By Julia M. Johnson
Stated simply, the Anheuser-Busch Brewery is one of St. Louis’ most recognizable and storied landmarks. Its 118-acre campus is a home base for the company’s Budweiser brand and the American operations of Anheuser-Busch InBev, the planet’s largest brewing concern.
Founded in St. Louis in the mid-1800s and known locally as “A-B,” Anheuser-Busch cuts a broad swath through the city’s history, having become synonymous with cold beer, corporate benevolence, and championship baseball. It’s a place where beer-making traditions are celebrated daily, from the company’s signature Clydesdale horses to its famed brewery tours. It’s also where event professionals stage lively gatherings that “top off” meeting agendas with a refreshing draft of fun.
Brewed to Your Needs
If you’re looking for St. Louis meeting space that will leave an indelible impression, consider treating your guests to an A-B experience with the brewery’s Tour Center and Biergarten as your landing base. It doesn’t matter if your group consists of a few guests or a few thousand; you’ll find an eventful home here. (Whichever spaces you choose, be sure to ask about brewery tours customized to the season and your reason for meeting.)
One of the most exciting features of the A-B event experience is the recently restored Old Schoolhouse Museum, an 1868 building where co-founder Adolphus Busch’s children were educated; it later became a headquarters office for the brewery. Lovingly refurbished, it now features exhibits on the company’s history, a collection of brand memorabilia, and space for meetings and classes.
The museum features audio-visual equipment and room for up to 150 guests. Full-menu food and drinks can be served here, but it’s also ideal for stand-up receptions with hors d’oeuvres passed among high tables. Amber Owens, special event coordinator for the brewery, says A-B offers “Beer School” gatherings here that are open to the public, educating attendees about different brew styles. There are also “Beer Master” dinners hosting up to 140 guests for additional learning experiences.
“Earlier this year, for the Budweiser brand’s 140th birthday, the Schoolhouse hosted a themed event for about 125 people,” says Kendra Quartz, manager of brewery experiences.
Want to keep your event guests in tune with the great urban outdoors while they’re in town? Consider booking the Biergarten, a large tented space at the tour center that really lets the air into your gatherings. Up to 300 guests can be accommodated here, and Quartz says the space can be climate-controlled, so it’s available all year. Adjoining indoor space can be linked to the Biergarten to welcome a total of 500 guests in this area. Your meeting attendees will enjoy the full experience as they relax outdoors and sample the brewery’s signature beverages and delectables, including its famous warm pretzels with cheese sauce and mustard. The Biergarten also is known for its happy hours and its beer- and food-pairing dinners.
If your attendees need dedicated indoor space where they can get down to business, there’s also the Lager Room, which holds about 100 guests seated. This private area off the Tour Center lobby features a bar, tables, presentation equipment, and hand-painted Budweiser murals on exposed brickwork. “We’ve hosted groups in this space with buffets, dessert stations and other setups,” Owens says.
If you’re bringing a group of up to 1,000, the Tour Center’s main lobby and Pestalozzi Street patio can be folded in as gathering areas too. “We recently held a 2,000-person event here using all our spaces,” Owens says. “And we’ve held an open house for as many as 6,000. That included food stations and tables set up outdoors.” Some of the campus’ most notable bookings have been for companies such as Wells Fargo Advisors; and for festivals including the Budweiser Taste of St. Louis food event, and summer “Yappy Hours” where guests bring their dogs and enjoy live music.
Lanie Thomure, director of sales for St. Louis-based MAC Meetings and Events, recently held a social gathering at A-B for a large health-care product manufacturer with staffers in town for a convention. “The party included about 800 guests, and our clients bought out the Biergarten for the evening,” she says. “They also used indoor space, and the parking lot, where we set up a stage for an outdoor talent competition. They had a large LCD screen showing on-stage activities; food and beverage throughout; stable and Brewhouse tours; even a giant beer pong game using red-covered trash cans as ‘Solo cups.’” Thomure says her clients and guests loved the gathering, and expressed interest in future St. Louis events because of it.
“Nothing here is cookie-cutter,” says Quartz. “We can handle events that are very casual, or very formal. We’ll cater to your group’s needs.” For example, your guests can assemble for morning meetings and then have lunch; take a tour; enjoy cocktails in the Biergarten; and sit down to a lovely dinner. “You can make a whole day of it,” she says. “Our groups often plan their activities around Super Bowl and St. Louis Cardinals game watching, too.”
The brewery campus’ meeting spaces can be set up with audio-visual equipment, bars, food stations, bands and other live entertainment. Additional rental furniture and equipment can be brought in if needed. There’s plenty of free parking around the facility, too.
Booking an event at A-B also means maximum flexibility when unexpected circumstances crop up. For example, if you’re planning an outdoor event but the elements don’t cooperate, staff can make indoor back-up spaces available.
A-B’s on-site culinary professionals, led by head chef Tim Evans, make sure each event exceeds your taste-filled expectations. They are experts at crafting clever recipes incorporating the company’s beers, and themed frozen margaritas are another event favorite. If you’re interested in personalized glasses or custom-labeled bottles for your event, the staff just needs one to two months’ advance notice.
It should be noted that your event doesn’t have to include alcohol to be hosted at the brewery. Owens says gatherings of all kinds are very welcome. “We are more than happy to host groups who don’t drink,” she notes. “No matter what kind of event you’re holding, we can make it work. We can dress it up or down.”
“The AB Tour Center is one of our favorite places for events in St. Louis,” says Julie Krull DMCP, director of business development for Destination St. Louis. “The history of the space appeals to our clients’ requests for a unique St. Louis attraction. And we love that you can do an intimate event there for 50 guests, then turn around and do an event for thousands.” Krull’s company recently hosted a 250-person gathering at the Biergarten, complete with private tours, a special menu, dueling piano entertainment, a Clydesdale meet-and-greet, and many photo opportunities.
No Prohibitions on Fun
It’s always memorable when the majestic Budweiser Clydesdale horses take part in your A-B event, Owens says. The company’s well known hitches travel all over the country in bright red Bud trucks, but there usually are four-legged ambassadors at the Tour Center to accommodate your photo needs too. Your attendees also won’t be able to leave without posing in front of the center’s 18-foot red “B” from an old Budweiser sign.
While your guests are in the area, encourage them to take in Cardinals baseball at Busch Stadium; visit the renowned Gateway Arch, whose grounds are undergoing a significant reinvention; enjoy the myriad attractions of nearby Forest Park and Grant’s Farm; and stay at some of the area’s finest hotels in downtown St. Louis.
It’s not often that a single locale can infuse each group outing with multi-sensory experiences, but this one can. From beer tastings and meals, attractive landscaping and open-air breezes, to the aroma of brewing ingredients and the property’s historic red-brick architecture, your guests’ senses will come full circle at this “well stocked” event destination.
Book some Anheuser-Busch space for your next St. Louis gathering, experience its many levels of appeal, and enjoy watching your guests create happy hours of meeting memories. “It’s not just a venue,” Owens says. “It’s an experience.”
To learn more about what to expect during your A-B visit, download the free Budweiser Brewery Experience app at budweisertourapp.com.
Photos courtesy of LP Creative Studio.
Anheuser-Busch Tour Center
Amber Owens, special event coordinator
1200 Lynch Street
St. Louis MO 63118