PARIS - Spanish researchers have created an electronic "tongue" capable of distinguishing between beer varieties and their alcohol content.
The artificial organ was accurate nearly 82 per cent of the time, said its creators - and could be the first step towards developing robots with a sense of taste.
The taster was made using 21 electrodes, each responsive to different chemical compounds such as ammonium, sodium, nitrate or chloride, according to researchers from the Autonomous University of Barcelona.
Exposed to beer, the electrode bundle yielded chemical data that could be analysed for patterns with which to identify the different brews.
It could tell the difference between Schwarzbier, lager, double malt, Pilsen, Alsatian and low-alcohol beer - all the types it was "trained" to recognise.
The "tongue" did not recognise drinks for which it had not been programmed.
"These tools could one day give robots a sense of taste," said a statement on the study published in the journal Food Chemistry.
They could also "supplant panels of tasters in the food industry to improve the quality and reliability of products for consumption."