Historic Beer Birthday: William J. Lemp, Jr.

Today is the birthday of William Jacob Lemp, Jr. (August 13, 1867-December 29, 1922). He was born in St. Louis, Missouri, and was the son of William J. Lemp and the grandson of Adam Lemp, who founded the Lemp Brewery in 1840. When his grandfather died in 1862, his father inherited the brewery, and it was renamed the William J. Lemp Brewing Co. When he committed suicide, most likely from depression after his favorite son Frederick died at age 28. His other son, William J. Lemp Jr., ran the brewery thereafter, until it was closed by prohibition in 1920.


This account of Lemp Jr.’s time running the brewery is from the Wikipedia page about the Lemp Mansion:

On November 7, 1904, William J. “Billy” Lemp, Jr., took over the brewing company as president. Billy had married Lillian Handlan five years earlier, and they moved to a new home at 3343 South 13th Street.

Lillian Handlan Lemp was, allegedly, nicknamed the “Lavender Lady” for her lavender-colored wardrobe and carriages. She filed for divorce in 1908, charging Billy with desertion, cruel treatment and other indignities. Their divorce proceedings lasted 11 days and ended in Lillian being granted her divorce and custody of William III – their only child – with Billy given only visitation rights.

After the trial, Billy built “Alswel” – his country home overlooking the Meramec River. The home was located in what is now the western edge of Kirkwood. By 1914, he lived at Alswel full-time.

The Lemp Brewery suffered in the 1910s when Prohibition began. The brewery was shut down and the Falstaff trademark was sold to Lemp’s friend, “Papa Joe” Griesedieck. The brewery itself was eventually sold at auction to International Shoe Company for $588,500. On December 29, 1922, Billy Lemp shot himself in his office — a room that today is the front left dining room.


This history of the Lemp Family is from Monstrosity, a paranormal convention offering stays in the supposedly haunted Lemp Mansion:

America’s First Lager Beer Brewers

When John Adam Lemp arrived in St. Louis from Eschwege, Germany in 1838, he seemed no different from the thousands of other immigrants who poured into the Gateway to the West during the first half of the 19th century. Lemp originally sought his fortune as a grocer. But his store was unique for its ability to supply an item sold by none of his competitors – lager beer. Lemp had learned the art of brewing the effervescent beverage under the tutelage of his father in Eschwege, and the natural cave system under St. Louis provided the perfect temperature for aging beer. Lemp soon realized that the future of lager beer in America was as golden as the brew itself, and in 1840 he abandoned the grocery business to build a modest brewery at 112 S. Second Street. A St. Louis industry was born. The brewery enjoyed marvelous success and John Adam Lemp died a millionaire.

William J. Lemp succeeded his father as the head of the brewery and he soon built it into an industrial giant. In 1864 a new plant was erected at Cherokee Street and Carondolet Avenue. The size of the brewery grew with the demand for its product and it soon covered five city blocks.

In 1870 Lemp was by far the largest brewery in St. Louis and the Lemp family symbolized the city’s wealth and power. Lemp beer controlled the lion’s share of the St. Louis market, a position it held until Prohibition. In 1892 the brewery was incorporated as the William J. Lemp Brewing Co. In 1897 two of the brewing industry’s titans toasted each other when William Lemp’s daughter, Hilda, married Gustav Pabst of the noted Milwaukee brewing family.

The Lemp Family

The demise of the Lemp empire is one of the great mercantile mysteries of St. Louis. The first major fissure in the Lemp dynasty occurred when Frederick Lemp, William’s favorite son and the heir apparent to the brewery presidency, died under mysterious circumstances in 1901. Three years later, William J. Lemp shot himself in the head in a bedroom at the family mansion, apparently still grieving the loss of his beloved Frederick. William J. Lemp, Jr. succeeded his father as president.

Tragedy continued to stalk the Lemps with startling ardor. The brewery’s fortunes continued to decline until Prohibition (1919) closed the plant permanently. William Jr.’s sister Elsa, who was considered the wealthiest heiress in St. Louis, committed suicide in 1920. On June 28, 1922, the magnificent Lemp brewery, which had once been valued at $7 million and covered ten city blocks, was sold at auction to International Shoe Co. for $588,500. Although most of the company’s assets were liquidated, the Lemps continued to have an almost morbid attachment for the family mansion. After presiding over the sale of the brewery, William J. Lemp, Jr. shot himself in the same building where his father died eighteen years earlier. His son, William Lemp III, was forty-two when he died of a heart attack in 1943. William Jr.’s brother, Charles, continued to reside at the house after his brother’s suicide. An extremely bitter man, Charles led a reclusive existence until he too died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The body was discovered by his brother, Edwin.

In 1970, Edwin Lemp died of natural causes at the age of ninety.


Not everyone is convinced that Junior’s death was a suicide, but may have been murder, as explained in All Things Lemp:

On December 28th, 1922 William Lemp Jr. was found shot to death in his office on the first floor of the Lemp Mansion. William Lemp Jr. was not a very well liked person. Junior’s personality was rather crass and abrupt. Most people who knew him would avoid him if all possible. Junior was not the first pick by his father to inherit the Lemp Brewery Presidency. This had to be embarrassing considering Junior was the oldest and by tradition the heir apparent. This honor was to be reserved for his youngest brother Fredrick. The reason why Junior was to be passed over to run the family’s brewing empire was the standing animosity between Junior and his father. Many think Senior despised his oldest son because he thought William Lemp Junior didn’t deserve to bear his name. Very few people at the time knew that William Lemp Jr. had an older brother that died shortly after birth. It pained his father deeply that the child died before it could be named. His father thought his first deceased son should have been given his name, not his second surviving son. This is believed to be the initial cause of their life long feud. Fredrick died in 1901 due to heart failure. If Fredrick would have survived, many think that we would have a Lemp Brewery today.

According to police reports, William Lemp Jr. was shot twice directly into the heart with a .38 caliber single action revolver. In order for someone to pull off a feat such as this, one would have to be able to pull the trigger twice. With a single action revolver, that would mean that he would have to cock the pistol, place it to his chest, and pull the trigger. Then he would have to repeat the process of cocking the revolver again, placing it to his chest, and pulling the trigger. I doubt seriously that anyone would have the ability to be able to shot themselves twice in the chest with this style of weapon. Especially after the initial shot would leave a rather large wound in your back and in shock. The police also found two rounds missing from the revolver’s cylinder. If he was shot twice, it there is a very good chance William Lemp Jr. was murdered.

The Coroner’s report states he was shot only once. If the Coroner is right it could have very well been a suicide. Since the findings of a Coroner’s inquiry outweighs the evidence presented by the police, the death of William Lemp Jr. was ruled a suicide, and the case was closed.


This is a slideshow of Lemp breweriana and photos.

Historic Beer Birthday: Lilly Anheuser

Today is the birthday of Lilly Anheuser (August 13, 1844-February 25, 1928). She was born in Mainz-Bingener Landkreis, in Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany, one of three daughters of Eberhard Anheuser. Eberhard was originally a soap and candle maker, but had had also invested in the Bavarian Brewery Company, in St. Louis, Missouri. When it went through financial troubles in 1860, he took over control of it, buying out the other creditors, and renaming it Eberhard Anheuser and Company. “Lilly married Adolphus Busch, a brewery supply salesman, in a double wedding with Anna Anheuser (Lilly’s older sister) and Ulrich Busch (Adolphus’ brother) in 1861.” Her husband was running the brewery even before her father died in 1880, and the year before, 1879, the corporation was renamed the Anheuser-Busch Brewing Association to reflect the reality of Busch’s leadership role.


Here’s a short biography from Find-a-Grave:

Lilly was one of six children of Eberhard and Dorothea Anheuser. She and her family lived in Cincinnati, Ohio for a time before moving to St Louis, Missouri.

Lilly, who was blonde and called “curly Head” was courted by and married to Adolphus Busch, who sold brewery supplies at the time, to her father at the E. Anheuser Brewing Company. She was married to Adolphus in a double wedding; her sister Anna married Ulrich Busch on March 11, 1861. Anna was dark and known for her sophistication.
Lilly was the mother of thirteen children. Nine lived to adulthood. Along with her social life, Lilly cooked for her husband and to an extent remained a “house wife.”

With the success of the Brewery, She and her husband and children traveled extensively. They owned Villas in Germany. Both were confiscated by Hitler. They traveled by private train car. A favorite group of homes for them was Ivy Wall, and The Blossoms, Busch Gardens in Pasadena,CA. They had an estate in Cooperstown, NY, and Germany.

Upon reaching their fiftieth wedding anniversary, Lilly and Adolphus presented a home to each of their children.
One was given a French chateau manner on a farm near St. Louis once owned by General U.S. Grant. It is now known as Grant’s Farm and is open to the public. Other Children were given homes in St Louis, New York, Berlin, Germany, Chicago,IL,and Stuttgart, Germany.

It was reported Lilly was given a gold Crown by her husband to commemorate their golden Anniversary. Amidst the celebration was sadness because the health of her husband was failing. He passed away at Villa Lilly, in Germany with Lilly at his side.


The Anheuser-Busch website gives this account:

Eberhard Anheuser, who left Germany in 1843, settling first in Cincinnati and before moving to St. Louis. Trained as a soap manufacturer, he eventually went on to own the largest soap and candle company in St. Louis. Although he had no brewing experience, he became part owner of the Bavarian Brewery, which had first opened its doors in 1852. By 1860, Anheuser had bought out the other investors and the brewery’s name was changed to E. Anheuser & Co.

Adolphus Busch was born in 1839, the second youngest of 22 children. At age 18, he made his way to St. Louis via New Orleans and the Mississippi River. Adolphus began working as a clerk on the riverfront and by the time he was 21, he had a partnership in a brewing supply business.

It was through this enterprise that Adolphus Busch met Eberhard Anheuser, and soon Adolphus was introduced to Eberhard’s daughter, Lilly. In 1861, Adolphus Busch and Lilly Anheuser were married, and shortly after that, Adolphus went to work for his father-in-law. He later purchased half ownership in the brewery, becoming a partner.

Lilly Anheuser later in life.

In 1897, famed Swedish artist Anders Zorn painted portraits of Lilly Anheuser and her husband Adolphus Busch. They were recently sold through the auction house Christie’s. The winning bid for Busch’s portrait was $207,750 and Lilly’s went for $123,750.

A portrait of Lily Anheuser, painted by Anders Zorn in 1897.

Beer Birthday: Jeremy Danner

Today is the 36th birthday of Jeremy Danner, who’s the ambassador brewer for Boulevard Brewing. Jeremy’s a Kansas City native who worked at several bars, restaurants and breweries, working his way up to his present job with Boulevard. Given that his love affair began on his 21st birthday, that means this is his 14th beer year anniversary, too. Plus Jeremy’s an unabashed goat lover and social media diva, making him an entertaining force to be reckoned with. Last year was finally the year I ran into Jeremy in Denver. Join me wishing Jeremy a very happy birthday.

Jeremy and me, finally meeting at GABF last fall.

Jeremy and Steven Pauwels, brewmaster at Boulevard Brewing at the Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Festival this year.

My wife Sarah and Jeremy at this year’s Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Festival.

A larger than life Jeremy posing with a life size Jeremy, or is that vice versa?

Being served the wrong beer during a trip to Belgium. The expression says it all.

[Note: last photos purloined from Facebook.]

