The world’s first beer made from ingredients picked by robots is ready to roll out to drinkers.
The brew – called Hands Free Hectare Golden Ale – is produced using artificial intelligence in a link-up with brewers and university scientists.
Driverless tractors were used to sow winter barley in a one square hectare plot.
Growth was monitored by remote controlled drones flying overhead.
And, three years later, a robot combine harvester reaped the experimental field.
Then the Rowton Brewery turned the harvest into a 4.2 per cent ale – described by head brewer Steve Preston as “a great summer beer”.
It will go on sale this weekend at The Pheasant Inn in Wellington, Shrops.
Steve said: “Because we’re a small brewery we’re able to work with a smaller quantity of grain, which was perfect for Hands Free Hectare beer.
“It’s been nice to have the challenge of being innovative with this beer – working with a new grain and
experimenting with the taste.”
But Steve insisted there is no substitute for human skill when it came to perfecting the beer.
He said: “We work in a very traditional way using high quality malt from Marris Otter barley plus the finest hops and water from our own borehole.
“We’re very hands-on at the brewery, so the aspect of being hands-free definitely stopped once it reached us. But this has created a lot of interest.”
The launch of the beer means the experimental Hands Free Hectare farm – run by Harper Adams University, in Newport, Shrops, and farm technology firm Precision Decisions – will be expanded into a 35-hectare farm.
Jonathan Gill, the uni’s Mechatronics Researcher, said: “This time we’re planning to grow three different combinable crops across 35 hectares.
“We’re moving past the feasibility study which the hectare provided us with to a vision of the future of farming.”
Experts predict robots could be the future of farming. The National Farmers’ Union discussed GPS monitoring of cows, AI monitoring of crops, and robot fruit pickers at this year’s conference.
Ultimately, experts plan to develop robots that roam the land free of human control.
Callum Chalmers, of Farmscan AG, which makes the machines at the expermental farm, said: “Our goal is to have multiple small unmanned vehicles working together seamlessly in the same fields, all remotely monitored and completing all the tasks you would expect in a commercial farm.
“Navigating roads and pathways between fields is an exciting new challenge. We want to face real world conditions where fields aren’t often in one place and it’s a necessity to travel between them.”
After toasting the first robohop beer, the team is planning its next new product – a high-end robot-made gin. But there are no plans for cyber…sorry, cider yet.