Budweiser CEO: ‘Beer made from sewage water for decades!’

Budweiser CEO: ‘Beer made from sewage water for decades!’

As the “Toilet to Tap” craze continues to grow in the U.S., one of the country’s largest beer brewers confirmed this week what many have suspected for decades – their signature beer is brewed with raw sewage.

“Using wastewater to brew beer isn’t a fad,” said Budweiser CEO August Busch III in an interview with NPR this week.  “It’s been our key ingredient in Bud Light for 25 years!”

By definition, the “Toilet to Tap” idea urges craft beer brewers around the country to use recycled sewage water mechanically and chemically treated to the point where it is physically cleaner than the water that flows from most peoples’ kitchen faucets. The idea is to draw attention to both the shortage of water in some areas of the country, and create awareness of the clean water industry and the people that work every day to treat wastewater to the point where it's safe for release into the environment. However, according to Busch, his company refuses to follow those guidelines, believing that brewing Bud Light with water that is too clean would, in effect, “ruin the taste our customers have grown to tolerate.”

The Anheuser-Busch Brewery in St. Louis, as it turns out, pumps water directly from the Missouri River, with the major intake approximately 4 1/2 feet from the outfall at the Metro St. Louis Sewer District Missouri River Treatment Plant. After a rudimentary screening process to eliminate stones, loose change and other items that Busch refers to as “chunks,” the water is then directly pumped into fermentation tanks at the brewery. Then, in a matter of about 14 minutes, the beer is bottled, labeled and packaged.

“Really, our process has become too efficient, you could theoretically flush your toilet in the morning, then be drinking a Bud Light made from that very same water that evening,” says Busch. “The system is pretty magical.”

While explaining the origin of the practice, Busch explains that it began as a bet between his father, August Busch II, and the Anheuser-Busch marketing team.

“We had a marketing director that honestly believed he was so good that if he told people to drink piss water, they’d do it,” he says. “Well, Dad didn’t believe him, but damned if that marketing guy didn’t prove him wrong. That’s how we got those famous frogs.”


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