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Is Your Budweiser Really From St. Louis?

Is Your Budweiser Really From St. Louis?

'Track My Bud' app lets you literally trace where your Budweiser was made; you may be surprised

With so many beer apps out these days, we guess we're not so surprised that there's one dedicated solely to Budweiser — but we're surprised that it can track really where your Bud was made.

The new "Track Your Bud" app from Budweiser launched this week has had many in St. Louis actually wonder where there Bud is made; and — surprise — it's not always in St. Louis. The app, which scans the QR code on the bottle or can, lets you see on a map of the U.S. where your beer started, and which brewmaster (there are 13 breweries across the U.S.) oversaw your beer. However, when Riverfront Times tested out the app, they found that beers sold in the Busch Stadium were actually made in Virginia, and not just down the street at the home brewery.

However, Budweiser responded and said that the plastic bottles sold at games are only manufactured at the Williamsburg, Va. brewery, so rest assured, St. Louis Bud drinkers are more than likely drinking Buds from the St. Louis brewery. Most of the beer made at the St. Louis Budweiser brewery ends up in 12 nearby states. Now, can we track the Budweiser Black Crown, too? Or how about the bow-tie beer cans?

When Anheuser-Busch was founded in the 1850s, it started as a small neighborhood brewery. Through the combined efforts of Eberhard Anheuser, Adolphus Busch, and thousands of employees, our brewery quickly transformed from a local fixture into a national presence.

Today, we employ thousands of people nationwide, all united by a deep passion for bringing people together through our beloved brands and supporting the communities that we call home.

Here's the real story behind that Adolphus Busch Budweiser Super Bowl commercial

By now, this year’s Budweiser commercial during the Super Bowl has become the most viewed online of all the ads during this year’s big game.

The ad follows the story of a young Adolphus Busch as he makes his way from Germany to St. Louis before starting Anheuser-Busch. It’s a feel-good story about immigrants’ contributions to American society, especially at a time when some immigrants to the United States feel under attack.

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, we heard from Andrew Wanko, a public historian with the Missouri History Museum, about the actual history of Adolphus Busch, Eberhard Anheuser, the beginnings of Anheuser-Busch and the rise of the Budweiser brand.

"It is one giant Hollywood leap away from the real Adolphus Busch, but his real life is no less fascinating," said Wanko, who recently published a blog post titled "Was Budweiser Really Born the Hard Way?"

The commercial charts the various exploits of Busch as he travels from Germany to New Orleans, finally settling in St. Louis. That migration pattern is "about where the true story stops," Wanko said.

Busch was born to a wealthy family in Mainz, Germany. He had studied in Brussels and was considered well-educated.

When he decided to come to the United States, three of his brothers had already made the move and wrote about how wonderful it was here. One of his brothers had even already set up a brewery in Washington, Missouri.

Busch, however, did not come to the U.S. for the purpose of being a brewer. He came to be a businessman, Wanko said, but wasn't sure exactly what that would entail.

Wanko said that Busch wrote in his own words that when he got to St. Louis he had a substantial family allowance that was fed to him and that he "spent his first days loafing, getting acquainted and having a good time."

"This certainly didn't make the commercial," Wanko said.

As for Busch's daring leap from a flaming riverboat?

"That was probably not his real experience, they would have known if he had suffered something like that," Wanko said. "For thousands of other immigrants, the threat of a steamboat explosion was very real and a very horrifying possibility."

Busch eventually took a partnership in a brewing supply company in St. Louis, which would have been a lucrative business in 1860, when St. Louis was home to some 40 breweries.

It was through this job that Busch eventually met Anheuser, who owned a struggling brewery. Busch fell in love with Anheuser's daughter, Lilly, and the two would eventually marry. A few years after that, Busch went to work for his father-in-law's brewery not because he loved beer (he famously drank wine for the most of his life, claiming beer to be "slop") but because he saw a lucrative business opportunity.

The rest is, actually, history.

Listen as Wanko sets the rest of the record straight on the Anheuser-Busch origin story and answers your questions about Budweiser:

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary Edwards, Alex Heuer and Kelly Moffitt give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.

Just the news that interests us. Big plays, smart moves, and otherwise curious indicators of beer's possible future.

Beer trademark wars might feel like the result of a crowded contemporary marketplace, but breweries have been filing C&Ds since way before Stone sued Keystone. That high-profile case seems to be taking a while, but it pales in comparison to the infamous global battle over the name “Budweiser,” which has gone on for about 112 years—long enough to merit its own Wikipedia entry. The commonly told version of that battle says that the original Budweiser actually comes from the Czech city of České Budějovice, a spire-capped, tower-filled South Bohemian burg that German speakers traditionally call Budweis. Unfortunately, the commonly told version is wrong.

As the story goes, in 1876, a St. Louis brewery started making a Lager it called Budweiser, meaning “from Budweis,” after the famous beer from the historical Czech town. The “original” Budweiser, it notes, is actually Budvar, a small Czech brewery that has been fighting the giant Anheuser-Busch—and now its parent company AB InBev—on multiple fronts for the right to use the Budweiser name since before World War I.

That version of the story has a couple of big holes, starting with the fact that Budvar —aka Budweiser Budvar—was founded in 1895. The American version dates to 1876. If the Czech Budweiser is 19 years younger, you might ask, how can it be the original?

Like many tales involving language, ethnicity and identity in the palimpsests of Central Europe, the answer isn’t exactly straightforward. To start, Budvar has made geography, not chronology, the crux of its case. Tough-to-pronounce České Budějovice (roughly chess-kay bood-yay-yo-vit-seh) has a history of making beer that dates all the way back to its founding in 1265. Budvar has reasonably argued that, as a descendent of a 750-year brewing tradition that is actually located in the city called Budweis (in German), it should be the brewery allowed to use the name Budweiser, rather than a brand invented in far-off Missouri.

But there are some overlooked elements to the case—like the much smaller brewery now known as Samson. Also located in the city of České Budějovice, it dates from the year 1795. If there’s an “original Budweiser,” Samson is it.

A second, smaller point: České Budějovice was once a town with both Czech and German speakers, who all got along swimmingly until, towards the end of the 19th century, they really didn’t, a topic covered by Jeremy King’s academic history Budweisers into Czechs and Germans, and which is actually how we ended up with Budvar in the first place.

