Rebecca Reid, an Anheuser-Busch brewmaster, is “trying to stretch the boundaries of what ends up in a beer,” reports Mike Esterl in The Wall Street Journal (1/26/13). One of her recent experiments “mixed hibiscus flowers with wheat and lemon peels to approximate the taste of ‘strawberry lemonade’ beer. That idea came from a baking recipe for chocolate chili-powder cupcakes with hibiscus frosting.” She’s still refining that one, while also tinkering with thyme and rosemary. “If they go well in food, they should be good in beer,” says Rebecca.
She’s also brewed “a peppermint stout as well as gingerbread, raisin and apple-pie ales that might one day make their way to store shelves.” For now, however, almost none “of the 500 recipes she and her team brew each year” ever leave the lab. But Rebecca’s experiments “are increasingly critical for Anheuser-Busch, which has watched a growing number of Americans drop its giant domestic brands such as Budweiser, Bud Light and Michelob in favor of small ‘craft’ beers sprouting across the country.”
Rebecca has had her successes, such as Bud Light Platinum, a sweeter, higher-alcohol version of Bud Light that “isn’t heavy in calories.” The new brew “quickly captured more than one percent market share,” and stopped Bud Light’s slide. As a woman and an African-American, Rebecca is a rarity — according to the Pink Boots Society, 99 percent of brewmasters are male. Before getting into the beer business, she worked “on chemicals used in plastics and gas collection systems,” and says that while she “always liked beer,” she “didn’t know a lot about it” before she joined A-B.