Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc.
Originally the Bavarian Brewery, Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc. began as a small brewery located in St. Louis, Missouri in 1852. The struggling brewery was acquired by Eberhard Anheuser, a prosperous German-born soap manufacturer in 1860. Anheuser had no experience in the brewing business, however his son-in-law Adolphus Busch, a successful German businessman did. Busch joined his father-in-law’s business in the 1860’s and through new technologies and modern marketing practices; he transformed the local brewery to an industry leader.
Adolphus Busch was the first American brewer to use pasteurization in the early 1870’s, which allowed beer to be shipped long distances without spoiling. By the mid 1870’s and early 1880’s he introduced artificial refrigeration, refrigerated railcars and rail-side icehouses. He was also the first to bottle beer extensively. It was these technological innovations which allowed the company to grow, and gave it the ability to distribute beer across the country.
Budweiser was introduced in 1876 and was the first national beer brand. In the mid 1800’s Americans had preferred robust dark ales and some lighter Bavarian style lagers, however no brewer had captured the American lifestyle in an original way. Seeing a need for a new taste, Adolphus Busch began brewing Budweiser Lager beer which was a Bohemian Lager that was even lighter than the Bavarians, and a stark contrast to ales. Then some twenty years later, Busch introduced Michelob, which was America’s first specialty beer. Busch used traditional proven selling methods to market his beers, but in a far more organized and deliberate manner that his competitors. He used his brewery as a showplace for the public to visit and pioneered the use of giveaways and premiums.
Adolphus Busch became the president of the brewery in 1880 when Eberhard Anheuser passed away. In 1901, the company broke the 1 million barrels of beer sales mark for the first time, making it one of the nation’s leading breweries. When Adolphus Busch died in 1913 he was succeeded by his son, August A. Busch, Sr.
On January 16, 1920 at midnight national Prohibition became law and ushered in the brewery’s bleakest period. However, instead of closing its doors like more than half of the nation’s breweries did, Anheuser-Busch diversified and remained in business. In preparation for Prohibition, Anheuser-Busch released Bevo, a non-alcoholic cereal beverage in 1916, and the company marketed more than 25 different non-alcoholic products such as soft drinks, truck bodies and ice cream. On April 7, 1933, beer was re-legalized.
Adolphus Busch III, who had become president of the company in 1934, upon the death of his father, August Sr. led the recovery from Prohibition which was slow but steady.
The Great Depression also restrained growth, but thanks in part to the introduction of the metal can in 1936, sales began to climb. By 1938, Anheuser-Busch hit the 2 million barrel mark. During World War II, the company diverted many of its operations in support of the war effort, voluntarily relinquishing its West Coast markets to conserve railcar space for war materials shipments.
Following the war, throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s America and Anheuser-Busch experienced an era of growth and prosperity. August A. Busch, Jr. became president in 1946 following the death of his brother, Adolphus III, and created a national network of nine breweries beginning with the opening of the Newark, NJ facility in 1951. Under his leadership, beer sales increased from 3 million barrels to more than 34 million barrels, and corporate diversification was extended to include family entertainment, industrial products, real estate and can manufacturing. In 1957, Anheuser-Busch became the leading U.S. brewer, a position it retains today. In 1974, August A. Busch III was elected president of Anheuser-Busch, Inc., and the following year succeeded his father, August Jr. as chief executive officer, becoming the fourth generation of the family to lead Anheuser-Busch. August III led the company to build four additional breweries, expand the family entertainment business, and significantly strengthen the company’s horizontal and vertical integration.
The company introduced Bud Light nationally in 1982, which quickly grew in popularity and today is one of the world’s best selling beer brands.
In 2008, Anheuser-Busch and InBev combined to become Anheuser-Busch InBev. The new company is the world’s largest brewer and one of the top 5 consumer goods companies in the world.