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Cover: Budweiser’s Legacy of Innovation Prepared specially for Budweiser’s Legacy of Innovation By 1877, Anheuser-Busch was one of the top two brewers in St. Louis. Adolphus Busch wanted to branch out beyond St. Louis. So what were the factors that contributed to the enormous growth and made A-B more than a local brewery both before and after Prohibition? Budweiser’s Legacy of Innovation Pre-Prohibition 1. Pasteurization. Previously, beer had been an unstable commodity highly susceptible to the influence of heat, storage conditions, and spoilage. Louis Pasteur conducted experiments on fermentation in beer in the 1870s. Adolphus embraced this idea and became the first U.S. brewer to pasteurize beer in the 1870s. This new technology allowed for Budweiser to be shipped long distances without going bad, and made it practical to bottle beer. Mechanical Refrigeration. Prior to mechanical refrigeration, brewing was a seasonal business and was confined to the winter months. Mechanical Refrigeration changed that. Adolphus took a huge risk by adopting an mechanical refrigeration system for A-B in the 1880s. Stockhouses could now be built above ground, and caves no longer were used. The investment paid off, as the machines proved to be simple, economic and reliable. 2. Budweiser’s Legacy of Innovation Pre-Prohibition cont. 3. Refrigerated Rail Cars. Refrigerated rail cars were introduced at the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia. By 1877, Adolphus was using 40 cars built by the Tiffany Refrigerator Car Company of Chicago. Adolphus and three other businessmen established the St. Louis Refrigerator Car Co. which later provided Anheuser-Busch with a fleet of 850 refrigerator cars which transported beer throughout the nation. The double walled cars were packed with ice around the product to keep the Budweiser fresh and cold during long journeys. Railside Ice Houses. In order to keep the railcars cold, Adolphus built railside ice houses so the refrigerated cars could be repacked. When the rail cars pulled in after traveling a distance, they could stop and reload with fresh ice. 4. Budweiser’s Legacy of Innovation Pre-Prohibition cont. 5. Advertising/Marketing. Brewers were saturating the market with their advertising and merchandise and A-B was no exception. The company carefully created an image of quality and then aggressively protected this image. By 1896, A-B had 17 different brands on the market. St. Louis Lager beer was the flagship brand during this time of growth. Other brands included Budweiser, Faust, Michelob, White Label Exquisite, Pale Lager, and Malt Nutrine. All of the A-B products were carefully marketed and advertised, keeping in mind that an image of quality was to be portrayed with each item that carried the Anheuser-Busch name. POS during this time often included a reoccurring theme like the World’s Fair or the A & Eagle. The A & Eagle was first used on packaging in 1872 and was later registered as a trademark in 1877. One of the most successful marketing tools was the Anheuser-Busch pocketknife with corkscrew. There were about 50-75 different designs/versions from the 1880s-1910s. This was a very utilitarian item that every beer drinker needed as beer bottles were corked. Budweiser’s Legacy of Innovation Post-Prohibition 1. Cans. Budweiser was one of the first breweries to investigate canning beer. In the late 1920s, Anheuser-Busch experimented with canned beer but was concerned that early can designs and steel composition would adversely affect the taste of the beer. As canning evolved, Anheuser-Busch became one of the first national brewers to invest in canning lines and marketing in 1936 to make canned Budweiser a stimulant to sagging beer sales due to the Depression. Though more expensive to make than bottles, cans carried a premium selling price and higher profit margin due to the fact they were non-returnable (thus reducing labor in washing and re-labeling), and lighter and more compact to transport – trucks could carry 400 cases of cans compared to 200 cases of bottles! Budweiser’s Legacy of Innovation Post-Prohibition cont. 2. Steel Barrels. From 1935-1938, A-B developed, with the Firestone Company, the first stainless steel half-barrel design. These barrels withstood the damages of shipping better, were easier to maintain and could be produced more efficiently than wooden barrels. 3. Environmental Conservation. In what would be the first major step of A-B’s long legacy of environmentally conscious initiatives, A-B acquired the European “Herkscher” patent in 1937 and did much of the pioneer work in converting spent grains into feed for animals and poultry. A year later, A-B initiated the use of mechanical ash collectors to control pollution. Since that time, A-B has expanded its environmental efforts to include solar energy in the pasteurization of beer, the 21.5 million-pound reduction in aluminum usage by narrowing the diameter of can lids, a vast, nationwide aluminum recycling effort that ultimately recycles more than 125% of the cans A-B produces, and the conversion of wastewater into biogas and the use of landfill gas to fuel plant boilers. Budweiser’s Legacy of Innovation Post-Prohibition cont. 4. Regional Brewing. A-B became the first major brewer to produce beer from more than one plant location by building “branch” breweries from scratch. The Newark, N.J., brewery opened in 1951 followed by the Los Angeles brewery in 1954. The coastal breweries streamlined A-B transportation and logistics needs to meet demand across the nation, ensuring the freshest possible beer in all markets.
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