Though Germans were the minority in České Budějovice, King writes, they enjoyed political power far beyond their number, including ownership of the Samson brewery and other important local institutions. Czech speakers founded the Czech-owned competitor Budvar amid the nationalistic fervor of the late 19th century, the same era when the Czech National Theatre was founded with the goal of letting locals hear opera and plays in their own language, rather than in German. There’s a noticeable amount of irony when a brewery founded on the idea of Czech independence fights for the right to use a German name.

In recent years, tiny old Samson has been an overlooked aspect of the beer world’s best-known trademark fight. At the same time, Samson’s quality suffered under successive ownership changes, earning the brewery a reputation for bad beer, and speculation about a possible closure.

And then, in 2014, the inevitable happened: after an initial purchase of some of its intellectual property, AB InBev bought all of struggling Samson, giving the maker of the American Budweiser a foothold in the very town of Budweis itself.

That story got lost among the news of AB InBev’s purchase of SABMiller in 2015, which required it to shed most of SABMiller’s Central and Eastern European brands, including Pilsner Urquell and other breweries that went to Asahi. Among those whirlwind sales, however, AB InBev held on to Samson.

Which is how we get to the present day, with Czech media reporting that AB InBev has started putting piles of money into Samson—almost $17 million since 2014. Meanwhile, under a new CEO, state-owned Budvar has launched major expansions of its own.

It’s almost as if a new front has opened in the beer world’s longest-running trademark war.

“We used to be much larger,” says Samson CEO Daniel Dřevikovský. “We need to connect to our local consumers, because we lost them at the end of the ’90s.”

How much larger? In 1996, Samson was brewing at capacity, nudging up against 380,000 barrels (in local terms, 450,000 hectoliters) per year, about as much as what Stone Brewing produced last year. Today, its annual production is only 75,000 barrels, a little more than what Massachusetts’ Wachusett Brewing Company made in 2018. That’s not the nadir: volumes at Samson have actually improved under its AB InBev ownership, up more than 10% in 2017 and increasing slightly from there last year.

Those results, Dřevikovský says, are due to investments in technology and sanitation under the ownership of AB InBev, which has put millions into Samson over the last five years.

“We invested into quality a lot of money, and our beer is recognized as high-quality again,” Dřevikovský says. “We haven’t adjusted recipes. There is not a single change in our recipes. It is only in technologies. We’ve got our history, our recipe, our traditions, our taste.”

That taste is wildly improved from where it was a decade ago. Last year, Samson won an award for the Czech Republic’s best Czech-style Pale Lager at the World Beer Awards. (In 2009, one reviewer on Ratebeer gave the beer a single star before describing it thusly: “Eww! there are chewy things floating it, like toilet paper! At least it smells decent. Gross.”)

“There was a transition period between the switch from the old technology to the new ones,” says Samson brewmaster Radim Lavička. The big changes include a lot more stainless steel, with a dozen new, giant cylindro-conical tanks (CCTs) to complement the few that Samson already had in place, as well as new filtration and cleaning systems. With the new fleet of CCTs, the brewery’s old lagering cellars—formerly used in parallel with the older CCTs—were closed for good in 2016. “Now we are in Year Two. The next step is to recover sales ‘around the chimney.’”

That Czech phrase for a brewery’s local sales includes the upscale pub across the street, now considered the brewery’s flagship. In a change from previous eras, Dřevikovský says, it’s getting less difficult to find local outlets interested in carrying Samson.

“Two years ago, to convince a pub owner, it was nearly impossible,” Dřevikovský says. Now, there's been a near-doubling of local outlets serving Samson—it is now sold in about 12 pubs—which brought the share of its exports from 70% to 55% in the short timeframe. The brewery will continue to focus on local sales in and around České Budějovice.

The old brewery has a lot going for it, including the same celebrated water source as Budvar, drawing its pure brewing liquor from a 900-foot (274-meter) artesian well. It uses a similar yeast strain as Budvar. Like Budvar, and in sharp contrast to the Budweiser from St. Louis, its beer is made from 100% malt and 100% Czech hops, and is still produced with decoction mashing. With luck, Dřevikovský says, the brewery can again achieve its previous production level of 380,000 barrels.

“This is our main goal, to fulfill the capacity of the brewery back up to 450,000 hectoliters,” Dřevikovský says. “Every week, people come up to me and say, ‘I tasted Samson and it’s amazing beer again.’”

With the return of those local fans, Samson might make it up to 80,000 barrels this year.

In the widely told version of the Budweiser saga, Budvar is cast in the role of David, fighting against a multinational Goliath. But in the town of České Budějovice, Budvar is the giant. While Samson might hit 80,000 barrels this year, Budvar will sell over 1.35 million. Samson has some 70 employees. Budvar has 700.

“We are the only brewery in the world that is still expanding its lagering capacities,” says Budvar CEO Petr Dvořák, referring to breweries of Budvar’s size that still use separate vessels for fermentation and lagering, a traditional process that has largely disappeared. “We have not only invested into our new logistical center, but we have also invested into new cellars.”

New lagering cellars alone would make Budvar a standout, especially considering how breweries like Samson are shuttering theirs. But Budvar’s logistical center is on another level. Located on the other side of a public road from the main brewery grounds, it required the construction of two bridges over the street and cost over $32 million when it opened during Easter weekend of 2018. Inside, pallets of the brewery’s various beers are selected and packed by robots, arriving at their destination bays via monorail before being loaded into trucks for delivery. It has been called the most modern packaging center in the country, if not in all of Central Europe, and that includes several Amazon warehouses.

The logistical center is just one of several big new developments at Budvar, which has announced plans to expand its annual production volume by around 30%, aiming for the big round number of 2 million hectoliters, or about 1.7 million barrels. That will require a new packaging line, new brewhouses, and expanded lagering cellars, meaning a further investment of about $55 million.

