|Country of origin||Denmark|
|Related products||OpenCola (drink)|
Free Beer, originally known as Vores øl - An open source beer (Danish for: Our Beer), is the first brand of beer with an "open"/"free" recipe. The recipe and trademark elements are published under a Creative Commons license, specifically the CC-BY-SA license. The later name "Free Beer" is a play on Richard Stallman's common remark that free software is "free as in speech, not free as in beer."
The beer was created in 2004 by students at the IT University in Copenhagen together with Superflex, a artist collective, to illustrate how concepts of the FOSS movement might be applied outside the digital world. The "Free Beer" concept illustrates also the connection between the long tradition of freely sharing cooking recipes with the FOSS movement, which tries to establish this sharing tradition also for the "recipes" of software, the source code.
In December 2004 a group of IT University of Copenhagen students brewed the first 100 liter batch, titled 'version 1.0', of the dark heavy beer in their school's cafeteria. The group labeled the beer Vores øl (Danish for: Our Beer), after a 1994 Carlsberg beer advertisement slogan, created a website to promote the beer and published the recipe and label designs under an open source CC-BY-SA license.
The developers of the beer stated that the beer was primarily a medium for the message of "dogmatic notions of copyright and intellectual property that are dominating our culture", and admitted that the group had only limited experience in beer production and was not made up of beer gurus. The addition of the non-traditional beer ingredient Guaraná was also partly inspired politically by a previously in 2003 initiated Superflex project, "Guaraná Power", which focussed on the support of Brazilian guaraná farmers with Fair trade. The original "Vores øl" recipe draw some technical criticism from the homebrewing community, questioning the quality regarding the process description and ingredients. Complaints were that it was never stated how much water to use in the mash, what type of yeast was to be used, the style of beer being produced (other than being dark and heavy), whether or not any hops were being added for aroma, fermentation temperature, or how the beer was supposed to taste. Making reference to the technical problems of when software instructions ("source code") cannot be made into a functioning program, it was mentioned that if this recipe were source code, it would not compile. Because of the underlying theme of the group's message, the correction and development of this recipe is actively encouraged (in software terminology "bug fixing and patches").
Due to the availability of the recipe and the many Free Beer brewings of breweries and individuals over the course of years, the brewing process and ingredient composition was continuously improved. Later major Free Beer recipe iterations (v3.0 and 4.0) were also developed in collaboration with a local Danish and experienced brewery, Skands in Brøndby. As previous recipe shortcomings were corrected, for instance the amount of sugar was decreased by 90%, the quality of the beer improved significantly. The recipe's version, which has now reached 4.1, illustrates the community's continuous collaborative improvement progress, made possible by the "open source" nature of Free Beer.
|FREE BEER version 4.1||August 25, 2010||Brewery in Huntington Beach, California|
|FREE BEER version 4.0||"SKANDS"||September 2008||brewed at Skands Microbrewery in Brøndby, Danemark|
|FREE BEER versão 3.4||"Germania"||November 2007||Brewer: Arnaldo Ribero, Germania brewery in Sao Paulo, Brasil.|
|FREE BEER version 3.3||“Linghzi”||November 2007||brewed in collaboration with Everything Mushroom, Knoxville, Tennessee.|
|FREE BEER version 3.2||“St Austell”||July 2007||brewed at St Austell Brewery in Cornwall, England.|
|FREE BEER version 3.0||“Skands”||June 2006||brewed at Skands Microbrewery in Brøndby, Danemark (and more)|
|FREE BEER version 2.1||“Apollo”||August 2006||brewed at the Apollo Microbrewery in Copenhagen.|
|FREE BEER version 2.0||“Apollo”||2005||brewed at the Apollo Microbrewery in Copenhagen.|
|FREE BEER version 1.5||“Samvirke”||?||?|
|FREE BEER version 1.0||“Vores Øl”||December 2004||brewed by students at the IT-University in Copenhagen together with Superflex.|
Under its free license, this free beer encourages others to tweak the recipe and redistribute it. Commercial or amateur brewers are able to reuse the recipe. Known derivatives include:
- Switzerland/Lausanne: Le Baiser de la Princesse (French for: "Kiss of the Princess"), in 2008.
- France/Schiltigheim: Affichage Libre, brewed specially for the 2011 edition of the Rencontres Mondiales du Logiciel Libre (free software meeting) in Strasbourg
Others took the political idea of Free Beer (and not the recipe and label) and placed their beer recipe and artwork under a free license:
- Switzerland/Zürich: project 21's "FreeBeer" brewed by "Wädi-Brau-Huus" (in Wädenswil) with own recipe and label.
- Germany/Hannover: In March 2009 a free Red Beer was brewed for a local Wikipedia group meeting in context of CeBIT under the name "HannoverWikiRed"
- USA/Rockville: "Our Nation's Attic - American Pale Ale", beer recipe and label under CC0, an American pale ale brewed by "Living Proof Brewery" in 2011.