Beer Birthday: George Reisch

Today is the 60th birthday — the Big 6-O — of George Reisch, who recently retired as the brewmaster of Anheuser-Busch. George had worked for A-B since 1979, but his family roots in brewing run far deeper. His great-great-great-grandfather Franz Sales Reisch founded the Reisch Brewing Co. in 1849, in the city of Springfield, Illinois, which operated until 1966. I have had the pleasure of judging at both GABF and the World Beer Cup over the years with George, and he’s an amazing person. Join me wishing George a very happy birthday.

Lester Jones, of the Beer Institute & George Reisch, of Anheuser-Busch @ GABF Saturday
Lester Jones, currently with the NBWA, and George at GABF in 2009.

George drinking a beer behind a beautiful skyline and rocking his medal (the one they give you in Belgium when the Brewer’s Guild there knights you).

Historic Beer Birthday: Joseph Griesedieck

griesedieck-bros falstaff
Today is the birthday of Joseph Griesedieck (July 11, 1863-July 14, 1938). Known throughout his life as “Papa Joe,” he founded the Griesedieck Brothers Brewing Company, along with his brothers, and they later bought the Falstaff label from Lemp Brewing, and turned the brand into the iconic Falstaff Brewery.


Here’s a short bio from Find a Grave:

Griesedieck was a founder of Griesedieck Brothers Brewing Company, later Falstaff Brewing Company. He was a brewer in St. Louis for over 50 years. Born in Germany, Joseph came to the U.S. as a youth, working for a time in breweries in the East. Coming to St. Louis, he managed several breweries before becoming the owner of the old National Brewery & an officer & general manager of the Independent Breweries Company. He owned the Griesedieck Beverage Company, organized in 1917 to manufacture beer & soft drinks, & became president of the Falstaff Corporation, organized in 1921 to make soft drinks.

And here’s the full entry from the Encyclopaedia Britannica:


Joseph Griesedieck (born July 11, 1863 in Stromberg, Province of Westphalia; died July 14, 1938 in St. Louis, MO) was one of the most influential brewers in St. Louis in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. From the 1880s to the 1910s, he helped run several city breweries, including the National Brewery Company, the Independent Breweries Company, the Griesedieck Brothers Brewery Company, and the Griesedieck Beverage Company. At the outset of Prohibition, he acquired the Falstaff label from the William J. Lemp Brewery Company and built the Falstaff Corporation around it. While many other brewers failed during Prohibition, Griesedieck kept his company afloat by selling “near beer,” soft drinks, carbonated water, and pork products. After the repeal of Prohibition, he obtained the first federal permit to begin brewing beer legally again. Within five years, the Falstaff Brewing Corporation was operating four plants in three states and had gained a national market.

Family and Ethnic Background

Joseph “Papa Joe” Griesedieck was born on July 11, 1863, in Stromberg, in the Province of Westphalia. He was the third son of the thirteen children born to Anton Griesedieck (1829-1895). Little is known about his mother. Her maiden name was apparently Valhaus, and a biography of Joseph’s older brother Henry (often called Henry, Jr.) gives his mother’s birth name as Johanna. (Given the proximity of the brothers’ ages, it is likely that she was Joseph’s mother as well.)

When Joseph Griesedieck was five or six years old, his father married a woman named Gertrude. It is unclear why Anton Griesedieck’s first marriage ended, but it is reasonable to assume that his wife Johanna had died. Anton’s second marriage gave Joseph at least two half-brothers (Frank and Anton, Jr.) and three half-sisters (Elizabeth, Bertha, and Tony). According to Joseph’s later accounts of his childhood, Gertrude was an abusive stepmother who did not care about her stepsons. In 1893, Anton and Gertrude went through a very bitter and public divorce. During the proceedings, Joseph testified that his stepmother “never had a kind word for any of us. She used to find fault with us and whip and beat us.”

At the very end of the 1860s, Joseph Griesedieck immigrated to the United States with his father, stepmother, and Henry, Jr.; they most likely arrived in January 1870. The family settled in St. Louis, where Anton’s brother Franz (later Frank) operated the Brinkwirth & Griesedieck lager beer brewery. By 1871, Anton and another brother, Henry, were running the H. Griesedieck & Bro. Saloon in downtown St. Louis at Carr and Seventh Streets.[
By the time Anton opened his saloon, the Griesedieck family had already been involved in the brewing industry for more than a century. In December 1766, his great-grandfather Johann Heinrich Griesedieck had opened a brewery in Stromberg, which is where Anton and his brothers first learned the craft. According to Falstaff company lore, when Anton first began brewing beer in the United States, he used the old family recipe. As late as the mid-twentieth century, the original Griesedieck brewery still operated as a tavern for the lager drinkers of Stromberg.

Growing up, Joseph Griesedieck spent much of his time at his family’s malt house, where he learned the trade and did his best to avoid his stepmother. At the age of fifteen, he began an apprenticeship as a practical brewer, thus following in the footsteps of his father and uncles. As part of his training, he worked at A. Griesedieck & Co., his father’s brewery on Twelfth Street and Park Avenue, and at H. Griesedieck Malting Co., his uncle’s malt house. At the malting company, he harvested ice from the Mississippi River to build icehouses and thereby extend the brewing season. During his apprenticeship, he lived at a boarding house, rather than at home, in order to escape his stepmother.

In 1882, Griesedieck enrolled at the U.S. Brewers’ Academy in New York. The school’s founder, Anton Schwarz, was recognized as a pioneer and expert in the field. Born in Bohemia, he had studied at the Polytechnic Institute in Prague under Karl Balling, one of the most influential brewing chemists of the nineteenth century. After immigrating to the United States, he became the editor of American Brewer, the country’s first brewing trade journal. Among other contributions to the industry, Schwarz helped American brewers to create their own version of Bohemian beer. Griesedieck was a member of Schwarz’s first graduating class at the brewers’ school. He also studied the craft in Weihenstephan, Bavaria. In doing so, he followed the lead of his brother Bernard, who had studied in Weihenstephan in 1878-79. In 1884, Joseph returned to St. Louis to put his education and experience to use in the city’s brewing industry.

Business Development

The Griesedieck men arrived in America at a time of brewing industry growth. In 1865, national beer production stood at 3.7 million barrels. By 1870, the year of young Joseph’s arrival, it had almost doubled to 6.6 million barrels. By that time, German-style lager breweries had already gained a foothold in cities with large German-American populations, such as St. Louis, Cincinnati, Brooklyn, Chicago, and Milwaukee. In 1870, the St. Louis city directory listed thirty-six brewers and breweries, the majority of whom seem to have been of German extraction.

In order to establish themselves, Anton Griesedieck and his brothers developed partnerships with other German brewers in their community. Frank (or Franz) Griesedieck, the first of the brothers to arrive in St. Louis, founded the Brinkwirth & Griesedieck brewery with another German immigrant, Theodore Brinkwirth. In keeping with their heritage, the brewery specialized in lager beer. By 1867, Henry Griesedieck had established the Frieling & Griesedieck brewery, and, as mentioned above, he and Anton Griesedieck went on to open a saloon in 1870. In 1878, Anton and his sons purchased the Stumpf Brewery, at 19th and Shenandoah. Within three years, they had outgrown the facilities, so they partnered with August Koehler and Robert Mueller to buy the Christian Staehling Brewery at 18th and Lafayette. Anton named this new brewery A. Griesedieck & Co. In 1884, upon returning to St. Louis after his studies in Weihenstephan, Joseph Griesedieck started working as superintendent of the brewery. He remained there until the latter part of the decade. During that time, he also worked as manager of Joseph Schaider’s Brewery Branch for a brief period.

At the end of the decade – in June 1889 – the St. Louis Brewing Association was formed. The association was a syndicate of St. Louis breweries; its stockholders included Anton Griesedieck, Ellis Wainwright of Wainwright Brewery Co., C.G. Stifel of Stifel’s Charles G. Brewing Co., Henry Grone of Grone H. Brewery Co., and John Knauss of Klausmann Brewery Co. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, by the end of the year, the association controlled every St. Louis brewery except those owned by Anheuser-Busch and Lemp.

Within a few months of the founding of the St. Louis Brewing Association, an English company – the London Investment Company – began acquiring stock, causing concern in St. Louis that the company would obtain a majority of the stock and purchase the association. By November of 1889, it was rumored that the company owned 90% of the association’s stock. The officers of the St. Louis Brewing Association frequently dismissed speculation about how much capital and control the London Investment Company held over its breweries, but this did not prevent the association from being known as “the English Syndicate” to some in St. Louis.

At about this time, Joseph Griesedieck left his father’s brewery (and, by extension, the St. Louis Brewing Association) to establish his own brewery, the National Brewery Co., along with his brothers Henry, Jr., and Bernard. Their brewery opened in 1891 at a cost of $400,000 ($9,890,000 in 2010). Joseph served as superintendent, Bernard as secretary, and Henry, Jr., as president. The plant occupied several buildings at 18th and Gratiot in St. Louis, and included a brewhouse, a stock house, a machine house, a boiler house, a bottling house, a washhouse, and a packing and shipping house. The brewhouse alone was seven stories high. At its inception, the National Brewery was able to produce 150,000 barrels per year.

The following year, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch praised the brothers for forming their brewery. Among other things, the article made clear just how much currency the Griesedieck name held within the St. Louis brewing community. The article proclaimed “there are few names written on the city’s roll of honor which are better known than that of the men who constitute the company [ . . . ] each and all of whom have received the best theoretical and practical education in brewing to be had in this country, as well as in Europe; and in addition have had a ripe experience under their father.” The glowing review even extended to the plant’s equipment, which was described as “the best that inventive genius has produced and that two generations of experience can recommend.”

After the turn of the twentieth century, a number of independent St. Louis-area breweries began to consolidate in response to the St. Louis Brewing Association. In May 1907, after two years of discussions, the Independent Breweries Company (IBC) filed its papers of incorporation. The merger consisted of nine St. Louis-area breweries, including Griesedieck’s National Brewery Co. The syndicate held an aggregate capital of $7 million ($168 million in 2010). The two largest breweries in the area – Anheuser-Busch and the William J. Lemp Company – still remained independent. Two days later, the incorporated companies agreed to transfer all of their property to IBC. Henry, Jr., served as president of the newly formed IBC, and Joseph as general manager.

Unfortunately, the IBC turned out to be a losing venture and the company eventually went into receivership. Alvin Griesedieck, Joseph’s son, later attributed IBC’s failure to the fact that some of the brewers had misrepresented their profits prior to the merger, and more importantly, to IBC’s decision to continue paying partners the same salaries they had earned prior to consolidation. According to Alvin’s recollections, his father once explained that this decision meant that a man who worked as a stable boss was earning $15,000 a year ($359,000 in 2010). The IBC’s overhead was simply too high to be sustainable. The IBC eventually found renown through its production of root beer, which is still sold in the twenty-first century.

Within five years of IBC’s founding, Henry Griesedieck, Jr., recognized that it would fail, and he resigned from its presidency. He then formed the Griesedieck Brothers Brewery Company (GBBC) with his sons Anton, Henry, and Raymond. After some prodding, he convinced his brother Joseph to join GBBC, again in the role of general manager.

In March 1917, Joseph Griesedieck founded his own brewery with the help of some of his nephews. The German Savings Institute (later the Liberty Bank) had just foreclosed on the Forest Park Brewery Company at 3664 Forest Park Boulevard, and bank officials convinced Griesedieck to purchase the newly vacant brewery. It was here that the Griesediecks established the Griesedieck Beverage Company (GBC). The company had capital amounting to $125,000 ($2.13 million in 2010), $105,000 of which was tied to the property. The Griesediecks gave personal notes to the bank in order to fund their new brewery. Joseph took on the largest financial burden; of the 1,250 total shares in the company, which were valued at $100 per share ($1,700 in 2010), Joseph held 750, with his nephews dividing up the remainder. According to Alvin, “this was the beginning of many years of financial difficulties for my father.”


