Jim Dykstra's picture

Macrophobia: AB InBev, MillerCoors and Craft Breweries

(Issue 21)
With news of partnerships like Lagunitas and Heineken, the lines between "craft" and "macro" have become increasingly blurred.
With news of partnerships like Lagunitas and Heineken, the lines between "craft" and "macro" have become increasingly blurred.

 

With this mentality, I visited one of Budweiser’s twelve American breweries in Cartersville, GA, which can crank out up to 7 million cans and 5 million bottles daily. (The speed of the canning line was borderline intimidating. They double check packages for proper volume with lasers.)

On an average day the Cartersville brewery alone produces 20,000 barrels of Budweiser and Bud Light, amongst other brands. These numbers are insane, as is the level of organization it takes to keep such an operation running. It also takes human beings.


Pure Intentions


My main guide was Head Brewmaster Sarah Schilling, whose knowledge was deeper than any of the 30+ massive fermenters, and more expansive than the 900,000 square feet of the brewery.

Sarah has held just about every job possible at Budweiser, and it shows. She was so full of information that I scarcely needed to ask a question in the few hours I spent there, simply doing my best to absorb the encyclopedic exhibition of knowledge, while observing the outward opulence and inward efficiency of the brewery. Sarah lives and breathes beer. 

The tour culminated with a trip to the Budweiser tasting room, where a group of highly trained tasters sample the day’s brews at every step of the process – from the purified water to the wort, and the finished product – every day.

I was given the chance to taste Budweiser in every stage of its metamorphosis as well, from simple purified water to wort, and from unfiltered Bud to the finished product. Unfiltered Budweiser is a good bit more flavorful than market-ready Budweiser, and though consistency and quality control concerns keep it off shelves, it would likely resonate more with the craft palate.


Each day Brewmaster Sarah Schilling samples her products at every step of the brewing process to ensure consistency. 


The tasting experience and intense engineering at work was fascinating, but more interesting was witnessing a side of Budweiser most people don’t get to see – a human side. When you pull back the curtain, the people making the beer are normal human beings making a living in a pretty cool way. Many have been doing it for decades, long before the craft vs. macro rabble came to the forefront, and are just as dedicated to the process as the smallest microbrewer. No matter the size of a corporate entity, there are humans in there somewhere. 

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