Both breweries begin by unloading grain. At Anheuser-Busch, grain arrives daily on about a dozen train cars, each holding more than 150,000 lbs. Once a few hoses are connected, the grain is essentially vacuumed out. At Perennial, the brewer has to empty more than a dozen grain sacks one at a time, each weighs about 50 lbs.
Mixing the Mash
One of the first steps is to make the mash by mixing hot water with malted barley and other grains. At Anheuser-Busch, large mash cookers — basically huge mixers that are more than a story tall — automatically whirl around the grain and water. Each vessel holds about 500 barrels, and the brewery has 18 of them. Perennial has just one 8.5-barrel vessel to cook the mash. To mix the grains, the brewer needs a paddle and elbow grease.
Anheuser-Busch has whole buildings devoted to housing its fermenting tanks. The columns supporting the fermenters are more than a story tall. The brewery has 27 primary fermenting tanks that altogether hold more than 100,000 barrels. Perennial has about a dozen fermenters that hold a total of 350 barrels.
Bottling & Packaging
Bottling is labor-intensive at both breweries. At Anheuser-Busch, more than 300 people run about a dozen packaging lines. A line can produce about two thousand 12-oz cans a minute. The line moves so quickly, the red and white Bud cans are a blur. At Perennial, two people run the bottling machine. They rinse, move, and package the bottles by hand for a few hours. In that time, they can package more than a hundred bottles and just shy of a hundred kegs.