Adolphus Busch (1839-1913) had no idea he would become a wealthy beer baron by inventing the bestselling beer in the world. A German immigrant, he married the boss's daughter and turned her father's brewery into one of the major companies in the U.S.
Adolphus Busch was born in Kastel, Germany on July 10, 1839. He was the second youngest in a family of 22 children (some were half brothers and sisters), born to Ulrich Busch and Barbara Pfeiffer Busch. As a young immigrant, Adolphus Busch may have had some concern when he first arrived in the United States in 1857. He had no home, no family, and nowhere to go. But the young Busch had confidence in his abilities and was ready to accept the challenge presented by this huge, new country.
Busch Traveled West
Young Busch traveled west from New York, and found employment as a clerk on the riverfront in St. Louis, Missouri. It was probably the luckiest thing that could have happened to him. The young German was enterprising, industrious, and determined. Not satisfied with the clerking job, he formed a brewery supply company in the city of many breweries. Soon, Busch's company was making a modest profit.
In 1860, and unknown to Busch, a man by the name of Eberhard Anheuser purchased one of the dozens of small, struggling breweries in St. Louis. The two men met when Anheuser came to Busch for supplies for his new business. His brewery, E. Anheuser and Co., was barely hanging on, making no profit. Anheuser and Busch became friends, and the older man introduced Busch to his daughter, Lilly. The two young people fell in love and married in 1864, beginning a long and successful union and also a new job for Busch. He dissolved his supply company and went to work for his new father-in-law as a beer salesman.
A Hard-Working Businessman
Busch was never a timid man. He believed in evaluating a business honestly and working hard to improve it.Busch eventually gained a reputation for being one of the most flamboyant industrialists of the nineteenth century. In place of the traditional calling card used by most businessmen of the day, Busch often presented business associates with a fancy brass pocketknife engraved with the name of his business. A peephole in the handle of the knife revealed a portrait of Busch. If you own one of those unique knives today, you own a valuable antique.
Busch advanced in his father-in-law's company through hard work and long hours, eventually becoming a full partner. As a result of his efforts, he gained a thorough understanding of the brewing business. Busch learned that beer first appeared in 8000 BC, as an accidental but very pleasant discovery. He knew that beer would be popular forever and hoped to develop the best possible product for his growing brewery. Busch traveled to Europe in order to study various brewing techniques. His goal was to create a beer that would sell beyond the limits of St. Louis, a beer that would appeal to tastes across the country.
In 1869, nearing his dream of a beer that would appeal to all, Busch bought half-ownership in the company. As part owner, he could further utilize the brewing secrets he learned in Europe. His best friend, Carl Conrad, agreed with Busch that such a universally popular beer could be created. The two master brewers experimented at the St. Louis brewery, coming closer to the taste they were seeking. Finally, in 1876, they combined traditional brewing methods with a careful blending of the finest barley malt, hops, yeast, rice, and water. When they tasted the latest of their experiments, Busch and Conrad knew that they had finally made a lager beer that would appeal to all. The new beer was beyond even their own expectations.
Budweiser was Born
Busch named the new beer "Budweiser" after a small town in Germany. It soon became the best-selling beer in the world, outselling all other brands. The brewery was renamed "Anheuser-Busch," a name it still bears today. The company grew rapidly, eventually becoming a major international corporation with business and marketing activities throughout the world. Busch was named president of the company in 1880, upon the death of his father-in-law, Eberhard Anheuser. He continued in this position for 33 years, and is considered by most in the brewing industry to be the founder of the company.
Busch approved the eagle design of the brewery's logo in 1872, but why an eagle was used has been lost in history. Some say it is a mark showing respect for America. Others claim it merely means unlimited vision. The "A" in the logo stood for Anheuser, the original owner and father of Busch's wife.
Twenty years after he assumed the presidency of the company, Busch developed another beer brand he called "Michelob." This creation became the pre-eminent super-premium beer on the market. Busch also pioneered the use of pasteurization to ensure beer's freshness after bottling. He knew that beer does not "age" well and tastes best when it is consumed as soon after brewing as possible. Today, his brewery still marks all beer with the date of bottling, to ensure its freshness.
