End of an Era: Jax's Anheuser-Busch's Brewery Tour
Since its opening, Anheuser-Busch has offered free guided tours to anyone willing to drop by to explore their Jacksonville brewery. However, these days are coming to an end. On December 23, the brewery will end tours of the facility and close its associated gift shop permanently. With that in mind, here's a photographic behind-the-scenes tour of the Jacksonville brewery permanently being archived for Jaxsons to have free access too.
A fixture in Jacksonville’s manufacturing scene since 1969, Anheuser-Busch’s third largest U.S. brewery produces 9 million barrels of beer annually. Anheuser-Busch’s roots date back to 1852 with German American brewer George Schneider establishing the Bavarian Brewery in St. Louis. In 1960, the operation was purchased by William D’Oench and German-born soap manufacturer Eberhard Anheuser. In 1869, Anheuser’s son-in-law Adolphus Busch purchased D’Oench’s share. In 1957, Anheuser-Busch became the largest brewer in the United States.
Covering 1.4 million square feet, the manufacturing operations of the brewery are pretty impressive. Operating 24/7, the 205-acre plant site receives regular shipments of raw ingredients by rail, accommodates 235 trucks each day and even includes its own natural gas power plant. Brands produced include Budweiser, Bud Light, Busch, Busch Light, Michelob Light, Michelob, AmberBock, Michelob ULTRA, Natural Light, Natural Ice, Shocktop and Landshark. To ensure consistency, every product produced in the brewery is sampled every day at 3:00pm by staff.
Anheuser-Busch’s economic and cultural impact on Jacksonville far exceeds the property lines of the facility that attracts 50,000 visitors a year with its offerings of free tours. Once beer has been brewed it’s sent to three bottle lines, three can lines and one draft line for packaging. As many as 125 million cases of beer are produced annually and 8.5 million cans of beer are filled daily and producing more than 125 million cases of beer annually. Cans are manufactured at the Anheuser-Busch’s Metal Container Corporation’s (MCC) plant in Jacksonville’s Westside. Here, machines and 200 employees turn 25,000-pound rolls of aluminum into cans. for Anheuser-Busch, Pepsi and Monster Energy. To accommodate the growing demand for beer, Anheuser-Busch recently invested $175 million to expand MCC to produce aluminum bottles locally. 75 jobs were created as a result. An additional $20 million was invested in the brewery to package aluminum bottles produced by MCC.
The brewery’s three bottling lines are supplied with bottles made by the Anchor Glass Container Corporation. A Jacksonville manufacturer dating back to 1926, Anchor Glass is Florida’s only glass manufacturing plant and the Anheuser-Busch brewery is its only client. Employing as many as 400 during peak production periods, it makes 2.7 million beer bottles a day. Cardboard trays and cartons are manufactured at WestRock’s massive mill in nearby Fernandina Beach. In operation for over 77 years, the Fernandina Beach plant employees 480 producing 900,000 tons of paper annually.
Then there’s North Florida Sales and its workforce of 250 at its Southside operation near UNF. The company is Anheuser-Busch’s wholesaler customer in town, distributing the brewery’s beer to the local market. St. Augustine’s Burkhardt Sales is another wholesaler that services St John’s county. Also, the brewery is one of the Florida East Coast Railway’s major intermodal customers. In the past, the FEC has been recognized as Anheuser-Busch’s intermodal carrier of the year for providing nearly 8,000 shipments of beer to multiple wholesalers in South Florida.
Sustainability, Conservation & Cultural Impact
99.6% of everything utilized in the brewery’s manufacturing process is recycled. Materials such as plastic, paper and metals are sold or given away to other companies. Rejected bottles and cans are recycled and its water consumption has been reduced by 50% in recent years. The brewery’s wastewater is sent via pipeline to two company owned Nutri-Turf Land Application Farms in the Northside of town. Established in 1975, the 1,100-acres of farms water and fertilize soil, growing sod, hay and occasionally corn for local livestock farms.
The company is also known for being involved with community events and hosting special events on its pretty. Past events include Day Fresh with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brew at the Zoo. At the plant, car shows are hosted around Memorial Day and Veterans Day and Oktoberfest is held the last weekend in September. If you’re ever on the Northside of town, management invites you to drop by for a tour or beer appreciation class to learn more about their Jacksonville operation.
Since the brewery’s opening, free guided tours have been offered to anyone willing to drop by to explore the Jacksonville brewery. However, these days are coming to an end. On December 23, the brewery will end tours of the facility and close its associated gift shop permanently. Until then, tours can be booked by calling (904) 696-8373 or visiting www.budweisertours.com/locations/jacksonville-florida.html. With that in mind, here’s a photographic behind-the-scenes tour of the Jacksonville brewery permanently being archived for Jaxsons to have free access too.
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