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Anheuser-Busch Brewery, 1 Busch Place, 314-577-2000

To paraphrase Napoleon Dynamite's excellent pick-up line: "I see you're drinking Michelob Ultra. Is that 'cause you think you're fat? 'Cause you're not. You could be drinking Michelob if you wanted to."

We're sitting outside of the Brewery on a summer night. To our right, the Clydesdales' stable, to our left, the A-B tour center. And straight ahead, an inflatable movie screen. At night the Gothic spires of the brewery exude mystery. We're drinking Michelob, gobbling popcorn and watching Napoleon Dynamite. A soft breeze blows and all is well, at least in this little corner of the world. We feel weightless, as if we're in the middle of the ocean surrounded by tiny seahorses.

We have nary a worry, mostly because we're fancy and sophisticated, just like Michelob, introduced in 1896 as "a beer for the connoisseur." Unlike our Busch-drinking brethren, we've never belched in a Busch Stadium men's room or slapped our best buddy on the back too hard. We drink Michelob.

The Michelob brand has remained the show pony of the herd. Where Busch is for blue-collars and Bud brands for white-collars, Michelob has been marketed to the jewel-encrusted. It's the kind of beer you drink after a successful day at the polo grounds. Of the A-B family of beers, the corporation has deployed the brand to lead the battle against the micro-beer revolution that upended the marketplace in the '90s. Michelob offers the most varieties, including Amber Bock, Honey Lager, Black and Tan, Golden Draft and Hefeweizen -- this, in addition to the über-engineered Mich Ultra.

For the past four Thursdays, the brewery has done a Willy Wonka, opening its gates after dark to present the Soulard Starlight Cinema. It's been a rousing success, even if the programming seems more Bud than Mich: Dodgeball, Napoleon Dynamite, Old School and Road Trip. Not the most sophisticated of fare, to be sure. From Michelob, we figured The Big Chill or Annie Hall.

Many hundreds of people, some wearing "Vote for Pedro" T-shirts, sit in lawn chairs or on blankets drinking beer, laughing, talking, reciting lines, smoking cigarettes (and weed). The crowd's more Summer Wheatly than Kip Dynamite -- lots of twentysomething hotties, all gazing at the screen, where Pedro is standing at the lectern: "Vote for me, and all your wildest dreams will come true." Among the crowd, chuckles galore. Summer rolls along within the gates of the Brewery, where we are safe from harm, protected by the night.

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September 23, 2020

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