Chapter One: Eberhard Anheuser, Meet Adolphus Busch
“It is my aim to win the American people over … to make them all lovers of beer.” - Adolphus Busch (1905)
Our founder, Adolphus Busch, journeyed to America from Germany in 1857, determined to make his dreams come true. Adolphus wasted no time once he landed in St. Louis, and started work at a brewing supply company. Among his clients was Eberhard Anheuser (the name might sound familiar), who owned what was then known as E. Anheuser & Company. Adolphus married Eberhard’s daughter, Lilly, in 1861.
After fighting for the Union during the Civil War, Adolphus joined his father-in-law’s business, bringing big, ambitious ideas with him. Adolphus’s entrepreneurial spirit and sales prowess contributed enormously to the brewery’s growth. By 1875, Adolphus was named secretary-treasurer, and in 1879, the company’s name was officially changed to Anheuser-Busch Brewing Association. After Eberhard’s passing in 1880, Adolphus became president.
Chapter Two: A Lesson In Innovation
Adolphus was drawn to St. Louis because of the city’s large German population. But a large German population meant a lot of beer, which in turn meant a lot of competition for Adolphus and Eberhard’s brewery. Luckily, Adolphus was a talented salesman with an eye for innovation. He wasn’t about to be discouraged by competition.
Recognizing the need to expand outside of St. Louis to places with a less-crowded beer market, Adolphus stayed close to emerging technologies and developments that could make expansion possible. One major development was pasteurization, which increased the shelf life of bottled beers by up to four months, and allowed for further shipping. In fact, Adolphus pasteurized his beer before America pasteurized milk.
Refrigerated rail cars also helped Adolphus ship his beer across long distances, but they were expensive. He took matters into his own hands and started a company to build the rail cars faster, and for less money. A network of rail-side ice houses followed shortly after, and before long, Anheuser-Busch was taking the entire country by storm.
Chapter Three: The Beer We're Still Brewing
Before Budweiser was introduced, many Americans were drinking heavy, dark ales. But St. Louis summers were hot – perfect for a palatable, crisp lager. So Adolphus jumped on the opportunity to create and brew a beer that would be perfect for those hot summers. And he always knew a great beer when he tasted one.
Budweiser’s smoothness and drinkability was a success. Thanks to Adolphus’s expansive shipping network, Budweiser quickly became wildly popular not just in St. Louis, but in America. And we’ve stayed true to the recipe ever since.
Though Adolphus died in 1913, his name and entrepreneurial legacy define Budweiser to this day. His funeral was a testament to his character; tens of thousands of people came to pay their respects, and the procession extended for miles.
Adolphus was always on another level as a businessman, and offered tours of the brewery he was so proud of long before that was common practice. He even advertised in a memorable way – handing out pocket knives instead of business cards. But it wasn’t just his skills in sales that set him apart as a person and a brewer. It was his commitment to people. Adolphus was a generous philanthropist and made many donations over the course of his life, both personally and from Anheuser-Busch. It’s not much of a surprise that he was such a people person, coming from a large family (he was the 21st of 22 children) and eventually having one of his own (he and Lilly had thirteen children).
Adolphus Busch proves that a lasting legacy isn’t made by success alone. A legacy is made by living ambitiously on your own terms. Appropriately, the words “Veni, Vidi, Vici” are inscribed into Adolphus’s grave. The translation? “I came, I saw, I conquered.”