And while Budvar remains an extremely traditional brewery, it has taken noticeable steps to modernize following Dvořák’s appearance as CEO in mid-2017. This spring it launched a new, draft-only Lager, Budvar 33, which has 50% more bitterness than the 22.5 IBUs of the brewery’s traditional Pale Lager. It also has a deeper color of about 8 SRM, thanks to a small amount of British crystal malt, vs. 5 SRM in the standard Lager. If Budvar’s flagship is sometimes called a too-attenuated, not-bitter-enough outlier among the country’s Pale Lagers, Budvar 33 is a step closer to the national palate.

In addition, Budvar has recently started working with local craft breweries, selling IPAs and the like from Permon, Zichovec, Nachmelená Opice and others in Budvar’s roughly 30 restaurants and pubs. Last fall, Budvar even brewed a Polaris-hopped collaboration beer with Pavel Palouš, brewmaster at Prague’s Cobolis brewpub.

Such changes are big news at a brewery that prides itself on tradition. (For followers of Czech beer, the idea of a stalwart like Budvar using even a pinch of British malt in a Czech Lager is so strange as to be literally unbelievable. It might suffice to point out that Polaris is a German hop.) And yet the brewery remains resolutely old-fashioned. Walking around the cellars with brewmaster Adam Brož, you might notice that, despite all the big investments, the lagering tanks still have manual valves. That is a result of Budvar’s commitment to cold conditioning for 90 days, he explains. “If you only use the tanks four times a year, there is no need for automation.” The three full months of cold conditioning will not change, Brož says, and the company is still using only classic Saaz hops for its traditional Lagers—and only whole hop cones, not pellets.

For Dvořák, his company’s survival is about more than just the brewery: he looks at it as a way to help the country. Budvar remains the property of the Czech government three decades after the fall of Communism as a profitable business, that means that Budvar regularly contributes to state coffers. But beyond that, the best-known beer from České Budějovice is a flag-bearer for Czech culture.

“I think it’s a huge win for the country when someone walks into a bar in New York and asks ‘What kind of Czech Lager do you have?’” Dvořák says. “We are a brewery with 10 million shareholders. We are owned by the nation. We can help promote Czech beer culture and help promote the Czech nation.”

That doesn’t mean that you’re going to start seeing Czech Budweiser at more bars in NYC, at least not under that name. Stateside, Budvar has to sell under the brand “Czechvar,” and imports throughout the Americas are minimal.

The rest of the planet is a different story. Budvar now sends beer to 79 countries, with its biggest export share going to neighboring Germany, where Budvar has long been the best-selling import in the retail market. In good news for the budget of the Czech government, sales there increased by 6% last year. Other countries also had great results: sales to Russia jumped by 64%, while Swedish sales increased by 80%. All told, Budvar’s 2018 exports of 916,000 BBLs counted as its all-time high.

While Budvar generally holds the rights to the name Budweiser throughout Europe, its much smaller neighbor in České Budějovice also has a few rights. Known from at least 1795 until 1948 and once again since 2001 as Budweiser Bürgerbräu (or the equivalent “Budějovický měšťanský pivovar” in Czech), Samson also has the legal right to use the EU Protected Geographical Indication Budweiser Bier in Europe.

So does that mean that AB InBev is going to start brewing Missouri-style Budweiser in České Budějovice, using Samson as a backdoor for sales into Europe? Probably not. The biggest market in Europe is Germany, where a beer made with rice is, well, not beer.

Cynics will probably say there has to be some kind of long game in play, a chance for AB InBev to muddy the waters or gain some leverage. That might be true. But at the most basic level, it’s hard not to appreciate that a floundering Czech brewery with a boatload of history was saved when the Brazilian-Belgian giant bought Samson. Additionally, it’s easy to like what’s in the glass: I tried a grocery-store-purchased Samson this week, and it was delicious.

It’s also hard not to cheer Budvar’s success. While the previous management felt extremely slow-moving and insular—with marketing tricks that occasionally hit sour notes among locals—the new team is clearly thinking beyond the brewery’s longstanding assumptions.

There might be a loser along the way: the trademark fight between Budvar and AB InBev is a battle, after all. But for now, the story in Budweiser’s hometown looks like a win for all sides. Especially people who love beer.

A Legendary Michelin-Starred Restaurant From Italy Is Opening Its First US Outpost in St. Louis

Sandra Ramani

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Photo: courtesy Don Alfonso

A couple of years ago, during a trip to Italy&rsquos Sorrento and Amalfi Coasts, I followed the example of nearly 50 years of foodies before me and made my way up to the tiny hillside town of Sant&rsquoAgata dui Due Golfi, which sits overlooking the bays of Salerno and Naples. It&rsquos there, on quiet main street and behind a non-descript gate, that you&rsquoll find Don Alfonso 1890, the intimate Michelin-starred restaurant known for its menus of elevated, but still authentic, regional cuisine, crafted using ingredients from the restaurant&rsquos own nearby organic farm and orchards.

My dinner alone was worth the detour from the coast&mdashfull of dishes both refined and playful&mdashbut as I discovered during my meal and one night stay in the B&B-style rooms above the restaurant, the Don Alfonso allure is about more than the food. It&rsquos about how the convivial, welcoming Iaccarinos&mdashhusband-and-wife Alfonso and Livia, who founded the restaurant in 1973, and sons Ernesto (the executive chef) and Mario (the restaurateur)&mdashinstantly make everyone feel like family. (Just try to leave without having a jar of their organic preserved tomatoes pressed into your hands.)

It&rsquos a winning formula that has also over the years prompted several international guests to suggest that the Iaccarinos open a Don Alfonso in their own hometowns, wherever in the world they may be. So about 25 years ago, the family opened a consulting arm, and has since launched both permanent and pop-up restaurants in such spots as New Zealand, Morocco, Canada and Macau. The US, however, never seemed in the cards&mdashuntil some enthusiastic diners from St. Louis connected Mario Iaccarino (who oversees the consulting business) with friends who own a luxury hotel in the Missouri city. On March 21, the result of that meeting will come to life as Don Alfonso introduces its first US outpost&mdashCasa Don Alfonso&mdashin the recently relaunched Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis.

