Historic Beer Birthday: Eberhard Anheuser

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Today is the birthday of Eberhard Anheuser (September 27, 1806-May 2, 1880). He “was a German American soap and candle maker, as well as the father-in-law of Adolphus Busch, the founder of the Anheuser-Busch Company.

Anheuser grew up in Kreuznach, where his parents operated a vineyard that had been in the family since 1627. He and two of his brothers moved to America in 1842. He was a major creditor of the Bavarian Brewery Company, a struggling brewery founded in 1853. When the company encountered financial difficulty in 1860, he purchased the minor creditors’ interests and took over the company.

Eberhard Anheuser became president and CEO and changed the company name to the Eberhard Anheuser and Company. His daughter 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. Despite the outbreak of the Civil War, the brewery remained competitive, partially because lager was not banned by the Union Army, while other hard liquors were. As Anheuser became older, Adolphus Busch took up more of the companies duties, and the company was renamed Anheuser-Busch in 1879.

Eberhard Anheuser

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

Businessman. Born in Kreuznach, Germany in 1843, he settled in Cincinnati, Ohio, and was joined shortly thereafter by his family. For the early part of his entrepreneurial career, people associated him with a completely different product, that product was soap. It is unknown whether he trained as a soap manufacturer in Cincinnati, if this training was part of his education as a chemist in Germany. In 1845 Eberhard and his family moved to St. Louis. Eberhard became a brewer just as changes in American consumer behavior sparked massive growth in beer consumption. Over the course of his career, the American brewing industry began a transition from being mostly small-scale in production, locally based in market, and limited in its competitive nature into an industry known for its acute competitiveness, rapidly expanding production capacity, and internationally expanding market. Although these new trends came to full fruition during the twenty years after Eberhard’s death, he witnessed their birth during his twenty-year career as a brewer. Eberhard made several contacts within the German brewing community. Some became lifelong friends, such as William J. Lemp, the largest brewer in St. Louis at the time. Others became relatives. Eberhard met a young brewery supplier named Adolphus Busch, and his older brother Ulrich, who ended up marrying Eberhard’s daughters Lilly and Anna in a double ceremony in 1861. The company became Anheuser-Busch in 1879. The partners agreed to expand the brewery continually with reinvested money from increased sales, so that the 8,000 barrels produced in 1865 shot to 141,163 by the time of Anheuser’s death in 1880. Using this strategy, the brewery grew so much that it received notice as a local landmark during Eberhard’s lifetime. Eberhard died in 1880, after a long struggle with throat cancer. He was 73 years old.

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An illustration from One Hundred Years of Brewing of Eberhard Anheuser’s Bavarian Brewery, c. 1860.

Immigrant Entrepreneurship has a lengthy, and through, biography of Eberhard Anheuser:

Introduction

At present, Eberhard Anheuser’s (born September 27, 1806 in Kreuznach, French Occupied Electoral Palatinate; died May 2, 1880 in St. Louis, MO) name is synonymous with beer and the brewing industry. However, for the early part of his entrepreneurial career, people associated him with a completely different product — soap. From one perspective, the story of his career in these two industries is one of continuity. From beginning to end, his forty-four-year entrepreneurial career in America was closely intertwined with connections to family members and to the German immigrant community. From another perspective, his career epitomizes change. Anheuser became a brewer just as changes in American consumer behavior sparked massive growth in beer consumption. Over the course of Anheuser’s career, the American brewing industry began a transition from being mostly small-scale in production, locally based in market, and limited in its competitive nature into an industry known for its acute competitiveness, rapidly expanding production capacity, and internationally expanding market. Although these new trends came to full fruition during the twenty years after Anheuser’s death, Anheuser witnessed their birth during his twenty-year career as a brewer. Accordingly, his story makes an illustrative case study of the transition between old and new trends in the nineteenth-century, American brewing industry.

Family and Ethnic Background: In the Land of the Fickle Fruit

Eberhard Anheuser was born on September 27, 1806, in Kreuznach, a historically Germanic region along the Rhine that at the time was occupied by Napoleonic French forces. It later became part of Rhenish Prussia. Although his name became famously associated with the beer industry, Eberhard actually started out as one of a long line of Anheusers engaged in the production of wine. The Anheuser vineyard was founded in Kreuznach in 1627, and is at the time of this writing under the direction of the fourteenth generation of the Anheuser family. Since by the time of Eberhard Anheuser’s birth the family’s vineyard had been conducting business successfully for almost 180 years, the question arises as to why he did not just stay there to carry on this family tradition.

Although it is not known why Anheuser left his homeland for America in 1843 when he was already in his late thirties, married, and with children, German history points to several converging economic factors that were making it harder for vintners to succeed, which may have influenced his decision to emigrate. Since the southwestern German lands were a region of divisible inheritances, it was customary for landholders in the area to divide estates among their heirs, rather than deliver them intact to a single heir. Although agricultural productivity was increasing with the advent of new farming methods, the population was increasing much faster, leading to land shortages, which caused land prices to skyrocket. The cost of acquiring land was beginning to outweigh the possibility of profit to be made by cultivating it. Additionally, the grape is a fickle fruit. It needs just the right conditions to thrive, and fails easily. Crop failures, like those that were common in the region in the 1830s, increased the financial strain on vintners, often leading to the accumulation of large debts, especially among those with smaller landholdings. In order to ensure the success of the business in the face of crop failures, it was important to cultivate enough land to build up sufficient reserves of wine during the good years to offset the losses in the bad years. In this environment, subdivision of property could spell economic disaster for the heirs of vintners. While the southwestern German lands would experience record grape harvests later in the 1840s, this was not the trend in the years leading up to Anheuser’s departure in 1843.

