Beer is not a gimmick

I get sent dozens of press releases daily. Some tell me of new beers, some offer me the chance to try new beers, some are about events, others about things brewers have done.

Data beer

Then there are the ones with just a tenuous or incongruous connection to beer. Like a beer brewed with data… which seemed to be a publicity stunt, but which also seemed like an odd PR tool and therefore a bit of a cack-handed way to promote yourself.

It reminded me though of a post I wrote on here a while back called ‘beer is the new sex‘ in which I noted how there seemed to be a growing number of products shouting about how they have BEER IN THEM as a selling point. If only beer really were that popular! It may be having a moment, in a way it’s never done before, but there’s a lot more to be done to get beer to its rightful place so people see it for the versatile beverage it is and not just a lowbrow drop to chuck down your neck without thinking.

So, about this beer ‘brewed with data’. It’s not a Star Trek TNG beer, or something brewed by Wil Wheaton apparently. Here’s how the press release began.

“Customer engagement agency Havas helia has worked with IBM Watson to capture the mood of the nation during the New Year party season to create a world first – a beer that tastes of joy and optimism.”

Run that by me again? The customer engagement agency’s data specialists analysed people’s New Year messages on social media and the feelings which seemed to be behind Data beer back label 2them.  Then some sort of IBM artificial intelligence programme called ‘Watson’ analysed almost 3,000 beer recipes together with details of ingredients, tasting notes and beer reviews – and created a personality profile for the perfect beer which was then made and sent to me.

Actually I think it was more complicated than that, but I got bored with trying to understand how they’d done it. Better to just open the beer and see what it tastes like eh?

It was bloody tasty as it happens. An enticing zesty lemon and lime aroma beckoned me in. The payoff was a very drinkable, soft lemony citrus beer with a dry finish – but a juicy aftertaste. Although it wasn’t particularly challenging, it had that certain something that made me keep drinking and want another.

The only thing which let it down was a chunk or two of floating yeast as I poured the first third of the bottle (even though I’d kept it upright since it arrived a couple of weeks earlier). Funnily enough, it reminded me of my feelings at New Year. You hope it’s going to be a refreshing change and easy to get through, but there are clouds on the horizon. Little bits of crap that stop things being perfect, but like this yeast, with luck they just sink to the bottom and don’t actually spoil things after all.

So what did this gimmicky beer do for me – and for those who commissioned it? I have now heard of Havas helia – but I keep forgetting their name and thinking they are called Helivas or Helluva lot or something – and I have found out that IBM have a scary piece of software called Watson which reminds me of something from the TV show Person of Interest. But let’s be fair I’m not likely to do anything with those pieces of information. Maybe you will, but I’m not sure that’s any more likely.

The best result though is I have discovered a new brewery, High Peak Brew Co, and I’m looking forward to trying some more of their beers.

So I think perhaps the moral of the story is shouting about beer is good for selling beer but isn’t necessarily the new sex marketeers think it is.



  1. Watson famously won the American game show Jeopardy, although it did come up with some humorously daft answers along the way.

  2. I like your term ‘to chuck down your neck without thinking’. I think there is still a good thing at brewing with data.

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