Serious software developers at Oracle's Code One conference in San Francisco this month will be busy networking, participating in keynotes and kicking the local Bay Area beer from Alpha Acid Brewing Co. But a beer festival does not is, and Alpha Acid's booth at the conference the developer exchange (October 22-25) is not just a showcase for beer made with fresh local ingredients. At the center, it is a demonstration of how Oracle's blockchain applications, which Alpha Acid is essentially beta testing, can trace, and perhaps improve, the production process supply chain.
Inside the microbrewery and the Alpha Acid touch room in an industrial park in Belmont, not far from the massive Oracle headquarters in Redwood City, small Internet-enabled sensors take the temperature of the fermenting tanks full of Kyle's beer Bozicevic. Temperature readings are recorded and stored in the Oracle cloud, along with data from Gilroy's farm in New World Ales, where Bozicevic gets his hops, yeast lab, Gigayeast, where he gets his yeast, and malting, Admiral Maltings , where he takes his malt.
Transactions between players in this supply chain, from the producers of ingredients to the point of sale – in this case the drinkers of Oracle Code One, who will scan a QR code on their beer – are tracked on a blockchain ledger. Blockchain, appreciated for its decentralized nature and its security, is best known as a base for cryptocurrency exchanges like Bitcoin. But Oracle and others are betting on the most practical blockchain applications, which include supply chain monitoring and sourcing verification.
So why use the blockchain for the production process? "There's an interesting factor: I want to see how my beer was brewed," says Prasen Palvankar, Oracle's senior director of product management.
"But more importantly, the things that affect companies are recalls, problems with raw materials, [and] problems that may occur during transport. "
In particular, if you know exactly where the supply chain has gone wrong, "it is possible to remember not all the beer that was released in the last week, but only the lots involved". This is more valuable for manufacturers of more expensive or sensitive products – say, semiconductors or pharmaceuticals. But it could still save Alpha Acid some barrels of beer and a lot of money.
After all, the ingredients of beer are not cheap. "We use very expensive ingredients", says the Bozicevic brewery. If the Gigayeast shipment reaches harmful temperatures before it reaches the brewery, an Internet-enabled sensor could tell the manufacturer not to use it.
The practical use of blockchain in breweries like Alpha Acid could be a way to leave if it is ever adopted. But even now there is that "cool" factor that can not be overlooked in marketing – "telling the story of why this beer is special, what makes it different from something generic that you can get in a grocery store ", as Bozicevic puts it.
And rightly so, it's that interesting factor that Oracle draws with its beer demo. That and some refreshments well supplied for the participants of the Code One.