The problem of land shortages was compounded by a decline in profits. Because of the 1818 Prussian Tariff Rule, Rhenish winegrowers were protected from competition from French wines, and possessed something of a monopoly in the Prussian wine trade, leading to sustainable high prices. However, interstate tariff rates were lowered, first by an agreement between Prussia and Hesse in 1828, and then by the creation of the Zollverein customs union in 1834. This exposed Rhenish Prussia to increased competition with other German wine producing states. By the mid-1830s, prices were about one-fourth as high as in 1826. Also, as a result of the crop failures of the 1830s, the chemist Ludwig Gall promoted a technique of wine sweetening in the region in order to counteract the effects of harvesting unripened grapes. The influx of cheap, sweetened wine in the market drove down prices for vintners producing middle and lower-quality varieties. Wine prices also suffered due to the rise of cheaper alternatives, such as alcoholic spirits made from distilled potatoes. Although prices rebounded from their low point in the mid-1830s, regional prices fell by about fifty percent overall between the late 1820s and early 1840s, when Anheuser left the region. Profits were further lessened by the sharp increase in the price of wood, which was needed for the stakes that were vital for supporting grapevines and the barrels used to store and ship wine. Additionally, taxes in the region were high, and food prices were rising. Vintners especially suffered from increased food prices because they had to purchase much of their food, since most of their land was tied up in the cultivation of grapes.

If there was not enough production capacity in a piece of land that one owned, or stood to inherit, to compensate for crop failures, high taxes, falling wine prices, and rising food prices, emigration became more alluring. Therefore, many educated, middle- to upper-class children of vintners immigrated to America in the 1830s and 1840s in a quest to maintain the economic standing they stood to lose if they stayed where they were. It is likely that Eberhard Anheuser was one of this number.

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An illustration from One Hundred Years of Brewing of Eberhard Anheuser’s Bavarian Brewery, c. 1860.

Business Development: A Slippery Start

Eberhard Anheuser’s business career in America got off to a slippery start. That is to say, he worked in the soap manufacturing industry. After arriving in America in 1843, Anheuser settled in Cincinnati, Ohio, and was joined shortly thereafter by his wife, Dorothea, his sons William and Adolf, and his daughters, Anna, Minna, Lilly, and Hermine. Although it has been stated that before emigrating “he had fitted himself, both by education and experience, to enter upon a successful career as a man of affairs,” the exact nature of these affairs during his first two years in Cincinnati remain a mystery. In one of his obituaries, Anheuser was remembered as “an energetic businessman” and a “talented technician and chemist,” who was “trained as a soap manufacturer.” It is unknown whether he trained as a soap manufacturer in Cincinnati, if this training was part of his education as a chemist in Germany, or if he picked up this skill in St. Louis, where he settled for good.

What is known is that Anheuser’s business career in St. Louis always had strong ties to the city’s German population. After Anheuser came to St. Louis in 1845, he worked in the soap factory of William D’Oench. About ten years Anheuser’s junior, he was a German from Prussian Silesia who had immigrated to St. Louis in 1841. D’Oench had studied medicine and chemistry, and ended up becoming a wholesale druggist, merchant, and soap manufacturer. He was also involved in several other business ventures, some of them involving Eberhard Anheuser, before re-immigrating to Stuttgart in 1872. It is unknown whether Anheuser was an employee or partner in the D’Oench and Ringling soap and candle factory. It is possible that this is where Anheuser completed his education in the soap industry. The pair remained on good terms, and continued to do business with each other after Anheuser left D’Oench’s factory in 1852. Later in the 1850s, Anheuser had stock in the Franklin Insurance Company/Franklin Savings Institution, where D’Oench served as president and in which almost all of the company officers were German. In 1860, the two partnered to take over a struggling brewery.

Although most of Anheuser’s business relationships were with fellow German immigrants, he also partnered at times with American-born businessmen. For example, in 1852 Anheuser became a partner with Lawrason Riggs, a native New Yorker about ten years his junior, in the Riggs & Co. candle, soap, and lard oil factory (often confused with Riggs & Levering, the name of the wholesale grocery and merchant’s shop where Riggs was also a partner). Anheuser’s partnership with Riggs lasted for five years, and was replaced with a four-way partnership with another native-born American and two fellow German immigrants. In March 1857, Anheuser’s partnership with Riggs was dissolved and he joined up with Nicholas Schaeffer, Anheuser’s former competitor in the candle and soap business and a longtime friend. Schaeffer was from Alsace, which, like Kreuznach during the Napoleonic era, was an area along the Rhine that contained a large ethnic German population but belonged to France. Schaeffer also originally immigrated to St. Louis via Cincinnati, although roughly a decade before Anheuser’s arrival. On May 1, 1857, Schaeffer and his partners, German immigrant Adolph Krauss and native-born American entrepreneur James Reilly, announced that Anheuser had become a full partner in the N. Schaeffer & Co. soap, candle, and oil factory. The company was then renamed Schaeffer, Anheuser & Co.[11] Schaeffer and Anheuser soon began building a new factory, finished in February of the following year, which they promised would help them “fill orders in our line with dispatch, on the most favorable terms.”

Anheuser’s business career was also heavily intertwined with his family relationships. Shortly after partnering with Schaeffer, Anheuser brought in his eldest son, William, to serve as foreman in the company. It seems Anheuser’s relationship with William was somewhat complex and, to some degree, strained. Perhaps their relationship suffered after Anheuser’s wife, Dorothea, died in 1854 at the age of thirty-nine, leaving Anheuser a single father to the eighteen year-old William and his five younger siblings. It is clear that Eberhard invested heavily in William’s future, and had high hopes for him early on. He started by putting William in private school with Professor Edward Wyman, a leading local educator from Massachusetts. Under Wyman, he received “careful instruction in both the English and German languages.” Apparently, William was meant to succeed Eberhard in the soap business, as he had worked with his father for a number of years before being made foreman, and was given “particular attention to the study of chemistry” in his schooling. On June 28, 1862, Anheuser announced the dissolution of his partnership with Schaeffer, Reilly, and Krauss, and started a new soap, candle, and oil business with William as a full partner under the name of E. Anheuser & Son. While the Anheusers’ partnership only lasted about five years, Schaeffer & Co. continued to thrive, focusing more on lubricants and oil over time. Today, the company is still based out of St. Louis and is known as the Schaeffer Manufacturing Company.

