Young and Hungry

Budweiser’s Got Rice, and They’re Proud of It


Good beer drinkers (myself included) love to malign the yellow fizz companies for cutting their barley with cheap stand-ins like corn and rice, but apparently Bud has been waving their rice flag high all along. It's right there on the can: "using the choicest hops, rice and best barley malt." That "rice" doesn't appear to be described by "choicest" won't be lost on grammar geeks (myself included, again).

But what about this longer description?

This is the famous Budweiser beer. We know of no brand produced by any other brewer which costs so much to brew and age. Our exclusive Beechwood Aging produces a taste, a smoothness and a drinkability you will find in no other beer at any price.


I've heard about this beechwood business — the beer's not barrel-aged, but rather brewed with some wood chips in the tank (though the chips are first boiled to remove flavor). But what about "no brand...which costs so much to brew and age" — is that just left on for kitsch? And for how many decades was the word "drinkability" staring Anheuser-Busch marketers in the face before they decided to make it an ad campaign?

I suppose you're wondering what I was doing with a can of Bud in the first place. I was on a train home, and Amtrak lacks somewhat in the beer department. But I only succumbed after drinking the Bear Republic Racer 5 and Stone IPA that I snuck on the train, I swear. I just have a fear of traveling sober.

  • brad

    Don't apologize. Every bear snob enjoys a Bug from time to time. By owning up to that contradiction, you honor and liberate us all.

  • brad

    Umm. I mean Bud.

  • Joshua

    “no brand…which costs so much to brew and age”

    It's all in the wording. They don't claim that it costs more PER UNIT, just that it costs more. It's cheap-ass beer to produce, but they brew a god awful amount of the stuff, and I have no doubt that their 'malt beverage production cost' budget line is much bigger than anyone else's.

  • Duke84

    Truse me - I've spent several decades looking dazedly at cans of Bud. This post isn't exactly breaking news.

  • Duke84

    I guess I wanted to say "trust" - but that's the beauty of Bud. It turned a smart man stupid - literally.

  • dan riley

    I wish somebody would mass produce a beer with no gluten - my wife has Celiac and hasn't had a cold brew in 2 years. even if it tastes like shit I'll still use it to steam crabs and mussels.

  • JB

    dan riley, Whole Foods carries a selection of gluten-free beers. The one in Clarendon had a few different six packs last time I was in there.

    This was one:

    I've had and it was passable cold on a hot day.

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  • Lloyd Davis

    Funny, I landed on this site because I was just listening to an old radio aircheck from 1969. During one of the breaks, there was a commercial (featuring Ed McMahon, no less), talking up the fact that rice is in Budweiser -- "one more reason it's the King of Beers," said Ed. So they've been proud of it for at least forty years!

  • eric

    Rice is not cheaper than Barley. Look at the price per metric ton of each. They are usually on par with each other, and often one or the other is higher, but they alternate. Right now, rice is quite a bit higher.
    Budweiser doesn't use rice to save money, contrary to beer-snob opinion. It's used because the sugar content of rice is higher and the flavor profile of the grain is lower than Barley or wheat. Therefore it converts into higher alcohol with less flavor. I love a good, full-bodied craft beer. But most Americans don't. The American palette prefers meat and potatoes, which are delicious, but don't have the fragrant and pungent spices seen in other parts of the world. Americans prefer bland flavors. That's not an insult. Strong herbs and spices in ethnic food comes from the need to cover up the flavor of spoiled and rotten food in the days before refrigeration and curing techniques.
    America is a country founded in the days where these things weren't as much of an issue. That's why American food is more bland. And that's why American beer is made to be more bland. It isn't about saving money. It's about finding the biggest audience for their product in order to make more money.

  • Fred

    It is true that whole grain rice is about as expensive as other grains. However, most rice is sold as whole grains and there is a lot of cheap cracked grains around and this is what Budweiser uses It is cheaper than another grain and St. Louis is near the rice growing area of the lower Mississippi where the cracked grains were especially cheap.

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