By all accounts, it was an interesting moment for Griesedieck to found his own brewery. The United States was on the brink of entering World War I, with the formal declaration of war against Germany and the other Central Powers coming in April 1917, just one month after the GBC began operations. By the end of 1917, the American brewing industry was feeling the effects of the war, not least because President Woodrow Wilson, as part of a plan to regulate food production to increase efficiency during wartime, had decreed that beer could contain no more than 2.75% alcohol and had restricted the amount of grain the industry could use by almost one-third.

German and German-American brewers faced further obstacles on account of their ethnicity. In the St. Louis metropolitan area, even with – or perhaps because of – its large German population, all things “Kaiser” came under fire. Some area school boards banned the teaching of the German language. Evangelical Lutheran ministers stopped using German in churches in St. Louis and its surrounding suburbs, and individual churches dropped “German” from their names. Things of German origin were given new “patriotic” names: sauerkraut became “liberty cabbage,” dachshunds became “liberty pups,” and the German measles became “liberty measles.” The threat of violence against Germans and German-Americans, though rare in practice, loomed large. All things considered, it was not exactly the optimal moment to establish a new company with a German name.

Additionally, the long-simmering temperance movement had seized upon the growing backlash against all things German to further its push for national prohibition. As Daniel Okrent argues in his history of the rise and fall of Prohibition, the “beer industry’s indelible Germanness” had long been subject to attack from the temperance movement, but the war made these arguments even more potent. Americans who had been neutral or opposed to the dry movement up to that point found their views changing as they became increasingly concerned about potential enemy agents lurking in their midst – or in their breweries and saloons. In the eyes of xenophobes, fighting beer was akin to fighting the Kaiser.


St. Louis’s most prominent brewing family only added fuel to the fire. The Busches had prominent and well-known ties to the Kaiser and his army. Two of the family’s sons-in-law were officers in the German military, and Adolphus Busch had been decorated by the Kaiser himself. Moreover, the family held German war bonds, though these had been purchased before the United States entered the fray. Worse yet, matriarch Lily Busch spent the majority of World War I at the family estate in Germany. She had been vacationing when the war began, and was unable to return immediately on account of health reasons, though this fact was often overlooked in attacks on the family’s loyalty to the U.S.

Despite growing tensions and the certainty of difficult times ahead, Griesedieck was convinced that brewers could survive by selling “near beer” to the St. Louis population. He had seen brewers cope with war-related restrictions that had capped the alcohol content of beer at 2.75%, and he thought that the beer industry would be able to adopt similar survival strategies in the event of national prohibition. He seems to have believed that if “real” beer were outlawed, then it would only be a temporary setback that he and his family could outlast.

By the end of the year, Griesedieck’s belief that his brewery would be able to survive a period of prohibition was put to the test. On December 17, 1917, the House of Representatives passed the Eighteenth Amendment, which prohibited “the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors” within the United States. The amendment was ratified on January 29, 1919, and went into effect on January 29, 1920. Back on October 28, 1919, Congress had passed the Volstead Act, or the National Prohibition Act, which provided guidelines on enforcing the Eighteenth Amendment. Here, it is important to note that the act did allow for the brewing of “near beer” with less than 0.5% alcohol by volume, though it did not permit dealcoholized beer to use the labels “beer” or “near beer.”

Prohibition and the Volstead Act meant that the Griesedieck Beverage Company needed to produce a near beer, or cereal beverage, to stay in business. Since Griesedieck believed that the similarity between the names – and initials (GBC and GBBC) – of the two Griesedieck companies would lead to brand confusion in the St. Louis area, he decided to brew his near beer under a new label. Griesedieck hired a man to design a new label, and in the course of his work, the designer stumbled across hek, a beverage produced by Egyptians in 1500 B.C. Hek was produced from cereals and fermented, a process that resulted in a drink somewhat similar to beer. In Griesedieck’s eyes, Hek was a perfect fit for GBC’s marketing strategy for near beer.

The GBC registered “HEK” as a trademark, and began rolling out their new brand under the slogan “Hek is beer…without the alcohol.” Since the Volstead Act prohibited the attachment of the word beer to dealcoholized beverages, the slogan was changed to “Buy Hek – by heck!” after the act’s passage. In 1920, a case of twenty-four bottles of Hek sold for $1.65 ($18.00 in 2010). Promotional efforts featured pyramids to highlight the beverage’s roots in ancient Egyptian culture. Additionally, some GBC marketing campaigns presented the cereal beverage as a healthful drink. For instance, one advertisement went as follows:

The Ancient Egyptians, according to history, were the first to brew a cereal beverage [ . . . ]. Their first brew was called – ‘HEK’ – the name for our beverage, because like the Egyptian monuments of old, it is the symbol of everlasting vitality. [ . . . ] HEK is refreshment in its most palatable form – a foamy, cooling, wholesome drink, rich in the carbohydrates and protein of Nature’s strength building cereals. HEK is a sparkling, invigorating,non-intoxicating drink, good for every member of the family, young and old.

The advertisement informed readers that they could find Hek “on sale wherever wholesome drinks are sold.”

At first, Griesedieck limited his promotional efforts to the St. Louis market, since his plant was relatively small. In this market, Hek faced direct competition from Bevo, the near beer produced by Anheuser-Busch since 1916. Like Hek, Bevo was often promoted as a nutritious beverage. According to one Anheuser-Busch pitch plan, “Bevo is pure as purity. Made under conditions of absolute cleanliness. Every step in the process of manufacture and everything that goes into it, a triumph in purity.”[28] Both companies sensed that the public needed a reason to purchase near beer above and beyond the fact that it was the closest legal approximation to regular beer.

In order for Hek to succeed, Griesedieck needed to set his near beer apart from his competitor’s. Anheuser-Busch brewed Bevo under the check-fermentation process, which allowed the beer to ferment only up to the legal limit of 0.5% percent. Bevo did, however, continue to ferment after being packaged, and this, in turn, led to a very short shelf life. Unless Bevo was consumed shortly after being put on the market, it spoiled and turned cloudy. Griesedieck was determined to avoid this problem with his near beer. Bevo may have been better known, but Hek would be of better quality.

Griesedieck set out to develop a new and different fermentation process. He started by looking toward Chicago, where Dr. Herman Heuser had devised a new method for brewing near beer. Rather than fermenting beer only up to the legal limit, Heuser’s method allowed for the dealcoholization of real beer. Brewers could use their normal methods, and then reduce or remove the alcohol to meet the standards of the Volstead Act. Shortly before the beginning of Prohibition, Popular Science described Heuser’s process for “taking the kick out of beer”: as the magazine explained, “this process consists of continuously flowing the beverage in a thin sheet or film over the vertical or inclined zone of an evaporator, preferably a vacuum pan, all the while subjecting the liquor to intense latent heat of steam between the walls of sheets of the container. By this means the beer is boiled momentarily and its alcoholic content is instantaneously reduced.”

According to Heuser – and shortly thereafter the Griesediecks as well – this fermentation process was advantageous because the resulting near beer offered the closest approximation, in terms of taste and odor, to regular, pre-Prohibition beer. Since the “beer” was produced under normal circumstances and then dealcoholized, the ethers and esters that contribute to beer’s taste, smell, and foaminess were still produced in full. This fermentation process differed from check-fermentation, in which the development of the ethers and esters was stunted. Previous methods had attempted dealcoholization by boiling the beverage for long periods at high temperatures. The sustained contact to heat, however, created what Popular Science termed a “distinctly unpleasant taste and odor.”

Griesedieck purchased a dealcoholizer and began brewing his near beer according to Heuser’s method. Alvin Griesedieck later claimed that this allowed Hek to achieve better flavor and stability than any other near beer on the market, at least in the St. Louis vicinity – an opinion that was admittedly not without bias.

Not long after the introduction of Prohibition, it became clear that the public would never consume near beer with the same gusto as the real thing. Many former beer drinkers found near beer less pleasing in taste, not to mention the absence of mood-altering effects. Once the novelty factor wore off, sales for near beer plunged. For this reason, the GBC began expanding into new territories, so that when demand diminished in one location, the supply could be redirected to another place. The company found success in this approach for a short time, and demand even exceeded the production capacity of their small brewing factory, which could only turn out 350-375 bottles per day. In response, Griesedieck decided to add a new building and to renovate the existing facilities. He sold stock in the company to fund this endeavor, but the incoming funds could not keep pace with cost of the project.

On October 22, 1920, the creditors of Griesedieck Beverage Company filed an involuntary petition in bankruptcy, for approximately $450,000 owed ($4.9 million in 2010). The creditors agreed to let Griesedieck serve as receiver, under a bond of $50,000 ($544,000 in 2010).

The GBC was certainly not the only brewery to fall victim to Prohibition. Brewers across the country were shutting their doors in the face of financial losses and uncertainty over the duration of the dry period. At the time, no one knew how long Prohibition would last: would brewers see Repeal in a year, a decade, or ever? They had to decide whether to muddle through by selling “near beer” and soft drinks or to dissolve their companies. After Prohibition had been in effect for a few years, more and more St. Louis brewers started opting for the latter. In 1918, the city directory listed twenty-seven breweries. By 1918, the year in which the Eighteenth Amendment was ratified, that number had already dropped to twenty. In 1922, only nine breweries were listed in the city directory. The breweries of Griesedieck’s former corporation, the Independent Breweries Company, were among those that had closed.

Another significant St. Louis casualty was the William J. Lemp Brewing Company. William Lemp’s father, Adam, had started brewing German lager at his St. Louis grocery store during the 1840s. His beer soon gained favor among the city’s large German-American population. By December 1919, when the Lemps announced their plans to sell the brewery, the company had become the second largest beer producer in St. Louis after Anheuser-Busch. Their Falstaff label, brewed since June 1899, was nationally known. William J. Lemp, Jr., president of the family company since 1904, had chosen William Shakespeare’s Falstaff as the namesake of his flagship label because he wanted his beer to be associated with the character’s “eat drink and be merry” mantra.

By December 1919, the company had been out of the brewing business for a few months, having produced its last batch of real beer in October 1918 and its last batch of near beer, Cerva, in June 1919. William J. Lemp, Jr., later confided to his vice president that he believed that Prohibition would be long. Moreover, he did not foresee beer ever regaining the commercial prominence it once held. It is also possible that his father’s 1904 suicide weighed heavily on his mind during this difficult time in the industry. To add to the family’s growing troubles, William’s sister Elsa Lemp Wright killed herself on March 20, 1920. By this point, in the words of author Carol Ferring Shepley, “none of them [the Lemp family] had the mettle to make it through Prohibition.”

Out of this family’s downfall, the Griesediecks saw a way to save the Griesedieck Beverage Company while carrying on a piece of the Lemp tradition. Joseph and Alvin Griesedieck approached William J. Lemp, Jr., with whom Joseph was close friends, about purchasing the Falstaff trademark and shield, which they would use as the centerpiece of a new company. After some initial resistance from the Kemps, the Griesediecks acquired the Falstaff name and label for $25,000 ($305,000 in 2010), $5,000 of which had to be paid up front. For the remainder, they put up $20,000 in bonds as collateral, to be paid in nine months.

