Touring The Anheuser-Busch Brewery

June 27, 2011 10 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Anheuser-Busch's Jacksonville brewery produces more than 125 million cases of beer each year, serving Florida, Southern Georgia and Southern Alabama markets. The Jacksonville site was selected in August of 1967. Two Clydesdales pulled a plow to break ground for construction in December of 1967. Construction took almost two years and the first brew was finished and shipped in September of 1969. At that time, the plant brewing capacity was 1.7 million barrels per year. Since Jacksonville's brewery establishment, there have been several expansions and bottling lines installed, increasing brewing capacity to well over 9 million barrels a year. In addition, Busch operates a 400-acre farm just north of the 600-employee brewery. There, brewery wastewater is fed into massive center pivot irrigation systems that water and fertilize the soil during growing season, producing corn, sorghum and rye grasses.

About Anheuser-Busch

Based in St. Louis, Anheuser-Busch is the leading American brewer, holding a 48.3 percent share of U.S. beer sales to retailers.  The company brews the world’s largest-selling beers, Budweiser and Bud Light, and distributes these and many other popular brands through a strong network of more than 500 independent wholesalers.

Anheuser-Busch operates 12 breweries across the United States, is a major manufacturer of aluminum cans and has been a leading aluminum recycler for more than 30 years.

Anheuser‑Busch and its employees build on a legacy of corporate social responsibility by focusing on three keys areas: promoting alcohol responsibility, preserving and protecting the environment and supporting local communities.

In the past three decades, Anheuser-Busch and its wholesalers have committed more than $875 million in national advertising campaigns and community-based programs to encourage responsible drinking and prevent underage drinking and drunk driving.

Anheuser-Busch reduced total water use at its breweries by 34 percent in the last three years and the company has been a leading aluminum recycler for more than 30 years.

Since 1997, Anheuser-Busch and its Foundation have invested in local communities through donations of nearly $475 million to charitable organizations.  The company also has provided more than 70 million cans of drinking water to people impacted by natural and other disasters since 1988.

Anheuser-Busch is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Anheuser-Busch InBev, the leading global brewer, and continues to operate under the Anheuser-Busch name and logo.

Breweries And Brewery Tours

Anheuser-Busch operates 12 breweries throughout the United States, which help deliver the freshest beer possible to locations across the country.

Brewery First Year of Production Site Size (Acres)

1852 St. Louis, Mo. - 119

1951 Newark, N.J.- 88

1954 Los Angeles, Calif. - 95

1966 Houston, Texas - 136

1968 Columbus, Ohio - 258

1969 Jacksonville, Fla. - 205

1970 Merrimack, N.H. - 294

1972 Williamsburg, Va. - 144

1976 Fairfield, Calif. - 170

1983 Baldwinsville, N.Y. - 370

1988 Fort Collins, Colo. - 250

1993 Cartersville, Ga. - 250

We invite you to visit one of our tour centers for a behind-the-scenes look at the brewing and packaging processes.  Free guided tours are available in St. Louis, Mo., Fairfield, Calif., Fort Collins, Colo., Jacksonville, Fla. and Merrimack, N.H.  More information, directions and hours of operation are available at

Touring The Jacksonville Brewery

Completed in 1969, the Jacksonville brewery operates 24 hours a day year-round, filling up to 8.5 million cans of beer daily and producing more than 125 million cases of beer annually.  With a $50 million payroll, brands brewed locally include Budweiser, Bud Light, Budweiser Select, Busch , Busch Light, Michelob, Michelob Light, Michelob AmberBock, Michelob Ultra, Land Shark, Natural Light and Natural Ice.

BeastieGirl's Full Review: Anheuser-Busch Budweiser Tour- Jacksonville

In Jacksonville, Florida, there is a rather larger brewery in town. It’s the home of one of many Budweiser Breweries and they invite you to take a free tour with them and share a free beer or two. Who am I to turn down a free drink (even though I would not consider myself a Budweiser fan, not by a long shot)? I thought it would be interested to at least check it out and see what it was all about.

