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.

Beer In Ads #1519: A Friend You Can Depend On


Wednesday’s ad is for Griesedieck Bros. Brewery, from 1939. It’s a bit of a dull ad, and that background is a sickly yellow color. Although I do love that the beer is not just mellow, but double-mellow. It’s “made mellow in the brewing, kept mellow by the removal of air in the bottle.” The ad copy just keeps getting better, which at least partly makes up for the lousy graphics. “It’s always first for thirst, always right for real refreshment.” Just saying the brewery’s name — if you can even pronounce it — is “the passport to pleasure.”

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Beer In Ads #530: Christian Staerlin’s Phienix Brewery


Friday’s ad is old one, undoubtedly from the 19th century. It’s for a St. Louis brewery, the oddly named Christian Staerlin’s Phienix Brewery. I love these old industrial illustrated love letters, showing large, gleaming colorful industrial complexes. They seem to have been quite common at one time. I wonder if anyone’s ever done a survey of all of them. Now that would be a cool coffee-table book.

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Urban Chestnut Brewery To Open In St. Louis By Former A-B Brewer

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This is excellent news. I just got an e-mail from Florian Kuplent, one of my favorite brewers at A-B (including Mitch Steele, of course). His Bavarian Wheat beer is/was divine. Last week he left A-B and along with fellow ex-A-B employee David Wolfe to open a new craft brewery in St. Louis. The new brewery, Urban Chestnut Brewing, will be located at 3229 Washington Avenue, “in an old 1920’s garage that has been outfitted to accommodate our ‘new world meets old world’ brewery’ in a district of St. Louis known as Midtown Alley.”
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From the press release:

Urban Chestnut Brewing Company (UCBC), an unconventional-minded yet tradition-oriented brewer of craft beer, is excited to announce its plans to open a micro-brewery in the Midtown Alley district of St. Louis, MO. UCBC plans to brew and distribute its draught and bottled beers to local restaurants, bars, grocery and liquor stores and other retail establishments in the St. Louis area.

Scheduled to launch in late 2010, UCBC is operated by two former Anheuser-Busch employees: Florian Kuplent, UCBC’s brewmaster, and David Wolfe, UCBC’s marketing and sales principal.

Co-founders Kuplent and Wolfe believe their passion for craft beer coupled with their unique expertise in creating, brewing and marketing beer will bring a fresh approach to the local craft beer market in St. Louis. The pair also shares a passion for local community development. By using local ingredients in their beer and food offerings whenever possible, and by partnering with local businesses and non-profit organizations, UCBC hopes to contribute to St Louis’ progression as a strong and vibrant local craft beer community and community as a whole.

  • UCBC will look to distinguish itself from other craft breweries through its unique brewing philosophy, Beer Divergencya ‘new world meets old world’ brewing approach wherein UCBC contributes to the ‘revolution’ of craft beer through artisanal creations of modern American beers, and pays ‘reverence’ to the heritage of beer with classically-crafted offerings of timeless, European beer styles.
  • Their philosophy is shaped around co-founder Florian’s lifelong passion for the culture and tradition of brewing and his dedication to the art and science of brewing. A German-born and educated brewmaster, Florian brings two decades of brewing expertise to UCBC. His career in brewing has spanned small and large brewers in the U.S, Germany, Belgium and England and his beers have won awards at the Great American Beer Festival, the North American Beer Awards and SIBA Wheat Beer Challenge. Florian is active in the brewing community serving as a judge at national and international beer festivals, as a contributor to brewing publications and as a member of various brewing clubs. It is his passion for creating new, artisanal beers coupled with his background rooted in the heritage and culture of beer that has helped to form UCBC’s brewing philosophy Beer Divergency. “In launching UCBC, my vision is to delve into both th3 exploration of modern, American craft beer and the traditions of old world brewing, simultaneously. It is the fusion of these two brewing cultures, new and old, that has shaped our brewing philosophy of ‘Beer Divergency’— embracing the revolution of American craft beer, while simultaneously appreciating the heritage of European beer,” Florian shares.
  • UCBC will work to contribute to St. Louis’ evolution in local craft beer by adding to the number of small, local brewers who distribute their beer in bottles. The co-founders believe St. Louis is a burgeoning local craft beer community that unquestionably boasts a significant community of knowledgeable craft beer drinkers and has a proud and active base of small brewers. UCBC sees an opportunity to add to the overall growth of and appreciation for local craft beer, by bottling and selling their beer at establishments all over town. Wolfe, who grew up in St. Louis, comments, “As UCBC prepares to join the community of small, St. Louis area brewers who are already contributing to the culture of local craft beer, we are excited to begin packaging our beer in both bottles and kegs, and we look forward to collaborating with as many local merchants as possible to reach as many beer drinkers as we can.”

