Budweiser Brewery - Merrimack

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The smallest of the 13 current Anheuser-Busch breweries is the Budweiser Brewery in Merrimack, New Hampshire. This facility produces only 3,000,000 of the 88,000,000 barrels that Anheuser-Busch currently manufactures each year, but they do house the East Coast hitch of the Clydesdales at the Clydesdale Hamlet. The other two hang out in St. Louis, Missouri, and Romoland, California. Employing 40 people, this brewery does 13 brews per day using a 2nd floor 620 bbl stainless steel brew kettle, 2 stainless steel mash tuns, and one "cooker". Spent grains from Bud factories feed 4% of all livestock in the U.S. A compact, automated control room has two distinct sections labeled "Grains Handling and Mashing" and "Straining and Brewing". Unique to Budweiser, beechwood chips from Tennessee and Kentucky are placed in 6 foot drilled stainless steel "torpedoes" and exposed two to four times to primary fermentations before being recycled. Some hops come from the Elk Mountain farm in Idaho while rice originates in Louisiana and Texas. Interestingly, the tour passed by some 55 gallon bins of unlabeled hops as well as bales of whole hops stamped "Hersbrucker - German", "Czech" and "French". Try to visualize the 135 1200 bbl stainless steel lagering tanks that span three floors of this building. The beer stays here for a full 21 days. The bottling line/room is the size of an American football field. It runs 5 1/2 days a week, 24 hours a day, and yields 8 million 12 ounce bottles a day. Of the lines, three are dedicated to bottling, two to cans, and one to kegs.

When micros captured more than two percent of the U.S. beer market, Anheuser-Busch noticed that segment's 40% annual growth and their own relatively stagnant market. Enter the Specialty Brewing Group. Its first three American Originals include the Black and Tan; chocolately aroma, medium body, very subdued hops, high carbonation, creamy chocolately flavor and very clean finish, Faust; amber color, even balance, sweet light malty flavor and light hoppy finish, Muenchener; light brown color, dry malty flavor and clean finish. Unfortunately, these were served too cold in the tasting room. Tour visitors were allowed only two 8-10 ounce samples after the brewery tour. The actual hospitality room had four dozen wooden tables and chairs, with a low light wood ceiling and walls, and one copper and brick fireplace along one wall. Snacks were provided.

Michelob Family Extensions currently include Michelob Amber Bock, "using only the choicest ...rice.." and Michelob Centennial, "celebrating Michelob's 100th birthday". In response to "local market need", read "consumer demand", the ZiegenBock was made and sold for the Texas market, I found it in Austin, labeled as "brewed in Houston". 1995 saw the first "seasonal" beer, with the Christmas Brew, look for this trend to continue. Elk Mountain and Red Wolf brands will also continue to round out the Anheuser-Busch product lines. Last year saw the corporation close its Tampa, Florida brewery (400 employees), and invest in Redhook Ale Brewery (25%), Groupo Modelo (18%), Tsingtao Brewery (5%), Companhia Antarctica Paulista (5%), Scottish Courage Ltd. (50%), and Compania Cervecerias Unidas S.A. (<=20%). Certainly a trend to watch.

The well-kept grounds and clean facility are easy to browse and the scale of the brewing operation and its attention to quality and consistency, truly admirable. Whether you appreciate the manicured hop vines, the groomed Clydesdales, or the touristy merchandise room, a brief stop at the this impressive brewery is worth a detour off Interstate 93 between Manchester, New Hampshire and Boston, Massachusetts.

Budweiser Brewery
221 Daniel Webster Hwy.
Merrimack, New Hampshire 03054

Reviewed by Tom Ciccateri - July, 1996

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