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Learning the ropes from Anheuser Busch

Who would have thought school could be educational yet fun at the same time? Oh yeah, while drinking beer.

Busch Gardens offers a beer school where visitors can learn the history of Anheuser Busch and be taught methods of making beer, all the while sitting in on an extended commercial.

The park started offering beer school in 1997 after the brewery that used to be in the park was shut down.

“It was one of the oldest breweries, and it wasn’t able to pick up any capacity,” Jeff Rozmeski, manager of hospitality operations said. “There was no room for expansion.”

This class did not provide an in-house tour of a brewery, but there were videos depicting every aspect of beer-making, which was presented by Victoria Portfolio, one of Busch Gardens’ highly motivated speakers and the teacher of beer school.

The people in this class are usually lured in by the thought of the six beers that are sampled as part of the curriculum.

Surprisingly, the majority of the people in class appeared to be there to learn about beer and some of Busch’s products, while only a handful were there for the highly-anticipated tasting session at the end of the lesson.

The class started with a medley of Budweiser commercials, followed by a video on Adolphus Busch, one of the founders of Anheuser Busch.

Busch started America’s first national brewery in St. Louis in the 1870s before passing it down to his son August, who then passed the company down to younger generations, keeping it a family thing.

After the video, the class was told what ingredients went into beer, assisted by the visual aids on the tables of four different kinds of barley malts, rice and hops.

The second video on how beer is made takes you through the process called “mashing” with grounded barley mixed with water. After mashing, rice is mixed in for crispness, which creates something called “wort.” The wort is brought to a boil while the hops or “spice of your beer” is added before it is cooled and yeast is added.

The wort is then fermented once and then fermented again on beechwood chips.

After the class is schooled on how to make beer, August Busch III gives a speech via video.

After all the schooling, it was time to get down to business.


The class surprised the teacher when they had to select between two samples of Budweiser: one that is stored properly at room temperature and one that is not. The class chose the sample that was not stored properly, which simulates older beer.

“It surprised me,” Portfolio said. “But that means they like a darker beer or stronger taste.”

The students would get their wish later after tasting Bud Light and Michelob Ultra, before Budweiser’s dark beer, Amberbock, was brought out.

For “dessert” the class was given Doc’s Hard Lemonade to taste.

“I would say that they enjoy it a lot,” Portfolio said. “There were a variety of tastes.”

Michelob Ultra, a low-carbohydrate beer, is the newest brand from Anheuser Busch. Florida was one of the first places to taste the beer, serving as one of the test markets.

After all the lessons the class is allowed to sample six mini glasses of beer. However, they have to stare at its color like a wine critic before appreciating the beer for the reason they came: to drink some free brew.

More was taken from the class than just the free drinks and coupon for a free keychain. There was some information shared. Besides learning the history and brewing methods of Anheuser Busc,h serving tips were also shared with the class. They were told facts that many did not know, including that you want head on your beer.

Most beer drinkers fight the head monster, which is foam, by using various techniques such as tipping the glass, swirling a finger in their ale or even dumping the foam out. But the experts at Busch say that for optimal beer flavor, you want an inch to an inch and a half of head so that the foam can release carbon dioxide and make the beer less filling so that more can be consumed.

Another fact that seemed to astonish the class was that those cool frosty beer mugs resting in many drinkers’ freezers are not good for your beer because they release water into your beer after the ice crystals have melted.

The class proved to be informative and refreshing, offering both knowledge and free beer.

“We do surveys and get mostly positive feedback,” Rozmeski said. “Our “Good” or “Excellent” rating is high.”

Any student who is struggling for a diploma has put down a few beers over their years in school.

Those who attend beer school can drink a few in order to receive a diploma.

After the class is through, a volunteer is asked a question and then the pupils “graduate” and receives diplomas declaring that they are beer masters.

Contact Bryan Fazioat