The glass sculptures hanging from the ceiling evoke the lavender fields of Sant&rsquoAgata. Photo: courtesy Don Alfonso

&ldquoWe don&rsquot start with an idea about where we want to go&mdashpeople are interested and approach us, and it just happens,&rdquo says Iaccarino about how the American outpost came about. Regarding the why of St. Louis, though, he is much more effusive. &ldquoFrom the first moment I walked into what would become the hotel, I felt a very similar attitude to what we have at Don Alfonso in Italy&mdashI had the feeling that I was entering into a family, because they operate in that way. We reflect the same ideas, and that&rsquos why I felt we had to do something here. It may sound strange, but I found myself in a familiar place, even though I had never been to the city before.&rdquo

For this incarnation, Iaccarino strayed from the fine dining formula in favor of something he thinks better fits the location, meets the needs of hotel guests and reflects the current state of the world. &ldquoIn Italy, we do fine dining, but we never take ourselves too seriously, and Casa Don Alfonso will represent that more casual feel,&rdquo he explains. &ldquoEspecially now, with everything we are all living through, the goal of restaurants should be to let people relax&mdashto be a place of lightness and happiness. People are tired, and we want to go to restaurants to enjoy the experience, not to be intimidated by the maitre&rsquod! We started working on this a long time before Covid-19, but I think this could actually be the right moment for this type of project.&rdquo

The approachability starts with the design of the 140-seat restaurant, which offers guests the option to sit in the main dining room, in a relaxed lounge or at counters surrounding the open kitchen and wood-burning pizza oven. Colorful hand-painted tiles by Italian ceramicist Giovanni de Maio line the kitchen, while Mediterranean-inspired paintings by Italian artist Anna Russo&mdasha friend of the Iaccarinos&mdashare hung throughout, along with photos of the family back home. The light purple accents and cascading glass wisteria chandelier, meanwhile, are nods to the lavender fields of Sant&rsquoAgata.

To develop the culinary concept, Iaccarino and his team did a one-and-a-half-year &ldquodeep study into the food culture of the Naples and Campagna regions, where the sea is the protagonist, and where there&rsquos historically been a mix of cultures. We looked into a world that doesn&rsquot exist much anymore.&rdquo The resulting menus reflect &ldquothe dishes I would eat when I went to my grandmother&rsquos for Sunday lunch,&rdquo he says, &ldquobut the original versions, not the changed recipes we know today.&rdquo So the lasagna, for example, is &ldquothe original Neapolitan interpretation. No Bolognese, no chopped meat&mdashjust big pieces of meat that we cook slowly with red wine, carrots, celery and bay leaves for about five hours, then slice and add to the pasta with ricotta. And hardboiled eggs&mdashthat is the way you know this comes from a real Neapolitan grandmother.&rdquo There will also be coastal favorites like fish Acqua Pazza and fritto misto the way they do it on the streets of Naples, along with traditional pizzas, pastas (like ziti baked with Amalfi Coast anchovies and noodles mixed with potatoes and smoked scamorza), a &ldquorediscovery&rdquo of chicken Cacciatore and a selection of vegan and gluten-free &ldquoanti-aging soups.&rdquo

Dishes reflect a reverence for traditional Neapolitan cooking. Photo: courtesy Don Alfonso

&ldquoWe are making the classics in a simple and healthier way, which goes back to the roots of the Mediterranean diet,&rdquo Iaccarino explains. &ldquoI can say the menu is similar to what the Don Alfonso 1890 menu looked like for its first 15 years&mdashall these simple things that are part of our tradition, and a preservation of our history. But at the same time,&rdquo he adds, &ldquoI am totally convinced that traditional food is also the food of the future. I really think it&rsquos what the world will be expecting to enjoy when sitting at the table for the next 50 years.&rdquo

Several of the key ingredients&mdashincluding the extra virgin olive oil and dried pastas, as well as wines and the Don Alfonso house limoncello&mdashwill be shipped over from Italy, but the team will also be working with regional purveyors to feature fresh proteins and produce. But the most important thing the Iaccarinos want to import to the US is their hospitality. &ldquoThere is a historic appreciation of Italian cuisine in this country, and it brings together all these generations of families who are so strongly attached to their traditions. So when I think of these authentic Casa Don Alfonso recipes, I think of my family, and of bringing a small part of us to you.&rdquo

Anheuser-Busch Resurrects Faust, the 130-Year-Old Beer Named for a St. Louis Legend

At a long wooden table, Tracy Lauer spreads out a collection of artifacts from a bygone era. An archivist for Anheuser-Busch for the last sixteen years, she's seated in the cavernous brewery beergarden on the southernmost edge of Soulard as dozens of tourists sip their tiny free samples behind her. On the table are a series of beautiful, ornate postcards from between 1900 and 1908, only slightly yellowed, the colors still bright on the thick paper.

One depicts a grand restaurant dining room, awash in a glow from old-fashioned globe lamps. A turn-of-the-century illustration shows a two-story brick building topped with a golden dome another gives a peek inside at the white tablecloths and lush greenery. In the corners, there's a black-and-white portrait of a square-headed, mustachioed proprietor wearing an inscrutable half smile.

A middle-aged tourist in a bright yellow windbreaker approaches the table, pointing at the postcards. His English is poor, but he knows to ask one thing.

Lauer hesitates, surprised by the question. "These actually aren't for sale," she says apologetically. "They're antiques." The man shakes his head, seeming to believe she hadn't understood him.

"How much?" he repeats more forcefully. After several failed attempts to explain, even with assistance from his more fluent daughter, the tourist storms off angrily."There are postcards you can buy in the gift shop over there," Lauer calls after him.

Apparently, even non-St. Louisans are instinctively drawn to the man on the postcard: Anthony (or Tony) Faust, Oyster King. Faust was a restaurateur, not a brewer, but he, the Anheuser-Busch family and the history of St. Louis itself became inextricably linked in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In 1884, Adolphus Busch himself brewed a beer named Faust Pale Lager after his favorite drinking buddy. For many years, it existed only in the documentation in A-B's massive archives.

Senior St. Louis brewmaster Joel Boisselle, a 26-year veteran of the company in a bright blue Bud Light polo shirt, joins the table, swirling a tall glass of amber beer. He's holding a pint of Faust -- not a 130-year-old Faust, thankfully, but one from a batch brewed just recently, using the old recipes in the archives and the same strain of yeast that has been creating Budweiser lager since its inception. Boisselle also used dry hopping to hit what he calls "the sweet spot."

