Wednesday, March 08, 2006

all you can drink.. and then some

They are virtually impossible for any downtown visitor to miss. Three replica bottles, each 30 feet wide and 90 feet tall with 12-inch letters declaring Budweiser "King of Beers." But there is not an ounce of beer in the 176 concrete silos behind the vinyl banners that greet drivers and pedestrians at the east end of Washington Street. Not a single can of Bud Light, Budweiser Select, Michelob Ultra or Bare Knuckle Stout is brewed or bottled in the mammoth manufacturing facility that includes 40 buildings on 23 acres fronting Lake Michigan and owned by St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch. What does emerge from the Manitowoc Malting Plant operated by Busch Agricultural Resources Inc. is crucial, however, in the production of different varieties of Budweiser, Michelob and Busch beers, and specialty malt beverages like Bacardi Silver Raz. About 2,700 railcars of barley arrive annually at the plant where the grain is processed into malt. After a series of steps involving cleaning, grading, storage, steeping, germination and kilning, it becomes "the heart and soul" of beer. Barley malt determines a beer's flavor and coloring and, with modifications, the speed at which the beer can be brewed. From processing in Manitowoc, the malt travels by train to six of Anheuser-Busch's 12 breweries where the different types of Budweiser are bottled, outselling all other domestic premium beers combined.


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