In 1864, the Anheusers brought in Constantine (Constanz) Peipers, a Prussian about William’s age who was involved in real estate and insurance sales, as a full partner in their company, which was renamed Anheuser, Peipers & Co. The 1867 St. Louis City Directory shows that the partnership was dissolved when William started a new soap and candle company with Hermann Eisenhardt, another Prussian about his age. After this, Eberhard Anheuser apparently dropped out of the soap business for good. William’s new partnership, Anheuser & Eisenhardt, lasted until 1872, when Eisenhardt purchased his share in the business and William left for California, from which he did not return until 1882, two years after Eberhard Anheuser’s death.

It has been reported that William helped start a large soap factory in California. However, there is no record of his business activities there for his first five years. The William Anheuser that emerged in 1877 in Oakland seems a far cry, financially speaking, from the one who left St. Louis. Whereas he had been a full partner in two soap and candle businesses in St. Louis, William was listed only as a foreman for the Standard Soap Company in the 1877-1881 Oakland City Directories. In the 1880 census he was labeled a “workingman” instead of an “owner.” It is certain that Eberhard and William had a major falling out, due in part to financial issues. When Eberhard died in 1880, he left William only one dollar, giving what would have been William’s share, “less the sum I have heretofore given and advanced to my son William, ” to trustees for William’s children. Eberhard allowed the trustees to use up to $5,000 (approximately $113,000 in 2011$) as they saw fit to take care of William and his family. Anheuser ordered that the remainder of this share be reinvested in another family business until William’s children came of age. It was this second family business — a brewery — that secured the financial fortunes of generations of Eberhard Anheuser’s descendants. However, this ultimate success sprang from a series of failures.

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A Different Kind of Suds

Although beer was not unknown in St. Louis prior to Anheuser’s arrival in the 1840s, it was not anywhere near the drink of choice. Other spirits were preferred that were cheaper, traveled more easily, and stayed potable longer, such as cider and whiskey. It was not until the massive influx of German immigrants in the 1840s and 1850s that beer became worth producing at commercial levels in St. Louis. Still, the beginnings of the industry were inauspicious. According to one account, there were only six breweries in operation in the city in 1845, with none having the capacity to brew more than twenty-five barrels on a given day.

The wave of German immigrants that flooded the city in the following decades brought with them a taste for beer. One type in particular, lager beer, quickly became the most popular type of beer in America. Lager is a lighter, clearer, crisper brew that uses a special type of yeast which ferments on the bottom of the brewing vat. The top-fermenting American and English ales, porters, and stouts being produced in small-scale operations prior to 1840 were initially not very popular. The top-fermenting yeast they used reacted differently in America than it did in Europe, often resulting in a bitter tasting final product that spoiled extremely quickly. Lager beers were more difficult and time-consuming to produce. They required access to higher quality water and needed a long period of cold storage during and after the fermentation process (the root word “lagern” means “to store”). This made lager a seasonal product in the era before mechanical refrigeration. However, the bottom-fermenting yeast used in lager did not become bitter, and the final product lasted a long time if kept cool.[23] Because of its access to good water, ice from the banks of the Mississippi in the winter, and a bevy of caves and caverns nearby that served as a natural source of refrigeration, St. Louis was an excellent site for lager brewing. This was not lost on the German-American entrepreneurs in the city. St. Louis housed thirty-six breweries in 1853. Over half of their annual production of 216,000 barrels was lager beer.[24] A miniscule part of that number was provided by Georg Schneider, a Bavarian immigrant who had built a small brewery in 1852. Although placed advantageously next to a large portion of the city’s German population in South St. Louis, Schneider’s brewery was a small affair. It produced only about 500 barrels annually after five years in business.

Still, Schneider’s sales grew enough that he felt an expansion was in order, so in 1856 he built a new brewery on Eighth Street in the city block between Arsenal and Pestalozzi. He nostalgically named it “The Bavarian Brewery.” Unfortunately for Schneider, the next year ushered in the Panic of 1857, which hurt his profits and effectively destroyed access to the necessary credit and investment capital needed to keep his business alive. Thus, Schneider was forced to sell his brewery to Philipp Hammer, an immigrant from Baden, on December 11 of that year. Hammer’s brother Carl soon joined him at the Bavarian Brewery, and the two formed a partnership, named C. and P. Hammer & Co. However, neither of them had any brewing experience, so they left the business to their brother, Adam, in 1858. In December of that year, Adam formed the partnership Hammer & Urban with Dominic Urban, the head of the city’s board of assessors. The pair borrowed heavily in 1859 to augment the brewery’s production capacity. While the previous owners of the brewery had only produced scant hundreds of barrels annually, Hammer & Urban boosted production to around 3,200 barrels. Sadly, demand for their particular brand did not increase at anywhere near such a rapid pace, and the partners soon went bankrupt.

In 1860, the duo’s major creditors came calling — one of whom was Eberhard Anheuser. Rather than try to sell the brewery and parcel out the proceeds with Hammer & Urban’s other creditors, Anheuser decided to buy them out and take over the brewery himself. In order to do this, Anheuser partnered with his old friend and business associate William D’Oench. The business was renamed E. Anheuser & Co. Although the burden of running two separate businesses was draining, Anheuser continued his role with Schaeffer, Anheuser & Co. If Anheuser was already a successful businessman, why take on this extra responsibility? If it was because he sensed that economic and demographic trends were creating a more favorable business climate for breweries, he was correct.

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Illustration of Eberhard Anheuser and Adolphus Busch’s Bavarian Brewery, ca. 1878. The illustrator documents the brewery’s expansion over the past two decades (when compared with the 1860 image) and its access to both railroad and river transportation, which would have been used to ship barrels of beer. The illustrator also shows that the rail cars in the foreground are owned by E. Anheuser Co., as well as the steamboat, which is named Adolphus Busch. The drawing does not completely correspond to reality, however, since the illustrator has removed the U.S. arsenal, which would have stood between the brewery and the railroad track and Mississippi River, from the drawing. From Joseph A. Dacus and James William Buel, A Tour of St. Louis: Or, The Inside Life of a Great City (St. Louis, Western Publishing Company, 1878).

