Saturday, May 28, 2011

St. Louis 2.1 (Anheuser - Busch - Brewery Tour)

The AB Family of beers

The clock tower built on the brewery grounds

All original tile and iron and plaster work.

Step 4 - the Brewkettle

Lobby of main bottling plant

Bottles zipping by on the line

Sampling Budweiser finished (Step 7) just 9 hours before

Holding tanks for just finished Budweiser and Bud Light

Two of the famous Clydesdale horses

In 1852 a brewery opened in St. Louis MO called the "Bavarian Brewery". After 8 years the brewery fell on hard times and was purchased in 1860 by Eberhard Anheuser. Four years after that Anheuser's son-in-law Adolphus Busch joined the company.

In the middle 1800's most beer flavors and recipes brewed in the US were copies of earlier European brews. Adolphus Busch set out to add at least one truly American beer to the mix. The beer would be a lager - more specifically a flavor similar to a Bohemian lager - which are lighter in color and flavor. He would call the beer: Budweiser.

The word "lager" in German literally means storage. The beer variety lager gets this name because it has to be stored and aged at lower temperatures than ales.

Lagers are made from water, malted barley, rice, brewer's yeast, and hops. To simplify the process: the grains are ground up and mixed and then mixed with water. Then the yeast is added, and allowed to consume the sugar (C12H22O11)mixture. The waste products of the yeast are ethanol (CH3CH2OH) and carbon dioxide gas (CO2). This is, of course, very simplified.

On the tour we were familiarized with the seven steps of brewing Budweiser:

1. Milling - Barley malt and rice are ground and precisely weighed.

2. Mashing - The barley malt and rice mixture (1) is mixed with water; natural malt enzymes break down the starches and grains into fermentable sugars [pyruvate].

3. Straining - The combined grain mash is strained, leaving a sugar-rich amber liquid called "wort".

4. Brewkettle - Hops are added to the boiling wort in the brewkettle [Hops create flavor and color in beers.]

5. Primary Fermentation - The wort is cooled and clarified, and the yeast is added; for six days the yeast ferments the wort to beer.

6. Beechwood Lagering - During lagering, the beer is Kraeusend [which means to add freshly fermenting beer to the aged beer - this helps to naturally carbonate the beer]. Then the beer is allowed to age on Beechwood chips for several weeks. [The chips add no flavor to the beer - their purpose is to add surface area for the yeast to live on. Without the chips the yeast would basically rest on top of one another and they would suffocate and die.]

7. Finishing - the beer is chill proofed and filtered for clarification before being released for packaging into bottles, cans or draught kegs.

Busch was a true innovator. He researched original articles by Louis Pasteur and made applications of the research to the brewery process. Additionally, pasteurization coupled with refrigerated transport enabled Budweiser to be shipped all over the US by 1877.

I find that many of my friends are beer snobs. This essentially means that a "mass-produced" megalo-beer such as Budweiser would have a hard time finding its way into their fridge. I can not sympathize with this mentality. (I don't criticize it - but I can not sympathize.)

I guess that having had this tour and the one fifteen or so years ago made me appreciate the taste of Budweiser. American innovation at its best - there is nothing like cracking an ice cold bottle of real original Budweiser on a hot day.

1 comment:

  1. Being one of her "beer snob" friends, I can appreciate the process by which Budweiser is consistently produced. I just prefer the more complex taste of ales. Give me a good Belgian Wheat on a hot day! Prost!