Japanese brewer Asahi Shuzo has announced plans to trial brewing its Dassai Sake using an artificial intelligence (AI) model developed by Fujitsu Laboratories.

The AI solution is called Fujitsu Human Centric Ai Zinrai and will be implemented in a two cycle field trial from April to June this year.

This move to use AI techniques to brew sake in Japan is linked to the growing popularity of the spirit overseas and the labour shortages facing the country, which make it hard for companies to maintain a steady supply of the spirit.

The AI solution will rely on past brewing data accumulated by Asahi Shuzo, such as brewing temperature and proportion of ingredients, and will provide data to optimise the brewing process and help Asahi Shuzo to better control the machines involved in the brewing process.

As the AI model combines a mathematical model with machine learning techniques, it should become more accurate as it progresses through the trial period. The trial will also help the brewer to evaluate the practicality of using AI methods in sake brewing.

During the trial period, Asahi Shuzo’s employees will be trained on how AI can be used in the brewing of sake.

Sake contains high-quality water, fine rice and yeast. The rice is washed and steam-cooked before being mixed with yeast and koji – rice cultivated with a mould known as aspergillus orzyza – in a large tank called shikomi. Rice, koji and water are added to the mixture in three batches over four days. The product is left to sit from between 18 and 32 days and then it is pressed, filtered and blended.

In 2014, Asahi Shuzo used Fujitsu’s food and agriculture cloud Akisai on farms where the brewer sources its rice to systemise and optimise sake rice cultivation. The data from Akisai allowed farmers to determine the best time to fertilise and harvest their crops.

Dassai sake is a variety of Junmai Daiginjo sake, which Asahi Shuzo describes as a premium product that is brewed in very few places in Japan.

Fujitsu is a leading Japanese information and communication technology company. It owns Fujitsu Laboratories, which the company claims is a leading global research centre, that focuses on next-generation services, computer servers, networks, electronic devices and advanced materials.