Clever Hans hanging around at the brewery on a lovely Tuesday afternoon.

Clever Hans hanging around at the brewery on a lovely Tuesday afternoon.

It’s nearing the end of May.  

A small part of my soul was saddened after writing that sentence.  MAY JUST GOT HERE! We even made a beer for the month of May!

And that’s what I wanted to talk about.  Clever Hans.

If you couldn’t tell, Dan named this beer.

I thought it was ridiculous and nonsensical but was too busy at the time to raise a strong objection, so I settled for what it was.  

Despite its esoteric name, Clever Hans is a delicious spring beer, and there’s even something interesting about the name.  

After publishing the menus, I decided to google “Clever Hans” to determine whether Dan was inspired by something the Interwebs could explain.  Turns out that it could. The internet never fails.

Clever Hans was the name of a horse that lived in Germany about 100 years ago.  Hans was coined “clever” because he could do simple arithmetic. Not enough to hold down a minimum wage job, but way more than a regular horse.    

Except, this is completely ridiculous - horses are obviously not intelligent enough to reason through even the most basic concepts of math.  How was this a thing?

The entire Clever Hans/intelligent animals concept was somewhat of a controversy at the time, and a commission was appointed to figure out what the deal was with this horse.  You read that right, a bunch of scientists were charged with debunking an alleged genius-horse mystery.

I can’t help but put myself in the scientists’ shoes in this little ordeal.  It’s a good thing I wasn’t on this commission because I would have just been continually stating the obvious - “Guys, this is a f*&king horse...let’s stop wasting our time!” and the team would have missed out on the discovery of a kind-of-interesting phenomena.

The scientists discovered that Hans was reading subtle and unconscious cues from his owner as he was tapping out the right answer with his hoof.  There was quite a bit of experimentation before this was definitively proved, but they did it and it’s now called the Clever Hans Effect. Hans was giving the answer that the questioner wanted to hear, and the fact that a horse can do that is pretty cool.  Humans tend to do this as well.

Like those scientists studying Hans, sometimes we have to put an inordinate amount of effort into things that are seemingly simple and easy.  And I think that’s what is interesting about this little story. I hope Autumn Arch makes the beer brewing look easy, but behind the scenes (or actually during the week when no one’s there), we are putting in a massive amount of research, organization, hard-work, and good ol’fashion gritty determination to deliver good beer to the tasting room. Both the simple and complex beers demand it, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.  

It’s almost June, so naturally Clever Hans (our May beer) is almost gone.