Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Free Beer: Battle Of The Brewery Tours



In St. Louis, we had two sights to see, the Arch and the Anheuser-Busch Factory. My wife wanted to see Clydesdales and I wanted to drink beer. Two days later while in Denver we thought it only fair to head out to Golden and check out the Coors factory as well. In the interest of comparative shopping, this is how the two factories face up head to head.

Aesthetics

The Busch factory complex is full of beautiful hundred-year-old red brick buildings in an otherwise industrial section of the St. Louis waterfront.

The Coors factory building is a pretty non-descript metal building in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. The scenery is beautiful, the factory not so much.
Advantage: Busch. You really feel like you are walking through a great institution rather than watching the crappiest beer on earth get processed.

Waiting Area Photo-Op

The Busch lounge has lots of displays of the history of the company, all their products, the theme parks, as well as a Dale Earnhardt, Jr NASCAR race car.

A giant copper kettle sits outside the front door. No sign of the Silver Bullet racer. Inside, the history of the company display does have a picture of Burt Reynolds from Smokey and The Bandit.
Advantage: Busch. Nobody gets out of the waiting room without taking a picture of the car.

Tour

The Busch tour goes through three areas of the plant including the cold beechwood aging room, but photography isn’t allowed in the working areas. The walk through the packaging area is done at a slow jog.

Coors shows more of the process, but most of it is done from behind glass observation windows. Still, you get a better feel for how beer is made. And they give out a two-ounce taster half way through the tour.
Advantage: Coors. They do a lot of good subtle selling of why their beer is the better tasting horse piss.

Samples
Nobody takes a beer factory tour to hear about hops. They go for Free Beer. At Anheuser-Busch you are allowed two free samples as well as unlimited snacks. In addition to all the Bud and Michelob varieties, they had World Lager on tap and bottles of the fruity Bacardi malt liquors.Coors allows for three free samples, but you have to buy snacks from a vending machine. The free flavors included Coors, Keystone, Blue Moon, and Killians as well as unlimited Coors Non-Alcoholic. They also had Zima in slushie machines. Way tasty.
Advantage: Draw. Nobody can drink all of the samples and still drive after the tour. We just took sips of each of ours and threw the rest away.

Gift Shop
The Busch merch leans towards tailgating accessories and slutwear. Lots of belly shirts, tank-tops and Daisy Dukes available. Seems to fit with the red-neck blue-collar working-class target market.Coors had a much wider variety of apparel and accessories. We bought a Killians Red ball cap and a refrigerator magnet bottle opener.
Advantage: Coors. A much classier mix of items. One shopper was upset that Busch didn’t have anything for toddlers with the Bud logo on it.

Intangibles

Clydesdales. Chicks dig the horses. See this picture to figure out why.

Golden, Colorado is a much nicer place to grab a meal and let the cheap beer buzz wear off than St. Louis.
Advantage: Busch. Not everybody likes beer, so it’s nice to have something else to see. We liked the horses so much, we ended up taking a side-trip to Grant’s Farm to see the main Clydesdale ranch.

Overall Winner: Busch

The factory is gorgeous even if the beer is crappy. We’ll have to make a trip to Milwaukee and tour the Miller factory before we declare a final winner, but Busch gives off a much better sense of history. For all you do, this Bud’s for you.

Blatant Comment Whoring™: What is your favorite factory tour?

12 comments:

dykewife said...

i went on a tour of the dairy processing plant when i was a kid. i got to see how butter was made, how milk was packaged and bottled (yeah, i'm old enough that milk not only came in bottles, but glass bottles for door to door delivery), how ice cream was made and the different packaging it went through, how chocolate milk was made and then at the end of the tour we each got a cup thing of either chocolate or vanilla ice cream and one of those little wooden spatula spoon things.

come to think of it that's the only factory tour i've ever been on. i'm allergic to hops, so i'm unlikely to go on any brewery tours.

Anonymous said...

