While I was in northern California last week, I stopped into the Anheuser-Busch brewery at Fairfield for the free tour and samples. The guide was a friendly sort and the tour was quite a bit more interesting than I was expecting. For example, half their factory floor was vacant due to space savings from their new fully automated bottling and canning lines (most employees actually do QA – yes, that means drinking the beer) They really do age the beer over beechwood chips – it seems to me any wood would work – and I calculate that the aging tanks on the premise contain enough beer to intoxicate every adult in California.
What wasn’t quite as amusing was finding out that the primary cause of the rise in beer prices over the last several months is federal subsidies for corn ethanol. Farms that formerly grew barley now grow corn in order to produce the most energy-negative motor fuel known to man. There may be an alternative, though — Redbridge, AB’s beer brewed from sorghum, is quite tasty!