The entrance to the tour and brewery gift shop is clearly marked, with separate parking and a separate entrance from the main brewery. I entered into a small room with a brochure rack and a small desk with a greeter. They told me that a tour had just started and that I was welcome to join in. Up an elevator and down a long hallway overlooking large vats of beer, there is the beginning of the tour. A video on how beer, and Budweiser specifically, is made starts the tour off. There were several rows of seats, holding the tour group of about 12 people.

After the video, our tour guide, John, walked us down what looked to be a long hallway with lots of historic pictures along the way. He began telling us the interesting history of Anheuser-Busch, which began with a wealthy soap maker, Anheuser and a poor immigrant from Germany, Adolphus Busch, the 21st of 22 children and their common interest in the beer industry way back in the 19th century. Moving along in the tour, John explained the many different people in the Anheuser-Busch family (Busch married Anheuser's daughter to make it a true family owned business) to where they are today, with the company still being run by the descendants of Busch.

As well as Budweiser history, more detail on the brewing process was explained. We were shown the vats where the fermentation process begins, using Beachwood chips (which are eventually turned into mulch, used throughout the brewery property and other local areas). I couldn't help but think as we looked onto the rows of vats of the movie, Strangebrew, with Rick Moranis- but I digress. They explained about all the quality control that goes on with their beers, but most of that was behind the scenes, and the majority of the brewing process was not actually shown.

Continuing down the long hallway, John talked about the many years of advertising and how the Anheuser-Busch company grew to have a hand in many different businesses, including a railroad company that they still own and operate today. I had to laugh when looking back at some of the old advertising from the 70's and 80's that I still remember- yikes, I felt a little dated! Nonetheless, we learned about the history of the now famous Clydesdale horses. Apparently, on the day of the repeal of prohibition, the son of Augustus Busch, who was the head of the company at the time, gave him an imported Clydesdale horse. On his death bed, Augustus said that the horse was the best gift he ever received (or was it just that it reminded him of the repeal of Prohibition??). He set aside funds that are still used to this day to care for the Budweiser Clydesdale horses. Apparently, you will never see a dirty Clydesdale owned by Anheuser-Busch.

After the history, marketing, and brew making is discussed on the tour, we moved along to the bottling and packaging area of the brewery. Here, I was quite reminded of the opening sequence of Laverne and Shirley. The bottles are too many to count and it's amazing how much actually goes into making the beer that is sent out to be consumed by Joe, Dick, Harry and my dad. I could have stayed and watched the packaging process all day, but we were moved on to the hospitality room, which wasn't bad as well.

The hospitality room is full of tables, even couches and a fireplace and oh, yeah, you get free beer here too! John left us at this point and we were able to order anything off of the displayed beers. They had your typical selection of Budweiser, Bud Light, Michelob Ultra, Busch, Natural Light (for those college boys, I guess) in bottles, as well as beer on tap and some pretty good pale ales and other organic beers. They had some of the Peels wine coolers available for those who want a drink, but don't want beer and Coke products were available for those on the tour under 21. Pretzels were offered as a munchy. Two free drinks are available, but not at once and they will ID you if you even remotely look under 30 (weee, I got carded!), so be prepared to have your ID ready if you are going to partake. While enjoying your drink, you can play a game of foosball or just relax and watch the plasma screen TVs showing all the new Budweiser commercials (in case you missed the Superbowl).

I don't believe they will serve you more than two drinks (even if you want to pay for it) and other tour groups will eventually come in as well. I stayed for a bit, and then left to check out the bottling and packaging area again. Ok fine, I'm a freak, but it really was cool! The gift shop was so-so. If you like NASCAR, there were some interesting items, and if you want a Budweiser label for a bathing suit, you can get it here! If you have no interested in the gift shop, that's pretty much the end of the line for the tour. A ramp leads you back to the main entrance of the tour. There is a large replica of a Budweiser Clydesdale horse that you can take pictures with (but don't sit on him, it's against the rules!).

