When I was a kid and you went to Busch Gardens Williamsburg you could go on a tour of the brewery next door- IF you were 21. Alas I wasn’t so I never got to go. By the time I was an adult Busch Gardens had been sold and you couldn’t tour the brewery anymore.
When Anheuser-Busch announced they were going to do select tour of their Williamsburg, VA plant I jumped all over it. We booked our $25 ticket (no coupons for this one) and put it on the calendar.
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Thankfully you can change the date of your tour up to 24 hours before the tour because we ended up having to change it twice. And even though we gave ourselves an extra FIFTY minutes to get there it started raining and people in my town CANNOT drive in the rain. So I can’t tell you anything that happened on the first five minutes of the tour because we weren’t there.
But when you arrive you get safety goggles, a hat and a small basically thing the size of an MP3 player that goes around your neck. It is attached to a set of headphones that run on a radio signal. When you get close to your tour guide it picks them up so you can hear them well. The factory can often get loud so this way they don’t have to yell.
Our guide, who is normally in St. Louis at headquarters but came out to give us tours.
I don’t want to give you too many details of the process but here are some of the pictures of what we saw!
Hops and barley- in all their beers. It also explains why I don’t like beer- the hops smelled disgusting!
They take the hops and turn them into pellets so they can get the taste uniform across drinks. At this portion they showed us what they did to the hops and what they added for the other tastes- like orange flavoring- in the drinks.
They like their artwork. There are some beautiful things around the brewery!
Budweiser uses something called “beechwood aging” to get their distinctive taste. The beechwood used in the production of Budweiser is all a specific age, size, and quality. The trees (which are all American-grown) are cut into spiral chips exactly 18 inches long, and are cooked so that they’re completely flavorless and sterile.
They’re then arranged on the bottom of lagering tanks (where the beer ages). It turns out when you move into management that is one of the “hazing” rituals they do. These tanks are HUGE and the wood has to be put in manually. It’s a fairly laborious progress.
And if you want to try it you can try the beer after this process. It’s called “chip beer” and it’s very different from the finished product. It had a much flatter taste.
There were about 20 of us on the tour.
Even the elevators are decorated.
Joel got a beer straight from the tank. It’s about the freshest beer you can get! I took one sip and since it still tasted like beer I didn’t like it.
We got to visit the quality assurance lab. Many people thought this sounded like a great job.
Then we got to go in and see where they can, bottle and box everything!
They like their logos- they are everywhere around the building!
The total tour takes about 90 minutes. And at the end they drop you off at an outdoor bar for a drink of your choosing! I had a mouthful of the Seltzer. Unfortunately it still tasted like beer so I threw the rest of it away. We spent some time chatting with our fellow tour members and enjoyed a wonderful drink outside! And I got to take home the hat!!!