In the meantime, the U.S. District Court had authorized Griesedieck, as receiver of the Griesedieck Beverage Company, to sell the company’s physical property. The receiver’s sale was held on December 17, 1920, with James Cunningham, the director at Chouteau Trust Company, winning the bidding. Griesedieck, who served on the board of directors for Chouteau, had arranged for the company to purchase the assets of the GBC, with each director taking on a share of the requisite notes. From there, the assets were transferred to the Falstaff Corporation, a newly organized company headed by the Griesediecks. The company then issued $250,000 in mortgage bonds ($3.05 million in 2010), of which the Chouteau Trust Company received $150,000 as payment for the purchase of GBC. Griesedieck personally endorsed the $150,000 in bonds ($1.83 million in 2010).

The other $100,000 in bonds needed to be raised through sale to the public. Griesedieck sold these bonds mainly to his friends, who purchased them in increments of $1,000 or $2,500 ($12,200 or $30,500 in 2010), even up to $10,000 ($122,000 in 2010). Griesedieck’s ability to sell bonds for a brewing company during Prohibition speaks to the reputation he had established in St. Louis. He must have been viewed as an intelligent, hardworking, dependable – and generally likeable – businessman in order for people to risk their money in such a venture. Alvin later quoted one investor as saying, “I don’t care if I’m shooting my money at the birds, Joe Griesedieck is in a jam and I’m going to help him out!” These financiers were ultimately validated in their trust of Griesedieck, as all of the bonds, plus interest, were eventually paid in full.


Since Griesedieck’s new venture was known as the Falstaff Corporation, he decided to use the Falstaff label, rather than Hek, on his near beer. In Alvin’s estimation, a beer named “Falstaff” was better positioned for success in some of the company’s new conservative markets than a beer called “Hek.” Falstaff, with its trademark slogan “The Choicest Product of the Brewers’ Art,” also had better brand recognition, both at the local and national levels. While Griesedieck’s previous brewing ventures had focused on regional markets, the relatively well-known Falstaff label allowed him to reach markets as far away as Florida. The corporation produced four primary dealcoholized beers during Prohibition: Falstaff Special, Falstaff Pale, Falstaff Super X, and Dublin-Style Stout, which was modeled on Guinness. This last product eventually became fairly successful, selling for thirty to fifty cents a bottle ($4 to $8 dollars in 2010) on the Pacific Coast and South Atlantic seaboard during Prohibition.

In July 1920, shortly after the start of Prohibition, the government began granting permits for “the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beer for medicinal purposes.” According to Alvin, the Griesediecks used their connections to acquire the only government permit issued to a company west of the Mississippi River. In November 1921, Falstaff began brewing beer with 4.5% alcohol by volume. Before the company could capitalize on the demand, however, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Willis-Campbell Act, or the “anti-beer bill,” on November 23, 1921, which prohibited prescription alcohol. In December 1921, Falstaff Corporation filed a petition with the U.S. District Court. The petition declared the Eighteenth Amendment and the Volstead Acts to be unconstitutional and requested that the State Prohibition Director be prevented from destroying the medicinal beer already produced by Falstaff. The petition, however, did not request that the corporation be allowed to continue making or selling the beverage, which would have been a huge source of revenue.

In 1924, the brewing industry pushed for the legalization of a malt product containing 2% alcohol by volume – four times the legal limit. As with the earlier measure, the malt product was to be sold through drug stores to individuals with a doctor’s prescription. Falstaff began producing a Bohemian malt tonic, dark in color and heavy in volume, which needed to be mixed with beer to be tolerably drinkable. The resulting beverage was a “quite pleasing” beer. But politicians quickly realized that Americans were using this malt product more than medically necessary, so they increased the solid to alcohol ratio of the tonic, which resulted in a syrup that was too thick to drink enjoyably, thus ending that venture.

At this point, Griesedieck and his company determined that soft drinks, such as dry lemon soda, ginger ale, and root beer, would be their best bet to increase revenues, since those beverages could be produced under similar manufacturing conditions as beer. Heavy competition made it difficult for Falstaff Corporation to sell soft drinks outside of their immediate territory due, but the company’s root beer still earned a reputation as a high quality beverage. In the later years of Prohibition, the company also sold carbonated water under the label “Rock Alva,” named after the Griesedieck family farm.

Despite their various products and labels, the Falstaff Corporation never produced more than 30,000 barrels a year, a significant reduction from their pre-Prohibition average. As a result, Joseph and Alvin decided to expand the focus of their company to include pork products. Alvin had prior experience with pigs and determined that their brewery already had many of the elements needed for a packing plant. Falstaff was not in a position to handle the entire production process, but they would be able to cure and smoke pork that had been partially processed from another local packing company.

In 1923, the beer vats were removed from one of Falstaff’s smaller cellars in order to make room for twenty ham-curing vats. The company also purchased boxes for dry curing bacon. For a smokehouse, they assembled what Alvin termed “really nothing more or less than an overgrown chimney.” The whole process of converting part of the plant to handle ham and bacon cost the corporation approximately $5,000 ($63,900 in 2010). The Griesediecks hired John Van Gels, a butcher with a good reputation in the city, to serve as superintendent of the new operations. For a short time, Falstaff ham and bacon sold fairly well in St. Louis – especially their boiled hams, which could be sold to the company’s pre-existing tavern accounts. Overall, though, the rising price of pork products meant that Falstaff could not turn a profit on the venture, despite healthy sales.

The Falstaff Corporation also experimented with the production of beer that circumvented the legal limits. Here, Falstaff’s efforts were inspired by the Missouri-based M.K. Goetz Brewing Company, whose brewmaster had developed a brewing and dealcoholization process that created a beverage that could absorb alcohol successfully. This method allowed the Goetz company to produce a 0.5% alcohol near beer that, when mixed with grain alcohol, could be spiked to 4.5 to 6% alcohol by volume, without sacrificing taste. Customers soon realized how easy it was to spike Goetz’s near beer, and company sales soared. In response, Falstaff decided to produce a similar product, but it never managed to replicate Goetz’s success. Since Falstaff could not advertise its near beer as spike-able, the company was unable to secure the same market share held by Goetz or other home brews.

By 1930, the low demand for near beer had caught up to Falstaff, and the company started going into debt. Only one bank, the Grand National Bank, would provide them with a loan – $15,000 in exchange for $25,000 in Falstaff bonds. Luckily, by 1932, it became evident that Prohibition would be ending, so the company only had to endure until repeal. Finally, in February 1933, Congress passed a resolution proposing the Twenty-first Amendment, which would repeal the Eighteenth. In March, shortly after taking office, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Cullen-Harrison Act, which allowed for the production and sale of beer and wine containing up to 3.2 percent alcohol by volume, to take effect on April 7, 1933. Then, on December 5, 1933, the Twenty-first Amendment was ratified, and Prohibition was officially over once and for all.

Griesedieck recognized that the demand for beer would be high immediately following repeal. The Falstaff Corporation, however, did not have the requisite capital or facilities to produce sufficient supply. The Griesediecks worked out a deal with Bauer-Pogue, Inc., a brokerage company, to reorganize and refinance Falstaff. The deal was negotiated at a considerable expense to them personally. Alvin took on the bulk of the legal responsibility, which showed that he was starting to take on a larger role in the management of the company as “Papa Joe” approached his seventieth birthday. On January 16, 1933, the Falstaff Brewing Corporation of Delaware was duly incorporated, and in the summer of 1933, the Falstaff Corporation was officially liquidated.

Papa Joe being handed the very first permit to brew beer again after the repeal of prohbition.

The Falstaff Brewing Corporation obtained Federal Permit No. 1 to resume brewing beer as soon as the beverage was legal again, meaning that it was the first brewery authorized to brew beer in the United States in thirteen years. Since Papa Joe had used the dealcoholization process during Prohibition, the Falstaff production line was ready without the retooling needed by other brewers who had employed the check-fermentation process. It was only necessary to skip the dealcoholization step; all else remained the same. In St. Louis, only Falstaff and Anheuser-Busch were able to produce beer for Repeal Day, giving them each half of a very eager market – and more demand than they could possibly meet.

The Falstaff Brewing Corporation received advance orders for thousands of cases, and its two bottling units helped them to produce up to 4,000 cases a day. Griesedieck used his pre-Prohibition recipe for the new Falstaff beer; it was a malt beer “a little heavy in body and sweet in flavor,” with 3.2% alcohol by volume. Even the yeast was the same as before Prohibition. Griesedieck had kept his original strain alive through the dark period, even going so far as to insure it with Lloyd’s of London, which the company played up through its “Million Dollar Yeast Insurance Policy” advertising campaign. This consistency of yeast helped Falstaff keep its distinct, yet dependable, flavor.

On April 6, 1933, stores throughout St. Louis ran advertisements proclaiming the return of beer the following day. The advertisements focused on the two brands that would be available: Falstaff and Budweiser. Weber Bros. Candy and Cigar Company on North Grand toasted newspaper readers with an image of a beaming man holding up a foaming glass of beer; the man urged would-be customers to “come and get yours (Falstaff and Budweiser) by the case…on ‘Brew Year’s Eve’.” A&P Food Stores warned readers “don’t wait!,” and urged them to grab cases of Budweiser or Falstaff from their limited supply. The first two cases from Falstaff, however, were carefully – and politically – earmarked; one case went to Governor Guy Brasfield Park of Missouri and the other to Governor Henry Horner of Illinois.

At exactly 12:01 a.m. on April 7, 1933, the Noble Experiment was over and beer was back. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, a “carnival spirit” gripped the city, as people flocked to Anheuser-Busch and Falstaff and crowded into hotels, restaurants, and nightclubs to imbibe and celebrate. Within half an hour of repeal, downtown hotels had their first cases in stock and were putting drinks on their customers’ tables.

At Falstaff Brewing Corporation, the factory was decorated with patriotic bunting. An estimated 10,000 people gathered outside to cheer as the factory whistles blew at midnight and the first trucks left to make their deliveries, each carrying 600 cases. As many trucks as possible crammed into Falstaff’s garage, and those that could not lined up along both sides of Forest Park Avenue for blocks. The Post-Dispatch estimated that a total of seventy-five trucks were at Falstaff at midnight, with more arriving throughout the day. Falstaff officials reported that they had sent out 40,000 cases and 500 half-barrels by daybreak. Due to the imbalance between demand and supply, Falstaff focused on filling orders from local customers who had stuck by the company through Prohibition, but that did not stop other hopefuls from crowding around the factory for days. The fervor surrounding the factory was so great that police were on the scene to guard the doors.

Falstaff Brewing Corporation’s preparedness provided a financial boost to the Griesedieck family, who had just barely stayed afloat through Prohibition and the early years of the Depression. With only two breweries operating in St. Louis during those first days, they could charge as much as they wanted and still find ample buyers. For the remainder of April, barrels sold for about $18.00 a piece ($303.00 in 2010). Cases of bottles sold for $1.75 to wholesale distributors ($29.40 in 2010) and $2.15 ($36.20 in 2010) to St. Louis retailers. Before expenses, the company brought in $106,000 ($1.78 million in 2010) in the first month after repeal alone.

By the end of 1933, Falstaff Brewing Corporation was able to use beer revenue, as well as money raised from fundraising and stock sales, to fund the expansion of the plant. Building No. 7, which featured expanded bottling capabilities, was added to the Forest Park Boulevard complex. Another floor was built on the stock house, and a garage was converted into a fermenting house, to serve as Building No. 3. The Falstaff Brewing Corporation realized that further expansion was necessary, so the company acquired the former Union Brewery at Michigan and Gravois Avenues. The brewery had previously been owned by Otto Stifel, who was unable to keep his brewery afloat during Prohibition and took his own life in 1920. The Griesediecks converted the Union Brewery into Falstaff Brewing Corporation’s Plant No. 2 and brought on Stifel’s son Carl as plant manager.

