I traveled to St. Louis, Missouri with my mother recently to attend a family wedding. We were lucky to have beautiful weather and ten of us decided to spend part of our Sunday at the Budweiser brewery. I can't claim to be a fan of any Anheuser-Busch product, except perhaps King Cobra, though it was interesting to visit such a large scale brewery.
I have visited several smaller scale breweries and either helped or been in the vicinity of many home-brewing adventures. This tour, however, was on a completely different scale. Groups of 40-60 people left with a pair of guides every 10 minutes to follow a well-worn path of quaint stables, plexi-glass shielded mashers, control rooms, and no-photo zones.
At the beginning of the tour we were treated to some pretty spectacular views of the factory pipe-work. Here you can see beer being pumped through the sky in giant tubes. (It seems more likely that they actually hold water or mash at this point, but the guides said it was beer.)
The round stables are still intact and filled with Clydesdales and their lovely little boots. We even had the chance to see a very young Clydesdale colt. The horses were used for transportation before motor-vehicles and their image originally symbolized the speedy and reliable delivery of fresh Budweiser beer at a time when few other breweries could make such a claim.
These pretty hop vine chandeliers which now grace the vaulted ceilings of the brew-house debuted at one of the World's Fairs in the early part of last century.
After the walking portion of the tour we were taken a few hundred meters by bus to the sampling room. We were invited to try up to 2 beverages while snacking on pretzels in a garish, color-blocked room. The bar had the expected offerings as well as a decent seasonal witte beer and a new product not-yet on the market called Spikes. These little 4 ounce bottles come in four flavors; mango, lime, another fruit that I cannot recall, and chocolate. The Spikes contain 12% ABV and are intended to be added to beers. My mother was thrilled, as she is not a very big beer fan. I on the other hand found that they actually made the already dubious quality of the beers worse. It is an interesting idea however.
The tour and subsequent bar stop before noon was a lovely way to spend some quality time with a portion of my extended family that I haven't seen in years. The tour was free and I would recommend it if you are ever in St. Louis and looking for something to do.