A Lavish Lifestyle
Busch became one of the most resplendent and extravagant business leaders in the late 1800s. He developed a great zest for life, ostentatious habits, and a regal attitude toward the world. In addition to his lavish home in St. Louis, Busch maintained a great country estate, two homes in Pasadena, California, a property and hop farm at Coopers-town, New York, two villas at Langenschwalbach, Germany, and a private railroad car. All the estates were noted for their fabulous grounds, and Busch furnished his gardens and woods with carvings of the characters from Grimm's fairy tales. Forty to fifty gardeners were needed to maintain the spacious grounds.
When Adolphus and Lilly Busch celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in 1911, it was as though a king and a queen were being crowned. Busch crowned his wife with a $200,000 diadem. The president of the United States sent a $20 gold piece. Theodore Roosevelt sent a solid gold loving cup and the emperor of Germany sent a similar gift. Presidents, ex-presidents, and emperors paid tribute to the man who made beer.
Anheuser-Busch Continued to Grow
According to brewery officials, Busch's company was ranked 29th among 40 breweries in St. Louis in 1860. Total beer production in 1870 was 18,000 barrels. By 1995, Anheuser-Busch had become the largest brewer in the world, holding more than 45% of the domestic beer market. Nearly one out of every two beers sold in the United States was an Anheuser-Busch product. In 1997, the company had worldwide beer sales of more than 96 million barrels.
Adolphus Busch died in St. Louis on October 10, 1913, but the brewery he created stands as a monument to his vision and hard work.
A-B History, http://www.budweisertours.com/docs/stltourcenter.htm
Beer History, www.beerhistory.com
Anheuser-Busch History, http://www.anheuser-busch.com/history/abhist.htm
Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia, 1994
German American Corner, http://www.germanheritage.com/biographies/busch/busch.html □
"Adolphus Busch." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 19, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/adolphus-busch
"Adolphus Busch." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Retrieved September 19, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/adolphus-busch
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Adolphus Busch (1839–1913) was a German immigrant to the United States who used his inheritance funds to launch his career with a small brewing supply company. He went on to found one of the largest and most successful breweries in the United States.
Busch was born in Kastel, near Mainz, Germany, one of 22 children. His father was a prosperous merchant, innkeeper and landowner. At age eighteen Busch emigrated to St. Louis, Missouri after completing his education. There he worked first as a clerk in riverfront businesses and then in the wholesale supply house of William Hainrichschofen. In 1859 he received his inheritance and in partnership with Ernst Wattenberg formed a brewer's supply company which would become Adolphus Busch & Co.
In 1861 Busch married Lilly Anheuser. Her father Eberhard Anheuser was a successful St. Louis businessman who bought a struggling local brewery in 1860. In 1864 he convinced his son-in-law to join the company as a salesman. Busch eventually became a full partner and president of the company. He was credited with transforming the fledgling enterprise into an industry giant and is generally considered the founder of Anheuser-Busch, the largest beer maker in the United States and the world's largest brewer.
Busch was known as an innovator and an accomplished marketer. When he joined the brewery the firm's storage capacity was limited by how much beer it could hold in its caves. Busch pioneered the new technology of artificial refrigeration that enabled the company to store a much larger quantity of its product. Within five years of joining his father-in-law's brewery Busch doubled its storage capacity.
Among the innovations he introduced to the U.S. brewing industry was the process of pasteurization. This process enabled beer to withstand temperature fluctuations and substantially expanded its shelf life. As a result his beer could now be shipped far beyond St. Louis. To distribute the beer nationally, Busch decided to use refrigerated freight cars. His fleet ultimately totaled 850 of these specialized railroad cars. He also built a network of ice houses that were located adjacent to railroad transportation; beer could be kept cool there until it was needed in a local market.
Together with St. Louis restaurateur Carl Conrad, Busch developed a light beer called Budweiser. He believed that consumers would prefer it to the darker brews then available. Budweiser was an immediate success and became the company's flagship brand.