Riding the Amber Wave

Whether he knew it or not, Anheuser was riding the wave of the future. Between 1840 and 1860, annual per capita beer consumption in the United States tripled from 1.3 gallons per capita to 3.8 gallons per capita. A massive decline in the consumption of hard liquor, ostensibly due to the rise of the American temperance movement in the first half of the nineteenth century, was one of the reasons for the emergence of beer drinking during these years. Reformers linked crime and other social ills with the consumption of hard liquor, and fought to curb its use. At peak consumption in 1830, Americans consumed an average of 5.2 gallons of whiskey and 15 gallons of hard cider per capita, resulting in a per capita absolute alcoholic intake of 3.9 gallons. By 1845, whiskey consumption had declined to 2.1 gallons per capita, cider consumption had become negligible, and the absolute alcoholic intake dropped to only one gallon per capita. As the American temperance movement began to lose steam near midcentury, due in part to disagreements between those who favored temperance (the limited and responsible use of some alcoholic beverages) versus prohibition (the prohibition of all alcoholic beverages), lager beer was perceived as a compromise drink. Although the German population in America was growing rapidly, beer was becoming widely embraced outside of this group. It was marketed as a healthful, less-intoxicating alternative to the hard liquors that reformers attacked as dangerously intoxicating, immoral, and unhealthy.

This was seemingly the trend in St. Louis, as well. According to one article from 1857, beer was now “well nigh universally adopted by the English-speaking population; and the spacious bier halles and extensive gardens nightly show that the Americans are as fond of the Gambrinian liquid as those who have introduced it.” The article concludes that lager beer’s “general adoption in the place of spirits has been a benefit, both to the health and to the morals of the community.” National statistics also speak to this trend. Before 1840, per capita beer consumption in America had been negligible. It increased exponentially afterwards. From 1855 onward, beer reigned undisputedly as America’s drink of choice. While per capita hard liquor consumption remained stable and relatively low over the next several decades, per capita beer consumption increased greatly. Between 1863 and 1880, the year of Eberhard Anheuser’s death, per capita beer consumption tripled again from 2.1 gallons per capita to 7.4 gallons per capita.[30] Simply put, due to a combination of the rapidly increasing German-American population, a trend toward greater urbanization (beer was primarily an urban drink), the business savvy of German-American brewers, the American public’s increased demand for lager, and the emergence of beer as a compromise drink for temperance advocates, Anheuser took over the Bavarian Brewery in a booming market for beer. All he had to do to be successful was to secure a share of this market.

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Ethnic and Family Networks

Anheuser made several contacts within the German brewing community. Some became lifelong friends, such as William J. Lemp, the largest brewer in St. Louis at the time. Others became relatives. Anheuser met a young brewery supplier named Adolphus Busch, and his older brother Ulrich, who ended up marrying Anheuser’s daughters Lilly and Anna, respectively, in a double ceremony in 1861. The Busch brothers eventually joined Anheuser and D’Oench at E. Anheuser & Co. — Adolphus as a partner and Ulrich as a bookkeeper.[31] Perhaps Anheuser was trying to ease the complications of running two businesses at once when he brought in Busch at the brewery and Peipers at the soap factory in 1864. This would make sense, given the historic events that added further complications to Anheuser’s already complicated business situation.

The Civil War broke out in 1861, the year after Anheuser took over the brewery. While many aspects of business were disrupted in St. Louis during the Civil War, there were certain advantages to selling beer there at this time. For example, many Union troops were stationed in the city. Although intoxicating beverages were banned from army camps, lager beer was not considered intoxicating by Union doctors. It was therefore a product sought after by Union soldiers. Also, the Federal arsenal was right down the street from the brewery (hence the name “Arsenal Street”), which probably gave Anheuser and D’Oench access to sell their wares to Union troops in the area, many of whom happened to be German. Even Anheuser’s soap business benefitted from the Union Army’s presence. For example, Anheuser was awarded an army contract for 100,000 lbs. of soap in 1865. Economic factors aside, many Germans felt the need to prove their loyalty to the Union. In fact, militias comprised mainly of German volunteers played a pivotal role in keeping St. Louis from falling to the Confederacy. Throughout the war, Germans continued to serve as a solid backbone for the support of the Union and the Republican Party in St. Louis. Eberhard Anheuser, his sons, and his sons-in-law were part of this backbone of support.

The Anheusers and Busches, like many German immigrants throughout St. Louis and the rest of Missouri, flocked to the Union cause. Many joined the Union Army to prove their loyalty to their new nation. This may have been a driving factor for Anheuser as well, as he had renounced his identity as a Prussian subject and became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1848. Anheuser joined his son William and son-in-law Adolphus Busch in a three-month enlistment in the Union home guard stationed in St. Louis, which was composed mainly of German immigrants. Missouri was a border state, where much of the native-born, white, American population was split on the issue of secession. About a month after the Civil War started, a company of several hundred secessionists formed in St. Louis at an encampment they named “Camp Jackson” after Missouri’s secessionist governor, Claiborne Fox Jackson. The secessionists at Camp Jackson surrendered after being surrounded by a large Union force which predominantly consisted of Germans in the home guard, including the regiment of Private Eberhard Anheuser and Corporal Adolphus Busch. Although the secessionists gave up without a fight, the Union soldiers were harassed by an angry mob as they marched their captives back to the federal arsenal. Shots were exchanged between the soldiers and the crowd, which set off a period of mob violence lasting through the next day, resulting in several troop and civilian casualties. Although it aroused anti-German sympathies among some of the city’s population, the capture of Camp Jackson helped save the city of St. Louis, and therefore a sizeable portion of the state of Missouri, for the Union.[34]

After his enlistment was up, Anheuser served on a committee that promised the support of the German Americans in St. Louis to General John C. Fremont, the Union military leader of Missouri in 1861. Anheuser also supported Fremont’s presidential bid in 1864, and contributed money publicly to help citizens suffering from the effects of the war in Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama.[35] After the war, Anheuser and his sons, like many St. Louis Germans, kept up ardent support for the Republican Party.[36] Therefore, when the Republican-led federal government called for a one dollar per barrel tax on beer, Anheuser and many other German brewers felt obliged to accept this measure as an act of loyalty, which substantially affected their profit margins, even if business was increasing. However, taxes were raised on other alcoholic beverages as well, so beer remained relatively cheap in comparison.

