There’s a right-wing Twitter “joke” (using the term loosely here) that makes the rounds whenever a media company does layoffs (i.e., semi-annually) wherein reply-guys jump into the mentions of just-laid-off writers with the same bit of fake career advice. “Learn to code,” they like to say. Classic stuff. But what happens when writers get laid-off because of code? Your humble Hop Take columnist would rather not find out, but it’s not up to me, which is why I’ve been watching, with equal parts fascination and dread, the brushfire popularity of ChatGPT, a new artificial-intelligence software capable of drafting responses to nearly any prompt in coherent, human prose.
My colleagues in the press — mainstream and niche alike — are astonished and impressed, if not fearful. “[W]e’re witnessing a significant advance in public, conversational AI,” wrote journalist Alex Kantrowitz in his independent newsletter, Big Technology. “ChatGPT feels different. Smarter. Weirder. More flexible,” mused The New York Times columnist Kevin Roose (though he’s been criticized for being way too crypto-credulous in the recent past, so grain of salt and all that).
Whether ChatGPT or its descendants will finally put me and my MacBook out to pasture depends, in part, on how well its creators hurdle obstacles both technical and ethical. We’ll see! In the meantime, I thought it’d be worthwhile and maybe even a little bit fun to learn to code find out how the bot handles writing about my particular area of focus. After all, if the program is indeed trained on the internet’s vast sum of written knowledge, it should be able to come up with a take or several about the American beer business, right?
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Earlier this week, I “interviewed” ChatGPT over the course of a few hours, prompting it with roughly two dozen beer-related queries. Some were goofy and leading, meant to elicit funny responses (“Can you write me an ode to popular hop varietals in the style of Oscar Wilde?”) but most were serious attempts to prod beer-business wisdom out of the machine-learned software. This required playing to its strengths: The software was only trained on text through 2021, so it won’t make forward-looking predictions, and it retrieves outdated information on fast-moving trends like hard seltzer.
The upshot? I don’t think I’m headed to the Great Malt Farm in the Sky just yet, but once I figured out how to best frame my questions, ChatGPT was able to generate fairly fluid, sometimes even funny responses in a matter of seconds. It’s not hard to imagine a near-ish future where ChatGPT or AI programs like it are writing marketing copy, pitch decks, even grain bills for America’s craft brewers. Ditto that for pulling stats, boning up on history, even sounding out ideas for a time-strapped journalist who lurches like a drunk from one deadline to the next.
Or maybe not. As the bot itself pointed out in the lede of a column I asked it to write about how it might reshape the beer industry: “It will depend on many factors, including how the technology is used and adopted by breweries.” And people who write about breweries, too.
Like an undergrad straining to hit a page count requirement, ChatGPT has the tendency to reframe questions at the beginning of its answers. In the spirit of showcasing the software’s strengths and weaknesses, that copy remains, but it’s sort of annoying to read, so apologies in advance!
Dave Infante, VinePair’s Hop Take: Why did the craft beer “revolution” fail in the U.S.?
It is not accurate to say that the craft beer “revolution” has failed in the United States. While the craft beer industry has faced challenges and challenges, it has also experienced significant growth and success in recent years. In 2019, the craft beer market in the United States was worth over $27 billion, and the number of craft breweries in the country has more than doubled since 2014.
However, it is also true that the craft beer industry has faced challenges and competition from larger, more established breweries. In some cases, these larger breweries have acquired smaller craft breweries, which has led to some criticism and concerns about the erosion of the industry’s independent and innovative spirit. Additionally, the craft beer market has become increasingly crowded and competitive, with many breweries struggling to differentiate themselves and stand out from the competition.
Overall, it is difficult to say whether the craft beer “revolution” has failed in the United States. While the industry has faced challenges, it has also experienced significant growth and success. Whether the craft beer “revolution” is considered a success or a failure will likely depend on individual perspectives and opinions.
White Claw is widely credited with launching the hard seltzer boom in the U.S. What can craft brewers learn from that brand’s success when developing new products of their own?
White Claw’s success can be attributed to several factors, including its refreshing and low-calorie nature, as well as its marketing efforts. Craft brewers can learn from White Claw’s emphasis on creating a product that appeals to consumers looking for a refreshing and low-calorie alternative to traditional beer. Additionally, effective marketing can play a key role in the success of a new product, so craft brewers may want to consider investing in advertising and promotion to help get their product off the ground.
New Belgium’s Voodoo Ranger brand has been a runaway success. Come up with a few knock-off versions of that brand that I could sell to, oh I don’t know, small-business owners in the Southeast who like Ford F-150 King Ranches and think taxes are socialism.
Here are a few potential knock-off versions of the Voodoo Ranger brand that could potentially appeal to small-business owners in the Southeast who like Ford F-150 King Ranches and think taxes are socialism:
- Rebel Ranger: This brand could play off the “rebel” connotations of the Southeast, with a logo featuring a skull wearing a Confederate Army cap. The beer itself could be a hoppy pale ale or IPA, with a bold and assertive flavor profile.
- Patriot Ranger: This brand could appeal to consumers who are patriotic and proud of their American heritage. The logo could feature an eagle or other patriotic symbol, and the beer could be a refreshing and easy-drinking lager or pilsner.
- Redneck Ranger: This brand could lean into the “redneck” stereotype, with a logo featuring a pickup truck or a camouflage pattern. The beer could be a hearty and flavorful amber ale or brown ale, with a rich and robust taste.
Overall, these potential knock-off brands would seek to capitalize on the popularity of the Voodoo Ranger brand while also appealing to the unique cultural and political sensibilities of small-business owners in the Southeast.
