Beginning on Monday, November 7, the William K. Busch Brewing Co. will begin selling its Kräftig Lager and Kräftig Light beers in local grocery stores, restaurants, and bars. Both are lager-style beers. Mainstream beers. Non-craft beers. Two years ago, William K. "Billy" Busch, the son of the venerable August A. "Gussie" Busch, Jr., decided to overlook all the up-arrows of the specialty beer market and approach the local beer market from a traditional perspective, a family perspective.
In the not too distant past, every St. Louisan had friends and relatives who worked for hometown brewer Anheuser-Busch. Drinking an A-B product here was long considered proper, appropriate. It showed civic loyalty and was simply the the right and honorable thing to do. And we drank our beer proudly, with the Budweiser or Bud Light label facing outward, the way it was taught at One Busch Place.
But when A-B was sold in the summer of 2008, many local beer drinkers felt betrayed, robbed of a civic treasure. Plus, all the cool kids were drinking micro brewed craft beers anyway, so much of the loyalty shifted to local brewers like Schlafly. And in the last 12 months, no less than half a dozen respectable local brewers/brew pubs have appeared and St. Louis again began making national news as "a resurgent beer town."
But wait a minute...
Look around. In the grocery store line or at a local restaurant. Watch what is being delivered to your local C-store or corner bar. Or delve into some sales figures. While local sales of A-B branded beers may have dipped since the InBev takeover, the market for lager beers is still huge here. Capturing any small part of that market would be huge. A percentage any local craft brewer would envy.
To that end, Busch has assembled a team of execs with over 100 years of brewing expertise. Their intent is to begin slowly, by initially using a contract brewer based in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, then build a facility here as soon as demand dictates.
On Monday, a new chapter of local beer history will begin when Goliath becomes David. When Anheuser-Busch becomes Billy Busch. As he noted in today's press release, "Our goal is first to brew the finest beers in America for St. Louis beer lovers – people who know fine beers – and then to expand regionally and nationally.” Brewing beer has been a Busch family tradition for over 150 years. Next week, that tradition continues.