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?