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  • Writer's pictureLuke Nyswonger

Flavors of the Sunflower State: AI-Driven Brewing Adventures with Kansas Hops and Wheat

Few states embody America’s agricultural heritage as strongly as Kansas. Renowned for its vast wheat fields that stretch to the horizon and its pivotal role in feeding the nation, Kansas also boasts a lesser-known treasure — its unique, locally-grown hops.

In the heart of America, amongst the amber waves of grain, lies a homebrewer’s hidden gem — the Kansas Hop Company. The company, a stalwart of Midwest brewing, cultivates quality hops that are beloved by craft brewers in the region. One of its standout varieties is Kanook, a crossbreed between Chinook and Wild Kansas hops. Renowned for its citrusy and piney flavor profile, it has inspired many a brew, including notable offerings from Tall Trellis Brew Co. and Pathlight Brewing.

As a Kansas native and avid homebrewer, I often find myself amidst an interesting scenario, one that will resonate with many homebrewers. The anticipation to brew builds, yet instead of opting for the familiar or the tried-and-true, I look to my hops as a starting point. And for this brewing adventure, my inspiration springs from the Sunflower State itself.


Hop farm in the middle of Kansas generated by AI
Bing Image Creator: Hop farm in the middle of Kansas

My brews are often hop-forward, favoring new world hops typically used in crafting West Coast or Hazy IPAs. However, like any brewer with a keen sense of curiosity, my private stash boasts a variety of hops suitable for different beer styles.

This brewing journey will not just honor Kansas’ rich agricultural heritage, but it also sparks an intriguing concept: instead of initiating the brewing process with a particular beer style in mind, why not invert the paradigm and start with the hops we have on hand? This approach opens the door to creative, unique brews and allows us to make the most of our hop inventory.

In this endeavor, our AI Brewmaster, ChatGPT-4 with Bing, becomes an invaluable asset. This cutting-edge AI, combined with the wealth of brewing knowledge, recipes, and hop information accessible through Bing search, makes for a powerful brewing companion. With these tools, we can effectively analyze our hop inventory and generate creative, tailored recipes.

In this article I’ll explore how this technology can assist in transforming our Kansas-grown hops and wheat into a delightful, locally inspired brew.

Surveying The Hop Stockpile

Freezer full of hops
My personal stock of hops, mostly T-90 pellets

When it comes to storing my hops, I must admit, my system could use some tidying up. They find their home in the freezer compartment of my beer fridge out in the garage, housed in an assortment of packages. Some hops reside in vacuum-sealed bags having been opened once before, while others are still nestled in their original nitrogen-sealed packaging. A few are in opened bags, loosely covered for protection. Although my hop collection appears to span less than two years, the cool confines of the freezer should have preserved their quality and freshness well.

Here is a rundown of the hop inventory currently in my possession:

  • 12 oz of Kanook

  • 1 oz of HBC 438

  • 1 oz of Jarrylo

  • 1 oz of Warrior

  • 4 oz of Veterans Blend 2022

  • 8 oz of Azacca

  • 4 oz of Mosaic

  • 15 oz of Centennial

  • 14 oz of Sabro

  • 3 oz of Citra

This eclectic collection offers a diverse palette of flavors and aromas, ripe for brewing experimentation. With the assistance of ChatGPT and Bing, we’ll navigate this hop medley and find the perfect brewing avenue.

Unveiling The Potential

While the desire to use Kanook hops as a foundation is clear, it’s essential to gain a better understanding of the overall inventory. To accomplish this, I’ll employ some basic prompting techniques. For those new to utilizing ChatGPT’s capabilities, prompting involves presenting a statement or question to initiate the AI model’s response or continuation. Prompt engineering takes it a step further, skillfully crafting these initial prompts to guide the AI’s output, ensuring relevance, creativity, and adherence to desired constraints. By employing these strategies, we can unlock the full potential of our hop collection and unleash our brewing creativity.

