New fermentation cellar operating at Anheuser-Busch in Merrimack

Sunday News Correspondent
December 03. 2017 2:11AM

Tom Jokerst and Summer Anderson stand in front of the new fermentation tanks - each holding 1,500 barrels of beer - installed inside a new facility at the Anheuser-Busch plant in Merrimack. (KIMBERLY HOUGHTON/UNION LEADER CORRESPONDENT)

MERRIMACK - The Anheuser-Busch brewery has completed the construction of its new fermentation cellar, part of an $11 million project that is increasing the facility's cross-brewing capabilities.

"This new space is giving the brewery more flexibility in the beer we can produce," said Tom Jokerst, general manager at the brewery.

Construction of the 8,000-square-foot cellar building began last fall and was completed in September.

The facility includes six new fermentation tanks, although there is space to install six additional tanks when warranted.

"We have already laid the flooring for the potential to add more tanks," said brewmaster Summer Anderson.

Using barley or wheat malt, yeast is added to ferment the brew by converting the sugars to alcohol, which produces the beer inside of the fermentation tanks. The average fermentation cycle takes about eight to 12 days.

"The tanks are already in use. We have three fermentations in process right now," Anderson said last week during a tour of the new building.

Prior to installing the new fermentation cellar, Jokerst said, the brewery's capability to produce smaller-brand ales was not efficient. Now, each tank has a 1,500-barrel capacity, although not all of the space is utilized.

"We have our own craft partners. This allows us to cross brew those brands more efficiently than what we were doing before," Jokerst said.

Currently, Anheuser-Busch has several partnerships with different breweries, including Blue Point Brewing Co., whose beverage is currently being brewed in Merrimack. With all six fermentation tanks full, Jokerst said the new facility can produce about 200,000 12-ounce bottles of beer a day.

The Merrimack brewery at 221 Daniel Webster Highway has been in operation for about 47 years. Jokerst said the investment in the new fermentation cellar is a strong testament to the local plant's success.

"We are here to stay - we are happy to be in New Hampshire," he said. "This investment gives great stability to our team."

The multiyear expansion in Merrimack will involve an investment of more than $30 million, according to the company. It's part of a $2 billion capital-expenditure program at Anheuser-Busch plants across the country through 2020.

The Merrimack brewery totals about 600,000 square feet, employs about 210 workers and currently produces 18 brews.

The multiphase expansion project calls for a combined 70,035 square feet of new space, which includes future additions to the warehousing and packaging areas.

Anheuser-Busch is a division of AB InBev, which produces more than 500 beer brands and is the world's largest brewer.


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