In the summer of 1969—a time of dramatic cultural change, political protests, and a widening generation gap—humanity joined in wonder and amazement as the astronauts of Apollo 11 landed on the Moon. From the moment of launch on July 16th through the Moon landing itself on July 20th to splashdown in the Pacific on July 24th, an otherwise divided world came together to celebrate this “one giant leap for mankind.” 50 years later, the Apollo 11 team’s pioneering spirit of discovery, exploration, and innovation lives on in a well-crafted beer.
The newest addition to the Budweiser Reserve Collection—Budweiser Discovery Reserve American Red Lager—marks the 50th anniversary of this landmark moment, with its taste inspired by an archival recipe from that time in history. In Discovery Reserve we get a sense of both the past and the future. This special, limited-edition beer features a light, hoppy aroma with a hint of toffee and a sharp finish. Made with Voyager barley malt toasted to achieve a reddish color, Discovery Reserve reflects the next frontier in space exploration—Mars.
Like the Moon mission itself, the creation of Discovery Reserve has been an endeavor of both heart and mind, a blend of innovation, intuition, and a vision for the future. By applying state-of-the-art craft brewing techniques to create a beer that’s both nostalgic yet totally new, Budweiser continues a generations-old tradition while expanding on it, launching a new era in growing barley and brewing beer.
Budweiser has worked closely with its family of barley farmers to innovate, experiment, and invent new flavors that evolve from both the creation of new seeds and a refined malting process. What the toasted Voyager barley malt in Discovery Reserve American Red Lager represents, though, is truly out of this world, touching on a new frontier in more ways than one. In 2017, Budweiser launched a partnership with the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory to conduct experiments on Budweiser’s Voyager barley malt, investigating how it reacts in microgravity environments. These experiments will help a new generation of American barley farmers better understand how to improve crop resilience and effectively grow barley in stressful conditions, like heat and drought.
Innovation is at the crux of their mission—through implementing the latest water-saving technology, they aim to get the “most crop per drop.” By working with brewers, packagers, and distributors with a similar brand ethos, Budweiser is also able to pursue its goal of creating the most environmentally-friendly brew through 100% renewable electricity from wind power across America. Each year, Budweiser and its partners are continually making discoveries to reach new frontiers.
“Anheuser-Busch has been buying barley directly from American farming families in Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, and Minnesota for decades,” said Jess Newman, Director of U.S. Agronomy at Anheuser-Busch. “Our team of 15 crop scientists is focused on providing agronomic and sustainability support to our more than 800 barley farmers, many of whom we have worked with for multiple generations. We are proud to support the farming families who help us brew our award-winning beers. As we like to say, ‘Barley today, Budweiser tomorrow.’”
For Discovery Reserve, Budweiser worked hand-in-hand with its barley farmers—some from the very same families who were growing barley for the company back in 1969—to grow the Voyager barley used both in the International Space Station experiments and in brewing this specialty beer.
"My family and I have been farming for generations and are proud to be barley growers for Anheuser-Busch," said Jim Dixon, owner of Jim Dixon Farms LLC in Idaho Falls, Idaho. "Barley is the soul of beer and we are thankful for our partnership with Anheuser-Busch. The company of Anheuser-Busch has a deep commitment to provide barley growers with resources and support that serve as a tremendous benefit to the agriculture industry as a whole. I’ve had the privilege of working with many of their associates. From the top executives to the brewers and maltsters, from agronomists to the grain elevator workers, the company employs incredible men and women who enhance relationships with the grower. I am honored to be raising barley for Anheuser-Busch."
The team of brewers tasked with creating Discovery Reserve toasted the barley longer than usual in a special malting process to create the beer’s distinctive red color as well as its malt-forward richness and multi-layered sweetness. In the end, it’s this special barley that makes this beer so distinctive.
This summer, look for the Discovery Reserve’s nod to Apollo 11 represented by 11 stars on the label, bottle caps evoking Apollo era mission patches in two colors—one representing the lunar surface at night, the other the Martian surface during the day on Mars—and 12-packs in space-age silver. Note that Discovery Reserve will only last as long as the summer (through September or while supplies last).