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General Mills

6 Delicious Breakfast-Themed Beers

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General Mills

It's probably not wise to drink beer with breakfast, but if you are going to enjoy a delicious brew first thing in the morning, grab something appropriately themed. From coffee-flavored porters to cereal-inspired ales, here are six breakfast-themed beers to check out. 

1. TOASTER PASTRY INDIA-STYLE RED ALE // 21ST AMENDMENT

As a nod to its northern California brewery’s former life as a Kellogg’s factory churning out Pop Tarts, 21st Amendment created a red ale flavored with biscuit malts, intended to impart a buttery crust flavor. In spite of the biscuit malts and fruity notes, for those with unsophisticated palates (casual beer-drinkers of the world, unite), it doesn’t really taste like a Pop Tart. It is, however, still a delicious beer. And would go great with an actual Pop Tart. 

2. BOMB! // PRAIRIE ARTISAN ALES

There are plenty of coffee-infused beers out there—Rogue recently teamed up with Stumptown for a Cold Brew IPA, Goose Island creates a different Intelligentsia-powered stout annually (the last one also involved bourbon), and Sam Adams just came out with a Nitro Coffee Stout—but if you have to try just one, check out the Oklahoma-based Prairie Artisan Ales' Bomb!, an Imperial Stout that has a Beer Advocate rating of 99 (that’s out of 100) and was named Gear Patrol’s “hands-down favorite” coffee beer out of a field of 18. It’s aged with espresso beans, chocolate, vanilla, and ancho chiles.

3. CEREALIOUSLY FRENCH TOAST CRUNCH // BLACK BOTTLE BREWERY

The brewery comes out with different versions of its Cerealiously beers seasonally. The upcoming brew, launching this month, is a milk stout fermented with French Toast Crunch for a "roasty-sweet" flavor, according to the brewery. If French Toast Crunch doesn’t suit your palate, they brew a Count Chocula beer every October. And until April, they’re taking votes for which delicious cereal to brew with next.

4. VOODOO DOUGHNUT MANGO ASTRONAUT ALE // ROGUE

The Oregon-based brewers at Rogue Ales and Spirits teamed up with Portland’s most famous doughnut shop, Voodoo Donuts, to bring one of Voodoo’s quirky pastries, the Mango Tango, to life in draught form. While mangoes, doughnuts, and malt may seem like a lot of flavors to handle together, the ale pulls the combination off—as long as you’re down with your beer being on the sweet side.

5. D’OH NUT BEER // AGAINST THE GRAIN

Louisville, Kentucky’s Against the Grain Brewery paired up with the nearby Hi-Five Doughnuts to create a beer-doughnut mashup lace with brown sugar, vanilla glaze, and smoked vanilla. They describe it as a Root Beer Doughnut Rachbier. It’ll only be around for a limited run, so get yourself to Louisville now.

6. IMPERIAL DOUGHNUT BREAK // EVIL TWIN

Made by the Brooklyn/Copenhagen-based Evil Twin, the Imperial Doughnut Break is the result of taking a keg of the brewery’s Imperial Biscotti Break stout and adding whole doughnuts into the mix. The brew was so successful when it made a one-time appearance at an event that Evil Twin decided to bottle it for distribution.

AND MORE …

If you spot a breakfast beer, don’t hesitate! Most are only around for a limited time. Last summer, Wheaties teamed up with Minnesota’s Fulton Brewery to create HefeWheaties, a limited-edition Hefeweizen inspired by the iconic orange-boxed cereal and sold in the Minneapolis area. And though most brewers have stayed away from meat-flavored breakfast beers, Dogfish Head debuted the scrapple-flavored Beer for Breakfast at their Delaware brewpub in late 2014 (reviewers reported it tasted mostly like coffee). It's possible that there just wasn’t enough demand for pork mush beer to keep it year-round. 

All images courtesy the corresponding brewery unless otherwise noted

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
May 21, 2017
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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

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Name the Author Based on the Character
May 23, 2017
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