Budweiser will always be our hometown beer, even if it is owned by the Belgians now. But the Busch family is still operating right here in St. Louis under the William K Busch Brewing Company name. The brewery was founded in summer 2011 by the eponymous Busch, who is the great-grandson of Adolphus Busch. It puts out two beers: Kräftig and Kräftig Light. For the third year in a row, Kräftig has taken home the gold medal at the U.S. Open beer championship.
"It means a ton -- coming from the Busch family, I had a lot to live up to in the beer business," Busch tells Gut Check. "Kräftig winning for the third time at the U.S. Open shows what I set out to do was to make the two finest beers I could possibly make. With our brewmaster Mark Gottfried, we were able to actually accomplish that."
The main idea behind Kräftig is Reinheitsgebot, a German brewing tenet set out in 1516 that says beer can only be made with four ingredients: water, barley, yeast and hops. Busch says he thinks that's what really makes Kräftig stand out from other lighter beers at the competition.
"It just brings out more flavor to a beer when you follow that type of brewing process, and I think because no one else in our category that we know of brews the way we do," he says. "We have strength in the flavor of our beer, yet still very smooth, refreshing, drinkable."
Busch also says the William K Busch Brewing Company will hopefully begin work on a brewery in St. Louis, which would give even more people access to Kräftig, as well as increase the company's visibility. For now, though, there won't be any new brews added to the lineup.
"We only have 1 to 2 percent of the market at this point, which is really a feat in itself, but we have a long way to go. I want to continue to focus on these two brands," Busch says. "We're only in part of two states and we're going to continue to expand, and at this rate it looks like we'll be building a brewery here in the not-too-distant future. It's just a thrill to be able to bring these medals back to St. Louis, a true thrill."
An earlier version of this post did not make it clear that Busch is planning on building a brewery in St. Louis; right now the actual beer is brewed under contract in La Crosse, Wisconsin.