Mmmmm…. Beer AND History

Anheuser-Busch has two tours – a free one and a $25 brewmaster tour. I purchased two brewmaster tickets but Victoria, being the one if us who borders most closely to that dreaded “cheap” line, was skeptical about the paid tour.

We arrived early to the locked doors, and like rock stars, were let in while others were turned away as the freebies didn’t start for another hour. We got our souvenir tickets and browsed the lobby displays to kill a few minutes. We would learn more about many of the facts in the display later, including what helped the brewery to survive prohibition since most competitors did not. Anheuser-Busch shifted production to many other goods from baker’s yeast to innovative camping cars and other vehicle bodies.

Soon we met the only other couple that would joining us on the tour – Tim and Samantha from Kansas City. Tim is an aspiring brew master having already identified his four marketable seasonal brews in his kitchen. While Sam is his official taster and the mother of their two children. Until he opens up his micobrew, he makes end meet as full time firefighter. Tim and Sam gave us some tips on their home town Kansas City, places to go as well as places to avoid.

We then met Brittany our tour guide. Brittany, petite, upbeat and friendly, is a marketing student at a nearby community college who expressed interested in continuing her career after graduation with the company.

She welcomed us into the private lounge and suited us up with a complementary hat, safety glasses, and headset so we could hear her instructions at all times. While we were dressed in typical summer clothes, we were surprised to see Brittany in jeans and a jacket since it was 90 degrees already. (Our chattering teeth would later wish they had given away jackets instead of hats.)

After a brief introduction, Brittany led us out the doors and through many buildings that house the steps of the brewing process. The enourmous complex is home to national landmarks such as the historic school, orginal brewery and Clysdale horse stables as well as a number of valuable antiques from Adolphus Busch’s personal collection.

At our very first stop on the tour, Brittany whet our pallets with a sample of both Budwieser and Bud Light in a late, but still unfinished stage. The copious amounts of information we received about the intimacies of brewing and bottling on the next phases of the tour fluttered over our heads but were gobbled up by Tim by his constant attempts to hone his own beer making process. His interest was so great, and his questions so detailed that our guide had to call in an expert to answer some of his specific questions. The only question we could think of was “when do we get more beer?”

And that’s when Brittany lead us into the coldest building in the complex. The room where beer is pumped to its final rest before bottling. With our teeth chattering, Brittany handed us each a souvenir glass and lead us to one of the enormous finishing tank which she then tapped and opened to to fill our glass with the freshest Budwieser you can drink without being a licensed brew master. The Budweiser and Bud Light we tasted was less than 12 hours old was smooth and so cold it frosted our glass.

We filled our glasses one last time and headed back to complex, beers in hand, to spend time in the beermaster private lounge. The lounge had a flat-screen television (tuned to Budweiser advertisements), two pub tables with chairs, comfy leather couches, and most importantly a fully stocked mini frig – now we’re talking. We enjoyed beer after beer until we were kicked out for the next tour.

We passed a few of the free tours and we can confirm that they are slow, crowded and don’t give the behind-the-scenes peek that the beermaster tour offers. For $25, you receive 90 minute tour, a free hat, 10% discount in the company store (doesn’t include alcohol), and all the beer you shove down your gullet before they kick you out!

Definitely worth a whirl. For more information, go here: http://www.budweisertours.com/tours.htm