"It's as close as you can get. Over time, hop varieties change slightly, malt varieties change slightly, and then you've got to scale it up for what we do now," he says. "It's pretty hoppy, with a nice malty sweetness, maybe caramel undertones. It's a real full-bodied beer." Last year A-B debuted Faust, but it was only available to those visiting the brewery or Ballpark Village. This year, it will be on tap at about 100 local bars.

  • Senior brewer Joel Boisselle, who oversees the St. Louis brewery, says Faust is about as close as you can get to Adolphus Busch's original recipe. | Tom Carlson

Some might be surprised that A-B, best known for dominating the market with Bud Light and its more recent successes with the sugary pre-mixed margarita line, would be interested in its head brewer fiddling around with a dark ale. The St. Louis brewery produces about 5,000 barrels of Budweiser per day in contrast, Boisselle has brewed only about 2,000 barrels of Faust so far. Skeptics might be equally surprised to hear Faust is gaining acceptance from St. Louis' beer enthusiast community, some of whom may typically scoff at the idea of drinking an A-B beer.

"Faust is a really nice lager, but it's not what most people would be used to when they think of lager. It's not that real crisp, light beer -- it's definitely more malty. It's what you would've seen 100 years ago, pre-Prohibition with beer," says Mike Sweeney, moderator of the STL Hops site and forum. "It's a really unique kind of beer, because it does give you a taste of what beer would've tasted like 120 years ago."

The beer's revival coincides with St. Louis' 250th anniversary, but there are other, more strategic reasons for Faust's resurrection. Light lager sales have been stagnant, if not declining, in recent years, says Bart Watson, staff economist at the Brewers Association.

"The large brewers are smart companies. They see where the growth is, they see where the demand is: for fuller-flavored products and beers that have that local connection that small brewers can provide," says Watson. "When you look at surveys for why people are buying craft beers, taste and flavor is almost always at the top, but often a close second is some version of, 'I want to buy local products.'"

The re-brewing of Faust hits all the right notes -- not only is it a richer, darker brew with a heftier 5.5 percent ABV, but behind the beer is the man: Tony Faust, a larger than life character whose story is steeped in local history.

"Adolphus Busch and Tony Faust were both these ostentatious Germans, and they lived lavishly and they were snubbed by St. Louis society," says historian Elizabeth Terry, author of Oysters to Angus: Three Generations of the St. Louis Faust Family. "They didn't shy away from being badasses."

  • A postcard featuring a photograph of Faust's Restaurant around 1908, two years after Tony died while vacationing with Adolphus Busch in Germany. | Courtesy Anheuser-Busch

The beer would have never been brewed in the first place if Tony Faust hadn't been shot in the leg.

He was just seventeen when he arrived in New York from Germany in 1853. He had intended on a career as an ornamental plasterer, but in 1861, a month after the beginning of the Civil War, a riot broke out in St. Louis between Southern sympathizers and the Missouri Volunteer Militia (which included volunteers Eberhard Anheuser and his new son-in-law, Adolphus Busch). As the "traitors" were being marched through the streets to Camp Jackson, a soldier accidentally dropped his gun, and Faust -- who was just there to watch -- was shot in the leg. He decided after his recovery that barkeeping was a less physically taxing occupation.

"So great was his success that he always afterward referred to 'Camp Jackson Day' as his lucky day and never allowed the anniversary to pass without showing the bullet hole to his friends," read his New York Times obituary.

In less than a year, he opened a small café at 295 Carondelet Road in what was then known as Frenchtown. He registered for the Union forces in 1863, and after he returned, his little bar thrived and was rechristened Tony Faust Oyster House & Saloon after it moved to Broadway and Elm in 1870.

"We don't know where Tony Faust got his seed money to begin his restaurant, but it just blossomed. Personally, I think it may have been his charisma," says Terry.

Faust was a short man with a ruddy complexion, bushy mustache and an ever-present bowler hat, and he quickly became a fixture around St. Louis. The newly constructed Eads Bridge allowed him to ship in oysters from north and south using the Mississippi River, plus fish, lobsters, crabs and clams, and wild game and cheeses from Europe.

As his restaurant became more luxe, Faust's antics as proprietor kept pace. Every Faust employee was allowed to drink as much beer as he pleased throughout the workday (Adolphus Busch had a similar policy at the brewery -- both hired mostly German immigrants like themselves), and Faust constantly flouted city laws he found repressive. When a St. Louis law tried to stop Sunday liquor sales, Faust took out an ad in the Saturday Post-Dispatch promising "Bock Beer! Bock Beer! Bock Beer!" would be sold all weekend.

Faust's became a place of opulence and pageantry -- it was the first building in St. Louis to install electric lights. After an 1877 fire, Faust rebuilt even grander, with lofted ceilings, marble floors and counters, and polished walnut cases. The Post-Dispatch declared that "no Western city has anything like it."

Faust's offered the finest wines, fresh game and even a so-called Millionaire's Table, but violent bar fights were commonplace. Skirmishes involved the wait staff, doctors brandishing guns and, at least once, August A. Busch, son of Adolphus. One night he was holding court at his father's table when a typewriter salesman named Samuel Levy skipped his turn to buy a round. Busch called Levy a "cheap screw," a brawl broke out, and Busch ended up punching Levy in the face so hard he was carried to the Planter's House Hotel unconscious. Levy was well enough, though, to file a $10,000 lawsuit against Busch the next morning. "Tony was not just a jovial host for his guests in their finery," Terry writes. "He rolled out the red carpet for all patrons, even those who used their fists to resolves disputes."

Faust probably fell in with the Anheuser-Busches by meeting Eberhard Anheuser first, through the restaurant. They became drinking buddies and bonded over their status as prominent German American St. Louisans. Anheuser once joked that Faust was looking to get into the beer business himself, but Faust supposedly told reporters, "Just tell your readers I am buying the breweries a glass at a time."

Anheuser's partner, Adolphus Busch, soon ate at Faust's nearly every day. "But he never drank beer," says Cameron Collins, author of the blog Distilled History. "Only wine." In fact, Busch often conducted his famous wine test at Faust's: He would bet anyone $100 that he could name any vintage just by tasting it.

