Perfect Beer Talks S02 E03: History of Beer Innovations

“The beer business is about passion,” says Roman Werner on the 3rd episode of season #2 of Perfect Beer Talks! He and our CEO, Can Algul, discuss at length the steps necessary to serve the perfect beer, and the positive impact innovation can have on the beer industry.

Drawing on his experiences as an academic at the Technical University of Munich, located in the town where the first brewery was established, Roman explains why dispensing systems are crucial to serve perfect beer and why they should be a central topic of discussion in the future. He also stresses the need to integrate innovative technologies into beer systems to enhance the overall experience.


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Nurturing innovation in the home of brewing science

Roman is working as a scientist and managing director of Technical University of Munich (TUM) Venture Lab Food/Agro/Biotech (FAB) Team located in TUM Food and Agro Center for Innovation and Technology (FACIT) in Weihenstephan, the city where the art of brewing was founded. For a long time now, the Weihenstephan campus has been known for its research and education in the fields of brewing science, agriculture and food technology.

“In Germany, beer culture is forming our culture.” – Roman Werner

Roman studied brewing and beverage technologies and was especially interested in hygiene monitoring and examination of hygienic design properties. After 7 years of working on dispensing systems in the academy, he wanted to do something different and changed his career path. He has always wanted to put innovation and research in concrete forms in order to help startups fulfill their dreams and bring out innovative products in the field of food and agriculture. So he went on to be responsible for the entrepreneurship setting of the university. Now he supports startups working in the fields of agriculture, food and beverage tech; and has the opportunity to be part of many great innovations. In his words, ‘this gives a great look into the future.’

Did you know that? Weihenstephan Abbey, located in a small town called Weihenstephan in Germany, is believed to have been brewing beer since at least the 11th century and to be the oldest continuously operating brewery in the world.

“Beer was always an essential food thousands of years ago,” Roman says. It was neither healthy nor safe enough to drink water. There was less alcohol in the beer than there is today. In fact, in ancient times people brewed using different ingredients. For example, people were not allowed to use any plants that give toxic substances in Germany. This is nothing to be surprised at since quick research on the topic shows how the brewing process has evolved through thousands of years.

In the past, beer was brewed using simple methods and ingredients were mixed, allowing it to ferment naturally, resulting in a low-alcohol beer that was usually consumed for its nutritional value as well as its taste. However, the lack of standardization and the fact that different ingredients used in the brewing process made drinking safe beer difficult. Roman mentions that, for example, in Germany people were not allowed to use any plants that give toxic substances to the beer, and at a certain point “Reinheitsgebot,” known as the Purity Law, was established to ensure the quality and safety of beer. The Purity Law standardized the brewing processes and specified that beer could only be brewed using specific ingredients such as water, barley, and hops.

Fun fact: Yeast was added on the list later, after its role in fermentation was better understood.

Over the centuries, Roman explains, we had several innovations that improved beer quality and the way we produce beer. The Industrial Revolution in the 18th century particularly played a critical role in the transformation of the ways to produce beer. For instance, it led to the automation of many aspects of the brewing process and made it possible to produce large quantities of beer more quickly and efficiently. As Roman puts it, the beer became cheaper and affordable, can be produced in big amounts and good quality thanks to the innovations happening so far. Moreover, with modern brewing techniques and technologies we have today, brewers can create an endless variety of beer styles. However, it is not easy to standardize a drink that has been in the lives of humans for thousands of years and serve it perfectly every time.

This is where Pubinno comes into play, intending to build the Internet of Beer all over the world. Through our smart solutions powered by patented Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, we make serving perfect beer with every pint possible and support all stakeholders in the entire draft beer ecosystem by enabling them to manage their draft beer operations more efficiently. Pubinno’s products also prevent unintentional losses by making the whole process measurable and traceable.

“You could brew the best beer in the world and if the beer is poured from a poorly maintained dispensing system, all the effort you put into the whole process would be in vain.” – Roman Werner

At Pubinno, we put great emphasis on the standardization of perfect beer quality and leverage innovative, data-centered technologies to make that happen. Our AI-powered Smart Taps continuously check 4 parameters such as pressure, line cleaning, temperature, and keg freshness that determine the quality of beer and enable bartenders to pour perfect beer with each pint. We create a draft beer system where operations are fully automated, trackable, hygienic, sustainable, and standardized.

Perfect beer loading…

Roman believes that the beer industry has a great future ahead but we have to find new solutions to persistent problems we have been facing for years now. And to do that, we have to innovate and bring up new technologies not only to brew but also to dispense beer. 

“21st century innovation is much more than increasing profits. All of us have a huge responsibility to respect and protect our ecosystem while transforming the industries.” – Can Algul

3 components for the perfect draft beer include raw materials and composition, the experience and philosophy of the brewer, and the brewing and dispensing equipment as Roman puts it. He suggests the amount and type of materials highly influence the beer taste and quality as well as the dispensing systems used in the last step before the consumer. This step might be problematic since almost every bar/pub or restaurant uses a different dispensing system and the knowledge and awareness about how to treat, maintain and clean it is very limited. 

“Innovations are crucial for humanity. We have to change the setting where we decelerate innovative, smart minds.” – Roman Werner

The lack of standardization and control over the schedule of cleaning practices affects beer quality in a very negative way. Roman says, as a beer cicerone, when you go to a pub or a restaurant and have this taste of metal in your mouth, you instantly know they do not clean and maintain the dispensing system properly. “This is especially the case with pubs using easy, simple manual systems that have no automated concepts and cleaning protocols.” This is why it is important use different innovative technologies like digitization.

Roman speaks greatly of the difference fully automated dispensing systems have the potential to make, saying dispensing systems must be at the center of discussion in the future and we need to use innovative technologies like digitization in the systems. A great potential realized is evident in Pubinno’s end-to-end digital solutions for the entire draft beer system. “This is a really important step in improving the draft beer quality,” Roman says, “Your products using digitization with all the different opportunities and possibilities we have.”

It is no surprise that Pubinno has seen 400% growth during the pandemic where the digitization efforts have accelerated immensely and hygiene became #1 concern in all industries. Our latest offering Smart Clean, launched in 2020, digitizes one of the most crucial aspects of the draft beer system: the cleaning process.

“You have to be patient when you are disrupting 1000-year-old industries. You have an incredible chance to learn something new every day.” – Can Algul

Achieving net zero

Roman thinks the main goal we all have towards the sustainability of the earth should be to keep our world in a way that we can keep living on it. “However, achieving net zero is difficult, to be honest,” he says, “You have to constantly learn and see how you can improve. Think of energy saving, use of less water, or circularity as in the use of end products that cannot be used anymore in the production of others. To achieve circularity in the industry, companies and startups should work together.”

During the pandemic, the amount of waste from our households increased a lot, at least that is what Roman observed in Germany. People used single-use plastic, non-reusable packages and delivery options when the restaurants were closed and all of these contributed greatly to the overall carbon emissions we cause. In the beer industry, people who were not home brewers had to buy bottled or canned beer every time they wanted to drink beer. This methods of packaging beer were not only more expensive, but they also had a much larger environmental impact than draft beer stored in reusable kegs. By using kegs brands can reduce the environmental impact of producing, transporting, and disposing of packaging materials, as producing kegs requires less energy and resources than producing glass bottles. Whereas glass production is energy-intensive and requires the mining of raw materials, kegs are made from metal and can be recycled at the end of their lifespan. Moreover, by using Pubinno’s Smart Taps, brands can also save up to 20% of beer per keg and avoid the carbon emissions they would have normally caused.