Other breweries entered the brewing landscape in 1934. The number of breweries operating in the country more than doubled from 1933 to 1934, as former businesses recovered and reopened, and as new ventures sprouted up to take advantage of the country’s renewed interested in beer. With other breweries appearing across St. Louis, Falstaff was forced to lower its prices to compete in the fractured market. In the winter months, the company’s books started showing a slight loss, so the Griesediecks had to devise ways to put Falstaff Brewing Corporation back ahead of the curve. They decided to turn the Falstaff label into their popularly-priced label and to make the Falstaff Super X their premium (and therefore higher-priced) label, which contained more alcohol by volume. The company also began selling Falstaff at Sportsman’s Park, the home of the St. Louis Browns baseball team, in 1934.

Another marketing initiative launched by Falstaff Brewing Corporation reverberated across the brewing industry as a whole, with lasting effects. In the fall of 1934, one of their salesmen recommended combating the drop-off in winter sales by promoting Falstaff as “the Winter Beer.” Brewing a special beer for winter was common practice in Griesediecks’ home country. German brewers often created special Märzenbier, bock, or doppelbock beers under the name Festbier for consumption during the winter holidays. For Falstaff’s take on the tradition, the Griesediecks created a new, stronger beer, at 5-6% alcohol by volume, to serve as their winter beer and launched an extensive advertising campaign on December 10, 1934. Falstaff’s winter beer proved popular as consumers seemed to embrace the fact that beer, like spirits, could produce a sensation of warmth during the cold months. Perhaps overstating Falstaff’s significance, Alvin boasted that “not only had our campaign on ‘winter’ beer helped our sales, but it had resulted in increasing the general consumption of all beers! We succeeded in making people beer minded in winter.”

In 1935, Falstaff Brewing Corporation expanded production to Nebraska, leasing the Fred Krug Brewing Company plant in Omaha. At the time, engaging in multi-plant brewing carried the risk of damaging brand identity by producing different-tasting products at different plants. Griesedieck sought to avoid that problem by implementing what Falstaff Brewing Corporation termed IPE – identical plant environment. A central technical department in St. Louis ensured that the same ingredients, recipes, and quality control techniques were used across the board. Two years later, after deeming the Nebraska plant a success, the FBC acquired an additional plant in New Orleans, the former National Brewing Company.

By the time Joseph Griesedieck died the following year, he had developed the Falstaff Brewing Corporation into one of the most prominent and successful breweries in St. Louis. In the six months before his death, Falstaff Brewing Corporation turned a profit of $254,978 ($3.95 million in 2010), operating four plants in three states, with its flagship brand known across the country as “The Choicest Product of the Brewers’ Art.”


Social Status, Networks, Family and Public Life

After only a few decades in St. Louis, the Griesedieck men had earned respect for both their name and their craft. In 1914, Reedy’s Mirror reported, “For nearly forty years the name Griesedieck has been a noted one in the brewing industry of this community, and a name connotative of the best elements that give character to business life. The Griesedieck family was and is a large one. It has drawn fortunes from the business and invested them in building and developing the city. And throughout all the history of the family its members have been known for liberality of spirit and social qualities of an ingratiatingly felicific nature.”

As this quote suggests, the Griesediecks were highly involved in St. Louis social life. Joseph Griesedieck became a naturalized U.S. citizen on April 15, 1889, but this did not prevent him from celebrating his heritage as a member of the Germania Club and the Germania Thursday Bowling Club. The Germania Club met at an Eighth Street clubhouse, which had spacious grounds and a garden. The club’s summer season included festivals, concerts, and dances. Membership appears to have been restricted to males, though wives and daughters were invited to attend certain events. Griesedieck also belonged to the Century Boat Club and the Union Club.

Despites his ties to the German community, Griesedieck showed his devotion to the United States during World War I – or at least endeavored to appear patriotic and to exhibit no loyalty to his native land. The Griesedieck Beverage Company helped sponsor several full-page advertisements for the St. Louis Liberty Loan Organization in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

On October 13, 1887, Griesedieck married Mathilda Griesedieck, a cousin three years his junior. She was a native-born U.S. citizen, the daughter of Franz and Philippena Griesedieck of Missouri. Franz had been a brewer and his son, Henry C., was also involved in the industry. The Reverend Dr. Jonas of the German Lutheran Church presided over the wedding ceremony, which took place at a family home. The couple went east for their honeymoon. It seems that they had a peaceful and scandal-free marriage. Shortly before Joseph passed away, the pair celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary. Religion does not appear to have played a strong role throughout most of Griesedieck’s life, but he returned to Catholicism shortly before his death, according to his son.

Mathilda Griesedieck appears to have been active in St. Louis social life, as well, and she was often featured in the society pages of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. In March 1895, she was the star of the Liederkranz Society Ball. The society boasted a membership that included “the cream of high German society.” The ball, attended by “everyone of note,” featured a tableaux – or “living pictures” – inspired by art displayed at the previous World’s Fair. Mathilda portrayed the title role from Sappho, and the Post-Dispatch called her “the striking picture of the evening.” Her performance, according to the paper, had been “awaited with breathless interest” and “was received with great applause.”

The Griesediecks had only one child: a son, Alvin, born on July 8, 1894. Papa Joe enjoyed a close relationship with him and made sure that he had every opportunity for a successful future. The Griesediecks sent Alvin to study at Cornell University, where he completed his degree in 1916. After a stint in the armed services during World War I, Alvin returned to St. Louis, where Papa Joe welcomed him into the family business. By the time Prohibition started, Alvin enjoyed a position of relative influence within the company, and he seems to have been a major force behind Falstaff’s pork line.

At first, Griesedieck did not want his son to join the industry, however. According to Alvin, his father “seemed to feel that a successful brewer must of necessity do a lot of drinking and entertaining with, and among his customers, and he did not want his only son subjected to that type of life and environment.” This attitude is interesting given that Papa Joe devoted his whole life to being a brewer; while he often had other side businesses, the brewery was always his main focus. Additionally, the Griesediecks held positions of prominence within St. Louis society, so it is not as though he wanted his son to have a better shot at respect and esteem. It is possible that Joseph simply wanted his son to be able to choose the future he wanted, as opposed to being positioned at a young age to enter the world of brewing – as he had been by his own father.

Griesedieck’s personal relationships were extremely important to him, and he cultivated strong, trusting relationships within St. Louis and the larger brewing community. In 1935, when Falstaff Brewing Corporation was doing well and the local Krug brewery was struggling, Griesedieck leased their brewing plant, so that the family could begin to rebuild financially. Griesedieck also cared about his employees, hosting an annual Falstaff picnic at his home each fall. It began as an event for his employees and their families, but grew to include friends of the family, as well. By the time of Griesedieck’s death, the picnic had become a huge affair for 1,000 people, filled with food, beer, games, dancing, and performances by the Falstaff German Band.

Griesedieck, who was described by his son as 5’11” and almost two hundred pounds “of bone and muscle,” was an active and healthy man for most of his life. He exercised frequently and followed a regimen that involved walks around his estate, weight training, and cold baths. He also enjoyed rowing and participated in St. Louis’s Western Rowing Club and its regattas. Griesedieck often boasted to his son that he never needed more than four hours of sleep a night to recharge.

It appears, however, that the stresses of keeping his company afloat during Prohibition and the Depression eventually took a toll on him, and in 1938, his health began to deteriorate. On June 12, 1938, Griesedieck suffered a heart attack, which led him to be hospitalized for several days. He was diagnosed with cardiovascular disease and hypertension, but Alvin later recalled the doctors saying that his father’s heart had simply worn out. Following his release from the hospital, Griesedieck found himself confined to home rest, which forced the formerly active seventy-four-year-old to cut back drastically on his activities.

One month later, on the morning of July 11 – his seventy-fifth birthday – Griesedieck slipped and fell on a rug in his bedroom. He was taken to St. John’s Hospital, where it was determined that his right hip was fractured and needed to be set. Due to his recent heart troubles, the doctors could only give Griesedieck a local anesthetic to lessen the impact of the painful procedure. In Alvin’s estimation, the shock was simply too great for his father’s weakened heart to stand. Joseph Griesedieck passed away three days later, on July 14, 1938. His funeral was held two days later at the St. Louis Cathedral, and he was interred at Bellefontaine Cemetery.

At the time of his death, according to the inventory filed in the St. Louis County Probate Court, Griesedieck’s estate was valued at $81,101 ($1.26 million in 2010). This included $68,945 ($1.07 million in 2010) in stocks, primarily in Falstaff, as well as holdings valued at $10,000 each ($155,000 in 2010) in Valhaus Realty and Ingram Gold Mine, Inc. Griesedieck’s properties were valued at $7,950 ($123,000 in 2010); this included his half interest in the Phelps Co. farm, whose 2,040 acres were valued at $5,100 ($78,900 in 2010). He left behind $1,950 ($30,200 in 2010) in cash. His estate was to be divided equally between Mathilda and Alvin.



Joseph Griesedieck founded one of the most successful St. Louis breweries of the twentieth century. Along the way, he was aided by his family ties and his connections within the German-American community. As a member of a respected brewing family with a long tradition in the industry, Griesedieck was well poised for success. He was well educated and also benefited from good timing, for he embarked on his brewing career at a moment when lager brewers of German descent were gaining increasing prominence in St. Louis. He assumed his first position in the industry in 1884, when he began working as the superintendent of A. Griesedieck Co., his father’s brewery. During the early years of his career, Joseph helped manage two other family-owned breweries, the National Brewery Company and the Griesedieck Brothers Brewery Company. In 1917, with America on the brink of war with his native country, anti-German sentiment on the rise, and the temperance movement gaining ground, he set out to found his own company, the Griesedieck Beverage Company.

By all accounts, it was a curious time for anyone – let alone a German American – to start a brewery. Prohibition was instituted the following year and remained in place until 1933. Interestingly, it was during this difficult time that Papa Joe Griesedieck really proved his merit, strength, and tenacity as a businessman and brewer. While brewers across the country closed their doors, Griesedieck kept finding new ways to earn revenue during Prohibition. At times, he resorted to the same methods employed by other brewers (e.g. soft drink production), but he also experimented with less conventional survival strategies, such as the addition of a pork line. In the end, his acquisition of the Falstaff label is perhaps the main reason why he was able to stay in business. Here, his ties to the local German community proved decisive, for he would have never acquired the label had he not been friends with William J. Lemp, Jr., the label’s owner and a fellow German-American brewer.

Griesedieck used his knowledge of brewing to produce high-quality products, both during and after Prohibition, and this helped his brands gain respect and a customer base. On Repeal Day, Falstaff was one of only two St. Louis breweries that were open to customers, and Griesedieck’s preparedness helped save his company. He built upon his Repeal Day success and opened additional Falstaff breweries across the country. To combat one problem associated with multi-plant brewing – different tasting beer from different plants – he implemented “identical plant environment,” which standardized production across the board. In the decades after his death, Falstaff continued to grow into one of the most successful breweries in St. Louis, commanding a large national market.

A Falstaff ad from 1969.

After finally selling to Pabst and closing down in 1977, there’s now a new Griesedieck Brothers in St. Louis that is currently contracting three draft beers that they’re selling in the area.

Historic Beer Birthday: Adolphus Busch

Today is the birthday of Adolphus Busch (July 10, 1839-October 10, 1913). He was born in Kastel, Germany, and co-founded Anheuser-Busch, along with his father-in-law, Eberhard Anheuser. The twenty-first of twenty-two children, his family was in the wholesale business, specializing in winery and brewery supplies. Like all of his his brothers he was sent to college, and graduated from the Collegiate Institute of Belgium in Brussels.