"He rarely made a mistake, and whether he won or lost, he paid for all the bottles which had been opened and bought drinks for the crowd," according to the book Under the Influence: The Unauthorized Story of the Anheuser-Busch Dynasty.

Most famous were Faust's New Year's Eve bashes. In 1887, Terry writes, "guests each received a card with a caricature of Tony getting out of bed on New Year's Day with cherubs blowing trumpets with salutatory messages in both French and German." One year, he emerged at midnight in a red Mephistopheles costume (the devil in Goethe's Faust who bargains for the title character's soul), complete with a feather-plumed hat -- the same character that would someday be featured on his beer label.

  • Since Faust was never bottled, Anheuser-Busch provided glasses like this one to restaurants and bars serving the popular brew. | Tom Carlson

Faust had been serving Anheuser-Busch beer in his restaurant for years, but in 1884 Adolphus Busch concocted a brew just for his friend. "There's not a lot of written documentation on exactly how it came to fruition," says A-B archivist Lauer. "I'm sure they worked together in that business arrangement. We brewed the beer and provided it to him for sampling, and then they decided on the beer. I think the main idea was that it would really pair well with the restaurant, being an oyster company."

In 1897, the two families became even closer when Faust's son Edward married Busch's daughter Anna in an extravagant celebration. When they returned from a five-month honeymoon through Europe and Africa, Adolphus gave the couple a mansion (as was his custom) and had a second vice-president job ready for Eddie at Anheuser-Busch. Busch and Faust were instrumental in bringing the 1904 World's Fair to St. Louis. Busch had finally overtaken his rival Frederick Pabst in beer production in 1901, which solidified his prominence outside of the St. Louis area and helped garner his position as fair director. He made sure Faust benefitted as well.

"I request the sole bar and restaurant privileges during construction of fair buildings for my friend Tony Faust, the most experienced man in the business, who will lend it dignity and give thorough satisfaction for all," Busch wrote to the World's Fair committee in 1902. "That he will sell the only beer it is needless for me to say." The committee obliged.

Faust co-operated the fair's largest restaurant, which served bratwurst, wiener schnitzel, Champagne and Anheuser-Busch beer to an estimated 20,000 diners a day. The Faust beer gained many new fans during the fair, and A-B began increasing its distribution.

"Faust expanded outside of the St. Louis area in select markets -- some of the larger areas like New York and Chicago," Lauer says. Along with Budweiser, Faust became a flagship brew in a portfolio of seventeen different beers, and one of its highest-performing products. The Fausts were staying at the Busch mansion in Germany in 1906 when the carriage Faust was riding in lost control owing to a spooked horse. The then-70-year-old barman jumped and cleared the accident, but was severely injured. He died several weeks later. Adolphus Busch was devastated.

"He lined the box which held the steel sarcophagus with leaves and branches from forests at Waldfriede [Germany], where the two men had spent many happy times together," recounts Under the Influence. The beer far outlived the man, but due to family strife, war and Prohibition, its days were numbered, too.

Eddie and Anna Faust and their children soon moved out of the mansion at 1 Busch Place to the fashionable West End. The Busches lived near the brewery in the heavily German south city, and with the advent of World War I, the younger Faust was anxious to distance himself from his German heritage and the plebeian occupations of barkeep and brewer. He left his job at Anheuser-Busch sometime between 1914 and 1916 and closed his father's restaurant. By the time the war began, Faust had disassociated himself from his wife's family. She herself stopped talking to her brother August, probably over a dispute about Adolphus' will. Despite this, Faust beer continued to be brewed.

"Then when Prohibition hit, it was discontinued, but so many people liked it that they reintroduced it after Prohibition," Lauer says. In fact, Faust, Budweiser and Michelob (a "fancier" beer that was only available at finer restaurants and hotels) were the only beers Anheuser-Busch reintroduced after Prohibition ended in 1933. But due in part to wartime grain rationing, production of Faust finally ended in 1942.

Adolphus and Tony's grandson Leicester Faust was a director at Anheuser-Busch throughout the Depression and in the years following, under his cousins Gussie and Adolphus Busch III. But he was far more interested in farming the land his mother purchased for him in what is now named Faust Park in Chesterfield.

"Regarding the fame that the Busches have retained, while the Fausts are relatively unknown, I think it has to do with consistency. The iconic brewery has remained largely unchanged since the late nineteenth century, both as a landmark and a legacy. The Faust restaurant, however, fizzled out in 1916," Terry says. "Leicester Faust worked at the brewery, but he preferred the quiet life of his farm. He never measured up to his cousin Gussie's gusto, and he never wanted to."

Bartender Lindsay Arens pulls on a red tap handle and fills a glass with Faust at the dimly lit bar at Cicero's in University City. The beer has been on tap for about three months. It's a pretty pour, copper-colored with a substantial head of foam, and it tastes nothing like Bud Light. It is bitter, complex, easy to drink.

"People usually get really excited that we have it. I like it better, actually, than Bud or Bud Light. It's much more interesting," says Arens. "It's not bad," adds a patron who characterizes himself as a hop-head.

"It's a good starter beer. Even though it's not technically a craft beer, I'll still let people try it," Arens says. "Since it's one of the oldest beers they have, it's one of their better ones. It's got so much more going on."

Faust is now on tap at 100 different bars and restaurants in the St. Louis metro area including Cicero's, International Tap House, Mike Shannon's and Helen Fitzgerald's. Unfortunately, there are no imminent plans to bottle it.

Whether or not drinkers will embrace Faust is also in question. While it currently has a respectable 3.3 score on the beer-rating app Untappd, this is actually the second time A-B has tried to resurrect it.

The first was 1995, for a short-lived series called American Originals. Production halted in 1999 -- just before the craft-beer revolution really took off. "I think everything goes in cycles. Hop-forward beers are gaining popularity," says A-B brewer Boisselle. While hesitant to say more about the future of Faust or about a changing brewing philosophy at A-B, Boisselle says throwbacks could be the future.

"We've got a lot of things in the background," he says. "Some of it's new, innovative things, and some of it's old things we've tried in the past or had in the past and we said, 'Let's try this and see what happens with it.'"