Production at Anheuser’s brewery more than doubled between 1862 and 1863, from 2,500 to 6,000 barrels. While this speaks to Anheuser’s managerial prowess, this level of growth was more than likely directly related to consumption by the Union troops garrisoned at the nearby federal arsenal. The brewery’s sales had been less than stellar thus far, causing production to stall between 1863 and 1864 and D’Oench to leave the partnership sometime during the latter year. Luckily, Anheuser already had a suitable replacement in Adolphus Busch, whose presence immediately changed the fate of the underperforming brewery.

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Keeping It in the Family

Family connections were important to Eberhard Anheuser. After immigrating to America, he maintained a relationship with his relatives in Germany, and visited them often. One of Eberhard Anheuser’s nephews, August Anheuser, stayed with him while studying business in America. August later went on to start a wine exporting company with Adolf Fehrs, named Anheuser & Fehrs, and used his American business connections with the Anheuser and Busch families to set up a thriving wine export trade to the United States. Along the same lines, Eberhard sent his son Adolf to Rohrer’s Commercial College in St. Louis, then gave him a position at the E. Anheuser & Co. brewery. Adolf served in the brewery until his death in 1886. As William was groomed by his father to serve in the soap business, it seems Adolf was groomed to serve in the brewery. He was employed by the brewery as a bookkeeper as early as 1865, and eventually served as a board member after inheriting some of his father’s stock from the brewery’s incorporation.[40] Unlike William, Adolf received a full share of his father’s estate. However, he never took over leadership of the brewery as William had in the soap factory. That role was filled by Adolphus Busch.

In the 1864 St. Louis City Directory, Adolphus Busch, Anheuser’s son-in-law, was listed as an owner alongside D’Oench and Anheuser. Although it is unclear how much of the brewery Busch owned or how active his partnership was at that point, it seems that he bought out D’Oench’s share fully by 1865. Like Anheuser, Busch was from a well-to-do family that did business on the Rhine. He hailed from Kastel (today known as Mainz-Kastel), in the province of Hesse, about forty miles upriver from Kreuznach. Busch’s merchant business, Wattenburg, Busch, and Co., specialized in providing brewery supplies, such as hops, malt, and barley to the breweries in St. Louis. Aside from this, Busch possessed a certain dynamism that made him an ideal candidate to revitalize Anheuser’s brewery. While many other businesses in St. Louis floundered due to the disruption of trade along the Mississippi River during the Civil War, Busch’s business flourished by engaging in the high risk/high reward cotton trade with steamboats making the dangerous trip between St. Louis and ports farther south.

Anheuser seems to have let Busch run the brewery, but the old man’s influence was still felt. He reportedly provided steady, sober advice and leadership that came from his years of experience, and possessed technical skills stemming from his education as a chemist. Busch was also an effective leader, but more of a salesman, innovator, and risk taker than Anheuser. Still yet, Anheuser seems to have been supportive of Busch’s new strategies, such as expanding the market into the Southwest to places like New Mexico and Texas, far away from the brewery’s staple customer base. He also allowed Busch to invest company money in important new innovations, like pasteurized bottled beer and refrigeration systems. Anheuser and Busch incorporated their business in 1875 as the E. Anheuser Brewing Association, Inc., which increased the amount of capital available and brought the prestige of a corporate title to the business. The partners agreed to expand the brewery continually with reinvested money from increased sales, so that the 8,000 barrels produced in 1865 shot to 141,163 by the time of Anheuser’s death in 1880. Using this strategy, the brewery grew so much that it received notice as a local landmark during Anheuser’s lifetime.

The way the shares were divvied up in the new corporation speaks to Busch’s dominant role. Although technically Anheuser was the president and Busch was the secretary of the new firm, Busch effectively served as the company head. Of the 480 total shares of stock, Anheuser kept 140, while Busch had 238, Lilly (Anheuser’s daughter and Busch’s wife) held 100, and their brewmaster was awarded 2. In 1879, the corporation was renamed the Anheuser-Busch Brewing Association to reflect the reality of Busch’s leadership role.

When Anheuser died on May 2, 1880, after a long struggle with throat cancer, these stock shares were valued at $500 apiece (approximately $11,300 in 2011$). Anheuser left 23 shares, worth $11,500 (approximately $261,000 in 2011$), and a total of $7,426.07 in cash (approximately $169,000 in 2011$) to his children Anna, Lilly, Minna, and Adolf. He set aside the same amount to Gustava Klier, the only child of his late daughter, Hermine. As previously mentioned, William received only one dollar in cash, while the full share of cash and stock that would have been his was eventually passed on to his children by two trustees, Eberhard’s sons-in-law Adolphus Busch and Peter Schoettler (minus the undisclosed amount Eberhard gave William earlier and the $5,000 that had been earmarked for the trustees to help care for William and his children).[44] While it was a common practice in the nineteenth century to subtract prior gifts to an heir from the total of his or her inheritance, the fact that Eberhard kept the remainder of the share out of William’s hands is evidence that the difficulties between the two went beyond mere matters of financial indebtedness.

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Immigrant Entrepreneurship: Between Two Worlds

Eberhard Anheuser reportedly had a significant presence in the brewery until 1877, when he retired due to mounting health problems. He apparently possessed an “old world” mentality when it came to advertising, which impacted how his brewery conducted business. While advertising in print was unfashionable with many of the older, more firmly established breweries, the developing trend among modern brewers was to flood the pages of newspapers with ever more elaborate advertisements. Anheuser preferred to advertise the old way. According to this way of thinking, visuals, such as posters, were meant to be kept onsite at cooperating drinking establishments, where they continually advertised for free, as opposed to appearing in recurring newspaper ads, which cost money. Although Adolphus Busch would eventually alter the company’s advertising formula in the years after Anheuser’s death, it seems he at first agreed with the older man’s policies concerning print advertising. Until the turn of the century, the company focused more on advertising in person. They used fine horses (although not the Clydesdales associated with the corporation today) and freshly painted wagons to make a public spectacle of the delivery of Anheuser-Busch beer, handed out trinkets, and exploited publicity from the awards their beers won in the numerous fairs and expositions that erupted throughout major American and Western European cities from the 1870s onward. Most importantly, though, Anheuser and Busch hired talented and well-compensated beer agents who treated patrons to free drinks and offered credit to proprietors in drinking establishments in order to secure outlets for their product and develop a loyal consumer base at the personal level.