He moved to St. Louis in 1857, when he was eighteen, and eventually got a sales job with Charles Ehlermann Hops and Malt Co. After a distinguished stint as a soldier during the Civil War, he returned to his brewery supply job and married Lily Anheuser, the daughter of Eberhard Anheuser. Together, they had thirteen children, including Adolphus Busch II and August A. Busch. After marrying Lily, he joined the family business, then known as E. Anheuser Co.’s Brewing Association, and eventually became a partner. When Lily’s father passed away in 1879, Adolphus took control of the business and changed the name to Anheuser-Busch.


In St. Louis, Adolphus Busch was busy transforming his father-in-law’s (Eberhard Anheuser’s) once-failing brewery into a grand empire. Adolphus, perhaps more than any other brewer, became known for his flamboyant, almost audacious persona. Tirelessly promoting his Budweiser Beer, he toured the country in a luxurious railroad car immodestly named “The Adolphus.” In place of the standard calling card, the young entrepreneur presented friends and business associates with his trademark gold-plated pocket knife featuring a peephole in which could be viewed a likeness of Adolphus himself. His workers bowed in deference as he passed. “See, just like der king!” he liked to say.

Adolphus as a young man, in 1869.

Here’s a biography of Adolphus Busch from the Immigrant Entrepreneur Hall of Fame:

A truly American tale. Freedom. Opportunity. Progress. Words that seized the imagination of people all over the world and brought them to the Land of Liberty. It’s a uniquely American story, told in chapter after chapter of hardship, hard work and hard-won success. The Budweiser story is no exception.

Photo of Adolphus BuschSo begins the tale of Adolphus Busch, the founder of Anheuser-Busch and creator of Budweiser beer, as stated on the Budweiser website. He was an immigrant who not only created personal wealth and success but also made a landmark contribution to American society.

Born the second youngest of 22 children in Germany, Busch was educated in Brussels and immigrated to the United States in 1857. Settling in St. Louis, he married Lilly Anheuser and had 13 children of his own.

After completing his enlistment in the Union Army during the Civil War, Adolphus joined his father-in-law in the operation of E. Anheuser & Co. Brewery. The company was later restructured with Anheuser as president and Busch as secretary. As full partner, Busch took on greater responsibility for the operation of the brewery. To recognize his efforts, in 1879 the company name was changed to the Anheuser-Busch Brewing Association.

Busch was a man of many firsts. Apart from founding America’s first national beer brand, Budweiser, in 1876, he is credited with revolutionizing the shipment of beer (in refrigerated railway cars), being one of the first to bottle beer and implementing a method to pasteurize beer to keep it fresh.

Today, Anheuser-Busch captures the largest market share in the U.S. with 47.6 percent share of U.S. beer sales to retailers. It brews the world’s top-selling beer brands, Budweiser and Bud Light, at 12 breweries across the United States.

After he died while on vacation in Germany, his body was brought back to St. Louis to be buried. It was a fitting resting place for the man who created one of America’s most iconic brands.


Busch married Elise “Lilly” Eberhard Anheuser, the third daughter of Eberhard Anheuser, on March 7, 1861 in St. Louis, Missouri. They had thirteen children; eight sons, including Adolphus Busch II, August Anheuser Busch I and Carl Busch, and five daughters. The Busches often traveled to Germany where they bought a castle. They named it the Villa Lilly for Mrs Busch. It was located in Lindschied near Langenschwalbach, in present-day Bad Schwalbach.


And here’s his biography from the German-American Hall of Fame:

Busch, Adolphus
Inducted: 2007
Area of Achievement: Business & Industry

American businessman and philanthropist, b. Mainz, Germany. To U.S. (1857); joined St. Louis brewery of Eberhard Anheuser (1861); president of Anheuser-Busch Brewing Association (1879-1913); introduced Budweiser brand; pioneered in pasteurization of beer.

Adolphus Busch was born July 10, 1839 in Kastel (near Mainz, Hesse), Germany. He was second-to-youngest of twenty-two children of Ulrich Busch and Barbara Pfeiffer Busch.

In 1857, Adolphus Bush emigrated to the United States with no plans, no destination, and nothing but his own ambition and abilities. Three of his brothers had already headed for St. Louis, Missouri. His brother John had opened his own brewery in nearby Washington, Missouri.

Young Adolphus joined Ernst Wattenberg to sell equipment and supplies to breweries. This venture led him to forge several strategic partnerships. Most important, he met his future bride, Lily Anheuser. At the same time, his brother Ulrich became enamored with her older sister, Anna.

Their father, Eberhard Anheuser, a skilled St. Louis soap and candle-maker, had recently purchased the failing Bavarian Brewery in St. Louis. He reopened the brewery as E. Anheuser & Co.

On March 7, 1861, the Anheuser-Busch interests were formally joined, both professionally and matrimonially. Eberhard Anheuser escorted both daughters down the aisle in double nuptials to the two Busch brothers. At the time, Busch was working for Anheuser as a salesman. (The future malt mogul and his brother married his boss’ daughters.)

Eventually, Busch and Anheuser became partners and equals. It was the perfect match. Busch was the consummate marketer, and Anheuser was a skilled manufacturer. Working for his father-in-law, Busch developed pasteurization of beer and began marketing the Budweiser brand, which was named after Bmische Budweis, a town in his homeland of Germany. In 1876, Busch enlisted the help of his friend Carl Conrad (a liquor bottler) to develop this Bohemian-style pilsner beer.A fierce rivalry developed between Anheuser-Busch’s Budweiser beer and an old Czech brand from Budejovice. Since the 16th Century, the Czechs had called their product “The Beer of Kings,” so Busch began marketing his as “The King of Beers.”

By 1879, Busch was president of the Anheuuser-Busch Brewing Association. He held this position for more than 30 years.

His extravagant spending and elaborate lifestyle have become American folklore. Busch owned an expansive St. Louis manor, plus two palatial homes near Pasadena, California. He also had a country estate and a hops farm near Cooperstown, New York (not far from the Baseball Hall of Fame), two country villas in Germany, and his own private railroad car. His landscaping was famous for its fairy tale figurines, as Busch was a fan of the famed Grimm Brothers.

In 1911, when Adolphus and Lily marked their 50th wedding anniversary, he presented his queenly with a diamond tiara. U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, the emperor of Germany, and other world leaders sent lavish gifts as well.

He died October 10, 1913 near Langenschwalbach, Germany. His son August took the reins of the company until his death in 1934. The company has been headed by a family succession ever since.

Incidentally, the famous Anheuser-Busch Clydesdale horses did not join the clan until after his death. In 1933, at the end of Prohibition, a team of Clydesdales were hitched up to pull the first load of legal beer from the St. Louis brewery. Company President August Busch (Adolphus’ son) was so taken by the sight that the horses became a favorite company trademark.

Adolphus later in life, around 1905.

And there’s a few more thorough accounts of his life at Encyclopedia.com, the State Historical Society of Missouri’s Historic Missourians, and and a four part story “originally published in The American Mercury, October, 1929,” entitled The King of Beer by Gerald Holland.

Historic Beer Birthday: August A. Busch III

Today is the birthday of August Anheuser Busch III (June 16, 1937- ) He is the great-grandson of Anheuser-Busch founder Adolphus Busch and was the company’s Chairman until November 30, 2006. August Busch III is informally known as “Auggie” and as “The Third” or “Three Sticks” by subordinates and employees at Anheuser-Busch. I’d actually heard “Triple Sticks” as a nickname.


Here’s some biographical information from his Wikipedia page:

August Anheuser Busch III was born in St. Louis, Missouri on June 16, 1937. He attended the University of Arizona, but dropped out after failing. His father then gave him an ultimatum, and he began working in an entry-level position in Anheuser Busch.

August Busch III served as President of the Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc. (ABC) from 1974 until June 2002, and Chief Executive Officer of ABC from 1975 until June 2002. He was Chairman of the Board of Directors of ABC from 1977 to 2006.

He was succeeded as the day-to-day operational head of Anheuser-Busch by Patrick Stokes. Stokes’ tenure marked the first time in the history of the company that a non-Busch family member ran the day-to-day operations. Busch also conferred the chairmanship to Stokes effective December 1, 2006. He retired from their executive functions at the company on November 30, 2006. He will continue to serve on Anheuser-Busch’s board.

August A. Busch III, when he was President of Anheuser-Busch, February 1974.

He has been married twice. His first wife, Susan, is the mother of his two older children August Anheuser Busch IV and Susan Busch-Transou. His second wife, Virginia, who is a practicing attorney, is the mother of his younger two children, Steven Busch and Virginia “Ginny” Busch.

Unlike his father Gussie Busch, August III has been a lifelong supporter of the Republican Party, and a friend, ally, and financial supporter to Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and President George W. Bush. August III’s eldest son, August A. Busch IV, is a strong supporter of Democratic Party politics, just like his grandfather Gussie.

Lou Rawls and Frank Sinatra sharing Budweisers with Triple Sticks in 1982.

Historic Beer Birthday: Johann Adam Lemp

Today is the birthday of Johann Adam Lemp (May 20, 1798-August 23, 1862). He was born in Germany, but came to the U.S., settling in St.Louis, Missouri, when he was forty, in 1838, and two years later founded what would become known as the Lemp Brewery. After his death, his sons took over management of the family brewery but it was closed by prohibition and never reopened.


Here’s a short biography from Find-a-Grave:

Born in Germany, Lemp settled in St. Louis in 1838. He established a small grocery business, but soon branched out into the manufacture and sale of vinegar and, using his skills, brewed beer as well. The popularity of his beer convinced Lemp to abandon the grocery business and devote his full energies to brewing. He established the Western Brewery in 1840 and by 1860 it was one of the dominant forces in the St. Louis brewing industry. After Johann’s death, his son William assumed leadership of the brewery, which became known as the Lemp Brewery.

Portrait of Johann Lemp by Carl Wimar, around 1860

In the March-April 1999 edition of the American Breweriana Journal, there’s a lengthy article about the Lemps, entitled “William J. Lemp Brewing Company: A Tale of Triumph and Tragedy in St. Louis, Missouri,” by Donald Roussin and Kevin Kious. While it starts with Adam, and through the then-present, the middle section is about William J. Lemp Sr.:

In his will, Adam bequeathed the Western Brewery in common to both his son William Jacob Lemp and grandson Charles Brauneck, along with “all of the equipment and stock.” There may have been friction between the two inheritors of the brewery, as the will contained the condition that if either contested the will, the other would receive the property. Charles Brauneck and William J. Lemp formed a partnership in October 1862, and agreed to run the business under the banner of the William J. Lemp & Co. This partnership, however, was destined to be short lived, as it was dissolved in February 1864 when William J. bought out Charles’ share for $3,000.

However, unlike many businesses that wilt when a strong leader dies, the Lemp Brewery actually grew and blossomed after William J. Lemp took control. The Western Brewery was then producing 12,000 barrels of beer annually, virtually all of the lager type.

William had been born in Germany in 1836, and spent his childhood there until brought to St. Louis by his father at age 12. William had struck out on his own as a brewer after working with his father, partnering with William Stumpf for a time in a St. Louis brewery established by the latter in 1852. At the outbreak of the Civil War, he enlisted into the Union Army, but was mustered out within a year. A short man at not quite five feet, one inch, he and his brewery would nonetheless both become giants in the brewing industry.




This is a slideshow of Lemp breweriana and photos.

