Country of origin: Germany
Year came to U.S.: 1857
Education: Collegiate Institute of Belgium, Brussels
Business: Anheuser-Busch (1876), which became a subsidiary of Anheuser-Busch InBev in 2008
Headquarters: St. Louis, MO (Anheuser-Busch)
2018 revenue: $15.6 billion
U.S. employment: 30,000
Busch was one of 22 children in his family.
Budweiser is the world’s top-selling beer brand.
“A truly American tale. Freedom. Opportunity. Progress. Words that seized the imagination of people all over the world and brought them to the Land of Liberty. It’s a uniquely American story, told in chapter after chapter of hardship, hard work and hard-won success. The Budweiser story is no exception.”
So begins the tale of Adolphus Busch, the founder of Anheuser-Busch and creator of Budweiser beer, as stated on the Budweiser website. He was an immigrant who not only created personal wealth and success but also made a landmark contribution to American society.
Born the second youngest of 22 children in Germany, Busch was educated in Brussels and immigrated to the United States in 1857. Settling in St. Louis, he married Lilly Anheuser and had 13 children of his own.
After completing his enlistment in the Union Army during the Civil War, Adolphus joined his father-in-law in the operation of E. Anheuser & Co. Brewery. The company was later restructured with Anheuser as president and Busch as secretary. As full partner, Busch took on greater responsibility for the operation of the brewery. To recognize his efforts, in 1879 the company name was changed to the Anheuser-Busch Brewing Association.
Busch was a man of many firsts. Apart from founding America’s first national beer brand, Budweiser, in 1876, he is credited with revolutionizing the shipment of beer (in refrigerated railway cars), being one of the first to bottle beer and implementing a method to pasteurize beer to keep it fresh. Ironically, he was known for preferring wine at his own table. He was also a generous philanthropist, donating the equivalent of $2.8 million to San Francisco following their devastating 1906 earthquake. Today, Anheuser-Busch carries forward the legacy of disaster relief with a program that provides emergency drinking water to people affected by natural disasters.
Anheuser-Busch captures the largest market share in the U.S. with 45 percent share of U.S. beer sales to retailers. It brews the world’s top-selling beer brands, Budweiser and Bud Light, at 28 breweries across the United States. Busch’s heirs are still significantly involved in the business today.
After he died while on vacation in Germany, his body was brought back to St. Louis to be buried. It was a fitting resting place for the man who created one of America’s most iconic brands.
Learn more about immigrant entrepreneurs’ contributions to the food and beverage industry in the blog post The 2018 ILC Entrepreneur Awards nominees add spice.
Updated July 2022