Budweiser is easily the most recognized beer brand in the world.
The self-declared King of Beers is brewed with the “choicest hops, rice, and best barley malt” and some other ingredient that didn’t get on the label.
So, let’s examine the King’s elements and see how this American icon is made.
Quick List of ingredients:
Bud Ingredients in Detail
Malt is said to be the soul of a beer. It provides color and contributes to the aroma, flavor, body, and alcohol content of beer. Malt supplies the yeast with the fermentable sugars necessary to create alcohol. Unfermentable sugar remains in the beer and adds body.
For Budweiser, barley has been carefully cultivated. They have long developed malt types for efficiency and consistency, investing in testing barley strains that can be counted on to create a uniform product.
The malted barley selection creates a straw-colored beer with a low, grainy taste. The pilsner-style base malt combines with rice syrup to make a lager beer of 5 percent alcohol.
Like Budweiser’s barley, its yeast is selected for efficiency, to ferment quickly, and consistently, and to remain balanced with Bud flavor specifications. Budweiser is a lager, which will require its yeast to be cold temperature tolerant lager yeast.
Many beer lovers used to wax poetically about a green apple note that Budweiser used to have. Today’s Bud does not have this quirk. Instead, the beer is extremely clean and free of any sulfur compounds, let alone a minute green apple taste.
While not marketed this way, the White Labs Cry Havoc (WLP 862) yeast licensed by Charlie Papazian may have been a yeast-ranched Budweiser strain.
The book Travels in Barley by author Ken Wells writes of yeast cells being isolated from beechwood chips reused at St. Louis area parks as playground substrates. I can’t be sure this is the source of the old lager strain; rumors have circulated for years about this.
Hops contribute to a beer’s taste, flavor, aroma, and preservative qualities. Additionally, hops can help with head retention. In the case of Bud, hops provide little in the way of any of these advantages. Budweiser’s American Lager style is balanced and malt-leaning, and Anheuser Busch has reduced the perceived bitterness in Budweiser to further court consumer tastes.
When you taste a Budweiser, the hop character is very low to undetectable. Like the other ingredients mentioned, Budweiser hops provide enough counterbalance to the yeast to keep the malt from being too sweet.
Budweiser has traditionally used Willamette hops from the Pacific Northwest for their hop, and Willamette is a high alpha bittering hop that contributes about 11 IBUs to the beer.
Anheuser Busch adds rice to Budweiser and Bud Light as a sugar adjunct. Rice is highly fermentable and can be used to lighten malt flavors and cut the cost of using 100 percent malt—AB ships rice syrup by the train load. The rice will contribute to the beer’s Original Gravity, but the flavor should be very low.
Per the Budweiser website: “Anheuser-Busch owns 13 agricultural facilities across the country, including a rice facility in Jonesboro, Arkansas that mills more than 2.6 million pounds of rice per day. Over the last decade, the brewer has spent over $5.5 billion purchasing rice, corn, barley, and hops from American farmers.”
With 12 brewing facilities across the country, Budweiser sources water through various local water sources. Despite each water source potentially deviating in make-up, Budweiser can treat it for suitable brewing liquor.
For its size, AB InBev announced, in 2015, it had reached a water use ratio of 3.2 HL/ 1 HL beer. This means that the brewery uses 3.2 HL of water for every hectoliter of beer produced. Beer is a water-intensive process, and a standard water use ratio can range from four to seven gallons per gallon of beer. A hectoliter is equivalent to around 26 gallons.
How is Budweiser made: The Brewing Process
Budweiser is an American Lager made at 12 Anheuser Busch breweries around the US. The beer combines malt and rice to create a crisp, easy-drinking beer.
Laying the foundation
The brewing process starts by milling malted grains to expose the inner starch. The milled grain is transferred to a trough like vessel called a mash tun, where it is combined with hot water.
Enzymes within the malt will be activated by the hydration and begin to convert the long chains of starches into fermentable sugars. Different enzymes can be activated at different temperatures.
For instance, a short protein rest will help make clear wort and a longer-lasting head in the final product. Once the starches convert, the liquid will be separated from the solid grain husks and transferred to the kettle.
The sugary liquid known as the wort is boiled in the boil kettle, and hops are added. A boil helps to concentrate flavors and color, extract hop alpha acids, and drive off dimethyl sulfide (DMS). Once the boil is complete, the liquid is cooled in massive heat exchangers and moved to fermentation vessels.
Yeast is added to the wort inside a large vessel with conical bottom initiating the fermentation process. The yeast will multiply and consume the sugar creating alcohol and carbon dioxide. Lagers ferment at cooler temperatures and ferment slower than ales.
Once fermentation is complete, the beer is given time to clarify and develop flavor. Filtration is famously done with beechwood chips. Beechwood is porous, allowing residual yeast cells and trub to collect on them before being discarded.
Later, the beer will be packaged and kegged, canned, and bottled Budweiser will be distributed throughout America.
Is Budweiser Zero Made Differently?
Much of the brewing process is the same for Budweiser’s non-alcoholic beer, Budweiser Zero. A significant difference is that the brewers employ a special yeast that consumes the sugar in the wort but does not create alcohol. Once the non-alcohol-producing yeast finishes, the beer is packaged and sold.
What About Bud Light?
Bud Light also will undergo the same general brewing process. Bud Light is a low-calorie light beer. To reduce the calories in the beer, Anheuser Busch will administer enzymes that work to eliminate some of the calories.
Who Makes the Budweiser brand?
Budweiser is made by Anheuser Busch Inbev, a company formed in 2008 when Inbev, a multi-national brewing giant, acquired the American brewer co-founded by Adolphus Busch in 1852. Adolphus Busch was a German immigrant and founded the brewery in St. Louis, Missouri, with his father-in-law, Eberhard Anheuser.
The company is now headquartered in Leuven, Belgium, and operates in over 50 countries. Anheuser Busch Inbev is the world’s largest beer maker, with breweries making brands like Stella Artois, Corona, and Beck’s and countless Budweiser variations such as Bud Light Lime.
American Budweiser is not to be confused with the Czech beer Budvar or the Bohemian brewing center, České Budějovice.