It would not be accurate to say that Anheuser-Busch did not utilize the power of print advertising effectively during Anheuser’s lifetime. The company just harnessed this power in unique ways that kept advertising expenses down. For example, on the day Anheuser died, the weekly copy of the leading German newspaper was flooded with advertisements from the city’s breweries. Some of these advertisements were quite large and ostentatious, and most likely cost a fair amount to keep running constantly in print. Yet, an ad from Anheuser-Busch is nowhere to be found. Instead, the company appears in an article in the main text of the paper. It reads, “Anheuser-Busch Brewing Association is without a doubt on the same level as the most important breweries in the city after this year’s demonstration. The unparalleled success of this brewery is most strikingly demonstrated by the following figures….” The article then goes on to show that the brewery’s sales had more than quadrupled to 112,145 barrels in the year between April 30, 1879, and April 30, 1880, when compared with the 26,639 barrels sold in the year between April 30, 1875, and April 30, 1876. The release of these newsworthy statistics basically resulted in free advertising.[46] Likewise, although the brewery sometimes ran ads for short stints publicizing awards won at certain expositions, it relied mostly on the free attention generated from such accolades, such as newspaper articles. It was not until after Anheuser’s death that Anheuser-Busch began to run newspaper ads more regularly, and began to place ads in national magazines. Even then, it was a slow transition. The one exception to the advertisement policy was Anheuser and Busch’s mutual friend Tony Faust, a restaurateur who advertised regularly in the papers and sometimes included advertisements (which were probably paid for jointly by Anheuser-Busch) promoting Anheuser-Busch beer at his establishments. In sum, though, print advertisements for the brewery remained irregular and small in scale until several years after Anheuser’s death.

Anheuser seems like a man caught between two worlds. Both of the industries in which he participated remained relatively small-scale, local concerns through the 1860s. Although Anheuser left the soap industry before much had changed, the brewing industry changed mightily between when he took over the Bavarian Brewery in 1860 and his death in 1880. Improved technology, massive immigration, rising urbanization, the growing network of interconnected shipping and rail lines, and the embrace of modern industrial processes led to a trend of increased production, competition, and continuous expansion among the nation’s top breweries. What started off as a small-scale industry dependent on a locally-based, ethnic clientele, where competition was often limited to individual saloons and restaurants near neighborhood boundaries, was morphing into an increasingly national and international industry composed of a dwindling number of rapidly expanding breweries locked in an increasingly competitive struggle to secure as much of the market as possible. The national statistics give evidence of this pattern. In 1870, 3,286 brewers produced 5,093,300 barrels of beer in America. In 1880, 2,266 brewers produced 12,800,900 barrels. In 1900, 1,751 brewers produced 39,330,000 barrels. The same trend seems evident in St. Louis. The production statistics of Anheuser-Busch alone show that the 2,500 barrels produced in 1862 had grown to 141,163 in 1880, and 939,768 in 1900. Likewise, the city had forty-three breweries known to be in operation in 1860, twenty-five in 1880, and twenty-three in 1900.

Anheuser-Busch did not begin to compete seriously at the national level until after Anheuser’s death. At the time of Anheuser’s retirement in 1877, his brewery was not yet even in the top twenty largest national brewers, and was only the second largest in St. Louis. It was not until 1885, five years after Anheuser’s death, that Anheuser-Busch finally outpaced its closest local competitor, Anheuser’s friend William J. Lemp’s Western Brewery, to become the largest brewer in St. Louis. Yet, the industrial changes that Anheuser-Busch embraced to become the undisputed leader in American brewing by the turn of the century, such as aggressive expansion of the brewery’s production capacity, the adoption of innovative new technologies, and the development of new markets, were already having a major impact during Anheuser’s lifetime. The keys to national and international competition between shipping brewers were in the utilization of refrigerated railroad cars (pulled by a train) and railcars (self-propelled individual train cars) on the ever-expanding American railroad network, and the mass production and shipping of pasteurized bottled beer. By the late 1870s, Midwestern shipping brewers from St. Louis, Milwaukee, and Cincinnati were competing in various cities as far apart as Los Angeles, Dallas, New Orleans, Memphis, Chicago, Philadelphia, New York, and Washington, D.C. By 1878, Anheuser-Busch was regularly shipping kegs of beer to various places around the country in refrigerated railroad cars on various railways, and also had a private fleet of 110 refrigerated railcars, which at any time could deliver beer to any place in the country connected to St. Louis by a rail line with ice depots along the route. On the other hand, pasteurized bottled beer could be shipped anywhere, and the marketplace became international for any brewery with access to a bottling works and reliable trade links to a major port, such as New Orleans. In 1878, Anheuser-Busch and Lemp were already competing on a limited scale in various port cities in South and East Asia, Australia, Hawaii, South America, the Caribbean Islands, and Western Europe.

Only about a year after Anheuser’s death, the consequences of all this increased production and competition hit Anheuser-Busch and the rest of the St. Louis brewing industry. In June of 1881, overtaxed workers initiated the city’s first brewery strike for better wages and shorter hours, which set the tone for the decade. A few months later, the Winkelmeyer brewery, one of the largest and most important in the city, cut its price from eight to seven dollars a barrel, due to pressure from rising competition with other brewers in the city. This violated a long-running price setting agreement among the cities brewers, and started a domino effect of retaliatory price-cutting that involved almost all of the city’s breweries within a day. Although the strike failed and the price agreement was soon restored, these events, which occurred so soon after Anheuser’s death, bear witness to the trends that had begun during his career in the brewing industry.

Social Status and Personality: They Called Him Papa

Because of his economic position, Anheuser had a significant presence in the German community near his brewery. German immigrant laborers, who provided almost all of the workforce in the city’s breweries, tended to cluster together in small ethnic communities, often living in boarding houses or apartments within walking distance of where they were employed. The salaries paid to Anheuser’s employees helped fund the churches, schools, and social institutions that strengthened the cultural bonds among the German community in this area. Anheuser himself also supported these institutions. For example, he invested in the local Germania Club and the Concordia Turners Hall that was located just down the street from his brewery. This helped make Anheuser a prominent social figure in the community.