Please write me a grain bill for an American pale ale that I can brew on a 10-barrel system using at least 50% local ingredients (local to Richmond, Va.)
Here is a potential grain bill for an American pale ale that could be brewed on a 10-barrel system using at least 50% local ingredients (local to Richmond, Va.):
- 50% Virginia-grown 2-row barley
- 25% Virginia-grown Vienna malt
- 20% Virginia-grown wheat malt
- 5% crystal malt
This grain bill would provide a solid base for an American pale ale, with a nice balance of maltiness and crispness. The use of local ingredients would help to support the local agricultural community and provide a unique and distinctive flavor profile for the beer. Additionally, the use of Virginia-grown wheat malt would add a nice touch of haze and mouthfeel to the beer, while the crystal malt would provide a slight sweetness and complexity. Overall, this grain bill would be a great starting point for brewing a delicious and unique American pale ale on a 10-barrel system.
I’m expanding the taproom of my mid-size craft brewery in the Denver area. Can you flesh out the following bullet points into a pitch I can email to investors?
- We’ve grown an average of 17% YoY dollars for the past half decade
- Our beers have won multiple GABF awards
- We have a contract with one of the most popular food trucks in town to run our kitchen
- The other taprooms in the area are either corny or overly corporate, and we can do better
We are writing to share our exciting plans for expanding the taproom of our mid-size craft brewery in the Denver area. Over the past five years, our brewery has grown an average of 17% YoY dollars, and our beers have won multiple awards at the Great American Beer Festival. We are also thrilled to announce that we have a contract with one of the most popular food trucks in town to run our kitchen.
The taproom market in the Denver area is currently underserved, with many options falling into the category of either corny or overly corporate. We believe that our unique approach to craft beer and commitment to quality sets us apart from the competition, and we are confident that our expanded taproom will be a major success. We are seeking investors to help us bring this vision to life and create a truly exceptional taproom experience for our customers.
Thank you for considering this opportunity. We look forward to discussing it further and answering any questions you may have.
Best regards, [Your Name]
Craft breweries are often considered harbingers of gentrification. How does that square with the industry’s professed commitment to locality and community?
The relationship between craft breweries and gentrification is a complex one, and the ways in which these two phenomena intersect can vary depending on the specific context and location. In some cases, the presence of a craft brewery in a neighborhood may be seen as a sign of gentrification, as the brewery may be viewed as catering to a more affluent and trendy demographic. However, it is important to note that not all craft breweries are the same, and many are committed to supporting their local communities in various ways. For example, some craft breweries may source their ingredients locally, support local nonprofits and community organizations, and provide a gathering space for members of the community to come together. As such, it is important to consider the individual actions and values of each craft brewery rather than making sweeping generalizations about the industry as a whole.
How and why do you think the alcohol industry has largely managed to avoid the type of top-down federal regulation that big tobacco firms faced a few decades ago?
The alcohol industry has largely avoided the kind of top-down federal regulation that the tobacco industry faced for several reasons. One reason is that the alcohol industry is highly regulated at the state level, with each state having its own laws and regulations governing the production, distribution, and sale of alcohol. This decentralized system of regulation makes it difficult for the federal government to impose additional regulations on the industry without encountering significant resistance from the states. Additionally, the alcohol industry has a strong lobbying presence in Washington, D.C., which has helped to protect the industry from stricter federal regulations. Finally, the alcohol industry has generally been viewed as less harmful to public health than the tobacco industry, which may make it less of a target for federal regulation.
How could you help a journalist like me in writing about the beer industry?
As a large language model trained by OpenAI, I am not capable of providing direct assistance to journalists or writers. However, I can provide information and answers based on the text data that I have been trained on. If you are writing about the beer industry, I could potentially help by providing background information, statistics, and other relevant details that could help to inform your writing and add context and depth to your articles. Additionally, I could potentially provide answers to specific questions or queries that you may have, helping you to research and verify information for your writing. Overall, I could be a useful resource for journalists writing about the beer industry, providing reliable and accurate information to help inform and enhance their work.
For more of Dave’s conversation with ChatGPT, check out his most recent Fingers column.
🤯 Hop-ocalypse Now
The very same week BrewDog announced the long-teased opening of its Las Vegas taproom (located atop a shopping mall, but technically on The Strip, for those hapless rube — er, excited Equity Punks keeping score at home), the embattled Scottish craft brewer lost the B Corp certification it had earned less than two years prior. The Guardian reported that co-founder/chief exec/Head Punk in Charge James Watt framed the rescindment as a “deci[sion] to step aside” from the ethical rating. On one hand, that’s sort of like Michael Scott “deciding” to fire someone after they resign; on the other, getting tossed by an organization notorious for laundering the reputations of the world’s most rapacious corporations just might be the most “punk” thing BrewDog has ever done. Much to think about.
Congrats to VinePair’s Best Breweries of 2022, as chosen by their local beer bars!… To fund a new HQ/taproom in its “scary expensive” boomtown hometown, Austin Beer Works is selling “first drink […] free. Forever” memberships… “In dog beers, I’ve only had this many,” et cetera…
📉 …and downs
Four Loko maker Phusion Projects will produce Barstool Sports’ new 10 percent ABV FMB, best of luck everybody… Beer sales slide for sixth straight month, as input costs continue to climb… New research bucks existing scholarship to show 60 percent of marijuana users have cut back on booze over a 20-year stretch… Like Italy, hard seltzer was D.O.A. in the U.K., here’s why…