Proximal Pilgrimages: Anheuser-Busch Brewery hops into style


A winding sidewalk through hedges and annuals leads the visitor of the Anheuser-Busch Brewery to a double door, under a glimmering green awning, adorned with their logo. Upon entering the lobby, the visitor is greeted by a display case containing almost 50 different beer bottles – all produced by various Anheuser-Busch breweries. This is the starting point of the brewery tour for visitors of all ages; even those under 21 are welcome.

Moving from the lobby to the “hot side” via elevator, the tour guide explained the first high temperature steps for making this amber alcohol. Stepping from the cool lobby into the “hot side” is an experience. Heat rushes to greet you, bringing with it a warm smell: an unusual combination of bread and popcorn scents.

North Jacksonville Containers sit beyond a railing and informative signs about the brewing hang every few feet, reiterating the guide’s words. The sound of the guide’s lecture swirls around the spacious room. The leader of the group explained how the containers are put to work. Barley and rice are separately added to water and crushed, combined and raked, strained and then boiled. The result is a liquid called wort. Hops are then mixed with the wort to give the beer its flavor and aroma.

Moments before the heat becomes too much to bear, cold air rushes from behind an automatic door, leading to a hallway and a small movie theater. The carpeted hallways, holding information about Anheuser-Busch’s history and its beer-making techniques, are reminiscent of a wide, wellair-conditioned theme park line.

Along the walk are gold-framed signs depicting how the wort is cooled before the yeast is added and the mix is left to rest for six days. The hallway opens up to six padded benches, decorated in alternating red and blue fabric, positioned in front of a flat screen. Movie time!

“Barley malt, barley malt, barley malt!” Budweiser employees said on the screen as they animatedly and repetitively explained the five ingredients used to create their beverage: barley malt, rice, water, hops and yeast.

Following the video, the tour guide escorts tourists through a brief lesson on the company’s history, how Anheuser-Busch dealt with prohibition and it’s time-honored, successful marketing campaign. Along the way, windows into the yeasted beer’s six-day resting place occasionally appear in the wall.

Once the beer has a week of solitude, our guide informed us, it is transferred to a lager tank for a second fermentation process. The grain juice sits on top of a hand-spread cushion of beechwood chips inside a massive silver cylinder. Here, the beer develops its carbonation and final flavor.

The real thrill was at the end of the walkway, past the tanks and holders and past the production line where beer bottles are filled, capped, labeled and boxed. From a dark mahogany hallway, the tourists are invited into the Anheuser-Busch hospitality room.

Gold chandeliers hang suspended above 30 tables. The highlight of the room is the roomy bar, paneled with a light wood and encircled by a gold hand railing. The Anheuser-Busch logo, an eagle intertwined with a vibrant red “A,” rests on an off-white wall behind the bar. During my visit, one bartender worked the eight beers on tap, providing glasses designed specifically for the beer they held. But this is all you really need to know: two free beers (for those 21 and older, of course) and free pretzels! Coke products are also on tap.

Before you leave, be sure to do the touristy thing and snap a photo with Larry, the plastic clydesdale.

Most importantly – remember not to drink and drive. If you are a lightweight, and those two sample beers have made the sidewalk a little wobbly, meet up with your soda-drinking, under 21-year-old friends and make them drive you home.

Sound like it might quench your adventurous thirst? Visit for further information on hopping on an upcoming tour.