10TV Gets Inside Look At Budweiser Plant


UPDATED: Tuesday November 23, 2010 1:47 PM

Ohio ranks in the top five states when it comes to the selling and production of beer, and the Anheuser-Busch plant on the city's north side is the third-largest of its kind in the country.

While the plant stopped offering public tours years ago, general manager Kevin Lee rolled out the barrels recently for 10TV, giving reporter Jeff Hogan an inside look at what goes on inside the sprawling beer-brewing facility.

At 3:30 a.m. the plant is bustling, as workers churn out eight different brews, including the flagship Budweiser.

"To make Budweiser it's a 30-day process," Lee said.

SLIDESHOW:  Budweiser Plant

Lee let Hogan taste a mouthful of barley, just to hold him over.  The barley, according to Lee, is the "soul of the beer."

The brew house was updated 10 years ago and is considered one of the most modern in the world.  It's where a team of 120 employees use 200 tons of grain and 1,000 pounds of hops each night.

Rice or corn grits are added for starch, and the beer is boiled down and sent to ferment.  In the huge lager cellars, 300 tanks rise up four stories tall.  Just one of those barrels produces 1,200 kegs of beer, Hogan reported.

Lee provided Hogan with a look at the Budweiser beechwood-aging process, where wood chips are stuffed into tanks to supplement the fermentation process.

Over the next three weeks, yeast consumes the sugars, producing alcohol and carbonation. 

When the beer is ready the packaging begins.  Lee said 2,100 cans are filled and sealed each minute, Hogan reported.

It is a highly-automated process, with human inspections for quality control. A scoreboard keeps track of where the shift stands for production, ensuring they are meeting goals.

When it comes time to ship, dozens of computer-guided vehicles load some of the 270 delivery trucks each day.   The beer that is not shipped out is stored inside an 11-story warehouse, which holds a half-million cases of beer.

The brewery produces 10 million kegs of beer each year.  Motorists who drive by the facility may notice what looks like pollution coming from the facility, but it is actually steam, Hogan reported.

The plant recycles over 99 percent of all the bi-products that come out of the brewery.

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