Launched by Adolphus Busch in 1876, Budweiser is still one of America’s top selling and best-known beer brands.
And while craft brews may be making a dent in the big guys’ appeal, the brand still boasts a loyal fan base and continues to turn out great a campaigns. From the famous Clydesdales to Helen Mirren’s sassy anti-drunk driving Super Bowl commercial, here are a few things you may not have known about Budweiser.
1. From young love to international mergers
Young Adolphus Busch emigrated to Saint Louis from Germany in the 1850s and had a partnership in a brewing supply business by the age of 21. He met brewery owner Eberhard Anheuser and, perhaps more importantly, Anheuser’s daughter, Lilly. Busch married Lilly Anheuser and began working as a salesman for the brewery in 1869. In 1879, the company was renamed the Anheuser-Busch, and the following year Busch took over as president after his father-in-law’s death.
2. What's in a name?
In the 1850s, most Americans were into darker, heavier ales. But Busch wanted to brew a beer that appealed to all tastes. He took inspiration from the pale “Budweis” lagers brewed in the Czech region of Bohemia. In 1876 Budweiser Bohemian Lager was born, forever changing Americans’ idea of beer. These days, Anheuser- Busch still has a beef with the Bohemians and can’t market in Europe under the Budweiser name. You can, however, find a bottle of “Bud” across the pond.
3. The world's most famous beer-toting horses.
In 1933, August A. Busch, Jr. and Adolphus Busch III-- he great-grandsons of Budweiser’s founder-- presented the first team of Clydesdales as a gift to their father, August Busch, Sr. (then the company’s president) to celebrate the end of Prohibition. The Budweiser Clydesdales went on to Washington D.C. to deliver one of the first cases of beer to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt at the White House. The first Clydesdale commercial aired in 1967 and they’ve been Super Bowl staples since 1986.
4. Only animal lovers need apply.
To help maintain and schedule the thousands of requests for the Clydesdales the company gets each year, Budweiser relies on Jeff Knapper, General Manager of Clydesdale Operations. The GM job involves event marketing and plenty of internal department coordination to find out when the horses need to giddy up to their next appearance. Knapper, who has an agriculture background and started out as a Clydesdale handler, says the best part of the job is “working with such a highly recognizable icon that has built a reputation on quality.”
5. Keeping their cool.
When Adolphus Busch developed an ambitious and unprecedented plan to distribute beer nationally, the company built a network of more than 850 refrigerated rail cars, along with a series of ice houses and storage depots so operators could reload ice and keep things cool. Busch was the first brewer in the U.S. to use pasteurization which was invented in 1864—many years before the process was used to disinfect milk.
6. Why rice is nice.
Anheuser-Busch made news when it first disclosed Budweiser’s ingredients in 2014 after nearly 150 years of production. Budweiser uses the same five ingredients that Adolphus Busch used– including rice, which has been in the mix since the beginning. The other ingredients (as you may have guessed) are water, barley malt, yeast and hops. The company says the rice helps create a smooth, crisp flavor.
7. Behold the power of yeast.
Budweiser brewers strive to make every Bud heavy brewed at all 12 U.S. AB InBev breweries taste exactly the same. The yeast used in the brewing process is descended from the original culture used by the founder, and is shipped weekly from St. Louis to ensure consistency of the beer wherever it’s brewed. Up for a brew tour? You can visit the historic brewery in St. Louis and others in California, Colorado, Texas, Florida and New Hampshire.
8. For Bud, bigger is definitely better.
Budweiser is the top selling full-flavored beer in the U.S. but comes in third in overall U.S. beer sales behind its sister product Bud Light and brand rival Coors Light. Budweiser is the only non-light beer in the top five, according to Beverage Industry’s 2015 list, selling over 100 million cases a year. In a play on the popularity of micro-brews, the company proclaimed itself “proudly a macro beer” in its 2015 Super Bowl spot.
9. They've had a little work done.
Budweiser’s most recent look-- unveiled in September 2015-- marked the 13th major redesign in the brand’s history. Each element of the new Budweiser bottle label was hand-drawn and the changes made their way to the can packaging, too. The new design features an enlarged Anheuser Busch crest and sticks with the well-known King of Beers slogan developed by Busch himself. Instead of listing "Born On," Budweiser now lists a "Freshest Before" date, which is approximately 110 days after the beer is brewed.
10. Even classy broads love Budweiser.
Budweiser wouldn’t disclose its advertising budget, but the brand is known for going big with its Super Bowl commercials. This year’s Super Bowl spot with actress Helen Mirren got accolades and made numerous top ten lists (including Fox Sports’ own). The “Simply Put” anti-drunk driving spot features Dame Helen with a burger and a cold Bud warning viewers in no uncertain terms not to drink and drive, including the admonishment, “Don’t be a pillock”-- that’s British for idiot. In 2016, Budweiser launched the #GiveADamn campaign, donating $1 for every use of the hashtag to safe ride programs. And if you’ve had too much to imbibe, it might seem counterintuitive but check of Budweiser’s website. They offers a safe ride search function online.