Macro versus Micro – How Beer is made in GIF’s

brewing-side-by-side

St. Louis Public Radio has put together an interesting set of animated GIFs that show side-by-side comparisons of Budweiser’s 15 million-barrels-per-year brewing operation and Perennial Artisan Ales’ much more hands-on setup.

You can see the whole thing in action here.

I had my beer snob hackles up a bit before I clicked the link, ready to sneer upon Bud’s weapons of mass production – I fully expected to root for Perennial’s hero brewers (who I correctly assumed would all be sporting luxurious facial hair) as they handcrafted their artisan ales.

But instead I came away impressed by the level of automation and scale that Bud has brought to the brewing process.  If only they played nicer in the marketplace (and brewed better beer).

My favorite image is probably the one at the end, which features an AB employee with a headlamp raking out large beechwood shavings in the bottom of an enormous secondary fermenter – it looks like he’s in the hold of a cargo ship.  Not everything is done by robots!

Anyway, “handcrafting” seems like a lot of work, and my guess is that the bearded boys from Perennial would be perfectly happy to push a button instead of cranking a mash paddle over a steaming batch of wort.

So what would you prefer: Brewing by hand or through the miracle of modern engineering?

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Categories: Beer

Author:Jim

Craft beer nerd, frequent beer blogger and occasional home brewer.

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10 Comments on “Macro versus Micro – How Beer is made in GIF’s”

  1. July 8, 2014 at 10:16 am #

    You do have to hand it to Budweiser and its scrupulous dedication to consistency (very true–their beer is not our thing and they don’t play nice in the marketplace). No matter where it is made, it tastes the same (see previous aside about the beer’s taste–lots of people like that taste and have wanted it for over a century). They pay attention to yeast, water chemistry, and yes, barley, rice and hops.

    Mass produced stuff has made us in the middle class able to buy better quality…stuff! In the1800s the artisanal beers pretty much stunk, with some exceptions.

    The more automated a process is, the more consistent the product becomes. As an example, I make my own beer, and even using the same recipe, batches can turn out quite different. The good folks at Perennial Artisan Ales’ are, in some ways, only slightly more automated than a home brewer.

  2. July 8, 2014 at 10:28 am #

    As I recall from conversation right in these pages, its much harder to brew the standard American Pilsners than it is to brew barley beers. Shame all that effort wasn’t put into producing something I actually enjoyed drinking. I like a good Pilsner in the summertime, but I can’t handle Bud or any of the “light” beers.

    • July 8, 2014 at 10:30 am #

      Yes – they need to crank up that machinery to pump out millions of bottles of barrel aged New Holland Dragons Milk Imperial Stout!!!

      Or a decent Pilsner, I guess. :(

  3. July 8, 2014 at 12:07 pm #

    Interesting gifs. I’ve been curious as to how much automation the larger micro breweries rely on. I haven’t toured any of the major ones, but the micro breweries that I have toured have all been similar to the process shown by Perennial.

    Thanks for the post. I’m counting down the days until I can get my Paulaner Oktoberfest shipped from my buddies in Germany. :)

  4. July 8, 2014 at 4:12 pm #

    Brewing by hand all the way. There is a care to the artistry when anything is handcrafted – from breads, to cheese, to beer. Well, as long as their moms taught them to wash their hands first…

  5. July 18, 2014 at 12:57 pm #

    I think we can all agree that Budweiser isn’t exactly the best beer out there, but you have to hand it to AB, their ability to produce a consistent product is impressive, especially on such a huge scale. All of that automation is a big part of that (but produces a much less interesting beer!)

    • July 18, 2014 at 1:01 pm #

      I agree 100%. I just wish they were using all of that precision to brew a sour beer I actually like. THAT would be impressive!!

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