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Biography

The brew prince who disliked King Bud

 
A portrait of a royal-looking Adolphus Busch in 1904.

Carved on the St. Louis tomb of Adolphus Busch, kingpin and promotional wizard who created the Anheuser-Busch brewing empire, are hop flowers, hop vines, and barely, plants that provided some of the ingredients of his famous brew, Budweiser. The Latin motto of Caesar himself -- "Veni, Vidi, Vici," (I came, I saw, I conquered) -- is also inscribed on the tomb. Born in 1839 in Germany's wine country, Adolphus, at age 18, emigrated to the United States, married into a St. Louis brewing family (the Anheusers), and by 1880 had added his surname to the Anheuser-Busch brewery, the red-brick foundation of Busch's future beer empire. According to Busch biographers Peter Hernon and Terry Ganey, when a German doctor told Busch that beer drinking was ruining his health, Busch excitedly replied that he never drank beer, not even his best-known brew, Budweiser -- he drank wine and champagne! A notorious money spender (and money maker) he lived a royal life style, complete with mansions, servants, newly-invented automobiles, horses, and tallyho coaches. Well wishers filled a sport's stadium in St. Louis to celebrate his golden wedding anniversary by drinking 40,000 bottles of free beer, provided, of course, by the Anheuser-Busch brewery. He knew kings and presidents (William Taft, the American president, called him Prince Adolphus) and he gave the rich and famous a diamond pin while the common, beer-drinking admirer received a peephole pocketknife containing his photograph. On his death in 1913, St. Louis observed a silent salute to the "King of Beers" while 5,000 brewery employees filed pass the casket in Busch's detective-guarded mansion. Later two dozen beer trucks carried flowers to the grave. At death he was worth US $50 million, a vast fortune in pre-World War I dollars when Budweiser sold for a dime a bottle. Source: Peter Hernon and Terry Ganey, Under the Influence: The Unauthorized Story of the Anheuser-Busch Dynasty (New York, 1991).

Bud height factlet: Adolphus Busch was short in height, standing 5 feet 5 inches (1.65 m) tall, the combined height of seven Budweiser long-necked beer bottles, minus 1.73 inches (43.94 mm). Source: WBT's measurement files.

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