Known as the King of Beers, Budweiser was not always the brew we know it as today. Just before and a short time after prohibition, Budweiser, like many other beers of the time, was bitter and weak. Only after the Generation of Anheuser-Busch and their involvement in the repeal of the laws of prohibition, was an all-out effort made to take a brew and make it stand out from the rest.
In Bitter Brew by William Knoedelseder, we follow the history behind the brew, and yet the story cannot be complete with the family and the foibles that were a part of this small kingdom. The year 1933 is when prohibition was abolished and the golden years of Budweiser and the reign of the Anheuser-Busch family began.
Adolphus Bush, a German immigrant, worked diligently to save up enough money to open a brewery supply company. His fortunes changed when an early customer, Eberhard Anheuser, came into the brewery though a defaulted loan.
When Adolphus married Anheuser’s daughter Lilly, the dynasty was set, although there was no way of knowing this at the time. Adolphus became very involved in the brewery and became the first brewer in the United States to pasteurize his product, giving it a longer shelf life without fear of spoilage. He built rail ice- houses, giving him the ability to move his beer longer distances. He also began buying up some of the local taverns, giving his beer an undisputed home. All of this helped Bud to become the nation’s first national brand of beer.
Prohibition was brutal for all breweries and Anheuser-Busch was no different. The family though held the ear of the president and was very involved in the political arena.
With the death of Adolphus, August Sr. took the reins of the company. Never giving up the fight for the repeal of prohibition and their fortunes dwindling, they continued running the business and keeping people employed though the worst of time, making a name for themselves.