Everyone was super friendly on the Budweiser Brewery tour and although it seemed like there wasn't a whole lot of opportunity to ask questions, our guide, John really covered everything well, so I didn't have any questions, which was nice. The entire facility was wheelchair accessible and restrooms were available near the Hospitality Room. In all, the tour lasted about 30 minutes (not including the drinking time) and was 100% free- hard to believe, I know. Tours are available every half hour. If you are in Jacksonville and have the time, this is a fun and educational (about beer) tour.

A Recycling and Water Conservation Model

Budweiser might be the one of the best-selling beers in the world, but Bud Light is king in the United States. Both are produced at the Jacksonville plant.

No matter the label, brewing beer requires large amounts of grain - mainly barley - which is mixed with water. A by-product is spent grain, which Steve Foppe, general manager of the Jacksonville facility, equates to grounds left in the filter of a coffee maker. Unlike coffee grounds that are thrown away, Anheuser - Busch has a decades-old practice of selling its waste.

The collection area behind the brewery smells like fresh, moist bread as spent grains are dumped into waiting trucks. Last year, 166,000 tons of grain were shipped from the plant.

On the bottling side of the plant, the recycling efforts are automatic and varied.

Robotic arms remove plastic ties from pallets and feed them into shredders. All around the plant are containers full of materials - plastic, paper, metals - that are sold or given away to after-market companies.

Cardboard boxes used to transport empty bottles into the plant are the same ones used to package filled bottles for shipping to stores. Damaged boxes are automatically crushed and baled.

Bottles and cans that are rejected from the assembly line are crushed and vacuumed into waiting trailers and will be shipped away for reuse.

Daniels said Anheuser - Busch 's most impressive conservation efforts involve water. He said the company's ability to reduce water use and recycle what it does use provides lessons everyone can embrace.

"They've done what I need to do at home," he said. "I need to take shorter showers and use less soap."
source: Recycling effort a crowning glory for King of Beers Anheuser - Busch 's plant in Jacksonville does all it can to reduce its impact.
Florida Times-Union, The (Jacksonville, FL) - Sunday, April 26, 2009

Anheuser-Busch is pleased to announce the Jacksonville Beermaster Tour. In addition to our complimentary tours, the Beermaster Tour is a unique opportunity to experience a behind-the-scenes look at the brewing of Budweiser. The Beermaster Tour includes a visit to the Brew Hall, Primary Fermentation Cellar, Lager Cellar, Packaging Facility, Quality Assurance, and Finishing Cellar, including sampling directly from a Finishing Tank. To commemorate your experience, a variety of gifts are provided for each guest.

For additional questions or information, please call Jacksonville: (904) 751-8117

Complimentary tours guide visitors through a rich brewing heritage, and state-of-the-art technology shows how beers are carefully crafted using the finest ingredients.

Visitors 21+ are given the opportunity to sample products in the brewery's Hospitality Room. You can choose from a variety of brews, including seasonal brands and new products. It's located at 111 Busch Drive and is open January-December, Mon. - Sat., 10a.m. - 4p.m.  For more information, visit:

Spin-Off Industry

Tampa-based Anchor Glass Container Corp. has a Jacksonville plant with more than 200 employees who's only product is bottles for the brewery.  Anchor Glass is also the only glass bottle manufacturing operation in the State of Florida.  Another spin off company operating in Jacksonville is North Florida Sales.  North Florida is a local Anheuser-Busch distributor with 250 employees in Jacksonville and 30 in Lake City.  In addition to these companies,
Anheuser-Busch's Metal Container Corportation operates manufacturing plant on Jacksonville's Westside that supplies the brewery with aluminum cans.

Article and photos by Ennis Davis.