It's music to his beers: Kiwi beer baron who plays music while brewing swears it reduces wastage video

Jason Wright

Brewer Kelly Ryan talks about his experiment playing beer 'Low Noise' while it brewed.

​We all know beer and music is a great combination but what about playing music to beer while it is still brewing?

Well, an experimental Kiwi brewer has done just that - and got some "pretty cool" results. 

Kelly Ryan, food scientist and international beer judge, teamed up with acoustic engineer Jason Wright for the sound experiment, and they say the musical method reduced wastage by 20 per cent less beer loss. 

Kelly Ryan has free range to experiment with different brews, including this "Sourbet", a raspberry and lemon Berliner ...

Kelly Ryan has free range to experiment with different brews, including this "Sourbet", a raspberry and lemon Berliner Weisse.

Ryan is the head brewer, keg washer and grain lifter at Wellington's Fork and Brewer, and has free range to experiment, having created over 71 different craft beers in the last three years. 

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But before you go imagining Michael Jackson's Thriller or Guns N' Roses' Sweet Child O' Mine, Ryan said the ultrasonic vibrations sounded more like a constant hum.

"We stuck a whole lot of speakers on the sides of a stainless steel tank, at an alternating 80 hertz frequency... an allowed the vibrations to work their magic on the yeast."

They decided to try the vibrations out the brewpub's own "Low Blow" beer, a 4.4 percent hoppy pale ale, then did the exact same brew a week later, only this time it was brewed with the music.

"We got a slight increase in perceived bitterness in the beer, which could mean we wouldn't have to use the same amount of bittering hops in future.

"But the cool part was I actually got 20 per cent less yeast growth as well."

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Ryan explained that in terms of beer biomass, less yeast leftover in the tanks afterwards meant more usable beer.

"If I've got 20 litres less yeast, and 20 litres more beer, over a year, if I was doing 200 brews a year, that's 4000 more litres more beer I'd get in a year - just by using ultrasonic vibrations to make yeast work their magic.

"We're based on efficiency. Number one thing in a brewery is that we want to make beer taste as great as it can, number two is that you have to try and make it cost effectively; you can't lose money making beer. 

"So for a small brewer like me, if I can gain 4000 litres of beer in a year, that's four brews extra, that's very cool; science in motion."

The idea initially came from Wright, a Wellington-based sound artist, for a collaborative exhibition called "Low Noise" - showcasing Wellington's best sound installations.

But as it happened, Kelly was interested in the subject of sound brewing already - a match made in beervana. 

And together they decided that the constant note, or "sonic energy" rather than a piece of music would have the greatest affect on the beer.

"It was so cool to see the sound acting on organic matter at a microscopic level, and [the beer] tasted awesome, even to myself and my limited palate, it was awesome," Write said.

Ryan said he'd love to do the experiment again in the future, and even have speakers permanently attached to experiment with different brewing music, now that he know's the vibrations does have a noticeable affect on yeast metabolism. 

But best of all, Ryan said he has a good excuse to tell the bar tenders at the brewpub to stop playing bad music: "like Taylor Swift" - for the sake of his yeasts and brewing beer.


​Bliss Th' Dudes 
My Sharona The Knack
Slice of Heaven Dave Dobbin
Why Does Love Do This To Me The Exponents
Closing Time Semisonic
Six Months in a Leaky Boat Split Enz
April Sun in Cuba Dragon
The Number of the Yeast - Iron Maiden

 - Sunday Star Times

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