Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Anheiser Busch Brewery

A Sign to Obey

Of course, any tour of St. Louis wouldn't be complete without a trip to the brewery of the King of Beers, the Anheiser-Busch Brewery. I had been there many years ago as a young college student more interested in the free sample of beer at the end of the tour than the tour itself but I kind of remembered the rest being interesting. So I'm not sure if my memory failed me or that the tour has been dumbed down quite a bit in the last couple decades. The tour seemed kind of lame to me for some reason.

The first stop is the stable where the most interesting thing to me was wagons pulled by the Clydesdale horses. The horsed themselves were behind bars and just seem like horses to me. Perhaps that is just the farm boy inside me talking or perhaps because I grew up in a community of Amish who use larger Clydesdale looking Belgian draft horses for everyday work. The next stop was to the storage area where they ferment the beer in large stainless steel tanks. Since the room only contained four large stainless steel tanks, there wasn't much to look at. Although they did say that in order to drink one of those tanks, a person would have to drink one can of beer an hour (in other words a case of beer a day) every day for the next 137 years.

One of many chandeliers

After that, we went into a small room with bench seats where they glossed over the whole process in about four minutes. After that, we took an elevator up several floors to the mash and mixing room where you again saw several large stainless steel tanks. As you can see, I found the chandeliers more interesting. We went down several flights of stairs and into the final building of the tour which required us to ride up six or seven flights of escalators to reach the bottling floor. To me this was the only interesting part of the tour but there was barely anything moving down there.

Finally we went down the escalators, were herded onto a tram that took us back to the hospitality tent where everyone raced to the bar for their two free samples of beer. I declined since I was about to embark on a 25 mile drive through the pouring rain on Interstate 70 from downtown St. Louis to Highway 61 and though I have done the same drive several times always in the pouring rain, the drive makes me tense and requires my full faculty to be present. Had I been just across town from a motel room as I had been the rest of the week, those two beers would have been nice.

Ginkgo trees in color were everywhere

Gone were the looks into the fermentation tanks, the whole beechwood chip making process, the tastes of unfermented beer and the other sites that I know I saw on my first trip to the brewery but didn't see this time. In fact, the only upgrade that I saw in the intervening years is that the free sample had changed from one in a small paper cup to two in regulation sized glass pints. I don't consider it an upgrade but they also now have a large gift shop just outside the hospitality area where you get your free samples. I don't think I have any plans to ever go back if given the opportunity but I won't rule it out since it was after all free and I do have relatives that come in from over seas and it might be a good way to entertain them even if it didn't entertain me.

A small portion of the products made by the brewery

Packaging Plant Floor

1 comment:

R. Sherman said...

Ah, yes. The great "Mothership." The sad thing is that several of the old breweries which are right across the interstate, i.e. Griesedieck and Lemp closed down in the sixties. I can remember my mom's family talking about all the different beer in St. Louis. Alas, AB pretty much destroyed that.