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Katie Davis

@PopCultureCuisine

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This Bud’s For You

Thursday, July 15, 2010 @ 11:07 AM

375 I don’t know about you, but summer would not be complete without taking in a baseball game or two (or more if you know my husband).  Of course I love to go cheer on my hometown St. Louis Cardinals (GO CARDS!), but I am more than willing to go to any game we can, minor league included.  I just enjoy being at the stadium, listening to the crowd, eating a hot dog, throwing peanut shells on the ground, and enjoying a beer or two…or a few. 😉  Doesn’t that just scream summertime? Well, it does to me; and two years ago when we had the opportunity to go see our beloved Cardinals at their newly built home stadium, we decided to make a whole weekend out of it.  At the time we had just moved to Texas, and between Adam looking for a new job and me starting at a new school, it was a great weekend get-away for both of us to shed some stress.  Also, now I was finally able to show Adam where I grew up and visit all my favorite dining locations, including a place that both of us were really excited for (and I was never old enough to visit when I lived there)… the Anheuser-Busch Brewery.

We decided to head there directly from the airport and hopefully grab a tour. Although I grew up there, I was not very familiar with the brewery’s location and didn’t know any information about it. Well, let’s just say that it is hard to miss…seriously. Although it’s one of the largest breweries in the world and the buildings are massive, it’s amazingly well hidden. The buildings are sort of just tucked back in the midst of these old historic neighborhoods, and it’s not until you’re right on top of it that you see it.

Well, we found it with a little help from our GPS; and as soon as we parked, the smell of the beer making process (yeast and barley and hops…oh my!) hits you, and I thought between that and the sight of this massive old world glorious structure, Adam might combust from pure excitement (yep…he’s a total nerd when it comes to seeing things like this). 🙂

374 344I mean come on, how does that cute “little boy” face of joy not make you smile? 🙂  So with a little hop in our steps, we made our way inside and found out that they run the tours every 30 minutes and best of all….wait for it…..THEY’RE FREE!…score! We had to wait about the whole 30 for the next tour, but there was no shortage of things to read or look at.  Being a company that has been in business since 1860, there are a ton of history, memorabilia and fun facts displayed all over the lobby area.  A fun fact I learned while we were there is that Budweiser actually now owns or bottles a ton of other small brewing companies both here and abroad. So often times all that variety you see in the stores is actually only a few large markets being showcased…who knew.  Also, a lot of the other displays show their old marketing campaigns, delivery trucks, and how their logo and bottles have changed over the years, including products they made during prohibition…everything from ice cream and ginger ale to refrigerated cabinets and bus bodies.

346 347Needless to say that with so much stuff to look at, the time we had to wait for our tour flew by and we were ready to go see a piece of American history.  What makes this tour so cool is how they really give you a full insight of everything…and I mean EVERYTHING!  We have been on some other brewery tours that simply show you a video and a few displays and send you on your way; but, not here. We got a ton of information on the company and the history of the brewery and saw the entire brewing process from start to finish, down to seemingly the smallest detail.

The tour begins in the central courtyard where you can really see each of the massive brewing buildings. It was there that our tour guide gave us a brief history of the beginnings of the company.

364So you can get a little of what we got, here is some brief history of this beer mogul’s humble beginnings courtesy of the Anheuser-Busch website:

“In 1857, Adolphus Busch, the second youngest of 22 children, immigrated to the United States from Germany, began working as a clerk on the riverfront in St. Louis and later formed a successful brewery supply company.

Eberhard Anheuser purchased a struggling St. Louis brewery in 1860 and renamed it E. Anheuser and Co. He soon met Adolphus and introduced him to his daughter, Lilly. A year later, Adolphus Busch married Lilly Anheuser and in 1864 joined his father-in-law’s brewery as a salesman, later becoming a partner and finally president of the company. In 1869, he purchased half ownership in the brewery.

In 1876, he and his friend, Carl Conrad, created Budweiser—using time-consuming, traditional methods and only the finest barley malt, hops, and rice. Budweiser was a lager beer that succeeded beyond anyone’s expectations. The company was renamed Anheuser-Busch Brewing Association in 1879, and Adolphus became president the following year. He continued as president for 33 years and is considered to be the founder of our company.”

source: http://www.budweisertours.com/brewingProcess.htm

From the courtyard, our next spot before we got to see the brewing process was getting to stop in the stables and see the famous Budweiser Clydesdales…yay!  Now I’ll admit, this was the part of the tour I was most looking forward to.  Having grown up in St. Louis and often seeing them at Cardinals games or at Grant’s Farm, I figured there had to be some on the premises. Lucky for me, they, and their new Dalmatian friends were part of the tour.  They are amazing creatures, not only beautiful and extremely well cared for, but they are enormous and very strong! Prior to modern technology, they were able to carry large loads of product for the company. So, to this day they are extremely revered by the company for helping to support them…literally. 😉