Prompt: Please arrange the details of my inventory into a structured table format.
Screenshot of ChatGPT discussion on hops
Screenshot of ChatGPT discussion on hops

ChatGPT quickly organizes the data that I provided it but I want to expand upon this and get a better understanding of the details around each hop, how they may pair together, and what styles I could make.

Understanding the inventory

The first step in our journey is to determine what flavors each of these hops can bring to our brew. We’ll leverage the power of Bing’s search engine via ChatGPT to research the flavor profiles and typical usage of each hop variety. This will help us to understand the potential of our inventory.


As we utilize ChatGPT and Bing, we must remember that AI can provide general guidelines based on the information available. It’s our role as a brewer to interpret this information and apply it to our unique brewing conditions and palate preferences.

Prompt: Create a fresh table that provides detailed descriptions of the hop varieties. In addition, include common Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) styles and substyles.

Screenshot of ChatGPT discussion on hops
Screenshot of ChatGPT discussion on hops

Exploring variations

ChatGPT also has the ability to estimate which of these hops may pair well together based on their flavor profiles and common usage in existing beer styles.

For instance, Mosaic, Centennial, and Citra often feature together in many IPA recipes due to their complimentary citrus and tropical flavors. Meanwhile, the more unique flavors of Sabro and HBC 438 could make an interesting combination for a specialty brew.

But what kind of beer should we make with Kanook? What other hops in my inventory would pair well? Knowing that I also intend to make a wheat-based ale, we’re going to constrain the model further.


Prompt: Could you suggest some hop varieties that would complement Kanook when used in a wheat ale?

Screenshot of ChatGPT conversation on hops
Screenshot of ChatGPT conversation on hops

Designing the recipe

Crafting a beer recipe using ChatGPT is an exciting journey that combines, domain knowledge, inspiration, research, collaboration with AI, and continual refinement. At this point, I beleive I have what I need to get started designing the recipe. Most importantly, I have a clear vision and a well-defined notion of the flavor components I aim to incorporate.

Inspiration and Concept

  1. Begin with a clear idea or inspiration for the beer you want to create. In this case, it was a Kansas-inspired wheat ale featuring Kanook hops as the cornerstone and a desire for added complexity with Azacca hops.

  2. Based on that idea, design a detailed prompt you an articulate to the AI model.

Prompt: Create an all-grain recipe for an American Wheat Beer, tailored specifically for a 5-gallon Brew-In-A-Bag (BIAB) electric setup. The recipe should primarily feature wheat, accounting for 50–60% of the grain bill. The hop variety should include both Azacca and Kanook hops. A yeast strain that offers a neutral profile, excellent attenuation, and accentuates the unique characteristics of the Azacca and Kanook hops is preferred. Although it’s unconventional, aim for an alcohol by volume (ABV) between 5.5% and 6.5%, exceeding the standard range for this beer style.

Collaborative Exploration

  1. Initiate a conversation with ChatGPT or seek guidance from other brewing resources to discuss your hop inventory and the intention to feature specific hops and ingredients.

  2. Leverage search engines like Bing to gather real-time information on the selected hops, exploring their characteristics and common usage in brewing.

  3. Combine the insights gained from AI and other resources with your own knowledge of homebrewing and any relevant style guidelines, such as the BJCP style guide.

Prompt: We need to modify the base recipe a bit. Eliminate the Munich Malt and introduce a modest quantity of flaked wheat. Given the higher alpha acid percentage of Kanook, we’ll use it for both bittering and flavoring. Retain a yeast strain from the Imperial Yeast collection.

Brainstorming and Refinement

  1. Engage in a dialogue with ChatGPT to brainstorm and refine the recipe. Consider various hop combinations, additional brewing techniques, and recipe adjustments based on the insights gathered.

  2. Seek guidance on yeast selection, fermentation parameters, and carbonation levels suitable for the desired beer style, in this case, a wheat-based ale.

