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Meet the Stars Behind the New Project 12 Brews

Anheuser-Busch sits down with the lead brewmasters behind this year’s three ‘Project 12’ beers.

Anheuser-Busch recently met with this year’s Project 12 brewmasters, Scott Ungermann, Dan Westmoreland and Jennifer Eckstein, to find out the secrets behind their recipes. Each brewmaster used distinct techniques to create this year’s Project 12 brews.

See what they had to say below – and to learn more about the new Project 12 sampler pack, available nationwide beginning October 28, visit www.budweiser.com/project12.

Dan Westmoreland, brewmaster for the Williamsburg, Va. brewery, discusses the thinking and brewing process for his Batch 23185 beer:

What inspired you to create this vanilla and bourbon-infused recipe?

“A tradition for many Scotch Whiskey distillers is to age their product in fresh used barrels of another product, such as sherry or rum, causing the new product to subtly inherit the previous product’s taste and color.

The goal for my Vanilla Bourbon Cask Beer was to define a lager beer that had the same color of premium bourbon, the taste of aged bourbon and a hint of vanilla and oak. I wanted the beer to be complex to the palette, but also encompass a smooth drinkability and clean finish that pays tribute to the King of Beers, Budweiser. I believe we succeeded!”

What needs to be considered when adding vanilla to a beer?

“Naturally, vanilla is a very powerful flavor at small amounts. The key is to make sure there is enough vanilla to be perceived in the resultant beer, but not so much that it would over power the other bourbon and oak attributes. We used fresh shredded Madagascar vanilla beans to spice our Vanilla Bourbon Cask Beer, which was added during the lagering (aging) period of the brewing process. The ’trick‘ is to add the right amount of vanilla that will yield the desired subtle flavor when the beer has fully matured.  That’s the ’art‘ of brewing.”

How is this year’s recipe different from last year’s Project 12 brew you created?

“The thousands of samplers that tasted my beer across the country last year said they wanted more vanilla taste and a greater bourbon presence. This year, as a result of customers’ comments, we increased the number of fresh bourbon staves the beer was aged on. The result is a stronger flavored Vanilla Bourbon Cask Lager that still encompasses Budweiser’s drinkability.”

Scott Ungermann, brewmaster of the Fairfield, Calif. brewery, provides insight on the ingredients used in Batch 94534:

The beer is described as having a distinct taste of the American Northwest. Can you describe this taste?

“This beer is all about the hops. We used a blend of Palisade and Cascade hops from the Pacific Northwest to create a ’Hop Forward‘  lager. The beer is crisp and refreshing like Budweiser, while also encompassing a hoppy balance with a golden malty sweetness.”

Why did you to use a variety of North Pacific hops instead of merely one?

“We believe that a blend of these particular hop varieties, sourced from the Yakima Valley in Washington and the Willamette Valley in Oregon, gave us the floral, citrus and piney taste we were looking to create. The hop variety gave us a unique aroma for this dry-hopped lager.”

What do you think was the “X factor” in making the North Pacific Lager a finalist for the Project 12 Sampler Pack?

“The ’X factor‘ in this beer is the drinkable, crisp lager taste that also has an assertive, dry-hopped character, which balances nicely with the all-malt backbone of the beer. It has a more bitter taste than the other beers in the sampler pack, but the bitterness is not overwhelming – it blends well with the sweetness of the malt and it finishes very clean.”

Jennifer Eckstein, brewmaster for the Columbus, Ohio brewery, gives details on her experience with Project 12 and Batch 43229:

How do the chocolate and caramel malts change the taste of beer for the average drinker?

“The chocolate and caramel malts provide more sweetness and body to the beer. The aroma has a distinct chocolate, almost coffee-like, aroma.”

How has the Project 12 program changed your brewing experience at the Columbus brewery?

“Project 12 has been very exciting to all of us in Columbus. It has given us an opportunity to be creative, but still stay true to Budweiser’s heritage. We’ve enjoyed brewing new beers and tasting the exciting innovations the 12 brewmasters have developed.”

What feedback did you receive on last year’s Project 12 beer and how did it inspire your recipe in 2013?

“Last year we also created a Bock style beer. Based upon customer feedback and interaction, we decided to add more chocolate and caramel to deepen the color and add to the sweetness of the beer. Batch 43229 is decisively darker in color with beautiful creamy foam when poured properly.”