In 1879 the company was renamed the Anheuser-Busch Brewing Association. When Eberhard died in 1880 Busch became company president. By 1901 the company was the nation's largest brewery with an annual production rate of 1,000,000 barrels of beer. The company during Busch's 33-year presidency marketed 19 different brands of beer. These included Michelob, introduced in 1896 as a specialty beer for Connoisseurs.
To maintain Budweiser's market dominance Busch came up with countless promotional campaigns. Among the most famous was a lithograph of Custer's Last Stand. It was prominently displayed in bars everywhere with its Budweiser logo.
Busch believed in developing product loyalty through quality control. His strict insistence on quality resulted in Budweiser's winning numerous gold medals at world fairs and exhibitions throughout the nation and the world. He was also keenly aware of market preferences. As early as 1889 when the forces of Prohibition were only beginning to gather strength he marketed beer as "the true temperance beverage." He initiated product development of nonalcoholic beverages. He was also ahead of his time in focusing on international markets. When Prohibition went into effect in the United States in 1920 Anheuser-Busch had established 125 markets in 44 countries on six continents. This was seven years after Busch's death in 1913.
In 1899 Busch wrote to a friend: "Only by fair, sociable and liberal treatment can you create a lasting attachment between brewery and its trade. What is a great brewery anyway? It is an immense complex of buildings filled with machinery, casks and general equipment costing millions of dollars, and what is such investment worth if there is not an adequate trade for its capacity? A large plant with only trade to consume one half to three quarters of its capacity in output is bound to run into bankruptcy; therefore the most valuable assets we posses in our brewery are our trade and the loyalty of all those with whom we are in business connection."
That operating philosophy served Busch well. At the time of his death in 1913 his personal fortune was estimated at $60 million. Management of the business he founded remained in the family for several generations after his death. In addition to Budweiser, Michelob, and Busch beers Anheuser-Busch today makes and distributes several specialty beers. As of the late 1990s the company had joint ventures in China, Japan, Mexico, several South American countries, and throughout Europe and operated theme and water parks.
See also: Brewing Industry, Prohibition
Anheuser-Busch Historical Archives. St. Louis, Missouri.
Hernon, Peter and Terry Ganey. Under the Influence: The Unauthorized Story of the Anheuser-Busch Dynasty. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1991.
Plavchan, Ronald Jan. A History of Anheuser-Busch, 1852–1933. New York: Arno Press, 1976.
"Busch, Adolphus." Gale Encyclopedia of U.S. Economic History. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 19, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/busch-adolphus
"Busch, Adolphus." Gale Encyclopedia of U.S. Economic History. . Retrieved September 19, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/busch-adolphus
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A German immigrant to the United States, Adolphus Busch started his career with a small brewing supply company and went on to found one of the largest and most successful breweries in the United States.
Adolphus Busch was born July 10, 1839, in Mainz, Germany, and was the second youngest of 22 children born to Ulrich Busch and Barbara (Pfeiffer) Busch, Ulrich's second wife. Ulrich was a prosperous merchant, innkeeper, and landowner and Adolphus was educated in some the finest schools in Europe. He went to the Gymnasium at Mainz, the academy at Darmstadt, and the high schools of Brussels. After finishing school, Busch worked in a brewers' supply company that was owned by his father and in a mercantile house in Cologne.
Busch led a comfortable life in Germany. He was well educated and his family was wealthy, but Busch decided to immigrate in 1857. Accompanying some relatives Busch arrived in New Orleans, traveled up the Mississippi River, and settled in St. Louis, Missouri, where he worked on a steamboat and in the wholesale supply house of William Hainrichschofen. When his father died, Busch used his inheritance to establish a brewers' supply business, Adolphus Busch & Co., with his brother Ulrich. One of Busch's customers was Eberhard Anheuser, a soap maker who had acquired the rather unsuccessful Bavarian Brewery by default. On March 7, 1861, brothers Adolphus and Ulrich married Anheuser's two daughters, Lilly and Anna, in a double ceremony.
Also in 1861, Adolphus enlisted in the Union Army and served his duty during the American Civil War as a corporal. After the war, he returned to his wholesale business. In 1864, he was convinced by his father-in-law, Eberhard Anheuser, to join the management of his brewery. Busch proved to be a good salesman, made improvements in the brewery, and turned the small, struggling brewery into a successful one.
