Adolphus Busch was a salesman, and perhaps the greatest ever heard of in America. Granted that he knew good beer and ever sought after it, the fact remains that he did not know how to make it at all.
In the same course of time he found men who did, but that was a mere detail. He sold the bad almost as efficiently as he sold the good. He could have sold anything. At one point in the early career of Anheuser Busch, its product was so inferior that St. Louis rowdies were known to project mouthfuls of it back over the bar. Adolphus kept on selling it, and it became better, and eventually the best in America.Adolphus Busch was born on July 10, 1839 to Ulrich and Barbara Pfeiffer Busch.
Growing up in Kastel, near Mainz, Germany, Adolphus was the twenty-first of twenty-two children. At the age of eighteen, he moved to the United States, to join his three brothers in St. Louis, Missouri. He first started working on the riverfront as a clerk in a wholesale supply house, but was soon interrupted by the outbreak of the Civil War.
There was nothing to interest him in the war, so he withdrew honorably after a brief service to enter the brewers supply business. In 1859, Adophus joined in a partnership with Ernst Wattenberg to form Wattenberg, Busch, and Company, a wholesale commission house. This particular wholesale house became the most popular in St. Louis at the time.Among his customers was Eberhard Anheuser.In 1859, Eberhard, a successful St. Louis businessman, first financed a loan to a struggling neighborhood brewery called The Bavarian.
After purchasing the brewery, he renamed it as E. Anheuser and Company. Eberhard, being a brewer and not a salesman, found it hard to dispose of the beer that his small equipment produced. Before long he found himself owing Adolphus a seemingly large sum of money.
The bill kept growing larger, and finally Adolphus was offered an interest in the brewery in lieu of payment. Adolphus jumped at this opportunity, for not long before this he had met Eberhards daughter Lily, to whom he took a strong liking. Ulrich Busch, one of his brothers, had meanwhile been paying attention to Anna, Lilys older sister.
On March 7, 1861, Eberhard gave away the hands of both his daughters in a double wedding ceremony with the Busch boys in St. Louis.In 1864, Adolphus joined his father-in-laws brewery as a salesman.
A few years later, in 1869, Adolphus sold his share of the wholesale business and bought the controlling interest in E. Anheuser and Company. The company was formed with Eberhard as president and Adolphus as secretary.
By 1875, Adolphus had risen to the status of co-partner and the works were incorporated under the name of Anheuser Busch and Company. Shortly after the changing of the name, in 1880, Eberhard Anheuser died at the age of 75.Now, Adolphus began to prepare for his really great achievements. Adolphus first objective was the local market. Brewing in the 1800s was distinctly a local industry. There was no bottled beer and keg brew without the protection of refrigeration was sure to spoil if shipped to distant points.
St. Louis trade, however, was the plum of the market. Here, millions of gallons of beer were already being consumed each year. There was plenty of money to be made in St. Louis and Adolphus set out to make some of it.Adolphus did not have the best beer in town by far. It is said that the beer that he initially tried to sell was so bad that customers often spit it back over the bar.
William Lemp had a brew that was vastly superior to Adolphus, and Adolphus knew this, so he worked vigorously to correct his own inadequacy. However, in his search for a brewer and a formula, he never let his production be interrupted. If bad beer were all that he could produce, then he would have to find a market for it. All breweries had spending agents, but Adolphus gathered one of the most accomplished crews there was. As a result of this, his beer was soon selling almost as well as Lemps.Adolphus was the driving force behind the business. He was responsible for introducing new developments. For almost an entire decade, he traveled throughout Europe, Specifically in Germany.
On his trips he learned different brewing techniques. His particular interest was in the area of Bavaria and around Plzen in southern Germany. While in Europe, Adolphus also became familiar with Louis Pasteurs work on pasteurization. Pasteur had discovered that he could preserve beer by heating it and killing off harmful germs and bacteria.
This allowed beer to be shipped long distances without losing quality or taste. It ensured freshness wherever beer was consumed.In 1876, Adolphus and his friend Carl Conrad, a liquor importer, developed a Bohemian-style lager, inspired after his trip to the region. They used very time-consuming, traditional methods and only the finest barley malt, hops, and rice. Brewers in Bohemia generally named a beer after their town with the suffix er.
Beers produced in the town of Plzen, for example, were called Plzners, or Pilsners. Busch and Conrad had visited another town also known for its breweries, about 65 miles south of Plzen, called Ceske Budejovice, later pronounced as Budweis. After their trip Europe, they introduced their beer as Budweiser Lager Beer in St. Louis, brewed by E. Anheuser Co.s Brewing Association, and bottled and distributed by Carl Conrad. Adolphus considered this to be The King of Beers.
The Anheuser company was renamed Anheuser-Busch Brewing Association in 1879, and Adolphus became president the following year, after the passing of Eberhard Anheuser.Adolphus did not only deal in the brewing of beer. One example of this is the diesel engine. In 1898, he bought the patents for the diesel engine for 1,000,000 gold marks (then about $200,000). Busch formed the Diesel Motor Company of America, which was later changed to the American Diesel Engine Company.
This company produced the first commercially successful diesel engine in the world.After holding the position of president for 30 years, Adolphus died in 1913. He died at Villa Lily, his castle on the Rhine that he had named for his wife. His burial was in St. Louis, the scene of his best accomplishments, as he had directed. There, the townsfolk were one in mourning this merchant prince.
There was never before of since a funeral like his. Six thousand employees marched in line and twenty-five trucks were required to transport the floral tributes. The Kaiser sent his personal representative and the President of the United States his condolences.