This Is How Budweiser Is Made Exactly (+Ingredients) | BeverageBeaver (2022)

We’ve written extensively about Budweiser, its history, and the taste of the beer itself on this blog. However, we’ve never wholly described how Budweiser is made. Since Budweiser is one of the most drunken beers in the world, we’re going to spend some time on this today. Here’s the quick rundown:

Budweiser is made by adding 70% six-row malt with 30% rice and purified water and cooking it. After this, it undergoes a clarification process from which it’s pumped to kettles where the hops are added, and it’s boiled. Finally, yeast is added, and the wort is fermented for 21 days at 7.2°C–8.9°C (45°F–48°F). Finally, bottled Budweiser is pasteurized while draught is not.

However, that certainly doesn’t tell the whole story. Below, we’ll start by outlining the exact ingredients of Budweiser. We’ll also explain where the ingredients come from and why certain ingredients are used. After that, we’ll go through the whole brewing process, which will give you a clear understanding of what it takes to make beer. Read on!

Ingredients Of Budweiser

First, it’s essential to list the ingredients that Budweiser uses. Budweiser is an American lager, which means it uses five ingredients: Barley, hops, water, rice, and yeast. Below, you’ll read exactly what ingredients are used in what quantity.

Barley

Barley is one of the main ingredients of Budweiser (and most other beers). It provides the sugars that will later be transformed into alcohol by the yeast that will soon be added. 98% of the barley used in Budweiser is made in the United States, specifically in Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, and Minnesota.

Budweiser is made with 70% six-row malt. Anheuser-Busch (the American branch of Ab InBev and the owners of Budweiser and Bud Light) buys 30.5 million bushels of barley per year for all the beer brands they own.

Hops

Hop is arguably the ingredient that makes beer taste like beer. This is because this plant is responsible for giving beer the characteristic bitterness. Each year, Anheuser-Busch buys 3.7 million pounds of hop for their beer from farmers in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, which account for 70% of hop usage by Anheuser-Busch in the United States.

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Furthermore, Budweiser uses a variety of different hops in their beers. The 70% of hops made in the United States are the Hallertau, Saaz, and Tettnanger varieties. The other 30% of hops are European hops and high-alpha and non-Germanic types such as Willamette.

Rice

One of the most surprising ingredients of American lagers (which is the type of beer Budweiser is), is rice. Rice is added to American lagers to provide the beer which a crystal-clear look and a crisp taste (this is one of the reasons it tastes different than European lagers such as Heineken). 100% of the rice used in American-made Budweiser is from the United States. As said before, Budweiser consists of 70% barley; the other 30% is rice.

Anheuser-Busch is the largest end-user of rice in the U.S.A and has 13 agricultural facilities in the country, including a rice facility in Jonesboro, Arkansas, which mills 2.6 million pounds of rice per day.

Water

It will come as no surprise that water is the ingredient used the most, not only in Budweiser itself but also in the brewing process. Budweiser has 12 breweries nationwide, and each brewery gets its water from another location.

However, the flagship brewery of Budweiser is located in St. Louis, Missouri. This brewery gets its water straight from the Missouri River, from which it is thoroughly filtered and then pumped into brewing tanks, where the fermentation process will take place later on.

Yeast

Yeast is the final ingredient used in beer. Arguably, it’s also the ingredient that ensures the sugary water that’s produced first turns into actual alcohol. This is because yeast is a bacteria added to the other ingredients. This bacteria then eats the sugars in the water mix and transforms them into alcohol.

Unfortunately, brewers will never tell you exactly what yeast they’re using and how they’re using it. This is because each variety or change in process changes the taste of the beer. However, Budweiser likely uses Saccharomyces pastorianus, a bottom-fermenting yeast most commonly used in lagers.

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What Does The Brewing Process Look Like?

By reading the documentation of the brewing process of Budweiser, as well as watching several videos about the breweries, we’ve been able to get a clear understanding of the brewing process of Budweiser. You can read about this below.

Laying the foundation

The barley is mixed with water inside a mash cooker to make Budweiser. Mash cookers are large, industrial-sized tanks that mash and cook the added ingredients. This forms the primary liquid base for the beer. This mash is then given a short protein rest at 120°F (48°C).

At the same time, the rice is cooked for a short period of time, after which it’s added to the mash cooker. It’s then cooked once again, which triggers the enzymes in the brew to turn the starch of the ingredients into sugars.

