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.
221 Daniel Webster Hwy.
Merrimack, New Hampshire 03054
Reviewed by Tom Ciccateri - July, 1996
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