The Real Adolphus Busch


With all the discussion of the Superbowl Budweiser ad 2017 vintage, it may be useful, for those interested in his actual life, to read this obituary which appeared in October, 1913 in The Western Brewer, a brewing trade journal. An extract is included below, via HathiTrust.

As always, reality, even in a brewing context, is sobering: he came from a well-off family; he received a “patrimony”, or inheritance, which permitted his start in business; and he retained significant links to the country of his origin, where he passed away at a castle he owned after years of a debilitating illness.

He had received a solid technical and business education both in Germany and Belgium, which clearly assisted his rise. St. Louis at the time was home to a growing number of German immigrants, and brewing was well-established. Without minimizing the challenges of moving to a new land, he wasn’t in a completely foreign environment, and didn’t arrive penniless and without support from home.

Of course too, the famed Budweiser brand emerged in 1876, when Adolphus was almost 40. Major success didn’t arrive until the 1880s when the brand rapidly expanded due exploitation of technical developments and new advertising techniques.

In the end, his success was unique to himself. Being an immigrant didn’t help it, it didn’t hurt it, in my view. He would have succeeded anywhere due to his obvious talents, energy, and determination.

Further insight on the man can be gleaned from a eulogy delivered at his funeral, printed in the same issue of the Western Brewer. You can read it here.

Note re images: the first image appeared at the eBay listing, here. The second was sourced from the HathiTrust link included in the text. All intellectual property in or to the images belongs solely to their lawful owner. Images used for educational and research purposes. All feedback welcomed.

2 thoughts on “The Real Adolphus Busch”

  1. Apart from his “patrimony,” young Mr. Busch availed himself of another tried and true method of business success. To paraphrase the old Globe and Mail ad, “If you want the boss’ job, marry the boss’ daughter.”

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