Like many of us, Budweiser was the first beer I ever drank. I didn’t initially care for it. Folks would say things like “you have to acquire a taste for it.” My knee jerk response was usually, “does that mean horse piss is an acquired taste?” Eventually, my recycle bin was covered up with empty Bud bottles. Shall we just say that a lot of ferment has passed these lips since those days?

There’s a certain nostalgia attached to that red and white label. And the Clydesdales? Forget about it. I still tear up with that lost puppy Budweiser ad. Though, the “Brewed the Hard Way” ad is far from embracing the cult of craft brews. Does nostalgia come with a price?

Earlier this year, the Anheuser-Busch (AB) InBev merger created quite the stir. The global force it continues to bear in the beer industry is staggering. “The reality is that within 5 years, AB is going to own a local brewery in every state. They know what to do to be successful. If you don’t have resources, it’s real tough. They’re a big giant company. They’re going to do what a big giant company does,” says The St. Louis Brewer’s Guild Executive Director, Troika Brodsky.

Even still, small and independent craft brewers were up 6.8% as of September 2016, according to Bart Watson, Chief Economist for the Brewers Association. Brodsky contends that while the definition of “craft beer” has become cloudy, it is the support and knowledge from generations of AB brewers that have created such a thriving beer culture as the one in St. Louis.

“I’ve seen our brewmasters who are an elite group of folks and who are highly trained; at times, they’ve left and gone off to do their own thing. But, the cool thing is that because of our focus on quality, consistency and passing that brewing knowledge, we retain the best brewmasters in the industry,” says Travis Moore- Senior Brewmaster at the St. Louis flagship AB brewery. The 35-year old University of Georgia graduate says that his “passion for brewing comes from being involved in the brewing community and having a passion for the different styles of beer.” He continues, “Respecting each style and its relevance is key. This is what drives me to remain active in the brewing community.”

Brodsky suggests that there’s not one St. Louis resident who has not been touched by AB’s presence in their town, “They’ve by no means walled themselves off into their own castle. They care about our city. These are still people who are wanting to make good beer…There’s not an institution in town that they haven’t supported.” Moore concurs, “We’re beer people, too. We have a lot of respect for local craft breweries in our hometowns. We believe that they make up an important part of the fabric of the beer culture here in St. Louis. We work together and collaborate every chance we get.”

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Take the St. Louis Heritage Beer Festival. Ten years ago, there were only 7 post-prohibition St. Louis breweries. These fierce independents wanted to celebrate the beer culture of their beloved Gateway City. AB bankrolled that inclusive celebration which has grown to more than 40 breweries from the St. Louis 100-mile radius for the annual June festival. And, in 2012 the St. Louis Brewer’s Guild resulted from these AB funded beginnings.

When a fire wrecked havoc on the Ferguson Brewery last year, AB invited the Ferguson folks to pour their own recipes at the AB Beer Garden in support of the employees who were left without income during the re-build. More than $6k was raised from that single event.

Stories like these are why setting up shop in a town where the “big boys” are has its advantages. “You can go down a rabbit hole, and if you really want to get negative about it…well, I’m happy to leave that to other people. AB is an old pre-prohibition brewery, you get to see the horses, and you get free beer at the end. The tour is really cool. I’ll usually take folks around to several breweries, but I also take them to AB, always,” explains Brodsky.

See for yourself by touring this historical pre-prohibition brewery, and don’t forget to check out the Clydesdale paddocks. The Biergarten offers many of the Anheuser-Busch products, and their menu is quite the spread. During the holidays is an extra special time at AB. Now in its 31st year, Anheuser-Busch will host its annual family-friendly “Brewery Lights” event this winter. The brewery will have thousands of lights adorning the iconic red brick buildings for guests of all ages to enjoy, as they stroll through the brewery grounds. Attendees can roast s’mores in fire pits and enjoy a meal at the Biergarten. Guests 21+ are encouraged to also sample the beers. Folks can get more details about Brewery Lights and other tours at

At the end of the day, Moore is a “Bud guy, through and through.” Actually, he says the only thing he drinks more of is water. Yet, he says he enjoys sampling any beer, and says that’s how you learn. His advice for brewers is “First and foremost, brewers shouldn’t cut corners…We take a very hands on approach from ‘seed to sip’ all the way to our daily sensory panel tasting. You have to have focus on process and quality.”

Beyond the AB Biergarten, Moore’s suggests these St. Louis top picks:

Urban Chestnut- New World Meets Old World at Missouri’s first LEED certified craft brewery.

Schlafly Beer– Missiouri’s first new brewpub since prohibition, it’s now the state’s largest locally owned brewery.

4 Hands Brewery– Offering four year-round beers along with a slew of seasonal beers.

“If you come to St Louis and put in the effort to see several people, you’re going to see the range of what’s possible in beer. We’ve got the history. It’s what we’ve been a part of for 250 years…from the home of the largest brewery in the world to the more than 50 breweries in our town,” explains Brodsky. The St. Louis Brewer’s Guild offers an inclusive look at breweries within the 100-mile radius of St. Louis at

After all these years, the contents of my recycle bin reflects a much broader palate, and you’d be hard pressed to find a Budweiser in the mix. Regardless, I for one am grateful for the heritage of Anheuser-Busch and how it has paved the way for those who respect the craft…the most noble craft of beer.

If you head out for a beer run to St. Louis, here are a couple of my favorite places to stay:

Hotel Ignacio 3411 Olive St St. Louis MO 63103 (314) 977-4411

River City Casino & Hotel 777 River City Casino Boulevard St. Louis, MO 63125 (314) 388-7777

While waiting to hang with the Clydesdales on my last visit to AB, the kitchen whipped up fresh pretzels served with their house mustard. Whether it’s used for dips, marinades or even a vinaigrette, this is one easy recipe worth keeping on hand.

SHOCK TOP WHOLE GRAIN MUSTARD Recipe Compliments of The Biergarten at the Anheuser-Busch St. Louis Brewery and Tour Center

  • 1 bottle (12oz) Shock Top Belgian White
  • 2 Cups Yellow Mustard
  • 3 Cups Dijon Mustard
  • 2 Cups Whole Grain Mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt

Blend ingredients and refrigerate until ready to use!

Contributed by Melissa Corbin 

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