In the meantime, locals will be able to belly up and get a literal taste of St. Louis history. "It's a really great beer -- it has a lot of flavor," says Lauer. "And it's fun to think about what it would have been like to sit in Tony Faust's restaurant."

Gut Check is always hungry for tips and feedback. E-mail the author at [email protected]

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What You'll See

There are three main things you'll see on a tour. First is the Budweiser Clydesdales and their stable. The Clydesdales have been the face of the brand since the 1930s. They make hundreds of appearances every year.

Then, it's a walk through the brewing and bottling areas to see where Budweiser, Bud Light, and other brands are made. This portion of the tour includes stops in the historic Brew House, the fermentation cellar, and the packaging plant. This is where you'll learn about the history of the company and how it grew into the brewing giant that it is today.

Finally, it's a trip to the tasting room for two free samples of A-B products. Soda and snacks are also available. After the tour, you can stop by the gift shop for souvenirs or hit the Biergarten for more food and drinks.

You know you’re from St. Louis…

“Vacation” is a choice between Silver Dollar City and Lake of the Ozarks.

You can find Pestalozzi Street by aroma alone.

You can get anywhere in 20 minutes, except on highway 40.

You can debate for 30 minutes whether Missouri Baking or Marge Amighetti makes the best Italian bread.

You know what “Party Cove” is, and where the “lake” is.

You still can’t believe the Arena is gone.

Your first question to a new person is, “Where did you go to High School?”

Your non-St. Louisan friends always ask if you’re aware there is no “r” in “wash.”

You know at least one person who’s gotten hurt at Johnson Shut-ins.

You know in your heart that Mizzou can beat Nebraska in football.

You think the four major food groups are Beef, Pork, Budweiser and Imo’s.

You know there are really only three salad dressings: Imo’s, Zia’s and Rich and Charlie’s.

You’ll pay for your kid to go to college unless they want to go to KU.

You would rather have a root canal without anesthetic than drive on Manchester on a Saturday afternoon.

It just doesn’t seem like a wedding without mostaciolli. AND YOU PRONOUNCE IT ‘MUSKACHOLLI’. The balance of the menu is ham, boiled roast beef, string beans with ham and of course pitchers of Busch Bavarian (class weddings have Bud)

You know, within a three-mile radius, where another St. Louisan grew up as soon as they open their mouth.

You know what a Pork Steak is…and what kind of sauce to put on it!

Everyone in your family has floated the Meramec River at least once.

A hoosier is someone that lives just south of Chouteau, not a person from Indiana.

You have made fun of Mike Shanahan and tried to imitate him ordering another cold, frosty Busch Bavarian Beer.

You have listened to Mike’s broadcast on KMOX, while watching the game on TV and wonder what game he is watching. A tear forms in your eye as someone mentions their favorite Jack Buck story.

You’ve said, “It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity.”

Your favorite summer treat is handed to you upside-down

You bleed Blue between September and May

More cool things for your blog at

It’s pretty close. And let me give you a little-known tip: Busch in returnable bottles is significantly better. And hard to come by.

Heh. That had me rolling on the floor. It took me years to drop the word “worsh” and even longer to apply it to “Worshington DC”.

Can’t call it Busch “Bavarian” anymore. Lawsuit. Just Busch or Bud, Busch Lite or Bud Lite. love you, ann

The only thing you’ve forgotten is Ted Drews. Its a food group, the same as Imos

You forgot toasted ravioli and gooey butter cake

I want to get a copy of that
“You might be from St. Louis if”
How can I get this?

Why do we ask ” what school do you go to ” its weird but I always do it

Track Your Bud: Busch Stadium Budweiser Not from St. Louis?

Gut Check recently received an e-mail from an inquisitive reader alerting us to a somewhat counterintuitive discovery made while using Budweiser's new Track Your Bud app.

The app is pretty straightforward: Plug in the "born on" date or QR code found on the can or bottle and the origins of your beer will pop up -- informing you when your beer began the aging process and which brewmaster oversaw its production.

While attending a Cardinals game at Busch Stadium, our tipster decided to test the app. To his surprise, he discovered that his $8.25 Bud Light bottle was "born" in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Wait, what?! Why would Budweiser from Virginia be sold in Busch Stadium when Anheuser-Busch's main brewery is just a home run's distance from the ballpark?

And to that point, what happens to the "local" beer from Soulard after it leaves the brewery? Being the investigative journalists that we are, Gut Check decided to look into the matter and see what we could dig up.

First off, with the newly downloaded Track Your Bud app in tow, we scanned a Bud Light from the Schnucks in University City, a Budweiser from a gas station in midtown and a Michelob Ultra at a gas station in Tower Grove. All of them had their origins here in St. Louis.

So what's going on? How did a rogue Virginia-brewed Bud Light find its way to Busch Stadium?

"Some specialty packages, like plastic bottles, are produced by our sister breweries who have unique packaging capabilities," answers Jeff Pitts, the senior general manager of A-B's St. Louis brewery.

For safety purposes, Busch Stadium uses only plastic bottles, and A-B's plastic bottles are solely manufactured at the Williamsburg, Virginia, brewery. Pitts notes that other specialty items are also brewed at only select locations. The new Budweiser bow-tie cans, for example, are only packaged at Anheuser-Busch's Los Angeles and Williamsburg facilities.

But rest easy, St. Louisans. The next time you crack open a -- in the words of Mike Shannon -- a "cold, frosty Budweiser" in St. Louis, chances are good it is a local product.

In fact, according to Pitts, more than 85 percent of all Anheuser-Busch beers purchased in the St. Louis area are brewed and packaged down in Soulard on Pestalozzi Street. And the beer that isn't swilled before leaving the 314 ends up in twelve nearby states, including Indiana, Iowa, Oklahoma and Wisconsin, where we are willing to bet that a cheesehead with a smartphone is just now in discovering that his Michelob isn't from Milwaukee.

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Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

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R&A University

Updates, news, and information to educate and empower owners.

Is your “local” Spray Foam roofer actually from St. Louis?

