William K Busch Brewing Company Launches Kräftig Lager and Kräftig Light

Last week, the World Series trophy came back to St. Louis. This week sees the return of another tradition in the Gateway City: the Busch family brewing lager beer.

William K. Busch, son of August A. "Gussie" Busch Jr. and great-grandson of Adolphus Busch, this summer announced the founding of the William K Busch Brewing Company. Now, the brewery is ready to launch its first two offerings, Kräftig Lager and Kräftig Light.

Never studied German? Kräftig translates as strong or powerful -- and the umlaut above the a means that you pronounce it kreff-tig, not kraf-tig.

"We chose the name [Kräftig] because we plan to be a powerful new entry into the beer business," Gary Prindiville Jr., the brewery's vice president and chief operating officer, tells Gut Check.

The German word is also, of course, a nod to the Busch family's German heritage.

"It's also a unique name brand," Prindiville adds. "It doesn't look like any other company."

While St. Louis has seen a boom in craft breweries in recent years, the William K Busch Brewing Company is taking aim at the mainstream market -- "main-line beers" in the industry argot.

"The volume is in the main-line beers, the lagers and the lights" explains James F. Hoffmeister, the brewery's president and chief executive officer. "We said, nobody has been a new entry into this category for a long time, [and] we wish to be a national beer. Main-line beer was the way."

That said, the man in charge of brewing Kräftig will be familiar to St. Louis craft-beer aficionados: Marc Gottfried, formerly the head brewer at Morgan Street Brewery, where his "Golden Pilsner" won national acclaim.

Gottfried, whose official title is vice president/brewing and head brewmaster, says that it took two years to nail the recipe for Kräftig Lager and Kräftig Light. (Which recipe, by the way, uses only the classic combination of water, barley malt, hops and yeast; there is no rice, corn or other adulterants.)

"As a craft brewer, I made the best beer that I possibly could, regardless of the cost to the company," Gottfried says. "We're trying to do the same thing [here]."

The brewing process, he notes, is "frankly expensive" relative to its category.

While the William K Busch Brewing Company has national ambitions, the initial launch of Kräftig is confined to St. Louis. (The company plans to build a brewery here, but for now its beers are being brewed at City Brewing Co. in LaCrosse, Wisconsin.) Hoffmeister says that the plan is to have Kräftig available throughout Missouri and in southern Illinois by spring or summer of next year and then approach further rollout on a state-by-state basis.

Prindiville says that Kräftig has already generated quite a buzz about town: "Our story has gotten out there. The anticipation and enthusiasm in the marketplace has been good."

Kräftig Lager and Kräftig Light will be available at retail and on draft this Monday, November 7, but Hoffmeister reveals that the company has given permission for the beer to be sold now.
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