Historic Beer Birthday: August Anheuser Busch, Jr. a.k.a. Gussie Busch

Today is the birthday of August Anheuser Busch, Jr., better known as Gussie Busch (March 28, 1899–September 29, 1989). He was the grandson of Anheuser-Busch founder Adolphus Busch. His parents were August Anheuser Busch, Sr. “Starting at lower levels to learn the family business of Anheuser-Busch Company, Busch became superintendent of brewing operations in 1924 and head of the brewing division after his father’s death in 1934. After his older brother Adolphus Busch III’s death in 1946, August A. Jr. succeeded him as President and CEO.”


Here’s a short biography from Find a Grave:

Born in St. Louis, Missouri, he was the President and CEO head of the Anheuser Busch Brewery the largest brewery in the world, (1946-75). He succeeded his older brother Adolphus bush III as President and CEO and began using the Bud Clydesdale Horse Team as a company logo. He was an avid sportsman and became owner of the National League St. Louis Cardinals Major League franchise in 1953, until his death. He died at age 90 in St. Louis, Missouri. In 1984, the Cardinals retired the number 85 in his honor, which was his age at the time and he was posthumously inducted into the Cardinals team Hall of Fame in 2014.

Gussie at his desk at Grant’s Farm.

This is August Anheuser Busch Jr.’s obituary from the New York Times:

August Anheuser Busch Jr., the master showman and irrepressible salesman who turned a small family operation into the world’s largest brewing company, died yesterday at his home in suburban St. Louis County, Mo. He was 90 years old and had recently been hospitalized with pneumonia.

August Anheuser Busch Jr., the master showman and irrepressible salesman who turned a small family operation into the world’s largest brewing company, died yesterday at his home in suburban St. Louis County, Mo. He was 90 years old and had recently been hospitalized with pneumonia.

He had been honorary chairman of the Anheuser-Busch Companies since his retirement in 1975. But he had remained active as the president of the St. Louis Cardinals, the National League baseball club he persuaded the company’s board to buy in 1953.

Mr. Busch, known as Gussie to virtually everybody who did not know him and as Gus to those who knew him well enough not to call him Mr. Busch, was the grandson and great-grandson of the founders of the company that bore two of his names.

The company, founded in 1876, survived Prohibition by moving into widely diverse products like soft drinks and automobile bodies.

Born in St. Louis on March 28, 1899, Mr. Busch entered the family business as a young man and became general superintendent of brewing operations in 1924. He took over as head of the brewery division after the death of his father in 1934. Although he did not become president of the company until the death of his older brother, Adolphus Busch 3d, in 1946, Mr. Busch had already made his mark as a salesman-showman.

To celebrate the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, Mr. Busch recalled the draft horses that had once pulled beer wagons in Germany and pre-automotive America and obtained a team to haul the first case of Budweiser down Pennsylvania Avenue for delivery to President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the White House. Since then the famous eight-horse hitch of Clydesdales has become almost as famous as the brand they continue to promote.

What was undoubtedly Mr. Busch’s greatest promotional coup was disguised as a civic duty – the company’s purchase of the Cardinals for $7.8 million in 1953 after the previous owner was convicted of income tax invasion.

”My ambition,” Mr. Busch declared, ”is, whether hell or high water, to get a championship baseball team for St. Louis before I die.”

He had a long wait. But beginning in 1964, the team won six National League pennants, most recently in 1987, and the World Series in 1964, 1967 and 1982.

Savored Success

Mr. Busch savored success, and he became a familiar triumphant figure to baseball fans in league playoffs and World Series home games when he would ride into Busch Stadium on the Clydesdale wagon waving a red cowboy hat.

He attributed the team’s success and the company’s to his policy of noninterference. Even so, he was active in the club’s affairs long after he left the company to others, and in 1982 he led the campaign among major league owners not to retain the previous commissioner, Bowie Kuhn.

Through the Clydesdales and the Cardinals, other promotional gimmicks and a commitment to mass advertising, Mr. Busch turned a comparatively small and financially ailing company into the industry giant. In his 29 years as the company’s active head, sales of beer went from 3 million to 37 million barrels a year. Last year the company produced 78.5 million barrels, almost double the output of its nearest competitor, and recorded sales of $9.7 billion. Its flagship brand, Budweiser, is the most popular beer in the world.

Medium Stature, Loud Voice

Through direct ownership and various trusts, Mr. Busch owned 12.5 percent of the company, or more than 30 million shares of its common stock. At yesterday’s closing price of $43.375 on the New York Stock Exchange, the holdings were worth more than $1.3 billion. The day’s increase of $1.125 a share represented a gain of more than $30 million. Trading in the company’s stock was suspended for 20 minutes after the announcement of his death.

Mr. Busch, at 5 feet 10 inches tall and 165 pounds, was a man of medium stature, but he had a loud voice that was once likened to the roar of a hoarse lion.

Fortunately for his colleagues, he had a sense of humor about his own shortcomings, which included a hairtrigger temper. ”All right, you guys,” he once shouted at a raucous company meeting. ”Let me blow my stack first. Then you can blow yours.” He also had an outsized zest for life, and both the wealth and the inclination to indulge it.

Among other things, his 281-acre estate, Grant’s Farm, includes a cabin built by hand by President Ulysses S. Grant and has a 34-room French Renaissance chateau and a well-stocked private zoo, which reflect his abiding love of animals. Mr. Busch trained his own chimpanzees and elephants before donating them to the St. Louis Zoo.

A onetime rodeo rider who later served as master of the Bridlespur Hunt outside St. Louis, Mr. Busch stocked his air-conditioned stables with several breeds, including hackneys, hunters and jumpers.

He clattered his way into family legend one day when he rode one of his horses up the main staircase of the family residence to cheer up his bedridden father.

Mr. Busch was married four times. Two of the marriages ended in divorce. His last wife, the former Margaret Rohde, died last year.

August A. Busch (center) and his sons, Adolphus III (left) and August Jr., seal the first case of beer off the Anheuser-Busch bottling plant line in St. Louis on April 7, 1933, when the sale of low-alcohol beers and wines was once again legal. Prohibition didn’t officially end until Dec. 5 of that year.

During World War II, Busch was very involved in the war effort through the Ordnance Corps, during which time he attained the rank of colonel.

Colonel August A. Busch, Jr. was born in 1899 in St. Louis, Missouri and was educated in the public schools there. He entered the family brewing business in 1924, and by 1931 was Second Vice President and a member of the board of directors. In June 1942, he was commissioned a major in the Ordnance Corps and was assigned to the Ammunition Division in the Office of the Chief of Ordnance.

He later became Deputy Chairman in charge of the Industry Integrating Committees of Ammunition (one of 82 committees set up to work with industry). Each Industry Integration Committee was made up of representatives from each participating contractor and set up to integrate Ordnance with industry. As Deputy Chairman, he was instrumental in expediting and improving production on several items. In January 1943, he was assigned to the Tank and Automotive Center at Detroit, Michigan. His task was to further the efforts of the committees on the production of tanks, the most critical item of Ordnance procurement. In March of 1943, he was reassigned to the Industry Committees of the Ammunition Division, as the Assistant Chief in Charge of Procurement for metal parts. In 1944, he became Chief of the Industry Production Branch while still retaining the title and duties of the Deputy Chairman of Industry Integrating Committees.

He established precedents and procedures that helped industry and Ordnance work together towards the war effort. His intimate knowledge of industry and his ability to gain the confidence of industrial leaders made him an invaluable asset to the Ordnance procurement process. During his later years, he served as Chairman of the board and Chief Executive Officer of Anheuser-Busch, Inc. and as Chairman of the board and President of the St. Louis Baseball Cardinals organization. Colonel Busch died in 1989.


The St. Louis Cardinals, which Anhesuer-Busch bought in 1953, became an important part of Gussie Busch’s life.

In 1953, Cardinals owner Fred Saigh was convicted of tax evasion. Facing almost certain banishment from baseball, he put the Cardinals up for sale. When Busch got word that Saigh was seriously considering selling the team to interests who would move the team to Houston; he decided to have Anheuser-Busch get into the bidding in order to keep the Cardinals in St. Louis. Ultimately, Busch persuaded Saigh to take less money ($3.75 million) than what he was being offered by out-of-town interests in the name of civic pride, and also achieved a marketing tool.

As chairman, president or CEO of the Cardinals from the time the club was purchased by the brewery in 1953 until his death, Busch oversaw a team that won six National League pennants (1964, 1967, 1968, 1982, 1985, 1987) and three World Series (1964, 1967 and 1982). When his son, August Busch III, ousted him as president of Anheuser-Busch, the elder Busch remained as president of the Cardinals.

Although the Cardinals were the dominant baseball team in St. Louis, they did not own their own ballpark. Since 1920 they had rented Sportsman’s Park from the St. Louis Browns of the American League. Shortly after buying the Cardinals, Busch bought and extensively renovated the park, renaming it Busch Stadium (but only after a failed attempt to rename it as Budweiser Stadium). The team played there until Busch Memorial Stadium was built in the middle of the 1966 season.

In 1984, the Cardinals retired a number, 85, in Busch’s honor, which was his age at the time.

Cardinal’s Owner and beer baron Gussie Busch threw a party at the Chase Hotel following the Cardinals 1964 World Series Championship. Here he congratulates Cardinal’s third baseman Ken Boyer, who hit two home runs and drove in six.

The Busch family also acquired Grant’s Farm, and made it the Busch Family Estate, opening it up to the public beginning in 1954. The estate website also has a timeline and there’s a short history of the farm from Wikipedia:

The property was at one time owned by Ulysses S. Grant and prior to that, by the Dent family. It is now owned by the Busch family, who owned the Anheuser-Busch Brewing Company for many years until it was sold to InBev in 2008. Grant’s Farm has been an animal reserve for many years and is open to the public for free; however, there is a parking fee of $12 per vehicle. This fee helps to maintain the farm. The farm is home to such animals as buffalo, elephants, camels, kangaroos, donkeys, goats, peacocks, the iconic Budweiser Clydesdales and many more. Most of these animals can be seen by visitors on a tram tour of the deer park region of the park, while the Clydesdales are found in their nearby barn and pastures. The farm also contains a cabin called “Hardscrabble,” which was built by Ulysses S. Grant on another part of the property and later relocated to Grant’s Farm. It is the only remaining structure that was hand-built by a U.S. president prior to assuming office.

Also on the farm is the Busch family mansion, and a house in which Ulysses S. Grant resided between the Mexican and Civil Wars—White Haven. This had been his wife, Julia Grant’s, family home. Frederick Dent, Julia’s father, gave 80 acres of the farm to the couple as a wedding present. White Haven is now a national historic site: the Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site, and is located just across the road from Grant’s Farm.


Here’s Gussie’s entry from the Encyclopedia Britannica:

August Anheuser Busch, Jr., byname Gussie Busch (born March 28, 1899, St. Louis, Missouri, U.S. — died September 29, 1989, near St. Louis), American beer baron, president (1946–75) of Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc., who built the company into the world’s largest brewery.

In 1922 Busch was put to work sweeping floors and cleaning vats at the brewery cofounded by his grandfather Adolphus Busch, but by 1924 he was general superintendent of brewing operations. After his father died (1934), Busch became head of the brewery department, and he was installed as president of the company following his older brother’s death (1946).

Busch was a civic leader who helped revive St. Louis in the 1950s by donating $5 million toward the construction of Busch Memorial Stadium and purchasing the St. Louis Cardinals professional baseball team for $7.8 million. A familiar figure during postseason play-off games, Busch often rode into the stadium in a wagon drawn by Clydesdales, the horses that were indelibly identified with the beer wagons of Budweiser, Anheuser-Busch’s main brand. Grant’s Farm, the Busch family estate near St. Louis, was converted into a 281-acre (114-hectare) historical site and wildlife preserve.


