Beer as a legacy
Archeologist evidence suggests that beer is one of the oldest drinks produced by humans. According to a report published in the Journal of Archeological Science, the earliest traces of fermentation are 13,000-year-old residues of a beer found in Israel and “It has long been speculated that the thirst for beer may have been the stimulus behind cereal domestication” .
Despite its many years of experimentation, the brewing process, which is often considered an art form, remains complex, as the demand for personalized beverage experiences has increased.
British IntelligentX startup to quench brewers’ thirst for innovation
IntelligentX was developed to create a unique product proposition: a beer brewed by artificial intelligence (AI) that followed the tastes of its customers.
During his TEDx talk () in London, co-founder Rob McInerney explained his mission to “crush the mediocrity conundrum.”. Stemming from McInerney’s frustration of encountering mediocre mass-produced products, IntelligentX was born. The start-up aims to move from a model where marketing pushes consumers to buy standardized products to one where products improve according to consumers’ needs, bringing consumers back into the feedback loop and rendering advertising obsolete.
How does it work?
IntelligentX works around a subscription service. First, a consumer creates a profile via the app. Then, they select a combination of the four standard intelligent beers (Pale AI, Black AI, Golden AI, and Amber AI) and a delivery frequency. IntelligentX then directly delivers to the consumer the selected mixture of 10 cans of beer in a box, which is priced at £29.
After the first delivery, the consumer is asked to give feedback on their taste via the app. This feeds many data points to the proprietary AI algorithm, which in turn revises the beers’ recipes to provide new custom-made beers for the next delivery. The cycle then repeats until the customer narrow their preferences down to their favorite beers (see picture below, ).
Opportunities and challenges
IntelligentX is currently riding the hype surrounding the use of AI to deliver custom-made beers to its customers. Thanks to its first-mover advantage, the company was able to price beers at a premium to capture most of the value created. The company also avoided most marketing costs—such as those related to market research and advertising—by directly involving the customer in the design process.
However, it is uncertain whether the company will become profitable in an industry where mass production and industrialization have taken over customization.
- The number of beer varieties will proportionally increase with the number of early adopters, rendering the production difficult and costly—even though some overlap in tastes amongst customers will be expected.
- Barriers to entry are also low, as the model will constantly evolve, starting from the same four types of beer. This will prevent any network effects among consumers from occurring.
- The current tech trend in beer is threatening IntelligentX’s niche.
The tech trend in beer
In recent years, like IntelligentX, many breweries have partnered with tech companies to explore AI applications in one of the oldest industries in the world. For instance:
- Champion brewing company in Virginia teamed up with Metis Machine to use information about the top ten best-selling (Indian Pale Ales (IPAs) in the US to design a new IPA recipe and evaluate new beer recipes .
- Sugar Creek Brewing Company partnered with IBM to use AI to improve its beer manufacturing line .
- Carlsberg partnered with Microsoft in the “Beer Fingerprinting Project” to use machine learning fed with beer ingredient characteristics to map out and predict beer flavors, shortening the time it takes to develop new beers 
The food and beverage industry is evolving rapidly, and IntelligentX will need to continue innovating to stay ahead of its competition. Currently, the startup only delivers in the UK; thus, IntelligentX should consider increasing its manufacturing capabilities and expanding in other countries. Europe consumes the most beer in the world —with the Czech Republic at the top of the list with 143.3 liters consumed per capita per year —and IntelligentX should seriously consider expanding throughout the rest of Europe.
 Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports Volume 21, October 2018, Pages 783-793
 https://deadspin.com/the-taxonomy-of-brewing-500-beers-on-one-ridiculous-ch-1435203676, accessed 11/19/2019
 https://youtu.be/og5B5RNJ7Gw, accessed 11/19/2019
 https://vimeo.com/172395607, accessed 11/19/2019
 https://www.zdnet.com/article/smarter-beer-when-old-school-craft-brewing-meets-industry-4-0-ai/, accessed 11/19/2019
 http://worldpopulationreview.com/countries/beer-consumption-by-country/, accessed 11/19/2019
 https://join.intelligentx.ai/, accessed 11/19/2019