Roboticists at the Autonomous University in Barcelona have successfully built an electronic tongue that can taste and detect differences between different kinds of beers, like lagers, IPAs, and stouts. It can even detect subtle variations between, say, Bud Light and Miller Lite, which would normally take an ordinary human four years of college.
According to the study published in the journal Food Chemistry, the electronic tongue was built using "an array of potentiometric ion-selective electrodes." In lab tests, it was able to distinguish and recognize various brews with a commendable 82% accuracy.
"The food industry needs to test lots of their products—and this is usually done by an expert," study author Manel del Valle tells NPR. "But if you transfer this expertise to a robot, you can produce at night, you can produce on the weekends."
Such technology could help beer scientists fine-tune existing recipes even further—and maybe even develop tasty new options. Add that to a coming generation of robotic bartenders, and the future of technology-abetted drinking doesn't look half bad.