Beer science

Brewing beer takes patience and scientific accuracy. From basements to brew pubs to the home of Budweiser in St. Louis, brewers are always tinkering with their recipes and cooking up new experiments. Reporter Ann Marie Berger takes us behind the scenes of the beer brewing industry in St. Louis, Missouri.


Brewing beer takes patience and scientific accuracy.

From basements to brewpubs to the home of Budweiser in Saint Louis, brewers are always tinkering with their recipes and cooking up new experiments.

Reporter Anne-Marie Berger takes us behind the scenes of the beer-brewing industry in Saint Louis, Missouri.

In 2015, the beer industry in the United States saw more than $100 billion in sales.

This includes craft, imports, and the largest in volume -- domestic beers.

Anheuser-Busch topped the charts at number one, and while A-B is loyal to their flagship beers, such as Budweiser and Bud Light, they do invest a lot of resources in experimenting with new beers.

So, what kind of beer is this?

So, this is the oatmeal stout.

This is our Project Training Day.

This was made in the Research Pilot Brewery.

The Research Pilot Brewery, located at Anheuser-Busch headquarters in Saint Louis, is where up-and-coming brewmasters are trained, future innovative beers are developed, and raw-materials testing is done.

We started with a grain like this, and if you'd like to try it, you can.

It tastes like -- just like a cereal.

It's sweet.

It's a little crunchy.

So, this is malted barley.


Rob Naylor is brewmaster at the RPB.

And we'll get hops in from Washington or Oregon or in Europe.

And we'll do some single-hop tests where we'll actually brew beer with it 'cause we want to know, you know, what type of bitterness does it give us, what does it really taste like?

And then we also want to see what the aroma is.

Beer can be many things.

It can simply be a beverage, a hobby, a social icebreaker, or all the above.

But first and foremost, the art of brewing beer is a science.

You know, all of our, you know, brewing-group managers, assistant brewmasters and brewmasters, they all have technical degrees -- typically electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, chemistry, biology, or food science.

Like all sciences, beer brewing requires accuracy and patience.

And this process starts with milling, or crushing, the grains.

So what we're going to do is we're going to crack the husk.

And then we're going to try to expose that endosperm that's in the middle, and that's where we're getting a lot of our extract.

We don't want to pulverize the grain.

The goal is to reveal the starchy barley seed without crushing the husks that encase them.

If the starch is too coarse, the fermentable sugars will be affected.

If the husks are too fine, the filter bed will be ruined.

And you can't have that when brewing beer.

They're so small.

They're so small.

So, what we're doing right here, there's two big rollers that are coming together, and they're pushing the --

Oh. Out.

Yeah, they're pushing --

Squeezing it out.

They're squeezing it out.

Got it.

From there, the milled grains are combined with water in the mash cooker.

And what's actually happening is we are converting our starches to sugars.

So, the longer we convert starches to sugars, the more we're going to get more fermentable sugars, and then we'll be able to get a kind of a lighter, low-carb beer.

We'll also be able to get more alcohol from there.

The shorter time, there will be less fermentable sugars in there, and it'll be more non-fermentables.

So you'll get more body and a heavier beer here.

In this process, temperature is key.

Naylor explains it will mash in at about 109 degrees.

Raising the temperature releases the enzymes.

And that's when we're actually going to be creating different beers.

And that's one of the main things where you're looking for consistency, this is something that we can do.

We can make sure, in our mash cooker, we are consistent.

We know exactly what temperatures we want to hit so we'll get the right fermentable sugars and hit the right body and the right alcohol and the right color.

The ground-up grains in the mash are extracted through the lautering process to create the wort.

From there, we'll actually take it into our brew kettle, of which we will start -- we will bring up to a boil, and we'll add our hops.

Now, our hops are what are going to add the IBUs and kind of the spice of the beer.

They'll also give you the aroma, depending upon when you add it.

We add our bittering hops at the very beginning of boil.

And then we'll add more of our aroma hops towards the middle and end of our boil.

At this point we are transferring it to one of our fermentation tanks.

As we're filling, we start transferring our yeast.

We use different types of yeast.

We'll use ale yeast and lager yeast.

And then we'll be able to maintain it at a certain temperature.

While some brewing in the RPB is strictly materials testing, there's always the chance the next big beer could be discovered.

How many of these actually make it to market?

Because it's a big deal for Anheuser-Busch to put out a new beer.

Yeah, well, so, you know, the Research Pilot Brewery has been around since 1981, and, you know, one of the first beers we came out with was Bud Light, so I always look at it that it's giant shoes to fill to come up with the next Bud Light.

But, you know, all of the Shock Top beers, the Michelob series, Platinum -- all of those beers have come from the Research Pilot Brewery.

This is one that -- it's been on -- it's been up for about a week, and we're getting some really positive reviews.

So this may be one.

I like it.