Prompt: The A07 yeast strain is a solid choice, but I’m interested in steering this American Wheat Beer towards a more hazy style. Could you explain how A38 Juice would interact with this base recipe? Please delineate the potential variances in results, focusing on factors such as attenuation, flocculation, and optimum fermentation temperature range.
Screenshot of ChatGPT conversation on yeast strains
Screenshot of ChatGPT conversation on yeast strains

Iterative Refinement

  1. Finalize the recipe design based on the collaborative process and information gathered.

  2. Import the recipe into brewing software such as Beersmith to further refine and adjust it until it aligns with your desired outcome.

  3. Continuously fine-tune the recipe through an iterative process, ensuring it meets your satisfaction and captures the essence of the intended beer style.

Prompt: Please come up with ten inventive and distinctive names for the newly crafted beer.

By following this approach, you can create a well-crafted recipe that combines inspiration, research, collaboration, and iterative refinement, resulting in a beer that embodies your vision and captures the essence of your chosen style or theme, including a unique name.

In my case, the 🌻Sun-Kissed Kansas Wheat beer was born.

 

Sun-Kissed Kansas Wheat

Sun-Kissed Kansas Wheat captures the essence of the sunflower state in every sip. Delicate aromas of freshly harvested wheat mingle with a subtle citrusy and piney embrace, courtesy of the renowned Kanook and Azacca hops. As the smooth, velvety liquid caresses your taste buds, a symphony of tropical fruit flavors unfolds, reminiscent of a sun-kissed oasis.


Sun-Kissed Kansas Wheat captures the essence of the sunflower state in every sip.
Bing Image Creator: Sun-Kissed Kansas Wheat captures the essence of the sunflower state in every sip.

Name: Sun-Kissed Kansas Wheat Type: All Grain Brewer: Luke Nyswonger Batch Size: 5 gallons Boil Size: 6.75 gallons Boil Time: 60 minutes Efficiency: 72%

Style: American Wheat Beer Category: Standard American Beer OG Range: 1.040–1.055 SG FG Range: 1.008–1.013 SG IBU Range: 15.0–30.0 IBUs Color Range: 3.0–6.0 SRM ABV Range: 4.0–5.5% Estimated ABV: 5.7%

Fermentables

  • Wheat Malt (6 lbs)

  • Pale Malt (4 lbs)

  • Wheat, Flaked (8 oz)

Hops

  • 60 minutes: Add 0.25 oz of Kanook hops for bittering.

  • 15 minutes: Add 0.5 oz of Azacca hops.

  • 5 minutes: Add 0.5 oz of Azacca hops.

  • Whirlpool: Add 0.5 oz of Azacca hops and 0.25 oz of Kanook hops.

Yeast

  • A38 Juice or A07 Flagship

Note: When comparing the two strains for a beer like Sun-Kissed Kansas Wheat, it ultimately comes down to personal preference and the specific flavor profile you’re aiming for. A38 Juice will accentuate the hop character and bring out the fruity notes, while A07 Flagship will contribute a more subtle fruitiness that can harmonize with the wheat malt. Experimentation and tasting trials can help you determine which yeast strain better aligns with your desired outcome for the beer. And if you have a 10-gallon system, this is a perfect time to split the batch and create two unique beers.

Fermentation

  • Primary: 4–7 days at 67°F

  • Secondary: 10 days at 67°F


 

Download the Beer XML file

This Beer XML file contains the recipe for Sun-Kissed Kansas Wheat beer, an American Wheat Beer with a refreshing blend of wheat and pale malt. It features a balanced hop schedule using Kanook and Azacca hops for bitterness, flavor, and aroma. Fermented with Juice yeast from Imperial Yeast, this 5-gallon batch has an estimated ABV of 6.3%. Access the complete recipe on GitHub Gist and brew your own Sun-Kissed Kansas Wheat beer!


Conclusion

In closing, our brewing adventure guided by ChatGPT with Bing integration has led us to the creation of Sun-Kissed Kansas Wheat beer, a testament to the endless possibilities and creativity in the world of brewing. By skillfully combining Kanook and Azacca hops with a wheat-based beer, we’ve captured the essence of the Sunflower State in every sip.

🍻Cheers to the transformative power of AI brewing!

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