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|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" brand and recipe. The recipe and trademark elements are published under the Creative Commons CC BY-SA license.
The beer was created in 2004 by students at the IT University in Copenhagen together with artist collective Superflex, 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. The "Free beer" concept received an overall positive reception from international press and media for the political message, was presented on many exhibitions and conferences, and inspired many breweries in adopting the concept.
In December 2004, a group of IT University of Copenhagen students together with Superflex brewed a 100-liter batch of a 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. A website was created to promote the project and the beer's recipe and label designs were published under an open source Creative Commons license, specifically the CC-BY-SA 2.5 license. Unlike software, cooking recipes aren't copyrightable, so the share-alike/copyleft licensing approach is legally questionable and untested in court. After the publication, the project received an overall positive reception from international press and media for the political message.
Concept extension "Free Beer"
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.
After the first "Vores Øl" brewing of the open-source beer concept, Superflex continued to develop the concept under the name "Free Beer". A new colorful, unusual "Free Beer" artwork should create associations with the "60's [artistic] liberation" and underline the freedom aspect of the concept. 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", who also suggested the creation of "Free software beer" instead of an "open source beer".
While the first "Vores øl" recipe drew some technical criticism, the recipe was continuously updated and identified shortcomings were fixed. Originally, the homebrewing community complained about the quality of the process and ingredient description. Remarks were that it was not 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 worldwide over the course of years, the recipe was updated several times. 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 6.0 in 2017, illustrates the community's continuous collaborative improvement progress, made possible by the "open source" nature of Free Beer.
|6.0||"The Atlantic Brew"||October 30, 2017||Summerskills brewery in Devonport, Plymouth|
|4.1||August 25, 2010||Brewery in Huntington Beach, California|
|4.1||"Artspace"||October 2008||Steam Brewing Company in Newton, Auckland, New Zealand|
|4.0||"SKANDS"||September 2008||brewed at Skands Microbrewery in Brøndby, Danemark|
|3.5||"Hops & Barley"||March 2008||By the Hops & Barley microbrewery Berlin, Germany|
|3.4||"Germania"||November 2007||Brewer: Arnaldo Ribero, Germania brewery in Sao Paulo, Brasil|
|3.3||“Linghzi”||November 2007||brewed in collaboration with Everything Mushroom, Knoxville, Tennessee|
|3.2||“St Austell”||July 2007||brewed at St Austell Brewery in Cornwall, England.|
|3.0||“Skands”||June 2006||brewed at Skands Microbrewery in Brøndby, Danemark (and more)|
|2.1||“Apollo”||August 2006||brewed at the Apollo Microbrewery in Copenhagen|
|2.0||“Apollo”||2005||brewed at the Apollo Microbrewery in Copenhagen.|
|1.5||“Samvirke”||?||suited for home-brewing|
|1.1||FREE BEER||May 20, 2005||first time served under the name "Free Beer" on the Volksbühne Berlin|
|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: "The 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 an "open/free beer" (not the "Free Beer" recipe and label), opened their own beer recipes and/or artwork, often under free licenses:
- United States/Frederick: Flying Dog Brewery created in July 2007 an open source beer called "Collaborator Doppelbock" (while without specified license).
- Switzerland/Zürich: In 2008, 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"
- Italy/Farigliano: In 2008 the Baladin craft-brewery released "open-source" beer and made the recipes public.
- United States/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.
- New Zealand/Wellington Yeastie Boys' Digital IPA was released in late 2011 and won in 2012 a Gold Award of the Brewers Guild of New Zealand. The Digital IPA's recipe has been made widely available under a CC-SA-BY 3.0 license to enable home brewers to brew their own versions.
- Germany/Berlin: In 2012 Metamate created a mate infused beer named "Mier" under the CC-BY-NC-SA license, which was served for instance on the "EHSM - the frontiers of open source and DIY" meeting on DESY in 2014. The commercial production for the German market failed mostly due to the Reinheitsgebot which forbids additions like Mate, while the Mier recipe was adapted successfully for the Czech market.
