Anheuser-Busch Factory Tour–St. Louis

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It’s not that I’m ungrateful.  I’m getting fairly used to touring craft breweries, with small staffs who are, or appear to be, ardent supporters of their beer.  Anheuser-Busch isn’t that.  It’s massive, and had my iPhone retained the notes I typed in, I could list the production from this single brewery.  As a whole, the company has 47.6% of domestic beer sales to retailers (which excludes the growing market of direct to consumer sales), and internationally they’re a top 5 consumer products company.

The good news is that tours are offered every 15 minutes, they’re free, they include a free beer at the end, and they take only an hour or so. To accommodate the many who come, there is, of course, a dedicated staff to handle the tours.

That said, the presentation, at least by the two guides I went with, was so pat with the routine recitation that there was no life to it at all, though they were happy to engage when asked questions while walking.
You begin in what I’ll call the Welcome Center, which has the expected brand bric-a-brac and souvenir sales facility.  It’s nicely done.

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Almost immediately following is a tour of the stables for their famous Clydesdales.  Built in 1885, it’s on the National Historic Landmark register, but, oddly, doesn’t smell much like horses. 

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It’s a circular building, with several horses in residence – they’re rotated through here and other facilities but raised at a nearby farm.

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After that, the production tour begins.

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The tanks to the left are massive, and they’re several rows deep and stories high.  Each holds enough beer to fill 200,000 six packs.At the end is a small exhibit of the beechwood used in aging the beer. 

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You can see below that they’ve done a nice job in keeping the brick color similar to the historic buildings.  The buildings from the 1800’s are said to be “Romanesque.”

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A small tasting occurs early in the tour.  Bud or Bud Lite.

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Shortly afterwards, the servers are working hard, waiting for the next group in 15 minutes.

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So, back to where I began.  I don’t particularly care for their brand of beers – they’re bland to my taste.  I was just surprised that that the narrative was similarly ho-hum, when it could be heard at all. Instead, the buildings do much of the talking, and they have a lot to say.  Iron, tile... they just don’t build production facilities like these anymore.

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Below is the Bevo Packaging plant, constructed in 1917.

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The fox “gargoyles” overlooking the grounds, munching on chicken legs and holding mugs of Bevo, a nonalcohol beverage that the company made during Prohibition.

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Below is the fairly ornate lobby to the Bevo building.

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Otherwise, it looks like a production facility.

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The stop at the end of the walk (and the return bus ride from the bottling plant):

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Caught this one on walkabout as I was headed to my car.

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For a giant multi-national, it’s somewhat appropriate that neither of the namesakes began the brewery.  Rather, Anheuser purchased a troubled brewery, and Busch married into the family.

These and other photos can be seen HERE.

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