New breweries pop up all the time, but Anheuser-Busch’s flagship operation in St. Louis remains a virtual Mecca. A-B produces six of America’s 10 best-selling beers, including Budweiser at no. 3 and Bud Light at no. 1. So when the brand invited us for a look behind the scenes, we heartily accepted—and were not disappointed. Budweiser Brewmasters showed us the blood, sweat, tears and tradition—not to mention a helluva lot of engineering—that go into the time-tested craft of brewing hugely popular suds. Crack one open and see what we mean on the following pages.
To celebrate the repeal of Prohibition and a promising business outlook, August A. Busch Jr. and Adolphus Busch III gifted their father this horse-drawn beer wagon, an icon of the Anheuser-Busch brand. Nearly a century later, it’s the largest brewer on the planet, producing nearly 20 percent of the world’s beer supply.
Mashing tanks mix barley malt with rice and water to break down starch and form wort, which contains the sugars fermented by the brewing yeast to produce alcohol. Traditionally, it was tested for clarity and consistency by the Brewmaster using the copper grant.
Farms in Bonners Ferry, Idaho and the Hallertau region of Germany supply all of the hops used in Anheuser-Busch brews. The bitter blossom adds the aroma and spiciness to balance the sweetness of the malt.
The hops get to work in giant stainless steel brewkettles filled with the boiling, filtered wort. During this stage the mixture caramelizes and develops color.
Yeast is added to the cooled mixture and ferments in a multi-step process. That tank on the left holds the equivalent of more than 10,000 kegs. Krausening introduces active wort into lagered beer to add natural carbonation and is responsible for the head, the foam at the top of a fresh pint.
After primary fermentation, the lager matures on beechwood chips at the bottom of huge steel barrels for 21 days. So now when they say “beechwood aged” in the ads, you can tell your friends just what that actually means.
A NASA-like control center oversees every valve and pipe to ensure each batch is crisp, clean, and ready for its born-on date. We were lucky enough to sample it before bottling—as cool and refreshing as it gets.
Of course, a tour wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the stables that house the iconic Budweiser Clydesdales, including Prince (left), who looked glorious up close. Unfortunately, the horse that outran an Audi to catch up with his puppy friend didn’t make an appearance. #bestbuds