As I stated in my post on Saint Louis, Anheuser-Busch built Saint Louis. Of course, there are many other economic forces in town, but the (once) American beer company brews large over the city’s life. From the Cardinals to the fabulous zoo, one can see the mark of the eagle throughout the town. I wondered if Coors or Miller would be tolerated, much less sold, within the city limits.
So, a trip to Saint Louis entailed for us a trip to Budwesier. In the morning, we decided to visit Grant’s Farm, which became the home of the Busch family once they emigrated from the factory grounds in Soulard to the country estate. Grant’s Farm is so called because Ulysses settled on the farm after getting hitched to Julia. The Busch family moved there in A.D. 1907.
Grant’s Farm is now open to the public, and it is free, but parking costs $11. It features a miniature safari through deer fields that one must pass on a tram to get to the main section. Once we arrived at the Tier Garten, a lady offered to sell us an “adventure package” for five dollars that consisted of two goat bottles, a ride on the carousel, and a slushie. We bought one; I had the slushie and my mother enjoyed the rest. Well, perhaps “enjoyed” is not quite accurate. Mom was wearing a pretty outfit, and she was foolish enough to enter the goat arena with the bottles. Within seconds, a flock of goats assaulted her, smearing mud all over her clothes. She fed them until both bottles were empty, but she was a mess. This was the first place that we visited during a long day; so, she was going to deck her finest hoof prints around Saint Louis. Lesson for the wise: do not enter goat corrals with milk bottles!
There were many animals and shows to see. I was especially impressed by the African elephants. I think that the Africans are so much better than the Asians. They are larger, they look more noble with their broad heads and wide ears, and their color is lovelier. For some reason, zoos seem to be getting rid of the Africans, too. Cincinnati lost its African elephants when I was a kid. Anyway, the folks at Grant’s Farm did a show with African elephants, and I have never seen that before. Evidently, one can train Africans, though it is more difficult, as Asians tend to be more cooperative. A trip to Grant’s Farm is worth it simply for the noble beasts. I also liked the tortoises around the Tier Garten. You can touch them, which is getting more rare in our land of liability.
After a morning with the critters, we visited the Bauernhof to see some Clydesdales, the Busch’s carriage collection, and many Busch won equestrian trophies. You can see some of the carriages that Anheuser-Busch uses in its Budweiser advertisements, and many of the company’s commercials are filmed on the land. Next, we had some German food for lunch and enjoyed some free beer, compliments of Budweiser. I had never before tasted a beer by Anheiser-Busch. I had a normal Budweiser and then a Michelob Ultra. I was saddened to see that the free beer bar offered Stella Artois. The humiliation—to force Saint Louisians to serve foreign beer in their own house! It was liking forcing kohanim to serve Jimmy Dean sausage in the Temple! InBev, like most multinationals, must be a heartless beast. The ladies at the counter certainly agreed with me, but what can they say? One must follow the flow of capital.
After taking the tram back to the park entrance, we visited the Clydesdale stables, where most of the horses at Grant’s Farm live. Evidently, Anheuser-Busch owns the largest herd of Clydesdales in the world, and the largest group of them live at Grant’s Farm. We also saw them at the Budweiser factory later in the day, and I have seen them at the company’s amusement parks, Busch Gardens and Sea World, too. They are beautiful animals.
We left Grant’s Farm and then visited the Budweiser factory in Soulard near downtown. Like Grant’s Farm, the tour is free, but it further offers free parking. It also gives you free beer at the end. Together, Anheuser-Busch gave my mother and me eight free beers in one day. That more than covers the cost of parking at Grant’s Farm. They offered free pretzels, too.
The factory tour was interesting and well presented. We were able to visit several buildings in the industrial complex and to see many steps of the brewing process. From the lovely old Michelob building to the Bevo building to the gorgeous Clydesdale stables, the plant is a testament to industrial design. My family visited the Miller factory in Milwaukee a couple of years ago, and I think that it is fair to say that the Budweiser plant is more attractive, though the Miller beer cave and the Bavarian inn were superior parts of the Miller tour.
After the tour, we enjoyed our complimentary beverages. I tried the rather new American Ale and, I think, Michelob Original Lager. Then, we looked around at the museum in the visitors’ lobby and learnt more about the company. What interested me most was how Anheuser-Busch survived prohibition. It is a shame that so many of its non-alcoholic products disappeared. Just think about how many kiddies Budweiser could serve at the ballpark with its root beer and ginger ale as their fathers imbibed the mature brew.
Having enjoyed our day with Saint Louis’ beer baron, we decided to end the day by walking along The Old Chain of Rocks Route 66 Bridge north of the city. The walk over the Mississippi River to Illinois’ Chouteau Island Park was pleasant and serene, though oddly abandoned. We watched the arch of the city and the river sparkle as the sun set in the west. It was a nice, quiet end to the day. On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at the Crown Candy Kitchen for dessert. It is in a shady neighborhood, but it was a charming place nonetheless.