Last Updated on December 4, 2016 by Jody Halsted
Neither Doug or I drink beer but a “not be be missed” stop while in St. Louis is the Anheuser Busch brewery. Located just off of I-55 the brewery is very easy to get to and is a great stop for the family (yes, really!).
Tours are free, first come first served. We didn’t have to wait long on a Friday afternoon in the summer- about 10 minutes- but I am told the wait can be longer on weekends. As you wait you can browse Anheuser Busch history which began in 1852 as the Bavarian brewery. In 1860 it was acquired by Eberhard Anheuser and renamed it E. Anheuser & Co. In 1864, his son-in-law, Adolphus Busch, joined the company which would one day become Anheuser-Busch. The stein collection is quite beautiful and the Budweiser delivery truck piqued the interest of my daughters. I was especially interested in the prohibition advertising.
Our tour began with two guides and the warning that the tour involved about 7 city blocks of walking. First stop: the famous Budweiser Clydesdales.
These horses are practically the symbol of Budweiser and live in high style. The first Clydesdales were a gift to August Busch, Sr. from his sons to commemorate the repeal of prohibition. It didn’t take long for the appeal of a horse-drawn beer wagon to catch on. Today A-B owns about 250 Clydesdales and keeps them in high style. Their stable is one of the oldest buildings on brewery land and the wood, marble and stained glass gleam. The lead hitch is kept in this stable and the horses seem to stand tall with pride.
Throughout the tour much mention of the 1904 World’s Fair is mentioned. Many of the chandeliers you see came from there- including this one in the stable.
If you only came to see the Clydesdales you can leave the tour now and head back to the hospitality room.
Continuing on you’ll view the Beechwood Aging Cellars- row upon row of huge vats filled with beer. Brenna was worried that one would “suck her up” as it was rather noisy and smelled of fermentation. She was relieved as we left. We decided that “Brenna beer” probably wouldn’t be too tasty.
We moved on to the Brew House, the center of the brewery. Here we learned how Budweiser is made. When our guide Jim asked if there were any questions Brenna piped up with, “Daddy drinks beer sometimes.” Not really a question but it got a laugh from the others in the tour. Jim played it off well asking, “Anyone else here drink beer sometimes?”
We then rode in one of the most spectacular elevators I have ever seen to the most ornate brewing floor- possibly in the world. Tile, marble, brass and silver all gleamed. And two more chandeliers from the World’s Fair, these multi-story hopvines, hung from at least two floors above. It was incredible.
As we exited the Brew House we were told to look at the figures perched on the pillars outside.
These represent Anheuser Busch during the years of prohibition when the company produced items like ice cream, ginger ale, root beer, Bevo, truck bodies, bakers yeast and Budweiser with no alcohol.
We next walked past the Lyon School which once served the southern and western ends of St. Louis. All the children of Adolphus Busch attended school here. When the city no longer neede the school it was sold to Anheuser Busch and became the central offices.
Next was the Bevo Packaging Plant which now wears the Budweiser neon. Bevo was a “near beer”, called a “cereal beverage” at the time, brewed during prohibition and marketed using the character Renard the Fox, who perches on the corners of the building a mug of Bevo in one paw, turkey leg in the other.
On your way out make a stop in the gift shop. Plenty of Budweiser and Anheuser Busch related merchandise to choose from. Not so much for the kids, though the girls did manage to adopt “Dale” and “FireDog”.
September – April : Mon – Sat 10am – 4pm; Sun 11:30 am – 4 pm
May : Mon – Sat 9 am – 4 pm; Sun 11:30 am – 4 pm
June – August : Mon – Sat 9 am – 5 pm; Sun 11:30 am – 5 pm
Gift shop closes 90 minutes after last tour. Check for a coupon here.
The tour is ADA accessible but does include quite a bit of walking.
See the calendar for Clydesdale Camera Day and holiday closings.
Also associated with Anheuser Busch is Grant’s Farm, about 10 miles away. Admission to Grant’s Farm is free but parking is $11. Here you’ll see more Clydesdales as well as other animals roaming free in Deer Park, General Ulysses S. Grant’s log cabin, the Bauernhof, and the Busch family’s collection of carriages- among other things.