- United States/Washington, D.C.: In August 2012 a petition on "We the people" was successful and the Barack Obama administration released the recipe of a White House brewed Honey Ale to the public (public domain).
- Argentina/Paraná, Entre Ríos: During the Hackathon Litoral 2015, a group of brewers created a fork of the Yeastie Boys Digital IPA with malt and hop of Argentina, recipe and artwork were released under CC.
- Scotland/Ellon, Aberdeenshire: In February 2016 BrewDog "open-sourced” its beer recipes to the public, making them a form of Free Beer.
Reception and impact
The "Free Beer" project was also well received by the FOSS and open content movement, for instance by Richard Stallman, Cory Doctorow, 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. The FSCONS 2008 resulted also in a CC-BY-SA licensed Ebook with the "Free Beer" artwork and title. 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 (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.
"Our Nation's Attic - American Pale Ale" CC0 beer for wwlbd.org (2011)
White House Honey Ale and Porter, recipes in the public domain (2012)
- Program Archived 2015-07-03 at the Wayback Machine 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."
- Lessig, Lawrence (2008-08-04). "How much RMS has won". lessig.org. Retrieved 2015-07-08.
Just returning from the iCommons Summit in Sapporo, Japan. The Free Beer project made a showing, with a locally brewed version. But this ad caught my eye: “Free Beer” for “500 yen.” We’re now at the stage where (at least some) the RMS conception of “free” is clear enough so that even “free beer” is “free as in free speech” such that a price running with the free beer seems (again, to a select set no doubt) perfectly natural.
- Danish students launch open source and shareware beer 30-12-2004 on copcap.com (archived)
- FAQ Archived 2015-08-02 at the Wayback Machine "How can a beer be “free”? The recipe and the FREE BEER brand is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license" on freebeer.org
- '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)
- 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)
- Hancock, Terry (2008-08-29). "What if copyright didn't apply to binary executables?". Free Software Magazine. Archived from the original on 2016-01-25. Retrieved 2016-01-25.
In fact, it's very likely that a recipe, which is usually quite minimal in expression, will not be subject to copyright protection at all, simply because there is so little "expressive" content. Instead, the major content of a recipe is said to be "functional": conveying only that information which is strictly necessary to communicate the composition of the stew.
- Adrian Harewood (2005-07-21). "Danish offer a recipe for open source beer". CBC Radio – As It Happens – Features. CBC Radio One. 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 Brazilian Amazon in order to produce the Guaraná Power soft drink. The farmers have organised themselves."
- Koch, Rasmus (2007-01-01). "Free Beer". Rasmus Koch Studio. Retrieved 2015-08-24.
FREE BEER refers to information freedom, not economic freedom. [...] Designing a visual program for an idea that reflects upon open source and information freedom can not be a solution with rigid design guidelines. Other models of interpretation had to be exercised. The resulting solution builds on a vivid and colorful reference to 60's liberation. Practically speaking this means "free the colours". No one color has the ability to rule or over set another. Only one spectral rule governs: NEVER USE ONE COLOR TWICE.
- The Free Software Definition - Free Software Foundation on FSF.org
- Richard Stallman on free beer on superflex.net „HM: Now, in the same email, you also suggest that we call the beer a free software beer instead of an open source beer- RMS: Yes, I founded the free software movement [...] 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)
- 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 Archived 2015-06-26 at the Wayback Machine Monday, August 16, 2010
- FREE BEER 6.0 – The Atlantic Brew on freebeer.org (October 2017)
- If Value, Then Copy at artspace.org.nz
- FREE BEER macht sich schön für die re:publica by Nicole (09 March 2008)
- Free Beer on emporiobiergarten.com.br
- "Bryggeriet Skands".
- 2006 Status version 3.0 Archived 2015-06-22 at the Wayback Machine
- Free Beer version 2.1 on the Apollo brewery in Copenhagen Archived 2015-06-22 at the Wayback Machine
- Superflex on arthurmag.com (May 2005)
- Wer will schon eine würdelose alte Frau? by Jens Balzer in Berliner Zeitung (in German, 24.05.2005)
- 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)
- Harris, Lissa (2007-09-01). "Free Beer - What's not to love?". BeerAdvocate magazine #9. beeradvocate.com. Retrieved 2015-08-25.
