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We Are Still A Beer Town

July 14, 2008 History/Preservation, Local Business 22 Comments

InBev upped the offer and A-B’s board said yes, that we know. For the moment at least this change of control of A-B won’t affect most of us in our daily lives.

I’ll admit that my heart sank a bit after reading the news this weekend.  I still miss names like Boatman’s Bank, Mercantile Bank and so on.  Times change.  Big & little guys get bought out every day.    The fact is the Busch family sold the brewery in 1980 when they took it public.

We will continue to produce beer just as they have for generations.  The big changes, if any, will be in the corporate tower.  The middle management types probably need to polish up their resumes.

In terms of the urban landscape around the brewery I don’t anticipate many changes in the short term.  In the long term I’d like to see some new 2-4 story structures line the outside edges of some of the surface parking lots.  Filled with restaurants at the sidewalk level the could serve employees during the week and become a walking destination for nearby residents in the evening.

Before I moved downtown I would use Broadway as my scooter route from my southside home to downtown.  I would enjoy passing the brewery — the aroma, the gargoyles, and the knowledge that a long standing tradition was continuing at that location.  Hopefully it will continue for many more generations.

I didn’t like the aroma at first.  I was 23 when I came to St Louis with a friend on our way to Washington DC.  That Saturday in August 1990 we arrived at her mother’s home on Lemp just North of Arsenal. The hops were strong that day.  A Sunday tour of St Louis convinced me to make this my new home despite that strong odor from the brewery.  In the nearly two decades since I’ve come to appreciate, and at times crave, that wonderful smell of hops.
We are a beer town.  Besides A-B we have some other great micro brewers.  I even know several people in town that home brew.   Beer is in our blood, its a part of who we are.  That can never be sold.


Currently there are "22 comments" on this Article:

  1. john w. says:


  2. Kevin says:

    I’ll drink to that.

    I will say I have discussed this situation with various people aroud StL. Everyone was of the same opinion that their loyalty to Anheuser products will be greatly diminished due to this sale. Having been devoted to the Budweiser family since before the legal drinking age, I am excited to say I am throwing my support behind Schlafly.

    How much longer until the day comes that no major corporation is headquartered in StL?

  3. aaron says:

    i’ve never been a fan of A-B products, sorry, i’m a beer snob and don’t like lagers at all. however, i love the philanthropic work of AB. From the Zoo, to the botanical gardens, museums, adn all of the local universities; you can see how much Busch invested in this community. If it weren’t for Busch and Monsanto, i’d venture to say we’d have to pay to get into our zoo. I hope that under In-Bev, these types of endowments will still happen, but I worry that they might not.

  4. ? says:

    I can’t wait to see Schlafly’s t-shirts. I bet they will go something like this, “Schlafly, the largest St. Louis owned brewery”. I bet Boulevard could come up with a few as well. My support is behind them and I bet a lot of people will put their support behind them. I hope we see more micro-brews in St. Louis and all over Missouri & Illinois. A good way to keep out money in the region. Beer is more than just a way to get drunk for a lot of people.

  5. Fallstaff and A-B might be gone but we still have the wonderful Schlafly. Drink Schlafly and support local business.

  6. john w. says:

    The Bottleworks is very near my house, and I go there often. I was there on Saturday for a great bluegrass band, and had many pints. Bluegrass and beer. It’s AWESOME!

  7. Lisa says:

    Hopefully this will trim some fat from the company that has been a long time coming. It’s all economics folks, it
    will right itself soon, if not sooner. But God, please do not get rid of Grant’s Farm. That’s ours, even if you do want to
    pour Schlafly out of those spigouts.

  8. GMichaud says:

    I remember a few years back (it’s been awhile) a Soulard bar, I think the Cats Meow (I’m not sure it’s still called that), had a business card that the reverse had printed in small type the many breweries that used to call St. Louis home. It had to be at least twenty or thirty establishments. Of course fresh beer had to be brewed close to home at that time.
    While the corporate behemoths have a place in society, the small business is really what matters. AB was able to partially act as a small business, putting cultural concerns ahead of profits, ala Grants Farm, and it truly allowed them to penetrate the market and gain greater market share. It is the genius of their marketing, the sea worlds and all, making themselves a cultural part of the community as well as selling beer.
    The bigger the corporation the more the vision fails, the more the connection to human beings fail. Making money alone as a goal is a grotesque existence and we see the results in todays economy.
    Capitalism claims to trim fat from companies, and sometimes it works that way, but often it begins the dehumanization cycle that imagines the world exists for an elite class to bath in money, lusting for more and more, until death parts them from their wealth.

  9. Brent says:

    And of course, there was the pride of Belleville – Stag beer. They sponsored the Blues for a number of years after Falstaff (The Choicest Product of the Brewer’s Art) gave up the ghost. Not to mention Griesedieck Bros. beer too. Hyde Park beer. And, of course, Lemp (from which Falstaff got its’ logo later on).

    It’s not just names like Boatmen’s and Mercantile that have gone away as well. Growing up in Granite City in the 60s, I remember First National Bank in St. Louis and their popular “Nibbledebuck” character. It later became Centerre Bank before it got bought out by Boatmen’s, IIRC.

    There’s also such institutions as Bettendorf-Rapp grocery stores (later bought out by Schnucks). Tom-Boy grocery stores. In Granite City, Tri-City grocery stores. Boyd’s men’s clothing stores. Vandervoort’s department stores. Stix, Baer and Fuller (The Grand Leader). And who could forget Famous and Barr?