Anheuser was also socially prominent among St. Louis’s German population as a whole. This was common for brewers. The consumption of beer was one of the culturally uniting factors in the scattered and divided St. Louis German-American ethnic community. While many Anglo-Americans promoted a somewhat Puritanical view of Sunday Sabbath observance, German Americans were conspicuous in their penchant for Sunday parties, organizational gatherings, picnics, and social engagements in local saloons. Because of the Sunday “blue laws” which restricted public gatherings deemed disruptive to the observance of the Sabbath and the sale and public consumption of alcohol in the city limits, many in the German-American ethnic community either headed to the outskirts of the city to parks and other open places to drink and recreate freely, or openly flouted the laws by going to a saloon. Many of these parks, open spaces, and saloons were owned and operated by German-American brewers. Consequently, several brewers became prominent leaders and organizers of recreational events and organizations in the German-American community.[54] Many St. Louis Germans saw Anheuser as a paternal figure, and referred to him as “Papa Anheuser.” E. Anheuser & Co. was the biggest financial supporter of the city’s Saengerfest, an immensely popular singing competition held between ethnically German singing groups. Anheuser was a supporter and the oldest member of the Modoc Club, a rowing club filled with German citizens who honored Anheuser by naming a barge after him and providing an expensive floral work at his funeral. He also held a position of notability and respect among the brewers in St. Louis and in the national community of brewers. When Anheuser was too ill to attend the annual convention of the United States Brewing Association in 1879, a unanimous resolution of regret was passed.

Conclusion

In some ways, Eberhard Anheuser seems stereotypical when compared to other German-American immigrants and entrepreneurs in the mid- to late nineteenth century. Although he was middle-aged and married upon immigrating, which was uncommon, Anheuser, like most German immigrants in this period, likely left Germany for economic reasons, and ended up settling in areas with large populations of ethnic Germans. Although he had business contacts outside of the German community, most of his business partnerships in St. Louis were with other ethnic Germans, and he depended on German immigrants for his labor pool. Anheuser’s children all married spouses of German descent, and nearly all had business ties with him. Like many of his contemporaries, Anheuser’s economic and social status made him a leading figure in the local German community.

On the other hand, Eberhard Anheuser epitomizes a time of transition in an important American industry. Anheuser made the fortuitous decision to become a brewer shortly after American consumer trends changed to embrace the product he was making. As a response to the increased demand for lager beer after 1840, several little breweries, like the one Anheuser took over, were started in German communities, which provided the workforce and the initial consumer base for the industry. While the industry’s labor force and leaders remained predominantly ethnically German, beer was changing from a niche product aimed at local ethnic consumers into a widely embraced, nationally and internationally marketed product. The industrial processes that promoted the expansion of large-scale operations in other industries altered powerfully the brewing industry during the time of Eberhard Anheuser’s career. Adolphus Busch was more personally responsible for the Anheuser-Busch Brewing Association’s transition into an industrial giant, and thus is a symbol for the new era in the brewing industry. However, Eberhard Anheuser was at least part of the process, and serves as a symbol of the transition between the two eras in American brewing. His tenure as an entrepreneur is exemplary of a changing business climate, in which increased production and growing competition between firms expanding continually made it harder for smaller businesses, like the one he took over in 1860, to compete. In short, Anheuser began his American entrepreneurial career in one era and ended it in another.

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An ad from 1879.

Beer Birthday: Stan Hieronymus

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Today is fellow beer writer and blogger extraordinaire Stan Hieronymus’ 68th birthday. Stan’s most recent book is Brewing Local: American-Grown Beer, followed closely by For the Love of Hops and Brewing with Wheat, among many others. He recently moved to a suburb of St. Louis, Missouri, where he continues to write the Real Beer blog, Beer Therapy, along with Appellation Beer, Beer Travelers, and Postcards from a Barstool, and Brew Like a Monk, the blog. Stan does not like being reminded of his birthday, so be sure to join me in wishing Stan a very happy birthday.

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Fearing I would run a ten-year old photo of him taken at the Seattle CBC, he sent me this one a couple of years ago. Here’s Stan at Cantillon in Brussels. Thanks, Stan, I like this one, too.

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Stan and his family, Daria and Sierra, with their motorhome in our driveway during a brief visit during their trip.

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Stan with CCBA director Tom McCormick at Great Divide during GABF week 2009.

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Me and Stan at the grueling World Beer Award judging session in Chicago a few years ago.

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Daniel Bradford, Stan and me on a panel discussion at GABF a couple of years ago.

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Four out of Five, the Cilurzos and a Stan. From Left: Natalie Cilurzo, Stan, Vinnie’s mother and father, and Vinnie Cilurzo at the World Beer Cup gala dinner in 2008.

Historic Beer Birthday: Lilly Anheuser

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

Beer Birthday: Jeremy Danner

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Today is the 35th 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.

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Jeremy and me, finally meeting at GABF last fall.

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

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

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

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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

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Today is the 59th birthday 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.

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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

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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.

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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:

Introduction

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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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Conclusion

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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

Busch, Adolphus
1839-1913
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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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: M.K. Goetz

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Today is the birthday of Michael Karl Goetz (January 16, 1833-August 11, 1901), who was born in Ingenheim, Alsace, in what today is Germany. He founded the
M. K. Goetz & Co. in 1859, which was located at 603 Albemarle Street (at 6th Street), in St. Joseph, Missouri. It was later known as simply the M. K. Goetz Brewing Co. before prohibition closed it down. The brewery was granted permit L-15 allowing the production of de-alcoholized beer.

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They came out of prohibition intact and resumed brewing there until 1961, when they merged with and became a division of Pearl Brewing Co. of San Antonio, Texas. In 1936, the opened a second facility in Kansas City, which operated for twenty years before closing in 1956. In 1976, Pearl closed the St. Joseph brewery and shifted production to Texas.

