Two neighboring companies have created a high-tech beer collaboration.

By Mike Pomranz
Updated January 09, 2020
PhonlamaiPhoto/Getty Images

Drones have been one of the most talked-about pieces of tech for years—and though they aren't quite buzzing everywhere delivering Amazon packages yet, they have proved they're good for more than just stunning aerial shots and annoying pilots. Last year, Uber began testing drones to speed up food delivery; in Mexico, drones are being used to fight tequila fraud; and now, a drone has even been used to make beer.

Philadelphia's longstanding craft brewery Dock Street Brewing teamed up with their friendly neighborhood drone maker Exyn Technologies (the companies are literally next door to each other) to produce what they're billing as "the first beer brewed by a drone"—a pale ale called Swarm Intelligence. The "light, floral" 4.9 percent ABV ale includes a touch of local orange blossom honey, but drinkers will probably be more interested in how the brew was made than its dry-hop bill of Ekuanot, Mosaic, and Chinook.

Exyn says that its "autonomous aerial robot systems" are typically used for industrial applications in areas like mining, construction, and nuclear power, but for Swarm Intelligence, the tech company got its drone to hover around a smaller brewery space to help out with things like dropping hops into the kettle. Here's some video footage of it going down…

"We have always been motivated by innovation and being ahead of the curve. We started our craft brewery in 1985, well before the microbrewery revolution hit the rest of the country," Renata Certo-Ware, events and marketing at Dock Street Brewing, stated, explaining how the collaboration between two very disparate companies came together. "It's only a matter of time before drones will be everywhere in every sector, but this is the first known collab where a drone has actively contributed to the brew process."

Courtesy of Exyn Technologies and Dock Street Brewery

Of course, just because a drone can do something doesn't mean it's necessarily an improvement on the traditional method. And Certo-Ware admitted that, yes, in many ways, this was mostly about experimenting and having fun. "From a functionality point of view, we pushed ourselves to see how we could incorporate a drone into our brewing process because we think drones are cool, and in turn, this pushed Exyn to try to find a way for a drone to not only carry hops, but also release them into a brewing tank," she told me via email. Plus, they utilized one of a drone's most famous tricks to create the label art. "The drone offered an amazingly thorough, detailed, and 3D view of the brewery that regular photography simply could never capture."

She then quipped, "It's better to make friends with [drones] and teach them how to brew before they take over!" I'm sure the drones are happy to have acquired this important skill!

Swarm Intelligence will be released Tuesday, January 28 exclusively at Dock Street's Philadelphia brewery locations. No word on whether it will be served to customers by drone.

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