Love it or hate it, it’s impossible to think of American beer without thinking of Budweiser. The beer is simple by design — some say that its ultra-light flavor is what makes it beautiful.
Today, Budweiser is one of the best selling beers in the U.S. But before Budweiser became a behemoth, it was a scrappy upstart brewery that had a knack for capitalizing on technological innovations. How much do you really know about the beer that you see at every tailgate and bar?
Here are 10 things to know about the most popular full-strength beer in the U.S.
The business was built from the ground up by German immigrants.
Adolphus Busch emigrated to St. Louis, Missouri from Germany in the 1850s. He immediately got into the brewing supply business and started collaborating with the Anheuser brewery. He married the owner’s daughter, Lily Anheuser, and began working for Anheuser. By 1880, Busch was the president of the company, now called Anheuser-Busch.
It was the original mass-market light beer in America.
America had a heavy English heritage in its early days, and our beer-drinking preferences mirrored those of the United Kingdom. Anheuser-Busch borrowed from Bohemian beer traditions, though, and sold light lagers.
Anheuser-Busch has a history of taking advantage of scientific innovation.
The brewery built its own refrigerated rail network to keep the fragile lagers fresh as they traveled across the country. The company was also the first to pasteurize beer, allowing it to become the first national beer brand.
Prohibition couldn’t stop the brand.
Anheuser-Busch was one of the few breweries that managed to stay open during the 10-plus years of Prohibition. To keep the business running, the brewery pumped out non-alcoholic products.
But you can thank Prohibition for the famous Budweiser Clydesdales.
Clydesdales were given to August Busch Sr. by his son August Jr. to celebrate Repeal Day. Those very same horses delivered the first beers to the White House after the official end of Prohibition on December 5, 1933.
The infamous rice in the ingredient list has always been there.
Budweiser claims to use the same five ingredients that Adolphus Busch used when he started the brewery: water, barley, yeast, hops, and rice.
Bud Light has been more popular than Budweiser since 2001.
The only thing Americans love consuming in mass quantity more than lager is light lager. Bud Light was introduced in 1988 and overtook Budweiser in sales in 2001.
It can’t be sold as Budweiser in parts of Europe.
A brewery in the Czech Republic called Budejovicky Budvar has a claim on the name Budweiser for its beer, Budvar Budweiser. Instead, what Americans call Budweiser is simply called Bud.
The company is big on water donation.
Since 1988, the company has donated 74 million cans of water for disaster relief.
It’s part of a large Belgium multinational.
In 2008, Anheuser-Busch sold outside the family for the first time. It was acquired by a Belgian group to create Anheuser-Busch InBev. That group has been contentious among craft brewers as it bought up 10 independent breweries. The Brewers Association, the largest craft brewing lobbying group, has declared war on AB InBev and Budweiser.