A quick search for “spray foam roofing St. Louis” will give you plenty of results… but are they really from St. Louis? One of the more prominent search results leads you to a company website with a contact page that says “St. Louis, MO” as their location. They don’t even have a local phone number. No building number, nostreet name, only St. Louis, MO. Where in St. Louis?! How do you know they’re not just a satellite office for another company who doesn’t even know our town?

Our R&A Contracting team is based out of St. Charles County just off Mid Rivers Mall and I-70. We’re St. Louis natives. We love our Cardinals, Provel cheese, toasted ravioli, Budweiser, and City Museum. We attended the Parkways and the Fort Zumwalts, Lafayette, and Kirkwood. We call it “Highway 40” because that’s what it’s always been.

Our team is as St. Louis as can be, born and raised in the Gateway City. With R&A Contracting, you’re not just getting St. Louis’ best in commercial roofing you’re being served by friends and neighbors. We pride ourselves on being a friendly face for business owners who need reliable service. If your warehouse is leaking, you need help right now, not a 30-minute hold on a national call center.

If you have questions about commercial roofing, our team is right here in St. Louis for you. We work with nationally-recognized suppliers to bring a St. Louis-friendly service to our own zip codes. We work with businesses all over eastern Missouri but when it comes to the Lou, it’s our hometown, too.

Contact Us

R&A Contracting
1480 Mid Rivers Industrial Dr.
St. Peters, MO 63376

10 spicy dishes in St. Louis

To help cope with the cold days, here are a variety of hot dishes, from least to most spicy.

Courtesy St. Louis Wing Company

The Death Wish Wings from St. Louis Wing Company can be made even hotter upon request.

Courtesy Lona's Little Eats

10. Lona’s Little Eats: Spicy Tofu Wrap

Coming in clutch for vegetarians, Lona’s Little Eats features the rare non-meat entrée, in which spice plays a major roll. Filled with stir-fried rice, smoked vinaigrette, and spicy tofu, the dish is a favorite for both herbivores and carnivores. Though not nearly as hot as some of the other dishes on this list, it will get your sinuses working. 2199 California, 314-925-8938.

9. Three Monkeys: Fire In The Hole

Three Monkeys as we knew it may be closed (for now), but someone there is sporadically slinging frozen versions of the popular pizzas to take home and bake yourself. The cheekily named Fire in the Hole has been a signature pie for years, with signature sweet and spicy wing sauce, loads of jalapeños, pulled pork, bacon, and a three-cheese blend. A tease from the owners: "We also do have plans to bring this pizza back when we are ready to re-open." 3153 Morganford, 314-772-9800.

8. Salt + Smoke: Trashed Ribs

Photo by Spencer Pernikoff

The restaurant's so popular among St. Louis barbecue faithful, there seems to be a new location opening every couple months. If you’re looking for some high-quality barbecue with a bit of heat behind it, you must go with the Trashed Ribs. The tenderness of the meat is satisfying enough on its own, but it’s the spice that’s really going to max out your endorphins, clouding you in a Zen-like experience. Multiple locations.

7. Fire Chicken: Red Chicken Gangjung

What’s in a name? Fire Chicken let’s you know in two words that you're in for some heat. The fire chicken itself isn’t even the hottest thing on the menu. If you’re looking for some next level warmth and robust flavor, you’ll want to go with the red chicken gangjung. 10200 Page, 314-551-2123.

6. Baileys' Range: Guaca Flocka Flame

When a restaurant features a spicy burger on the menu, it’s tradition to lean on the jalapeño to do a lot of the heavy lifting. Baileys' Range decided to go with something literally 100 times hotter. Using a medley of fried and fresh habañero peppers for its Guaca Flocka Flame burger, this burger bites back. Do yourself a favor, and just get one of those boozy shakes to soak your tongue between bites. 920 Olive, 314-241-8121.

Courtesy Grace Meat + Three

5. Grace Meat + Three: Rick’s Famous Spicy Fried Chicken

Opened in 2017, the popular restaurant in The Grove instantly became a source of pride for St. Louisans. It’s a place you take visiting friends and family to show off the culinary muscle that the city has to offer. The spicy version of Rick’s Famous Fried Chicken is already plenty hot, but the off-the-menu “extra hot” is sure to leave any out-of-towner calling home. 4270 Manchester, 314-533-2700.

Courtesy St. Louis Wing Company

4. St. Louis Wing Company: Death Wish Wings

In general, the Rock Hill restaurant tends to aim toward flavor profiles over heat, with one exception: the Death Wish Wings. The spice is of the variety that makes your heart race and lips swell with pain long after you’re finished. For those unforgivingly frigid St. Louis days, the restaurant will gladly add extra habañero and/or ghost pepper upon request. 9816 Manchester, 314-962-9464.

3. Tiny Chef: Nuclear Noodles

St. Louis' secret/not-so-secret Korean kitchen, tucked away inside of the moodily lit Silver Ballroom, offers up a novelty spice level abomination aptly named Nuclear Noodles. It’s an immensely satisfying cheesy noodle dish that might just melt your face off—but at least it will keep you warm. It also serves a significantly less spicy version of the dish. 4701 Morganford, 314-832-9223.

Courtesy Gregory Cross Photography

2. Chuck’s Hot Chicken: Chicken Sandwich

Sharing space with a Cecil Whittaker's Pizza in Maryland Heights, Chuck's Hot Chicken serves the Level 5 Spicy Chicken Sandwich. In the immediate aftermath of trying it, tears are streaming down my face, my ears are ringing, my teeth seem to be sweating, and I’m afraid to move in the slightest direction. Eating fries to diminish the pain works about as well as throwing water on a grease fire. Yes, I would eat it again. 11648 Dorsett, 314-209-0700.

1. Pearl Café: Hot Challenge

If you're looking to forget what month it is for a couple days, this might just be the remedy. The Florissant restaurant uses the standard 1-to-5 spiciness scale utilized in many other Thai restaurants—but off the menu, it will let you go all the way to 100. There are spice level checkpoints that you must reach (and waivers to be signed) before the restaurant lets you jump directly into the volcano. 8416 N. Lindbergh, 314-831-7301.

Watch the video: Anheuser Busch Beermaster Tour St Louis with Bonus Feature. (January 2022).