348 350

Next stops on the tour included rooms and buildings devoted to each step of the brewing process and let me tell you it is quite a process.  These fellas did not just set out one day to make beer and beer was born.  Rather it is multiple steps, some of which take a month or more, in the process to get one batch of beer.  And as time has gone on the process may have become more technologically advanced, but the same steps are maintained and honored because of the impeccable product they are able to produce.  Now I won’t go into major detail about each, you can follow this link if you want to read about each of them specifically, but the steps involved from start to finish are as follows:

  • Brewing
  • Mashing
  • Brew Kettle
  • Fermentation & Lagering
  • Finishing
  • Packaging

354 357 358 359Just from the rooms we were able to get pictures of (a small fraction of the entire complex), you can see it is quite the process and one they don’t take lightly.  Everyone who works there is extremely proud of their product and want to ensure that they are only producing the best for their customers.  They even go so far as to print a “born on” date on each and every bottle or can so that a customer will know just how long ago their beer was produced, ensuring the best flavor and reflection of the product.  I found this to be one of the most impressive facts, largely because they are bottling millions each day and they are ensuring that each batch reaches their final destination within a certain amount of time for the company to deem it a fresh and worthy for us to drink.

And now for the best part….at the conclusion of the guided tour, we were walked back to the “tasting room” where each person got two free glasses of their beer choice. I mean…what a deal. First, a free tour…then free beer! Does it get any better than that?  We decided we would try some of their newer or lesser known products, which I am happy to report is where I first learned of Shock Top, originally a seasonal-only beer which is now a favorite of mine.

360365If you can’t tell by reading this post, we had a wonderful time on our tour. What made it even better was just how thorough and informative it was as well as the grounds themselves, which are beautiful.  They clearly take pride in what they do and it shows in the appearance of everything at the brewery (extremely clean) and the passion their employees show for the product they are producing.  Adam and I have done a fair amount of tours of breweries and others alike, and this one stands well above the rest…the one we measure all other by.  Also, you can’t beat the price! 😉

Note: I know this isn’t a restaurant, but we still felt given its notoriety in popular culture it, along with many other spots like it, are part of pop culture cuisine.  As such, the review will still get a category rating, just with a bit of a different look at the categories. :).

SIGNATURE DISH: Beer is what’s for dinner in this case. 🙂  Unless you have lived under a rock your whole life, I am sure you were well aware that a beer-venture was where we were headed on this one. So if good-old fashioned suds are not Anheuser-Busch’s signature dish, I don’t know whose it is. 😉

TASTE: As I mentioned, we each sampled some of the newer beers to us; and although I can’t remember the name of the first one I tried, I remember that it was light and delicious.  The second one I went with was a recommendation from the bar tender…the Shock Top…and boy what a recommendation it was, because it now a favorite of mine. Adam went with some old Michelob beers, which were right up his ally.

AMBIANCE: The Anheuser-Busch Brewery is beautiful and amazing! The grounds and buildings were both spotless and magnificent in look.  These buildings are old and hold a lot of history, but they have done a fantastic job of maintaining and allowing them to age beautifully.  Everything was very neat, orderly and presentable, without being stuffy…something which I enjoy immensely.  We felt very comfortable and welcome the entire time, which on tour can be difficult. Overall, a very inviting place.

PRICE: FREE…and what is better than that!

SERVICE: Our tour guide was excellent, and although she was only working for the company as a summer job, she was well informed and was able to provide us with excellent information and answer or explain any question she was presented with. Also, everyone we encountered was extremely helpful and informative along the way.  Finally, the people working in the tasting room were equally helpful and knowledgeable about all of their beers and prompt in their service. Like I said, you can tell there is a lot of pride amongst the employees and they really like working there, which really helped make us feel like we were in a fun atmosphere.

If you can’t tell 🙂 Adam and I truly enjoyed our experience at Anheuser-Busch and highly recommend it to beer lovers and history buffs alike.  For someone like me who is not as interested in history, I still fully enjoyed myself and would go again in a minute.  So, if you are traveling through St. Louis and have the opportunity to stop, you won’t regret it!

I give the Anheuser-Busch Brewery Tour 5 ‘Little Piggies’!

pig-icon pig-icon pig-icon pig-icon pig-icon

4 Responses to “This Bud’s For You”

  1. Paige says:

    Mmmm brewery tours. Such a great thing about St. Louis! Let’s hope those crazy Belgians never take them away.

    My favorite part about the tour is the dalmatians in the stable, peeking out from the hay usually.

    Also, can I just say that the picture of the back of the clydesdales…is…a little risque?

    • Katie says:

      Oh whoops, I forgot that one showed a bit too much of his business! That’s what I get for not double checking my photos!

  2. Great post! I’m not a beer drinker and even I loved the tour…I happily traded my beers at the end for extra pretzels 😉

    Thanks for shedding light on an awesome part of STL 🙂

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