And finally, here’s a video created for Gussie’s induction into the St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame.


To celebrate production of the ten millionth barrel of beer, August A. Busch Jr. (right) and his son August III share a toast with other officials of the company on December 15, 1964.

Historic Beer Birthday: William J. Lemp

Today is the birthday of William J. Lemp (February 21, 1836-February 13, 1904). He was the son of Johann Adam Lemp, who founded the Lemp Brewery in 1840. When his father died in 1862, he and a grandson inherited the brewery, and it was renamed the William J. Lemp Brewing Co. Two years later, William bought out the grandson (who was not Lemp’s son) and carried on until 1904, when he committed suicide, most likely from depression after his favorite son Frederick died at age 28. His other son, William J. Lemp Jr., ran the brewery thereafter, until it was closed by prohibition in 1920.


This short biography is from Find-a-Grave:

Son of Lemp Brewery founder Johann Adam Lemp, William built the brewery into an industrial giant. In 1870 it was the largest brewery in St. Louis and remained so until the start of Prohibition in 1919. At the time of William’s death, the Lemp brewery was the third largest in the United States. William shot himself through the right temple in his bedroom at the family mansion, apparently still grieving over the loss of his beloved son Frederick, the heir apparent to the family brewery, who died at the age of 28.


In the March-April 1999 edition of the American Breweriana Journal, there’s a lengthy article about the Lemps, entitled “William J. Lemp Brewing Company: A Tale of Triumph and Tragedy in St. Louis, Missouri,” by Donald Roussin and Kevin Kious. While it starts with Adam, and through the then-present, the middle section is about William J. Lemp Sr.:

In his will, Adam bequeathed the Western Brewery in common to both his son William Jacob Lemp and grandson Charles Brauneck, along with “all of the equipment and stock.” There may have been friction between the two inheritors of the brewery, as the will contained the condition that if either contested the will, the other would receive the property. Charles Brauneck and William J. Lemp formed a partnership in October 1862, and agreed to run the business under the banner of the William J. Lemp & Co. This partnership, however, was destined to be short lived, as it was dissolved in February 1864 when William J. bought out Charles’ share for $3,000.

However, unlike many businesses that wilt when a strong leader dies, the Lemp Brewery actually grew and blossomed after William J. Lemp took control. The Western Brewery was then producing 12,000 barrels of beer annually, virtually all of the lager type.

William had been born in Germany in 1836, and spent his childhood there until brought to St. Louis by his father at age 12. William had struck out on his own as a brewer after working with his father, partnering with William Stumpf for a time in a St. Louis brewery established by the latter in 1852. At the outbreak of the Civil War, he enlisted into the Union Army, but was mustered out within a year. A short man at not quite five feet, one inch, he and his brewery would nonetheless both become giants in the brewing industry.



In 1864 William J. Lemp purchased a five block area around the storage house on 13th and Cherokee, and began construction of a complete new brewery. By putting the new facility over the storage caves, moving all the kegs by wagon from the Second Street brewery would no longer be necessary.

By the early 1870’s, Lemp’s Western Brewery was the largest brewery in St. Louis in a field of 30, with E. Anheuser & Company’s Bavarian Brewery coming in second. The brewery was the 19th largest in the country, producing 61,000 barrels in 1876. A bottling plant was added the following year. By the end of the decade, William Lemp, Sr. had risen to vice-president of the United States Brewer’s Association in addition to having overseen the tremendous expansion of the brewery.

Before the introduction of artificial refrigeration, the Lemp brewery had four ice-houses on the Mississippi River levee in south St. Louis, each having a storage capacity of five thousand tons each. These ice houses were cleverly built so as to be able to directly receive the cargoes of river barges, also owned by the Lemp brewery. 1878 marked the first artificial refrigeration machinery being added to the facility. It was also the year production reached 100,000 barrels.



On November 1, 1892, William J. Lemp’s Western Brewery was incorporated under the title the William J. Lemp Brewing Company. The stockholders elected the following officers: William J. Lemp, Sr., president; William J. Lemp, Jr., vice-president; Charles Lemp, treasurer; Louis F. Lemp, superintendent; and Henry Vahlkamp, secretary. In addition to learning the business at their family’s brewery, all the Lemp sons had attended the brewing academy in New York.

By the mid-1890’s the Lemp brewery was well on its way to becoming a nationally known shipping brewery. In fact, Lemp was the first brewery to establish coast-to-coast distribution of its beers. Lemp beer was being transported in some 500 refrigerated railroad cars, averaging 10,000 shipments per year. The brewery proper employed 700 men. Over 100 horses were required to pull the 40 delivery wagons to make St. Louis City deliveries. The twenty-five beer cellars went down to a depth of fifty feet, and could store fifty thousand barrels at one time. The rated production capacity of the brewery was 500,000 barrels a year. It was the eighth largest beermaker in the nation.

Lemp was the first shipping brewery to establish a national shipping strategy, operating its own railroad, the Western Cable Railway Company, which connected all of the plant’s main buildings with its shipping yards near the Mississippi River, and then to the other major area railroads. The large shipping breweries of this time frequently formed their own trunk railroads to make shipments from their plants, due to battles with railroads over the way the brewers shipped their beer, in the years before artificial refrigeration in beer cars. That is, the breweries would cram the rail cars with as much ice as possible (overload them, according to many rail lines), to protect the unpasteurized beer from spoiling during transport. By running their own trunk lines, the major shipping breweries could gain more control of the conditions under which their golden product was transported to other markets.

Construction of new buildings, and the updating of old ones, was virtually continuous at the Lemp brewery. The entire complex was built (or remodeled) in the Italian Renaissance style, featuring arched windows, pilaster strips, and corbelled brick cornices (projecting architectural details, such as the rolling Lemp shields). Ultimately the giant facility covered five city blocks.

Having expanded their distribution network throughout the United States, Lemp continued to expand overseas. By the late 1890’s, Lemp beers were being shipped in large quantities to Canada, British Columbia, Mexico, Central and South America, the West Indies, the Hawaiian Islands, Australia, Japan, and Hong Kong. Lemp beer was even available in the cities of London and Berlin, both well known for their own local brews.



William J. Lemp Sr.’s death by suicide occurred in February 1904. By then the Lemp brewery had become the third largest in the country. The responsibility for leadership of the business fell on his son William J. Lemp, Jr., who was subsequently elected corporate president on November 7, 1904.

William J. Lemp, Jr. was aided in the management of the business by his brother Louis F. Lemp. Louis, who had been born in 1869, took advantage of the family fortune in his youth to explore his passion of sports. At 18, he admired the boxer John L. Sullivan to such a degree, that we went to New Orleans to bet $5,000 on one of his fights. Louis also said that if Sullivan didn’t win, he would ride all the way home in a hearse. Sullivan lost, but Louis reneged and took the train home! In later years, Louis would continue to enjoy his love of sports by being a pioneer supporter or automobile and airplane events.

The Lemp brewery was soon facing a much altered St. Louis landscape, when in 1906 nine large area breweries combined to form the Independent Breweries Company. This was the second huge merger in the local beer business, following the 1889 formation of the St. Louis Brewing Association. Initially controlled by an English syndicate, the SLBA absorbed eighteen breweries and like the IBC continued operating up to Prohibition. The formation of these two combines left only Lemp, Anheuser-Busch, the Louis Obert Brewing Company, and a handful of small neighborhood breweries as independent St. Louis beermakers. Of even more concern to a shipping brewery like Lemp was the growing clamor of the temperance movement. The first heyday of United States brewing was about to draw to an abrupt halt.



Like most of its competitors, the Lemp brewery limped on through the years of the World War. According to numerous accounts, the company’s equipment was allowed to deteriorate during this time as the Lemp family, their vast fortune already made, began to loose interest in the business. The last major capital improvement to the plant was the erection of the giant grain elevators on the south side of the complex in 1911. With the shadow of Prohibition falling across the land, Lemp, like many other breweries, introduced a non-intoxicating malt beverage, named Cerva. While Cerva did sell moderately well, revenues were no where near enough to cover the overhead of the plant.

The giant plant closed without notice. Employees learned of the closing of the brewery when they arrived for work one day, only to find the brewery doors and gates locked shut.

International Shoe Company purchased almost the entire brewery at auction on June 28, 1922 for $588,000, a small fraction of its estimated value of $7 million in the years immediately before Prohibition. Unfortunately for brewery historians, virtually all of the Lemp company records were pitched shortly after International Shoe moved its operations into the complex. International Shoe used the larger buildings, and even portions of the caves, as a warehouse.


Apparently, William’s suicide in 1904 wasn’t the only one to occur in the Lemp Mansion, nor was it the only tragedy to befall the Lemp family. Here’s a good overview, Lemp Mansion: Tales of a Cursed Family and Their Haunted House, with the history involving William J. Lemp below:

William married Julia Feickert in 1861. In 1868, Julia’s father Jacob built what is known today as the Lemp Mansion, likely with financial help from William. In 1876, William bought Feickert’s mansion, at which time he began to renovate it in a grand style. William and Julia moved into the lavish home, outfitted with the most extravagant textiles and modern conveniences of the day.

In 1878, William Lemp was the first St. Louis brewer to install a refrigerated area in his facility. This new technology freed him from reliance on his lagering caves. In time, the caves were converted into private underground amusements such as a theater; a bowling alley and a concrete-lined swimming pool, complete with hot water piped in from the brewery.


The Western Brewery was incorporated in 1892 under the name of William J. Lemp Brewing company. As his brewery had grown, so had William and Julia’s family. Between the years of 1862 and 1883, the couple had nine children, one of whom died in infancy. From oldest to youngest, the Lemp children were Anna, William Jr., Louis, Charles, Frederick, Hilda, Edwin and Elsa.

When the brewery was incorporated in 1892, William Lemp Sr. appointed his sons William Jr. and Louis as Vice President and Superintendent, respectively. Both were trained and college educated in managing business and the process of brewing Lemp’s lager. William Jr., called Billy, and Louis embraced their positions in the family business and as wealthy, powerful members of St. Louis society. Billy was active socially and had a reputation as a flamboyant playboy. Louis was an avid sportsman, horse breeder and racer.

Billy eventually married a young woman named Lillian Handlan, a wealthy socialite known for her beauty and exquisite wardrobe. Because of her fondness for wearing lavender clothing and outfitting her accessories and horse-drawn carriage in the color lavender, people called her the Lavender Lady.

Despite Billy being appointed Vice President of the brewery by his father, William Sr.’s son Frederick was said to be his favorite son and first choice to run the company after his death. Frederick immersed himself in his job at the brewery, evidently aware of his future as heir apparent. When Frederick began to have health problems in 1901, he took time off for an extended stay in California, hoping the warm climate would benefit his health. After a few months, just when it seemed as if he was improving, Frederick died at age 28. One primary source attributes Frederick’s death to “mysterious circumstances.” Another lists the cause of death as heart failure.

William Lemp took the death of his son exceptionally hard. His friends at the time said he never recovered from the tragic news, and seemed to lose interest in his business and his life. William went through the motions for three years, at which time he lost his best friend, Captain Frederick Pabst, a member of another beer brewing dynasty. William withdrew further and sank deeper into depression after the death of Pabst. He was observed going to work and sitting at his desk, staring off into space and making nervous motions with his hands. On the morning of February 13, 1904, William was alone at Lemp Mansion except for his servants. Lying in bed in his second floor bedroom, William shot himself in the head. He died later that day. At the time, his brewery was valued at $6 million and his personal assets at $10 million.


This is a slideshow of Lemp breweriana and photos.