Everyone in our room started rustling around 7am this morning. Probably a clue of some kind that we were ready to get back home. We enjoyed a very lazy morning packing our things and getting ready to depart St. Louis.
After leaving the hotel, we had one last stop to make before we left town – the Anheuser Busch Brewery. Stephanie and I had the good fortune of running through their campus during yesterday’s race. It certainly looked more like a college campus than a brewery in my opinion.
We debated on if we should take the brewery tour, or just get a head start on the trip back home. We knew the girls would love to see the Clydesdales, so the brewery tour it is! Obviously, we’re doing this for the kids.
On our drive to to the brewery, we drove right past the new Busch Stadium – home of the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team. We found out later that today was the home opener for the team. Even though the game was 4 or 5 hours away, there were a lot of people walking the sidewalks and setting up their tailgate areas in the parking lots. If we had any foresight at all, we could have tried to get tickets since we were there. Not that we are baseball fans – far from it – but it would be a neat experience.
The brewery tour is free and lasts about an hour. We arrived around 10:30 and got signed up for the 10:45 tour. After a quick history lesson from the tour guide, our first stop was the Clydesdale horses. We learned that each Clydesdale will eat 20 pounds of oats and drink 6 gallons of Budweiser per day. You have got to love tour guide humor!
While taking the tour, we realized we were one of the few groups that would not be attending the St. Louis Cardinal baseball game. Probably half of the people on the tour were decked out in their Cardinal gear. At least it was easy for us to stay together – we were the group not dressed in red.
Here is a piece of advice for anybody that gets reincarnated as a Clydesdale. Do everything you can to work for Budweiser. We were taken inside the “barn” where the horses live. I wish that “I” lived this good! These horses are well cared for and they obviously loved being there. The barn is one of the three National Historical Landmarks on the brewery campus. Hanging in the center of barn is a very, very large chandelier that originally was used at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. It certainly adds a touch of class to the horse barn. When we walked into the barn and saw their two Budweiser wagons parked there, Miles told us this is where FOX and CBS will shoot their pictures of “St. Louis” to use during a home Rams football game. You know, the entire 4 days we were in St. Louis, I do not recall seeing a single St. Louis Rams t-shirt. Their fans should at least be excited about the NFL draft coming up in a few weeks.
The rest of the tour was just as interesting & entertaining. The tour guides would refer to prohibition as the “dark days” of United States history. As a matter of fact, the Clydesdales did not become a symbol of Budweiser until prohibition ended. Anheuser Busch sent barrels of some of their first brewed beer to Washington in appreciation to the politicians who helped repeal the law. They delivered them via Clydesdales and wagons.
We met several other people who were in town for the marathon, just like we were. One couple was from Chicago and their goal was to run a marathon in all 50 states. St. Louis was their 9th marathon and he said it was the most difficult one he has run in. No argument here. Some other tourists were actually wearing their medals on the brewery tour. Score!! Good for them.
The tour ends in the hospitality room, where guests age 21 or older can enjoy two complimentary Anheuser Busch products. Even though Stephanie and I are not Budweiser drinkers (okay, maybe an occasional Bud Light), we decided to try one. The bartender told us the beer was only 2 or 3 days old, and it was much better than I expected. For my second, I tried the Stella Artois, and Stephanie got something that looked like motor oil.
The lobby of the building where the tour starts and ends has plenty of exhibits to walk around. It was pretty cool that they had one television on that played only Bud Light commercials. Dang, those folks make good commercials.
We wrapped up our visit by visiting the Gift Shop. We walked out of there with more stuffed Clydesdales than when we walked in, let me tell you.
For lunch, we stopped at a White Castle and scarfed down some of their mini-hamburgers. The kids had never been to White Castle before and they enjoyed it. There was an elderly couple sitting next to us and they told us stories from their youth when you could get 5 hamburgers for a quarter. Even better, sometimes you could get a coupon for 6 for a quarter. No such deals today, though.
We pulled out of White Castle after 2:00 and began the long drive back home. A few pit stops, but pretty uneventful. That is, until we got within 10 miles of our house and got pulled over by the Highway Patrol! I cannot believe we drove over 900 miles on this trip and we get stopped just a few miles from the house. Luckily for me, he was in a generous mood, and I was issued a warning. We drove safely under the speed limit the rest of the way home, and pulled into the driveway about 8:45.
Despite our challenges on this trip, we’re glad we went to St. Louis. All of the positives certainly outweighed the negatives. Just keep in mind it will be quite some time before we say, “Meet me in St. Louis”.