Beyond distributing their beer, UCBC will have a taste room and outdoor biergarten where guests can enjoy UCBC beers and other locally brewed craft beers accompanied by small food pairings. Wolfe remarks, “Our taste room & biergarten won’t quite be the traditional brewpub. I like to tell people, ‘think wine bar for beer’; a casual place to hangout and experience a selection of local craft beers accompanied by small plates of cheeses, meats, and other little eats that pair well with beer.” Kuplent adds, “It is my goal to bring a little bit of Bavaria to UCBC. While our taste room will have a touch of old-world feel, our biergarten is where we’re trying to create an authentic, German beer-drinking experience by importing biergarten tables from Europe and planting shade-giving chestnut trees.”

The Urban Chestnut name is also derived from its philosophy of “Beer Divergency”; Urban—a nod to the locales of the modern craft beer revolution and Chestnut—a symbol of the heritage and tradition of beer; the chestnut tree has been utilized by Bavarian brewers for centuries to give shade to their biergartens and bierkellers.

According to the website, they’ll be doing two series of beers:

Revolution Series: Our contribution to the renaissance of craft beer—brewing artisanal, modern American beers.

Reverence Series: Our celebration of beer’s heritage—brewing classically-crafted, timeless European beer styles.

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Ouch, ABIB Begans New Round Of Layoffs

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Ouch, according to St. Louis Today, Anheuser Busch InBev has announced layoffs of 90 key people, including four vice-presidents. Some of the people let go “included workers responsible for handling every facet of the brewer’s national sales.” Though the layoffs were spread among 25 states, HQ in Missouri lost the most — 17 — and California lost 12, the second highest number by state. An inside source told the St. Louis newspaper they believe about 450 U.S. jobs will be cut over the next few months. Current President, Dave Peacock, told reporters that the cuts were designed to make ABIB “optimally organized and as efficient as possible,” as meaningless a bit of gobbledygook business-speak as I’ve heard in quite some time. Wasn’t this exactly what InBev said they would not do when they were courting the sale? But cost-cutting is classic InBev behavior, as we saw before the sale and have continued to see afterward, too. It comes as no surprise to anyone who’s been paying attention to their actions, and not their homilies, for the last several years. Now, with more cuts coming, you have a workforce that’s scared for their own jobs, not exactly the work environment anyone would enjoy. Maybe it will make some perform better, work harder, to save their livelihoods but in the end all it does is breed resentment and will likely be ABIB’s ultimate undoing, at least until the next bigger corporation swoops in and buys them.

Brewery Porn From Schlafly

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I just saw this Re-Tweeted and I can’t pass up brewery porn. The photographs are of the St. Louis Brewery a.k.a. Schlafly Beer and were taken by a woman calling herself Truckey. The slideshow below is from her Flickr account and all the photographs can be purchased. According to her Flickr gallery page, “prices range from $10-$200, and range in size from 5×7 to 24×36. I can do matte, lustre, glossy or pearle paper, or even print on canvas!” There’s some beautiful shots there. They’d look great framed on your wall. But for now, enjoy the porn!