Commonly referred to the “internet of beer,” breweries around the world are increasingly using Internet of Things (IoT) solutions to make beer better — and the Sugar Creek Brewing Company in Charlotte is no different.

The company’s CEO Joe Vogelbacher recently posted a blog post on IBM’s website about the trend and collaborating with the tech giants like IBM and Bosch  in a bid to keep up with the competition.

He wrote:

We were losing more than $30,000 a month in beer spillage through the manufacturing process. By integrating new AI and IoT technology into our brewing process, we found a solution that supports our commitment to product quality and craftsmanship as well as growing efficiencies.

The AI and IoT technology tells my team about many aspects of the beer, which are critical to efficiently creating a quality product. Parameters such as fill time, temperature, pH, gravity, pressure, carbonation and level are all fed to the IoT cloud for analysis. This data can inform new processes or refine existing ones to ensure our beer meets the high expectations of our consumers.

Sugar Creek Brewing Co. co-founders, Joe Vogelbacher and Eric Flanigan. (IBM photo)

For example: As the beer went from tank to tank in our bottling line, imbalances in pressure and temperature would create foam and waste beer. Bottles were getting inconsistently filled and then moving through to the labeling process. These bottles had to be pulled off the line and recycled, wasting quality product.

An analogue float and IBM visual insights AI from the IBM Watson IoT platform were installed in Sugar Creek Brewing’s bottling process. Data collected via precision flow meters and Bosch IoT sensors helped our team pinpoint process losses and make corrections.

Data collected and analyzed via the IBM Watson/Bosch interface identified an issue causing excessive foaming in the bottle. An improvement from this process alone, saved us more than $10,000 per month. Bottles that were previously rejected for improper fill levels were nearly eliminated, which increased the amount of finished product we were able to deliver to the market.

As such, the brewery can now  immediately point out a problem bottle. They also have more controlled, precise fermentations which leads to a better flavor in the bottle.

Better tasting beer, plus cost savings? Sounds like a win-win.