural network on a constrained list, including beers with the brewers' keywords: Juice, haze, New England, Vermont, citra, Belgium, spicy, clove, saison, farmhouse, and "all these trendy new hazy IPA names."

For the uninitiated, generally, neural networks are made up of layers. The first layer of neurons represents each pixel in an image. Each of these neurons holds a number between zero and one, representing how light or dark that pixel is. Data then passes through several more layers where a final layer determines which number between zero and nine the image best represents. The network are capable of doing impressively complex work, but programming such a system by hand is generally not recommended, which is why neural nets are instead 'trained' on data sets instead. Simply put, neural networks are just computer programs that learn to read on big datasets, then try to come up with new words based on their learned knowledge, picking the most likely letter after the previous letter.

Travis Fritts and Matt Gwynn at Old Nation weren’t too caught up about artificial intelligence (AI) taking over their jobs as creative experts for their beers one day, but they were surely taken aback getting to understand what neural network are capable of doing. The brewers thought it would be interesting to be the first brewery to have a beer named by a neural network.

[Image: Men's Journal]

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