“Ah, beer. The cause of and the solution to all of life’s problems.”
State 5: Missouri - June 24, 2017
St. Louis: 1 of 2
After camping for the past two days in the beautiful northern Missouri wilderness, we felt rejuvenated and ready to explore our last stop in St Louis, Missouri; The Gateway City. Neither Lori nor I are city folk, but we were overall very impressed with Saint Louis. Unlike Kansas City, Saint Louis was clean, well kept, and we never felt in danger. Visiting The Gateway City had personal significance for us. It was along the shoreline of this exact city back in May 1804 that Lewis and Clack departed in exploration of the West, and 213 years later in May of 2017 Lori and I also departed West for our year long cross country journey. Centuries may separate our voyages, and our mode of transportation may differ, but the immortal American spirit of exploration that embodied the pioneers of the past, still lives within us to this very day.
We were planning to start our day at the Anheiser-Busch factory tour, but while enroute, we stumbled across the Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site, and the home of our 18th President of the United States. Back in the mid 1800’s, Missouri was a slave state. This site was named White Haven, and was owned by Grants Father-in-law Colonel Dent. Dent was pro-slavery, and owned many slaves who ran his plantation. Grant was born in Illinois, which was a free state, and he was against slavery. To make a long story short, Grant fell in love with Dent’s daughter Julia, and they eventually married. With such strong opposing views, it's not hard to imagine why Grant and his Father-in-law never really got along well. After the Civil War ended, Grant purchased White Haven from Dent, and lived there until he was elected President. It was very interesting to stand in the home that Grant once lived in. However, the most memorable part of the tour was experiencing the atrocious conditions that was the daily existence for Dent’s slaves. Standing in that dark, musty, smelly, filthy, and sweltering, dirt floor cellar where slaves both worked and lived is an experience that will forever be with me! When most people hear Grants name they think of a $50 bill, and some will know him as the victorious Union General of the Civil War. Few are able to recall his finest accomplishments which include serving as a 2 term US president who tirelessly fought for African American civil rights, and helped heal a deeply divided post-Civil War America.
After leaving Grants home, we continued on our original path into St. Louis to the Anheiser-Busch Factory tour. I do not drink, and Lori will very occasionally have a chocolate martini or a glass of wine. Regardless of our personal drinking habits, Anheiser-Busch is an iconic American company, and St. Louis Missouri is the original location of where the brewery was founded back in 1852! Eberhard Anheiser, a German immigrant, purchased the struggling Brewery in 1860. His family had owned and operated a vineyard in Germany since1627, so he was very familiar on how to craft a fine alcoholic beverage. Anheiser’s daughter married Adolphus Busch 1861, and began working at his father-in law’s brewery. Busch proved to not only be a hard worker, but an expert marketer. In 1879 Busch took over as CEO the company replacing his aging Father-in-law, and renamed the company Anheiser- Busch. Having a vision to create the first national beer, he utilized cutting edge technical advances for the times, such as pasteurization, and the industry’s first refrigerated rail cart. He also pioneered revolutionary marketing for the times by focusing advertising only on a single brand, Budweiser. This is how Anheiser-Busch has become synonymous with Budweiser, and Budweiser became the beer of America!
There are many types of tours offered at the brewery some are a paid, and some are free. We signed up for the free 45-minute brewery tour which included a walking tour of the brewery, a tour of the stables where the some of the Clydesdale horses lived, and a sample of beer. The first stop in the tour was the horse stable where 50 of us entered in single file. We were lined up one at a time to take a picture in front of a restored 1900’s beer cart, so they could sell us pictures at the end of the tour, that we knew we were not going to buy. While we were waiting for our photo op, we noticed the horses in the stable. The cages were very small, and the horses were chained up, and did not look or happy or have a positive energy. Lori felt very bad for them, and she asked the tour guide, when do the horses get to go outside to run and do what horses do. He responded sarcastically “We just brought them inside”. We noticed It took almost 20 minutes to photograph every one and to exit the stable. Our next stop was the massive, and I mean massive, fermenting tanks. These tanks were very interesting to see, but regretfully only made up 5 minutes of our tour. Each stainless steel tank measures 20 feet tall, 60 feet deep, and there are 320 of them in the St. Louis brewery just for the traditional Budweiser beer. If you were to drink one of those tanks in your lifetime, you would have to have a 12 oz beer on the hour every hour for 137 years. Holy Beer! From there we went into a tasting room that doubled as a brewing class room, and both were very disappointing. They were sampling a 4oz plastic cup of flat, warm Bud or Bud lite, and proceeded to check the ID's of those partaking. Lori chose a sample of Bud Lite, took a sip, and then threw it away because she said it tasted disgusting. She said that smelling the beer gave her a nice memory though of her Uncle Danny who absolutely loved Budweiser beers! We then all sat down on the benches, and the tour guide explained the 7 step processes for brewing beer. This was the same process explained in the reception area where we signed up for the tour. We found this part of the tour to be repetitive, disappointing and a waste of another 15 minutes of tour time. From there, we proceeded to the mash room where the hops are boiled prior to fermentation in huge stainless steel tanks. However, we just learned that mashing takes place before fermentation in the process of beer brewing. I was confused to why they decided to show us the fermentation tanks before the mash room. Lori also noticed that in both of the mash and fermentation rooms, there was not a single employee aside from the tour guides. This was very disturbing, especially for an American company. Regardless, the mash room was very impressive, and we wish the tour consisted more such viewing opportunities. We then exited the mash room, and went outside to view the iconic Budweiser clock tower, a registered national historic site. From there the tour was announced to be over, and we were then funneled through a gift shop, a bar fully stocked with only Anheiser- Busch beer for sale, and another mandatory photo op with another very unhappy looking Clydesdale horse. We left the tour feeling more marketed to, than obtaining an understanding on how their beer is made. We knew we had to experience their factory tour, because of its long time affiliation with, not only Saint Louis Missouri, but also with America. I guess this Bud is not for us!