Reception and impact
The "Free Beer" project and concept received broad positive reception from the FOSS movement, for instance from Richard Stallman and Lawrence Lessig. It was presented and sold on several technology conferences and meetings, for instance the Isummit 2008 and the RMLL 2011, 2012, and 2014. Free Beer was shown also in the context of several art exhibitions and museums, for instance the Art Basel Miami Beach 2006, the Van Abbemuseum, Netherlands 2007 or the Taipei Biennial 2010 (5000 bottles sponsored by TTL). "Free Beer" was also used in the context of anti-copyright activities and movements, illustrating the advantage of open knowledge for the society.
Jimmy Wales (right) with the brewer (left) and a bottle "Dana & Fred's Open source brew" (2005)
An unopened bottle of Free Beer (version 3.2, brewed by the St Austell Brewery) with a label in English (2007)
Free Beer at the van Abbemuseum (2007)
A cup of RMLL 2011's "Affichage libre"
"Our Nation's Attic - American Pale Ale" CC0 beer for wwlbd.org (2011)
- Lessig, Lawrence (September 2006). "Free, as in beer". Wired. Retrieved 2009-03-18.
In June, a Copenhagen artists' collective called Superflex released version 3.0 of a new beer called – you guessed it – Free Beer. "Free beer?" you ask. "Think free," Superflex members helpfully explained at the launch, "as in free software."
- Danish students launch open source and shareware beer 30-12-2004 (archived)
- The Free Software Definition - Free Software Foundation
- Henrik Moltke's flicker stream "Students at IT University, Copenhagen, Superflex and the Yoda of home brewing, Kjeld Erlandsen, making the first batch of Vores Øl (our beer), the predecessor of FREE BEER" (December 13, 2004)
- Vinderlisten - Arnold 1994 "IdéPrisen Arnold, Produkt/titel: Vores Øl "Kollektivet", Annoncør: Carlsberg Bryggerierne" (archived, Danish)
- Labels | Customize Free Beer label by your own on bottleyourbrand.com
- 'Free' Danish beer makes a splash on BBC News
- Pass Over a Frosty Mug of Home Brew Version 1.0 in The New York Times (2005)
- "Free Beer for Geeks" on Wired News by David Cohn
- Kopenhagen: Studenten brauen Open-Source-Bier in Spiegel Online (in German)
- "CBC Radio – As It Happens – Features". 2005. Archived from the original on 2008-04-23. Retrieved 2015-06-26.
- "Guaraná Power" on superflex.net "In 2003, SUPERFLEX initiated a collaboration with a guaraná farmers' cooperative from Maués in the Brasilian Amazon in order to produce the Guaraná Power soft drink. The farmers have organised themselves."
- Free Beer That's Free as in Speech on Slashdot
- If this recipe were code, it wouldn't compile. You'd have to guess at the yeast type and boil times for the hops. by Vellmont on slashdot.com
- Photos of FREE BEER 3.0 at final production stage on freebeer.org "Master brewer Birthe Skands describes 3.0 as a ”traditional, top fermented beer with a very high drinkability factor" (Friday, June 9, 2006)
- FREE BEER VERSION 4.0 on freebeer.org (Thursday, October 8, 2009)
- "FREE BEER recipe". Retrieved 2010-09-11.
- "Free as in free speech" - LA Release for SUPERFLEX’s FREE BEER Monday, August 16, 2010
- 2006 Status version 3.0
- Free Beer version 2.1 on the Apollo brewery in Copenhagen
- voresoel.dk oldest web entry (archived)
- Free beer et le baiser de la princesse les bieres open source (in French)
- baiserdelaprincesse.com (in French)
- "RMLL has free beer as in speech" blog article
- Affichage Libre beer recipe (in French)
- project 21: recipe (German)
- Ein Copyright-Trick machts möglich: Freibier für alle in Tages-Anzeiger on 3.03.2008 (in German)
- CC-BY-SA recipe for HannoverWikiRed (archived, in German))
- HannoverWikiRed: Open-Source-Bier angestochen on Heise.de on 9.3.2009 (in German)
- Our Nation’s Attic, an American Pale Ale by Thomas Gideon on livingproofbrewcast.com (2011-08-13)
- Richard Stallman on free beer on superflex.net "HM: - so if you could pretend that you were reviewing the idea of a free beer? RMS: I love the idea as long as I don’t have to drink it " (2005)
- Bière Libre on RMLL 2012 (in French)
- 2010 Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor Corp. 5000 Bottles of “Free Beer Taiwan” in Taipei Biennial 2010
- Program on taipeibiennial.org "Workshop: "FREE BEER factory", Superflex Sep.7, Tue.1500-1700, Venue: GOOGLE OFFICE, TFAM, Superflex inaugurates their work for TB10 with a free workshop. Learn to brew your own beer."
- FREE BEER at the Art Basel, Miami on freebeer.org
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Free beer.|
|Wikibooks Cookbook has a recipe/module on|
- voresoel.dk archived original page
- The official website: freebeer.org
- freebeer project of Superflex
- FreeBrewers beer recipes on github.com
- Recipe and label of the RMLL 2012 "Bière Libre" (French)