St. Louis, Missouri may be renowned for many things including the St. Louis Cardinals MLB team, the St. Louis Zoo and of course the spectacular architectural design of the Gateway Arch but for me the most iconic reason for visiting the ‘Gateway to the West’ is the Anheuser-Busch Brewery – Home of Budweiser!
We visited the Anheuser-Busch Brewery in 2013 and everything about the landmark impressed us enough to want to revisit this on our recent trip to St. Louis. Firstly, the most impressive aspect of this location is that the tour around the brewery is absolutely FREE!
Not only do you get to learn about the history of beer production in St. Louis but also you are taken on a scenic tour of the active brewery grounds and learn about all the various stages that go into the fermentation and brewing of those chilled beers sitting in your refrigerator.
History of Anheuser-Busch
Without giving away all the details of the introduction of the Anheuser-Busch Brewery tour, here is a brief history on how this global brand came about. In the mid 19th Century, Eberhard Anheuser became part owner of the Bavarian Brewery despite having no previous experience in the brewing industry. He initially moved to the St. Louis area in the soap manufacturing industry but first opened the doors to the new brewing company in 1852.
His partner in crime, Adolphus Busch arrived in St. Louis and met Anheuser’s daughter and soon became married to her. Busch started working with his father-in-law, Anheuser and shortly after became a partner in the brewing company.
Over the years to come, Busch played an integral part in implementing new technologies to improve the overall brewing process and in 1879 his work was recognized when the company was renamed Anheuser-Busch Brewing Association. The brewing company became the leading US brewer in 1957 and has maintained this position to this day. The most recent change occurred in 2008 when Anheuser-Busch merged with InBev to become Anheuser-Busch InBev which is now the world’s largest brewer.
Anheuser-Busch Admission and Introduction
As I mentioned earlier, and of course why not reiterate it again, the tour of Anheuser-Busch is free! One of the issues when you first arrive is finding a parking spot though there are several parking lots available but be prepared to drive around to find a spot, especially if you are visiting during the middle of the day on a weekend as we did.
Entering the Anheuser-Busch visitor center, you are greeted by someone asking if you want to take the free tour. We immediately responded of course but were quickly warned that the next available tour started at 1:20PM. Given that it was 11:30AM, that meant quite a substantial wait but we chose to do and he gave us some snazzy looking Natty Light (for our non-US followers, Natural Light is one of the cheapest beers here in USA and honestly one of the worst I have ever tasted!) tickets.
So what can you do for almost 2 hours in the visitor center? Well, you may think about trying to skip the lines and join one of the earlier tours but you will quickly realize this isn’t going to work as each tour has a specific ‘beer’ associated with the tour and I can confirm they DO check your tickets prior to leaving for the tour.
However, there is plenty to do and explore inside the visitor center that will help pass the time. Check out the souvenir store that provides a vast array of memorabilia including t-shirts, magnets, various glasses and of course different beers for purchase.
Throughout the visitor center are exhibits that provide more detailed history of Anheuser-Busch and of course the highlight is the old Budweiser delivery truck that is situated in the heart of the center and understandably gains a lot of visitor attention!
The time arrives when your brewery tour is about to start. Everyone congregates in the back corner of the visitor center and your tour guide gives you a brief history of the Anheuser-Busch Brewery along with a few basic guidelines and instructions of what to expect on the tour.
After verifying your ticket is valid, you head out with the second tour guide (each tour involves two guides that interact frequently and are very knowledgeable of the brewery both in it’s current form and the history) to one of the most popular stops on the tour – the Budweiser Clydesdale horses.
Seeing the Clydesdale’s wandering around in their paddock is really cool especially as they are Heather’s favorite species of horse. You learn about how you can visit nearby Grant’s Farm to see many more of these horses in their natural habitat as they are groomed and nurtured into the iconic Budweiser symbol.
Primarily used for commercials and promotions, the Clydesdale’s really are an integral part of this companies history and future initiatives.
Heading beyond the paddock takes you into the the Clydesdale stables where you can see iconic carriages that these horses typically pull along with more home settings of these horses.
The Brewing Process
The remainder of the tour takes you through a variety of buildings showing you the various stages in the brewing process.
Learning about all the various ingredients that go into the making of your perfect Budweiser is explained in detail and the tour ends in the cooling rooms where the lager is stored and cooled until it is ready to go through the bottling/packing process.
Of course the highlight of this tour has to be the free beer tasting that is available. As you make your way through the tour, there is an opportunity to sample a free Bud Light, Budweiser, Shock Top or other beer and you also receive a free chip for a beer at the end of the tour in the Anheuser-Busch Biergarten (Beer Garden).
Cheers Anheuser-Busch for making this whole experience a really memorable one and definitely a part of St. Louis that I would encourage everyone to experience at least once! Trust me, you will want to go back once you have been there.
Have you taken any brewery tours around the world before?