    So many childhood memories, all gone now. If this is progress… *sigh*

  10. CWEGuy says:

    Seriously, folks, does anyone here truly believe that AB-IV had the ability, much less the qualifications to run the company? Could he have possibly ‘run” any corporation in the world other than the one with his name on it? In classical literature, we would call the cause of the company’s downfall hubris. The true measure of his ability will be shown when we see that he will spend the rest of his life unemployed.

    They became fat, lazy, arrogant, and spoiled. Now, their lunch has been eaten.

    One Busch Place has found the enemy… Ironically, all they had to do was look in the mirror.

    Oh well, the world is flat. The new King of Beer knows that. Sell your stock in The Four Seasons. One of their largest clients won’t be staying there any more.

  11. Jim Zavist says:

    A couple of thoughts . . . One, has any thought been given to figuring out how St. Louis County might (have to?) buy Grant’s Farm and keep operating it in its present form? If not, I can see it being sold to a developer for a subdivision – it’s some prime real estate. And two, has any thought been given to what the future holds for A-B’s historic structures? While we all hope there will be few job cuts here, the reality is that white collar employment will likely shrink – will the remaining folks be housed in A-B’s current suburban locations or at the brewery? And if parts of the brewery end up being vacated, how will their redevelopment both parallel and impact the redevlopment efforts down the street at the Lemp site?

  12. john says:

    If the Busch family sincerely cares about the community even after giving up, the stock profits can be used to support Grant’s Farm and other great local resources via a philanthropic trust. Of course they could also sell their large ranches out west and become the seeds of change for a prosperous and walkable urban environment.

  13. Chris says:

    I agree with CWEGuy; hasn’t the problem with the St. Louis business community all along been the rampant nepotism? Can anyone seriously say that a member of the Busch family is the only possible qualified person to run the corporation? I always was annoyed how the family is treated like royalty around here. Yes, yes, I know, they give money to charity, but then again, how much mayhem is caused with their products? The Catholic Church gives money to charity without selling drugs–which is what alcohol is.

    I drink Budweiser products every weekend, but to be honest, I drink them because they’re cheap and of consistent quality–kind of like McDonald’s. But if you truly believe that Budweiser is the best beer in the world, you need to get out more.

  14. Adam says:

    “Can anyone seriously say that a member of the Busch family is the only possible qualified person to run the corporation?”
    nobody is saying this! people are concerned that a company managed from BRAZIL just might not be invested in STL the way A-B has been!
    “Yes, yes, I know, they give money to charity, but then again, how much mayhem is caused with their products? The Catholic Church gives money to charity without selling drugs–which is what alcohol is.”
    so you’re a drug user? give me a break. it’s called personal responsibility. how much “mayhem” is caused by people driving cars? how much “mayhem” is caused by the pope condemning the use of condoms is third-world countries?
    so apparently because B-4 isn’t right for the job, lots of st louisans should lose there jobs and the company should completely divest itself of STL. great idea.

  15. Nick Kasoff says:

    > So apparently because B-4 isn’t right for the job, lots of st louisans should lose
    > there jobs and the company should completely divest itself of STL. great idea.

    No, people should lose their jobs if the company can produce without them. Like it or not, companies don’t exist to create employment and make philanthropic gifts, they exist to make money.

  16. john w. says:

    …and what a truly admirable American quality it is to not “exist to create employment [or] make philanthropic gifts”, because they “exist to make money”. Man, that’s just top notch. Wonder why huge corporations like Wal-Mart rightly earn the enmity of such a massive number of people? I don’t.

  17. Adam says:

    “Like it or not, companies don’t exist to create employment and make philanthropic gifts, they exist to make money.”
    people who get all excited about stock market crap love to talk about how the market is a force of nature. it’s not. the rules are contrived by people. these people should be held accountable for their choices. the board and investors can CHOOSE to operate the company with a social conscience, or they can CHOOSE otherwise. there is no force of nature that compels a company to maximize profits at the expense of their community and employees, but as long as it’s framed that way people will claim that “companies…exist to make money” as if god had declared it.

  18. LisaS says:

    Anyone who thought about it know this would be the outcome. AB is (for the moment) a publicly held company and no stockholder in their right mind would turn down the prices offered. Boards of directors are held accountable–by the investors. That includes the Busch family, who by my calculations come out of this with ~$2.5 billion dollars. There will be losses both in jobs and philanthropy, I’m sure, but for the moment … that’s a lot of money for the Busches to continue the family tradition of charitable giving.
    And this beer snob is pondering the possibility of locally-brewed Stella Artois. that could be definite gain.

  19. Jim Zavist says:

    The new headquarters for Miller-Coors is neither Milwaukee nor Golden, it’s Chicago: http://www.denverpost.com/business/ci_9892244 While we all hope that A-B’s management staff remains concentrated here, as we all know, there are no guarantees in life . . .

  20. Jesda says:

    Remember when AA bought TWA? When Boeing bought MD?

    Yeah. There’s pieces still there, but little reinvestment and growth, and shrinkage in the case of TWA.

  21. Denise Raggio says:


    Thank you for your line “beer is in our blood, that cannot be sold”!
    I actually teared-up. How true that is and it puts things in perspective. My father used to brew the best home brew – it was one of my favorite smells as South Side kid. In Rhineland there was a bar that sold Stag on draft, a quarter a glass, it was the early 70s, but I still remember that wonderful taste. Beer is in our blood and in our memories, that truly cannot be taken from us.


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