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Find A Grave has a short biography of Michael K. Goetz:

Business owner of The M.K. Goetz Brewery, Michael Karl Goetz was a German immigrant who stopped in St. Joseph, Mo., on the way to the California gold fields and decided to stay. He established his own brewery in a small frame building after working a few months for another brewer. When he died in 1901 his four sons carried on. The company, organized in 1859, was 101 years under the management of the Goetz family.

The company started making plans for its Kansas City plant immediately after prohibition. Cost of the building was $750,000.

At its peak the brewery, specializing in draught beer, turned out over 150,000 barrels annually. When the demand for bottled, canned and packaged beer products increased, Goetz shifted its operations in KC in the 1960s.

Goetz merged with the Pearl Brewing Company of San Antonio, Tex., in the 1960s. Today the old Goetz building is gone. The site is now used as a parking facility for the Catalogue Distribution Center of Sears Roebuck & Company.

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Vintage Kansas City has a number of great views of both Goetz breweries.

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Unfortunately, I was unable to find any photographs or images of Goetz himself. The Genealogy History Trails, for Buchanan County, Missouri Biographies has a fuller biography of Goetz:

Michael Karl Goetz. A large and distinctive contribution to the manufacturing and business prosperity of St. Joseph was made by the late M. K. Goetz, founder and for many years president of M. K. Goetz Brewing Company, an enterprise which was built up from very small beginnings and which represented in its extent and in its standards of excellence for its productiveness the thoroughness and worthy character of its founder.

The late Michael Karl Goetz was born in Alsace-Lorraine, Germany, but then a province of France, January 16, 1833, a son of Michael K. and Mary C. (Koel) Goetz. The father died at the age of twenty-eight in the same year of the birth of the son. The mother also lived out her life in Germany, and she had two children, the daughter also spending her life in the old country.

The late St. Joseph brewer and citizen during his youth attended school steadily, and was well prepared for a career of usefulness. As his mother earnestly desired him not to join the army, as soon as he became of military age he left Germany, and on June 24, 1854, embarked on a sailing vessel, named the Connecticut, at Havre, France, and at the end of sixty days was landed in New York City. From there he proceeded to Buffalo, New York, where he had a cousin in the grocery business. Under his employ he not only learned the details of the grocery trade, but also acquired a familiarity with the customs and language of the new world, and remained in Buffalo until 1857.

When he started west in that year it was his intention to continue to the Pacific coast and seek his fortunes in the great mining section of California. By railroad and by steamboat he got as far as St. Joseph, which was then a small but flourishing frontier city, and its advantages appealed to him so strongly that he determined to stay, and that was the beginning of a continued residence of more than forty years. Henry Nunning was at that time proprietor of a small brewery in St. Joseph, and Mr. Goetz took a position in the plant and worked there ten months. He was industrious and observing and quickly learned the details of the business, and in 1859 was prepared for an independent venture along the same lines. With J. J. Max he erected a small frame building at the corner of Sixth and Albemarle streets, and there on a small scale, but with infinite care and with close supervision over the character and excellence of products, the first Goetz beer was brewed. While the business was started on a small scale, Mr. Goetz employed scientific principles and is said to have been one of the first really scientific brewers in the West.

He manufactured a beer which by its very excellence quickly became popular, and needed little exploitation to increase the trade. The plant now occupies several blocks of ground, and is equipped with all the most modern machinery and appliances. Mr. Max continued in partnership with Mr. Goetz until 1881, and the latter then became sole proprietor. In 1895 the business was incorporated under the name of M. K. Goetz Brewing Company, and the founder of the business became president of the corporation, and continued its active direction until his death on August 11, 1901. In 1885 an ice plant was installed, and the Goetz Brewing Company was one of the first in the West to undertake the manufacture of artificial ice. His success as a brewer was also extended to his investments and interests in other affairs, and he acquired a large amount of city real estate, including both business and residence property.

At St. Joseph the late Mr. Goetz married Caroline Wilhelmina Klink. She was born in Leutenbach, Wuertemberg, in March, 1844. Christian T. Klink, her father, also a native of Wuertemberg, in 1853 brought his family to America, coming by sail vessel and, after a voyage lasting several weeks, landing at New Orleans. Thence they came up the river to St. Joseph. At that time St. Joseph was without railroad communication, and comparatively speaking the country was still in the state of a wilderness. Christian Klink bought a tract of land in township 56, range 35, situated about ten miles south of the St. Joseph courthouse. The only improvements on the land when he bought it were a log house and a few acres of cleared ground. He established his family in that home, bent his efforts towards increasing the area of plowed fields, and remained one of the substantial and practical farmers of Buchanan County until his death. There were eleven children in the Klink family. Mrs. Goetz, who was nine years old when she came to America, had a good memory for scenes and events in the old country home, and also recalled many incidents concerning the struggles and hardships of the early settlers in Buchanan County. She died about six months after her husband, in March, 1902.

The valuable business interests built up and founded by the late Mr. Goetz are now continued and managed by his children. There are six children, namely: Emma, William L., Frank L., Albert R., Henry E., and Anna L. Emma is the wife of Theodore Benkendorf, and has one son, Theodore. William L., who is a graduate of the American Brewing Academy, is president of the M. K. Goetz Brewing Company, and by his marriage to Anna L. Pate has two sons, Wilfred L. and Horace Raymond. Frank L., who graduated from Ritner’s College, in St. Joseph, learned the trade of machinist at St. Louis, is now vice president of the company, and has charge of the mechanical department. He married Lena Meierhoefer, and their three children are Mildred, Michael K. and Ernestine Frances. The son Albert, also a graduate of Ritner’s College, in St. Joseph, is secretary and treasurer of the company, and married Flora Widmeier. Henry is assistant secretary and treasurer of the company, and married Inez Moore. Anna, the youngest, married E. A. Sunderlin, and they have four children—Caroline, Eugene, Robert and Van Roesler. The late Michael K. Goetz was an active member of the St. Joseph Turnverein, and both he and his wife worshiped in the German Evangelical church and reared their children in the same religious belief and practices.

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Goetz’s most famous beer, especially in the 1959s was Country Club, which was a malt liquor.

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