Anheuser-Busch's headquarters are located in St. Louis. Tours are available of the brewery and grounds, including the stables of the famous Budweiser Clydesdales. Best of all, the tours are FREE AND at the end there's free beer tasting.

Cameras are allowed, except in a few production areas. There's also a rather large gift shop.

The actual location's a bit out of the way (several miles from the Gateway Arch), so get directions beforehand. There's a bus that runs nearby, but otherwise a car would be a good idea. (Personally, I was stupid and listened to someone downtown who told me "oh, it's about a mile from here" ...about 4 miles later, my legs hurt...)

Anheuser-Busch is the largest brewer of beer in the world. Their Budweiser beer is the world's most recognized and most consumed beer. The origins of the company go back to a small brewery in St. Louis, Missouri, founded by George Schneider, a German immigrant, in 1852. The Bavarian Brewery was a business failure, until it was sold in 1860 to another German-American, Eberhard Anheuser.

Anheuser was born in 1805 in the German Rhineland, and emigrated to the US in 1843. Trained as a soap manufacturer, he had a successful soap business, Schaffer, Anheuser, & Co., before branching out into brewing. The brewery under Anheuser was extremely successful on a local scale, but it was until Adolphus Busch came onto the scene that the brewery really took off. In 1861, Busch married Anheuser's daughter, Lilly. Three years later, he left his successful wholesaling company and joined the family business. Busch, like his father-in-law, was born in Germany. He came from Kastel, near Mainz in the Hesse region.

Busch transformed the company in several ways. First, he was quick to exploit the new railroad network for transportation. The logistical problems of transporting beer had traditionally kept it a localized industry. Combined with new refrigeration technology and pasteurization, Busch expanded his markets to all of America. Busch's second key insight was to brew a beer with a very mild flavor, to maximize it's appeal with all Americans, not just those acustomed to the strong beers of Europe.

Busch extensively researched brewing techniques. He travelled the brewing heartland of Bavaria and Bohemia in the 1860's and 1870's, collecting information and studying the best beers in the world. He looked closely at the Pilsen brewery, but Pilsner style beers were already taking hold in America. Looking for something unique, Busch ended his search in Budweis, Bohemia (now České Budějovice in the Czech Republic). The Budweis beers were milder, malter, and less hoppy than Pilsners which Busch thought would have a wider appeal.

So in 1876, Budweiser was launched, and the rest, as they say, is history. Actually, Budweiser wasn't an immediate success, but by the turn of the century Anheuser-Busch was brewing over a million barrels a year. It's transportation network fed the entire country the bland beer, and the country was hooked. Around this time, the brewery introduced a slightly more flavorful "super-premium" beer called Michelob. Budweiser calls itself the "King of Beers", and the bottle bears the slogan, "This is the famous Budweiser beer. We know of no brand produced by any other brewer which costs so much to brew and age. Our exclusive Beechwood Aging produces a taste, a smoothness, and a drinkability you will find in no other beer at any price."

Starting around 1916, individual states began to prohibit the sale of alcohol. Anheuser-Busch wisely started to diversify its product line before the 18th Amendment passed in 1919, making Prohibition nation-wide. Bevo, an alcohol-free barley based drink, and Malt Nutrine, a malt tonic, were created to leverage the company's existing supply of of barley and malt. Budweiser Near Beer took over as the flagship product. The company also successfully entered the baking yeast and ice cream markets. When Prohibition was ended, Anheuser-Busch was still a healthy company, well positioned to reclaim it's position atop the American brewing industry, unlike many of its smaller rivals. Many local and regional breweries were driven out of business during this time, paving the way for dominance by "super" breweries.

The Budweiser beer is a mild lager, brewed from a mixture of two-row and six-row barley malt plus rice. The rice accounts for much of the lack of bitterness, short after taste, and pale color. The beer is matured with beechwood chips and the final product has about 4.8 percent alcohol by volume. Today, Anheuser-Busch has plants in 11 states, and is the largest brewery in the world, producing over 100 million hectolitres of beer each year.

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