Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Bud Wiser

The innovative and highly-successful brewer, Adolphus Busch, has a little something to teach us in today's excerpt from LAST CALL: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition by Daniel Okrent.

The youngest of twenty-one children of a prosperous Rhineland merchant, Adolphus Busch immigrated to the United States in 1857, went into the brewery supply business, and in 1861, at twenty-two, married Lilly Anheuser, the daughter of one of his customers. Adolphus soon took over the management of his father-in-law's company and in time appended his surname to it.

Busch was a genuine visionary. Where others saw brewing as a fairly straight-forward enterprise, he saw it as the core of a vertically integrated series of businesses. He built glass factories and ice plants. He acquired railway companies to ferry coal from mines he owned in Illinois to the vast Anheuser-Busch factory complex sprawled across seventy acres of St. Louis riverfront. (A local joke: St. Louis was “a large city on the [banks of the] Mississippi, located near the Anheuser-Busch plant.”) Busch got into the business of manufacturing refrigerated rail cars and truck bodies that could be used not just by breweries but also by such substantial customers as the Armour meatpacking company. He paid one million dollars for exclusive U.S. rights to a novel engine technology developed by his countryman Rudolf Diesel, and for $30,000 purchased the painting of Custer's Last Stand that, with the Anheuser-Busch logotype prominently appended, would soon grace the walls of thousands upon thousands of saloons. In 1875 Busch produced thirty-five thousand barrels of beer; by 1901, his annual output — primarily of a light lager named for the Bohemian town of Budweis — surpassed a million barrels.

Adolphus had a potent personal aura. He spoke five languages, built palaces for himself and his wife in St. Louis, Pasadena, Cooperstown, and Wiesbaden, and traveled in a style appropriate for the monarch he was. Whenever Adolphus and Lilly returned from a trip to their home at Number One Busch Place (situated on company property in St. Louis), brewery employees fired a cannon.

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And then, after all his success and widespread respect in the brewing community and, indeed, around the world, Busch died in a sadly-appropriate manner...losing his life to cirrhosis of the liver.

Truth is..."Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows." (Galatians 6:7)


  1. God sure showed him, only letting him live until 74 with incredible wealth and power.

  2. Okay...that IS pretty funny. You got me.