- open-source-beer-recipe-finalized on opensourcebeerproject.com (archived)
- wild-dog-collaborator-doppelbock-label on opensourcebeerproject.com (archived)
- project 21: recipe (German)
- FreeBeer.ch Archived 2015-07-03 at the Wayback Machine
- Ein Copyright-Trick machts möglich: Freibier für alle[permanent dead link] 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 (09.03.2009, in German)
- Birra 2.0. Teo Musso e l’open source Baladin in scattidigusto.it by Paolo Mazzola (Italian, October 2010)
- recipes on baladin.it
- Our Nation’s Attic, an American Pale Ale by Thomas Gideon on livingproofbrewcast.com (2011-08-13)
- "Yeastie Boys win gold for open source beer". scoop.co.nz. 2012-08-21. Retrieved 2015-07-24.
Yeastie Boys win gold for open source beer
- Brown, Casey (2012-08-31). "Beer brings people together: Obama, homebrewers, and online communities". opensource.com. Retrieved 2015-07-25.
The Yeastie Boys Digital IPA has also been frequently tossed around in conversations in the open source community over the past few days. To describe the beer, the Yeastie Boys' website states, "Just as the term digital is all about zeroes and ones, the concept of IPA is all about malts and hops." This beer stands out from other homebrews because the Yeastie Boys cleverly put QR codes on the bottles that link to the recipe, so you can try the brew yourself. They also link to different forms of social media so fans can easily share their tweaked recipes.
- digital-ipa-recipe on yeastieboys.tumblr.com
- Mate-Bier aus Berlin: Das Spiel mit dem Kult, in Berliner Zeitung on 13. March 2012 (in German)
- Spangenberg, Christoph (2012-12-31). "Prost: Bier mit Mate und Absinth: Da braut sich was zusammen" (in German). Der Tagesspiegel. Retrieved 2014-04-01.
- Mier’s CC License Archived 2014-11-12 at the Wayback Machine on mier.metamate.cc
- metamate.cc: MIER; Nicht nur MATE, nicht nur BIER! Archived 2014-02-18 at the Wayback Machine (in German)
- Mier – failure attempt to CC license as mass market consume good on cccamp15 by Fabricio do Canto (Aug 15, 2015)
- Ale to the Chief: White House Beer Recipe on whitehouse.gov (1 September 2012)
- Cerveceros Artesanales de Entre Rios (2015-09-16). "Digital IPA Litoral". Facebook. Archived from the original on 2022-02-26. Retrieved 2016-02-03.
- BrewDog “open-sources” its beer recipes Archived 2016-07-26 at the Wayback Machine on Scottish Business News Network (February 25, 2016)
- BrewDog’s open-source revolution is at the vanguard of postcapitalism by Paul Mason on The Guardian (29 February 2016)
- Macmillan, Fiona (2007). New Directions in Copyright Law, Volume 6. Edward Elgar Publishing. pp. 69–70. ISBN 9781782543718. Retrieved 2015-08-25.
- Danish hackers launch Free Beer 3.0, with guarana by Cory Doctorow on boingboing.net (Jun 9, 2006)
- Cory Doctorow with freebeer on flickr (2007)
- 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."
- lessig&ccwfreebeerSMALL.jpg by Henrik Moltke
- Bière Libre on RMLL 2012 (in French)
- FREE BEER book out now. Archived 2015-06-29 at the Wayback Machine Thursday, November 26, 2009
- Free Beer on fscons.org (2009)
- 2010 Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor Corp. 5000 Bottles of “Free Beer Taiwan” in Taipei Biennial 2010
- Danes Get Serious About CC-Free Beer on creativecommons.org
- FREE BEER at the Art Basel, Miami Archived 2015-06-22 at the Wayback Machine on freebeer.org
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