Free Beer

Free Beer, formerly known as ‘Our Beer,’ is the first brand of Danish beer with a ‘free’ recipe – free as in ‘freedom,’ taken after the term ‘free software.’ The name ‘Free Bee’ is a play on Richard Stallman’s common explanation that free software is ‘free as in speech, not free as in beer.’ The recipe is published under a Creative Commons license, specifically the Attribution-ShareAlike license. The beer was created by students at the IT-University in Copenhagen together with Superflex, a Copenhagen-based artist collective, to illustrate how concepts of the free software movement might be applied outside the digital world.

Initially, much of the homebrewing community spoke out against the quality and comprehensiveness of the recipe. Making reference to the technical problems of when software instructions (‘source code’) cannot be made into a functioning program, several people commented that if the recipe were source code, it would not compile (a compiler is a program that takes ‘source code’ from a high-level language and changes it to a target language, mostly machine code, the lowest level language). Since then the recipe went through several iterations and has now reached version 4.0, which corrects most of the early mistakes. The quality of the beer also improved, and the amount of sugar in it decreased by 90%.

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