Budweiser Accused of Downplaying Fossil Fuel Use

By Nathan Worcester
Nathan Worcester
Nathan Worcester
Nathan Worcester is an environmental reporter at The Epoch Times.
December 6, 2021 Updated: December 6, 2021

Budweiser is taking advantage of consumers’ energy-related ignorance by stating that its beers are brewed with 100 percent renewable electricity, according to an energy expert.

Energy analyst Alex Epstein has argued that the claim by Budweiser is false, pointing out that “most of the energy that goes into its beer is fossil fuel.” He believes that such claims mislead the public about the possibility of relying solely on renewable energy.

Epstein made his case in a viral Twitter thread, as well as in a Substack post and in an exclusive interview with The Epoch Times.

In 2018, Anheuser-Busch, the maker of Budweiser, announced that “Budweiser has launched a renewable electricity symbol that indicates when a Budweiser beer is brewed with 100 percent renewable electricity.” This claim might lead consumers to believe that the beer is brewed only using renewable energy.

In a June 1 statement, Anheuser-Busch celebrated the fact that its domestic beer and seltzer brands are “now brewed with 100% renewable electricity* from solar and wind power.” The asterisk informs readers that “electricity is one type of energy we use to brew.”

In his Twitter thread, Epstein pointed out that brewing accounts for a small fraction of beer’s energy input, citing a 2016 study on the environmental effect of beer in the UK. He also noted that most of the brewing energy for beer typically comes from natural gas rather than electricity, citing a guide from the Brewers Association.

Epstein also highlighted the Anheuser-Busch Jacksonville, Florida, facility, which produces Budweiser along with other Anheuser-Busch brands. He stated that tanks at the facility that are visible on Google Maps are for natural gas.

“How many of Budweiser’s customers reading a ‘100 percent renewable electricity’ label have any idea that most of the brewing is being done using fossil fuels—including this natural gas facility in Jacksonville that Budweiser uses?” he wrote on Twitter.

Epstein directed The Epoch Times to the Energy Justice Network, which documented 8.6 megawatts of natural gas turbine power at that facility based on filings with the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

EIA’s 2020 Form-860 records confirm this, documenting 8.7 megawatts of natural gas-fired combustion turbine power at that plant, along with records of 26.1 megawatts of natural gas steam turbine power from three generators at the Anheuser-Busch facility in St. Louis and additional natural gas power associated with Anheuser-Busch’s operations elsewhere in the United States.

When reached by The Epoch Times, a spokesperson for the Anheuser-Busch facility in Jacksonville couldn’t confirm whether there were operational natural gas turbines at the plant.

Epstein also criticized the company’s reliance on renewable energy credits in order to claim that the electricity it uses is 100 percent renewable.

“Budweiser literally pays utilities to give them credit for others’ renewable electricity and give others the blame for Bud’s nonrenewable electricity!” he wrote on Twitter.

“I consider their main public-facing messaging—’100 percent renewable electricity’ and ‘brewed with 100 percent renewable electricity’—which is all that 99 percent of the public sees, to be lying, because it involves at least some and usually all of the three deceptions that I mentioned,” Epstein told The Epoch Times.

The “three deceptions,” in Epstein’s words, are: “1. Only counting brewing—a small percentage of beer’s energy use. 2. Only counting the fraction of brewing energy that comes from electricity. 3. Falsely labeling its fossil fuel electricity as ‘renewable.’”

Epstein has asked Budweiser to publicly apologize for presenting what he sees as misleading and incomplete information on its energy use. He told The Epoch Times that Anheuser-Busch hasn’t yet done so.

“Surely they think that if they lay low, this issue won’t get too much attention. I aim to prove them very wrong,” he said.

Epstein thinks that Anheuser-Busch’s claims are damaging to the public understanding of how energy is actually produced and used.

“Not only do I consider this fraud, because the lying is designed to win over customers, but I am alarmed by how effective ‘100 percent renewable’ and ‘net zero’ lies have been at advancing disastrous political attempts to achieve these impossible targets,” he told The Epoch Times.

“The current Build Back Better bill, for example, which is designed to move to net-zero by 2050, should be viewed as calling for the total destruction of American energy. But because … energy liars claim to be ‘net zero,’ Americans think we as a nation can be as well.”

Anheuser-Busch’s corporate office didn’t respond to requests for comment from The Epoch Times.

Nathan Worcester is an environmental reporter at The Epoch Times.