Naming beers is a tricky business in the age of the microbrew. America has well over 5,000 breweries, and almost every beer name imaginable seems to have been taken. Cities, trees, weather patterns, and critters alike have been thoroughly mined, and brewers are wringing their hands (or, sometimes, getting embroiled in legal battles) in the effort to come up with a novel name for a new recipe.
Enter the neural network. Following a Gizmodo article about the dearth of new beer names, scientist Janelle Shane decided to sic artificial intelligence on this all-important task. And now, Old National Brewing Company, based in Williamston, Michigan, has launched what’s almost certainly the first beer named by a neural network: The Fine Stranger, a New England Double Dry-Hopped Saison.
The network allowed Shane to dial up or down the creativity. At its lowest setting, the beers were very (appropriately) French:
Saison Du Bear
Saison Du Farmer
Saison De Man
Saison De Mountain
Saison Du Chard
Saison Du Pant
Saison De Life
Saison De La Mort
But as creativity was dialed up, “the good ones got better and the bad ones got a lot worse,” she wrote. Until, that is, she pushed it up to full-tilt creativity, and the neural network went bonkers. “I stopped,” she wrote. “Perhaps you can understand why.”
Saison De Mage
The brewer eventually chose a name from one of the middle tiers, at the same creativity level as “Burcumber Jane Rad” and “Don’t The Mountain.” The Fine Stranger sounds convincingly like a saison—but great beer names for other styles are still up for grabs. Anyone for a tall, frosty Yampy?
Atlas Obscura has the full story. I think this is a fine idea, for jump-starting stalled imaginations. And ‘Don’t Tell The Mountain’ would be a good name.