Budweiser is brewed using barley malt, rice, water, hops and yeast. It is lagered with beechwood chips in the ageing vessel which, according to Anheuser-Busch, creates a smoother taste. While beechwood chips are used in the maturation tank, there is little to no flavor contribution from the wood, mainly because they are boiled in sodium bicarbonate [baking soda] for seven hours for the very purpose of removing any flavor from the wood. The maturation tanks that Anheuser-Busch uses are horizontal and, as such, flocculation of the yeast occurs much more quickly. Anheuser-Busch refers to this process as a secondary fermentation, with the idea being that the chips give the yeast more surface area to rest on. This is also combined with a krausening procedure that re-introduces wort into the chip tank, therefore reactivating the fermentation process. By placing the beechwood chips at the bottom of the tank, the yeast remains in suspension longer, giving it more time to reabsorb and process green beer flavors, such as acetaldehyde and diacetyl, that Anheuser-Busch believes are off-flavors which detract from overall drinkability.
Some drinkers prefer the lightness of beers like Budweiser and consume it as a refreshment or for its inebriating effects. Several beer writers consider it to be bland. The beer is light-bodied with faint sweet notes and negligible bitterness, leading to reviews characterizing it as a “…beer of underwhelming blandness.” Even Adolphus Busch disliked the very beer he marketed in the United States. But based upon sales alone, it became the second most popular American brewed pale lager among North American beer consumers.
Budweiser and Bud Light are sometimes advertised as vegan beers, in that their ingredients and conditioning do not use animal by-products. Some may object to the inclusion of genetically engineered rice and animal products used in the brewing process. In July 2006, Anheuser-Busch brewed a version of Budweiser with organic rice, for sale in Mexico. It has yet to extend this practice to any other countries.
Anheuser-Busch was one of the few breweries during Prohibition that had the resources and wherewithal to convert to “cereal beer” production?malt beverage made with non-fermentables such as rice and unmalted barley and rye, and able to stay under the 0.5% limit established by the Volstead Act. Following the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, the major breweries continued to use unmalted cereal grains to provide the full body and mouthfeel of a “real” beer while keeping the alcohol content low.