A group of students taking a workshop on intellectual property and copyright at the Information Technology University in Copenhagen decided to apply their new knowledge to improving the lot of mankind. They have developed the world's first open source beer.
Mr Nielsen asked his students to think about applying open source ideas to the non-digital world.
"Why not take those ideas back to the old world, and try to apply them to other things as well?" asks Nielsen.
Why beer? As the Vores Oel website says, why not?
"It's a universal commodity that we like to think of as free, but unfortunately it isn't," says Mr Nielsen. "So, I thought it was an appropriate medium to confront these issues."
The university opened its cafeteria facilities to the students to brew 100 litres of a home brew containing guarana for pep. Try to imagine an American university doing this. The result was a darker, heavier brew than a typical Danish lager like Carlsberg. The students decided to call it Vores Øl (Our Beer), version 1.0.
The English language FAQs at their website explain how this relates to intellectual property law:
The recipe and the whole brand of Our Beer is published under a Creative Commons license, which basically means that anyone can use our recipe to brew the beer or to create a derivative of our recipe. You are free to earn money from Our Beer, but you have to publish the recipe under the same license (e.g. on your website or on our forum) and credit our work. You can use all our design and branding elements, and are free to change them at will provided you publish your changes under the same license ("Attribution & Share Alike").
The idea has garnered some attention, "We got loads of questions from small beer brewers in Mexico, Brazil, and even Afghanistan... Afghanistan, that was weird."
Here is the recipe, presented in the interest of science and with full recognition of the terms of the creative commons license.
Recipe for approx. 85 ltr. Vores Øl (Our Beer) (approx. 6% alcohol by volume).
For Vores Øl we use four types malted barley:
6 kg pilsner malt
4 kg münsner malt
1 kg caramel malt
1 kg lager malt
The malt is crushed and put in 55-60°C hot water for 1-2 hours.
The mixture is filtered and the liquid now contains about 10 kg malt extract.
Taste and sugar
Besides malt we use:
60 g Tetnang bitter hops
50 g Hallertaver aroma hops
300 g Guarana beans
4 kg sugar
(Guarana beans can typically be bought at health food stores).
The malt extract is brought to a boil in a large pot with the hops and approx. 70 ltr. of water.
After half an hour, the Guarana beans and sugar is added.
The mixture simmers for about an hour, and is then filtered and cooled in a sealed container.
Yeast is added and the beer is fermented at room temperature for approx. 2 weeks.
When the beer is fully fermented it is transferred to bottles. First 4 g sugar is added per liter and some yeast from the bottom of the fermentation tanks for priming.
Vores Øl is then left in the bottles at room temperature for 8-10 days for carbonation. Then the beer is ready to enjoy; cold and refreshing.
It's nice to know that in these days of Rove and Roberts, war in Iraq and bombs in London, that someone, somewhere is doing something to make the world a better place. Let's all raise a glass to the Danes.