In 1867, Busch became an American citizen. During their marriage, Aldophus and his wife, Lilly, had 14 children, nine of whom lived to adulthood. Busch, through his entrepreneurial talents and good business sense, became a very wealthy and generous man. He entertained many celebrities including William Howard Taft, Theodore Roosevelt, and Enrico Caruso. In his lifetime he built all of his children mansions; had several other business ventures; contributed heavily to many institutions, disaster relief causes, and political campaigns. He contributed to the relief funds for the victims of the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco, flood victims of the Dayton, Ohio flood in 1913, and to Harvard and Washington universities. He also contributed to the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in 1904 and gave large sums of money to presidential and congressional candidates who were anti-Prohibition. Busch, along with other brewers, supported William Howard Taft in the 1908 presidential election. The opponent, William Jennings Bryan condemned taverns and bars as places of ill repute.
Busch was a man who was involved in all aspects of his business. For example, he was involved with agriculture—better hops produced a better beer—and helped to create the Crop Improvement Bureau in Chicago. He developed innovative methods to brew, bottle, transport, and advertise his beer. Furthermore he devised the first refrigerated rail cars to keep the beer cold during delivery. While Busch was a brewer of beer, he preferred wine and champagne. He died, when he was 74 years of age, as a result of cirrhosis of the liver, at his residence in Langenschwach, Germany on October 10, 1913, before Prohibition was instituted in the United States. Adolphus Busch's body was placed in a mausoleum in Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis. His funeral was an extremely extravagant event attended by thousands of loyal employees. The eulogy was given by Charles Nagel, secretary of commerce and labor in the Taft cabinet, and it took 25 trucks to carry all of the flowers sent in his memory.
Busch worked in his own business and for his father-in-law until 1869, at which time he sold his interest in his brewers' supply house and bought out William D'Oench's half ownership of Eberhard Anheuser's Bavarian Brewery. The company was restructured with Anheuser as president and Busch as secretary.
Now a full partner, Busch plunged into his work with enthusiasm and took more responsibility for the day-today operations of the brewery along with selling the beer to other areas of the country. Most of the beer was sold to areas where a large number of Germans had settled. His technical proficiency became apparent when he developed a network of rail side icehouses to keep his brew cool en route to neighboring communities. This demand led to the development of refrigerated rail cars.
Busch was an enthusiastic and creative promoter of his beer. He made friendships with tavern owners and merchants along his business routes. His "calling card" was a small jackknife with the E. Anheuser & Co. logo on the handle, and at one end of the knife was a picture of Adolphus Busch that could only be seen if one looked through a peep hole. The knives also doubled as corkscrews since bottled beer at that time was corked rather than capped with metal. The delivery wagons driven around town were fancy green and red wagons pulled by gleaming, high stepping Clydesdale horses. He also offered public tours of the brewery. Busch commissioned the artist, F. Otto Becker, to paint Custer's Last Fight, which depicts the Little Big Horn Massacre in 1876. In 1896 Busch had reproductions made of this painting, and distributed them to the establishments that served his beer this consequently made that particular battle scene a popular part of Western Americana.
Busch also demonstrated a keen understanding of market preferences. Around 1875, he collaborated with the St. Louis Restaurateur, Carl Conrad, and developed a new light beer to suit the tastes of those who did not care for the heavier, sweet brews that their company produced. While traveling in Germany, Conrad had tasted a remarkable beer and had brought the recipe back to St. Louis. The new beer, which they named Budweiser, was naturally carbonated due to a European brewing method known as Kraeusening, a process whereby fermentation is induced a second time. Budweiser was an immediate success. But Conrad and Busch had to go to court to keep the name, because Budweiser was already an established brand of beer made in the former Budweis, Bohemia, presently the Czech Republic. When Conrad and Busch applied for a U.S. trademark in 1907, the Bohemian brewery tried to sue Anheuser-Busch. The dispute was settled in 1911 with the agreement that the name Budweiser could only be used in the United States and Latin America.
