Beer, Food, and Clydesdales Make for Memorable Events
Article by Stacy Ross
You’ll find everyone from executives in suits and ties, chefs in white puffy hats, spandex-clad yoga instructors, and tourists in Bermuda shorts at events in The Biergarten at Anheuser-Busch.
They’re from corporations and non-profits, travel agencies and social clubs, and they flock to a more modern and hipper version of a beer hall than you might find in Munich.
The venue is so popular some clients book as far as a year or two in advance, said Special Events Lead, Ashley Haman. Of course, the brand, that is synonymous with St. Louis, is its own draw. You’re invited to an event at the brewery? (Is an RSVP really necessary?) Then you learn it’s in The Biergarten AND the Clydesdales will be there. Do you consider giving up your box seats to a Cards-Cubs game? (OK, that might be a stretch.)
The iconic brand and the festive atmosphere in The Biergarten fit the bill for Maggie Vandereems and her United Motorcoach Association. “Since we are in the travel and tourism market, we like to choose venues for our large offsite parties that are unique to the destination,” said Vandereems, vice president of member services and meetings for UMA.
Each year UMA holds a trade show in a different city around the country. The organization chose St. Louis for its 2017 event, with an off-site party at The Biergarten attended by about 1,000 people.
LOTS OF OPTIONS, LOTS OF FLEXIBILITY
“The space was great,” Vandereems said. “We used The Biergarten for our live entertainment of dueling pianos. Then inside there were multiple spaces for our attendees to explore including some quieter spaces for people to sit and network.”
Chef Chris Desens also likes the variety of different spaces and tours of the brewery available for his annual Cheftoberfest tasting event, a fundraiser for scholarships for students seeking professional culinary certifications.
“What’s so great about [the venue] is it’s so flexible,” said Desens. “It’s conducive to many different styles of setup.”
This October will be the fifth year for Cheftoberfest, which usually draws about 250 people who line up for tastes of culinary creations from 20 volunteer chefs. (The Biergarten is the exclusive caterer for all events at the venue. The chefs’ event is an exception.)
In addition to Cheftoberfest, the organization has held several other events at The Biergarten over the years, including a reception for about 350 people as part of a conference, Desens said, and they plan to keep coming back
Elle Potter is founder of Yoga Buzz, which holds regular Yoga + Beer events at The Biergarten.
“We have enjoyed our partnership with The Biergarten because they are so great to work with,” Potter said. “Plus, what is more St. Louis than Anheuser-Busch?”
“There are a few different places in The Biergarten where we’ve hosted our events, and that flexibility makes it fun to mix up the experience for our attendees,” she said.
THE KING OF BEERS
The Biergarten has three areas available for rent including the indoor and outdoor Biergartens, which together hold 500, and the Lager Room with a capacity of 75.
Group sizes generally average 150-200 people, with a range of 15 to 1,000, said Special Events Lead, Kelly Yocco. The Biergarten once hosted an event for 3,000, using the indoor and outdoor Biergartens, the lobby, the Lager Room, and some additional space along the tour route.
Rental rates for each space range from $1,000 for two hours in either the indoor Biergarten or the Lager Room in the off season, to $3,000 for four hours in the outdoor Biergarten during peak season. The outdoor Biergarten is fully enclosed and heated in the colder months. The tent sides come down in the spring and by May it is entirely open-air.
Prices for the lobby or a complete buyout are quoted on a case-by-case basis, Yocco said. “We don’t typically rent out the lobby. Not a lot of groups use it.”
Rental fees include existing tables and chairs, event supplies, and napkins and plastic tableware. China and flatware are available for an extra fee. An open bar with wine for four hours is $28 per person; there is a $500 minimum for a cash bar.
Food options range from hot dogs, brats and a pretzel bar, to wings, hummus and vegetable trays, all the way up to the “King of Beers” buffet package for $43 per person. Entrée options with that package include ricotta ravioli, shrimp scampi and London broil. Carving stations, plated dinners and beer-pairing dinners are available for an additional charge.
“We have two on-site chefs that are able to make almost anything that a client requests,” said Special Events Lead, Kaleigh Admire. “Our menus on our website are just a starting point. We’ve done filet mignon, crab cakes, and shrimp cocktail on an ice sculpture.”
Also available are brewery tours ($500 for up to 50 people) or an appearance by the Clydesdales ($1,000), subject to availability. Holiday parties can be arranged in conjunction with Oktoberfest and the brewery’s holiday light display, Admire said.
“I highly suggest asking for a Clydesdale appearance,” said Vandereems, of the United Motorcoach Association. “Our attendees loved it. We also worked with the venue to provide our guests with sponsored customized pint glasses that were a hit.”
Yocco recommends that clients come to them with basic information like the number of guests and the time period they’re looking for. “We can run with it once we get the basics. We can help them with what would enhance their experience,” she said. “Even when we get last minute requests, we do our best to make it happen.” And, she added: “Book early. We do fill up, especially during peak season.”
With all the different amenities The Biergarten offers, Potter, Desens and Vandereems all singled out the service for praise.
“The venue’s staff is top notch and made planning a breeze,” Vandereems said. “They provided the best service from start to finish.”
Yoga Buzz’s Potter concurred. “Kelly Yocco is amazing to work with. She is very organized and supportive, making sure all of our needs are taken care of. I’ve enjoyed working with her over the last four years.”
Ditto for Yocco. “I enjoy working with the guests and creating those experiences,” she said. “We have such a great group. Whether you get Ashley, Kaleigh or myself, you’re going to have a phenomenal expericence.” MM&E
Stacy Ross is a contributing writer from St. Louis