On Super Bowl weekend, taking advantage of the good weather and the fact that famous Clydesdales would be there, Liz and I headed to the Budweiser brewery in Fairfield.
Opened in 1976, the Fairfield brewery is one of two Anheuser-Busch breweries in California, and as big as it is -16 roofed acres-, it is the smaller of the two, and the second smallest among AB’s twelve breweries in the US.
Since AB was purchased by Inbev, the AB production line of beers has expanded, and the Fairfield plant now produces Budweiser, Bud Ice, Bud Light, Busch, Busch Ice, Busch Light, Natural Light, Hurricane, King Cobra, Natural Ice, Rolling Rock, and Shock Top.  It supplies the US West Coast (other than Southern California), plus Alaska, Hawaii, and South America.

The brewery offers three levels of tours, all of which they charge for; the basic brewery tour being $5 while the “Flights of Fairfield” tasting tour is $10, and the 2-hour “Beer Master” tour $30.
The $5 tour lasts an hour, and starts with getting everyone a beer and watching a video on beer production at Anheuser-Busch

The video itself is not that interesting and is sparing on some details -for example, it does not really explain the role of hops in beer- but the brewhouse shown on it is as close as many will get one on this tour.  Probably because of the sheer size of the plant, and its location clear at the other end of it, the Fairfield brewhouse is not included in the basic tour, but is part of the longer “Beer Master” tour.

The explanantion by the guide was a bit more interesting, and I learned a few things from it. For example, that Anheuser-Busch was a pioneer in bottling beer in the US, in pasteurizing beer, and in transporting beer in refrigerated train cars –which they did by loading the front of the car with blocks of ice which cooled the air, while the train’s forward movement circulated it around the cases of beer– which enabled Budweised to become the first beer with nationwide distribution.

The guide did also mention that the name “Budweiser” was just “an invention” made up by Adolphus Busch, and had no meaning but was just meant to “sound German.”  No mention was made –even by me!– of ol’ Adolphus’ inspiration from his trip to Bohemia, and the subsequent name dispute with the Budvar brewery in the Czech town of Budweis.

As the Fairfield brewery was directed a while back to concentrate on canning and kegging, the tour then proceeds through a fairly large empty space in the production area, which once held the bottling line.

Me with the fermentation tanks.  Each horizontal tank is 12′ tall by 72′ long.

It then proceeds to the cool room and the fermentation area, where the much-vaunted beechwood aging process is explained.  You even get to take home a souvenir piece of beechwood that’s been used in the fermentation process!

At tour’s end, one is returned to the visitors’ hall and led to the tap room at the back of the gift shop area, where one can redeem one’s ticket for 6-oz pour of beer.  Naturally, one may purchase other beers –full-sized of course!–, select from a menu of flights, or design one’s own flight, of Anheuser-Busch/Inbev beers.

In the taproom

A made-in-Fairfield flight. From L: Bud Light, Budweiser, Rolling Rock, and Shocktop Belgian White.

Anheuser-Busch Brewery
3101 Busch Drive,
Fairfield, CA 94534

(707) 429-7595