Using a method developed by Louis Pasteur, he discovered a means of bottling the beer to keep it fresh and to retain its carbonation for long periods of time. This enabled the brewery to distribute the beer nationwide. Busch was the first American brewer to pasteurize beer and the first brewer to establish a national brew. He eventually exported the beer to Mexico, Cuba, England, and Singapore. A well known advertising symbol that came from Budweiser beer was the ubiquitous "Budweiser Girl" who appeared on trays, plaques, postcards, and posters.
In 1879, the company was renamed the Anheuser-Busch Brewing Association, and when Eberhard Anheuser died in 1880, Busch became company president. Carl Conrad, Busch's Budweiser partner was also the bottler and distributor for Anheuser-Busch until 1883, when he went bankrupt. Busch bought Conrad's interest thus becoming Budweiser's exclusive brewer, bottler, and distributor. By 1901, the Anheuser-Busch Company had become the nation's largest brewery, surpassing its rival, Pabst, with an annual production rate of 1 million barrels of beer.
Busch continued as president of the company for 33 years. The brewery expanded, stretching out 70 acres along the Mississippi River. In addition to his brewery, Busch assumed the presidency of the South Side Bank and the Manufacturers Railroad Company; bought coal mines in Illinois; and bought the Louis & O'Fallon Railroad to transport the coal. He founded the Adolphus Busch Glass Manufacturing Company, the St. Louis Refrigerator Car Company, and the Busch Sulzer Brothers Diesel Engine Company, which produced the first diesel engine in 1898. He also had a controlling interest in six hotels, including the Adolphus in Dallas, and five other breweries. In addition to all of this Busch also had interests in some 30 other businesses in the United States and Europe.
In his final years, Busch left much of the operation of the Brewing Association to his son August. He traveled back and forth between his homes in St. Louis, Missouri; Pasadena, California; Cooperstown, New York; and his lodge, which he called "Villa Lilly", in Langenschwalbach, Germany.
Social and Economic Impact
At the time of his death, Busch's personal wealth was estimated to be $60 million. His heirs still have substantial interests in what has become one of the world's most successful breweries. Anheuser-Busch is currently the top domestic brewer, surpassing Miller, Stroh, Coors, and Pabst. Internationally the company is also at the top of the list, followed by Heineken, Miller, Kirin, and Kronebourg.
The company produces approximately 35 brands of beer, including well-known brands as Budweiser, Michelob, Red Wolf, Busch, and King Cobra Malt Liquor. These beers are only ones sold under the Anheuser-Busch name in the United States. The list does not include beers like Roscoe Red (English), Elephant Red, Rio Cristal, or custom brews for restaurants.
Chronology: Adolphus Busch
1857: Immigrated to the United States.
1859: Establish Adolphus Busch & Co.
1865: Joined Anheuser & Co. brewery as a salesman.
1867: Became a U.S. citizen.
1875: Introduced pasteurization of beer.
1879: Established Anheuser-Busch Brewers Association.
1880: Became president of Anheuser-Busch.
The Anheuser-Busch company has the most extensive distribution networks in the industry, bringing beer to its customers through its 900 independent wholesalers and 11 company owned wholesale operations. Its contribution to the American economy can not be discounted: in 1996, Anheuser-Busch spent $534 million on advertising alone. Its brand name labels, like Budweiser, have become synonymous with American popular culture.
Sources of Information
Contact at: Anheuser-Busch, Inc.
One Busch Pl.
St. Louis, MO 63118
Business Phone: (314)577-2000
Anheuser-Busch Historical Archives. St. Louis, Missouri.
Dictionary of American Biography. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1944.
Fucini, Joseph J. and Suzy Fucini. Entrepreneurs: The Men and Women Behind Famous Brand Names and How They Made It. Boston: G.K. Hall & Co., 1985.
VanDoren, Charles, ed. Webster's American Biographies. Springfield, MA: G & C Merriam Co., 1974.
"Busch, Adolphus." Business Leader Profiles for Students. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 19, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/economics-magazines/busch-adolphus
"Busch, Adolphus." Business Leader Profiles for Students. . Retrieved September 19, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/economics-magazines/busch-adolphus