Harumph! That is *not* why chicks dig horses! (It's because they *listen* so well!) Ha!

True story - I know a guy who works for Budweiser. He gets free beer as part of his compensation (they used to be able to drink on the job!). The last couple of years, he has saved up his beer to bring to a big get together in Tulsa.

mostlylurking

Impetua said...

Well, if you head to the Oregon coast you can tour the Tillamook cheese factory... Not that I ever have, but you can.

When I was a kid our school took us to the local Safeway bakery for a tour. My uncle happened to work there and when we got to where he was, he reached into a big machine and pulled out a big glob of bread dough and plunked it into my hands. Kid nirvana.

The Franz bread bakery is right across the street from my high school -- yes, 20 years later it's still there -- and in the warm late-spring afternoons the smell of baking bread wafting in through the windows was almost more than we could take. You can go there and watch the bread moving on big conveyers in and out of the ovens and so forth, through the windows. I didn't tour it but it was a beloved fixture of my high school experience.

yellojkt said...

They still have the free beer at Busch. Coors has Coors and Coors Light on tap in the cafeteria and in the health club.

We went on the Ben and Jerry's tour on our honeymoon, but that is a whole different tale.

lisa said...

Come to think of it, I've never been on a factory tour.

Of course I'd never grace the doors of the Coors folks given their political leanings. Somethings I just can't over look these days.

Mooselet said...

I saw a horse like that in Jamaica once, but my husband was with me and I had to pretend I didn't see it. :-)

I don't know that I've ever been on a factory tour. When I first moved to Brisbane we lived less than 2 miles from the XXXX (pronounced 'four-ex') Brewery, and the occasional stench of fermenting yeast could be overwhelming. I never got used to it. My teenager, when in the 7th grade (so she was 12 - they start 'em young here), took a tour of said brewery which she labeled "cool but beer is SO gross".

Claude said...

When I was a kid, Hershey Park was not a big deal at all, and the factory tour was actually the big draw.

At that time, you walked through the factory itself, doing the "walk on the yellow line" routine. You could chitchat with the people working the factory equipment. The only part of the tour that was behind glass was the room where the still-liquid chocolate got mixed. No way you'd get a tour like that anywhere nowadays.

Something tells me I don't have to click on the horse link; I'm pretty sure I know what I'll see. But those Clydesdales are something else when you see them up close and personal, aren't they??

BTW: The photo of the Busch brewery reminds me that the building on the northwest corner of North Avenue and Howard Street was once a brewery. They really knew how to build 'em, once upon a time.

Liz said...

When I worked at a day care we took the kids on a tour of the local grocery store. It was so much fun! The people were really proud of their jobs, and they took us inside the big freezers and the bakery department showed us how they decorate cakes. It sounds hokey, but it was really interesting and fun! By the way, when I was a little girl we went to some fair and Busch had their horses hooked up two by two to a wagon. They had 50 huge Clydesdales! They picked me out of the crowd to ride on the wagon! It was Amazing!! They also got all 50 horses to BACK UP!! Very exciting!!

Brendan said...

favorite factory tour?
Yards brewery in Philadelphia. they give out as much free beer as you can drink, and it tatses BOATLOADS better than Bud OR Coors.

Philly has a long brewing history, which makes the fact that there's only one brewery left in the city very sad. My girlfriend chose brewery history as her thesis for her grad degree (historic conservation) and the two of us have been all over the city taking photos of brewery remains.

As Claude saysm they really DID know how to build 'em back in the day.

Harmonica Man said...

Why read the newspaper or watch TV when you can get everything you need to know from yellowjkt?

Once again, well done on the side-by-side. Now only did I learn something, but I also got my daily fill of horse porn!

Anonymous said...

In the early '70s UC Davis had a cow with a glass window in one of its 28 stomachs. This was a new kind of TV.

Anonymous said...

A cousin of mine seeing a stallon on the farm for the first time gushed out "my god so thats why they call them studs" for everybody to hear.She did turn a deep red.