Charlotte Brewery Uses AI and Smart Tech to Advance Beer-Making

April 23, 2019

By Spencer Feingold

A brewery in North Carolina is taking the centuries-old process of beer making into the 21st century with artificial intelligence and "internet of things" technology.

The Sugar Creek Brewery in Charlotte has partnered with IBM and Bosch to implement state-of-the-art technology to advance their craft and increase efficiency.

“When you have a precise collection of data at all different points in our process, we are able to put out a better product,” Joe Vogelbacher, the brewery’s co-founder, told Cheddar in an interview Tuesday. “It is only getting better from here because the more data we collect, the more the AI is able to give us real time feedback.”

The advanced systems track data points on everything from temperature, pH, pressure, and carbonation. Using the IBM Watson AI computer system and the Bosch interface, the brewery is also able to record precise fermentation levels and adjust for flavor.

The new technology has also saved the company money. Sugar Creek — which produces 7,000 barrels of beer annually — was losing over $30,000 a month due to waste in the manufacturing process, Vogelbacher wrote in an IBM blog post.

The brewery now saves around $10,000 to $20,000 a month.

“Once we got it up and running, we really realized just how efficient it can make us,” Eric Flanigan, the brewery’s other co-founder, told Cheddar. “AI really lets us keep an eye on everything at once.”

The founders said that with the savings, the company will hire additional sales staff and increase its marketing budget. “We are going to grow our footprint a little bit more,” Flanigan said.

Vogelbacher added that in the future, he hopes to use AI and data to invent a new style of beer, one that “the world has never seen before.”

For full interview click here.