Clarification

After this process is completed, the wort (the sugary water) is pumped from the mash cooker to another tank called a ‘lauter tun’ whose primary goal is to make the wort clearer. It does so by removing the rice and barley grains from the wort.

For a large part of the 1900s, Anheuser-Bush used machines called Strainmaster (instead of the lauter tun they use today). A Stainmaster was a trough-like vessel with a conical bottom and perforated manifold. The pro of this machine was that it was quicker than a lauter tun, but it was also less efficient, thereby risking the clarity of the wort. Therefore, they’ve been replaced by lauter tuns in the Budweiser breweries.

Boiling

The clear wort is then transferred to a kettle. This is also the point of the process where hops are added to create the bitterness that makes beer taste like beer.

After the wort has been boiled sufficiently, it’s moved into tanks, where it will stay for 21 days for fermentation and lagering. However, first, the wort goes through a stripping process that removes sulfur compounds (such as dimethyl sulfide) from the wort.

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This is done by letting the wort flow over the inner surface of thin vertical tubes in a very thin layer. Through these tubes, hot, sterile air is blown. This process replicates the effect of the Baudelot wort chiller that was used up until the 60s. Furthermore, it allows for a shortened boiling period of the wort, which speeds up the process.

Fermentation

After this, it’s time to give the wort time to rest. This is also the point where the yeast is added to the brew, which will allow it to turn the sugars into alcohol. The yeast that Budweiser uses is a bottom-fermenting one which means it will sink to the bottom of the tanks.

Furthermore, bottom-fermenting yeast needs cooler temperatures than top-fermenting yeast. In the case of Budweiser, fermentation happens at a temperature of 7.2°C–8.9°C (45°F–48°F). After this process is done, bottled Budweiser undergoes a process of pasteurization which will extend its shelflife; draught Budweiser is not pasteurized.

The text continues underneath the infographic.

This Is How Budweiser Is Made Exactly (+Ingredients) | BeverageBeaver (1)

Is Budweiser Zero Made Differently?

Budweiser Zero is the dealcoholized variant of the original Budweiser. This means it officially has less than 0.5% ABV. Normally dealcoholized beers still have some alcohol (like Heineken Zero, which has between 0.01 – 0.03%). However, this means the alcohol inside of the brew is negligible and it won’t get you drunk.

Budweiser Zero is generally made with the same ingredients. That means the following: the dealcoholized beer contains water, rice, hops, and barley. Furthermore, yeast has also been used to make Bud Zero.

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But, if yeast is used, doesn’t that mean it should have alcohol? That depends; there are two main ways to make alcohol-free beer. First, Budweiser can add the yeast but take it out before fermentation starts (this is done with Heineken Zero). This results in a drink with a lot of sugar, but that’s as close to alcohol-free beer as you can get this way.

Another option is to add the yeast, let it ferment, and filter out the alcohol and the remaining sugars later. Because Budweiser Zero is constantly referred to as ‘dealcoholized,’ implying the beer underwent a fermentation process, but the alcohol was filtered out.

Furthermore, the beer also has 0 carbohydrates which means the fermentation process did take place (the sugars were transformed into alcohol). In contrast, other alcohol-free beers typically have a few grams of sugar because this wasn’t turned into sugar.

Finally, Budweiser Zero has added natural flavorings; something original Budweiser does not have. Why does Budweiser Zero have this? Because it doesn’t taste enough like beer after the dealcoholizing process. Therefore, beer makers add natural flavorings to manipulate the taste into a marketable product.

Who Is Responsible For Making Budweiser?

Finally, it’s interesting to know who’s responsible for making Budweiser. As said before, these days, Budweiser is owned by Ab InBev, a giant conglomerate that owns more than 600 different brands of beer worldwide. However, this wasn’t always the case.

When Anheuser and Busch first founded the company, they gave it the appropriate name Anheuser-Busch. This company just so happened to make Budweiser.

Anheuser-Busch has been responsible for brewing Budweiser up until 2008. This was when the company was bought for $52 billion by InBev. InBev was a merger between Interbrew (a Belgian merger between Stella Artois and Piedboeuf) and Ambev (a Brazilian brewer, a merger of three Southern-American brewers).

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From 2008 onwards, Anheuser-Busch is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ab Inbev. Anheuser-Busch still focuses on the American operations (and therefore the making of Budweiser), but Ab InBev owns it.

Sources

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