Photos: Logan Bowles
So, we hear you’re a Brewmaster! Could you give us a little background on yourself and how you got involved with Anheuser-Busch?
I was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, so I literally grew up with Budweiser and Anheuser-Busch. I have fond memories growing up with the Budweiser Clydesdales at St. Louis Cardinals games. In college, I had the opportunity to work in the brewery over a summer. After that experience, I knew that brewing beer was what I wanted to do for my career.
What is a typical day like for you?
The day starts early. The first thing I do is review the previous day’s production and look for any trends. Incoming raw materials, such as barley and hops, can vary over time, particularly when we are in the process of transitioning from one crop year to another. Growing conditions can vary from year to year, and I have to make subtle adjustments to my process to always keep the finished product consistent. I also focus on cleaning and sanitation. Our brewhouse floor is a showplace and a lot of work goes into keeping it that way. But my favorite part of the day is at 3 o’clock when we get to taste the day’s beer.
Describe what you look for when brewing your beers.
Quality and consistency are the key components I focus on. Every day at taste panel, we taste the day’s production, as well as all the incoming raw materials and water. If there’s a concern about something, I need to address it before we actually brew the beer. Once we begin brewing, we taste the beer at multiple steps in the process. Budweiser and Bud Light take nearly a month to brew from start to finish and there are key sensory and analytical markers that I look for along the way to know that I’m on track to produce the crisp, clean, drinkable beers that our consumers expect.
How do you make sure the flavor and product stays consistent?
In addition to our daily, local taste panel, we have 14 breweries across the U.S. that send samples of their Budweiser and Bud Light to our brewery in Jacksonville so we can ensure our beers are in profile with all the Budweiser and Bud Light produced around the country. We also send samples each week to St. Louis where our beers are tasted on a blind panel next to all the other breweries’ beers. I receive a ranking and comments on my beers from that panel each week. Lastly, we have a very advanced quality assurance department that analyzes our beers for a variety of characteristics. I use all that data to help make process decisions, with taste being the most important.
With local beers becoming so popular, how does Anheuser-Busch stay relevant and competitive?
The quality of our products and the sponsorships we participate in allow us to be at the forefront of the brewing conversation. Here at home, I always remind people of the fact that we are a local brewery. Our brewery in Jacksonville is the largest and oldest continuously-operated brewery in the state of Florida. We offer free daily tours of, as well as a Beermaster Tour, where you can walk through the brewhouse and aging cellars and taste beer directly from a finished beer tank. Once people visit us and see all these steps that we go through to ensure the quality of our beers, they have an entirely new appreciation for our process and product.
How has the beer culture changed since you first began brewing?
As the beer industry has grown, the variety and different beer styles has exploded. Fifteen years ago, I was brewing primarily lagers, but over the last several years I’ve had the opportunity to brew ales, wheat beers, IPAs, experiment with dry hopping and use a variety of different malts. Today is an exciting time to be in the brewing industry!