busch (light) on balcony

Busch is one of America’s best-selling lagers and is the only beer in the Anheuser-Busch family to bear the name of one of the company’s founders. It is second only to Anheuser-Busch’s flagship brand Budweiser in popularity and sales, but some drinkers might wonder when Busch came out and why. Here’s our abridged version:

Busch beer first came out in 1955. It was originally sold as Busch Bavarian, evoking the clean, crisp lagers and mountain air of the Bavaria region in Germany. This beer, marketed as “clear and bright as mountain air”, became a fast favorite among beer drinkers and outdoor enthusiasts.

That’s the brief answer to when Busch came out and why, but there is plenty more to consider. In this article, we’ll take a close look at how and why Busch became the national success it is today, where it was first brewed, and the fascinating story behind the original launch of Busch beer. 

busch light on balcony

Why Did Busch Come Out?

It was 1953. Just over twenty years had passed since the repeal of Prohibition, and August “Gussie” Anheuser Busch was President of the Anheuser-Busch brewing company founded by his grandfather. Busch, a devoted sports fan, learned that his beloved baseball team, the St. Louis Cardinals, was up for sale. To make matters worse, it looked like the Cardinals would be bought by interests in Houston, Texas, which would move the team far from their home in Missouri.

Unwilling to accept that turn of events, August Busch bought the Cardinals under the promise to keep the team in St. Louis. Under his stewardship, the team won six National League pennants and three World Series. 

However, despite owning the team, Anheuser-Busch did not own Sportsman’s Park, their home ground. The Cardinals rented the ballpark from the St. Louis Browns. Anheuser-Busch extensively renovated the park and wanted to name it Budweiser Stadium after its flagship product. 

Unfortunately for Gussie Busch, Major League Baseball had some serious reservations about naming a ballpark after a beer. Instead, Gussie Busch named the stadium after himself, and the park was named Busch Stadium.

Two years later, in 1955, Anheuser-Busch launched its first new product since the end of Prohibition: Busch Bavarian Beer. In the end, the stadium bore the same name as a beer, and August Busch got the last laugh. 

Busch and the Great Outdoors

Busch beer has long branded itself as the go-to refreshment for outdoors enthusiasts. Busch’s obvious connection with baseball, then America’s favorite outdoor pastime, was one feature. The beer’s distinctive labeling, with jagged, rocky mountains evoking the Bavarian countryside, was another. The beer’s original slogan was “clear and bright as mountain air”. Mountains have been heavily featured in much of Busch’s advertising, with later slogans including “head for the mountains”. 

Further cementing its reputation as an outdoorsman’s beer, Busch is a sponsor of Ducks Unlimited, a private waterfowl, and wetlands conservation organization. Busch has also embarked upon expansive fundraising campaigns for the National Forest Foundation, the official nonprofit partner of the U.S. Forest Service. Busch even pays farmers to advertise on the side of their barns. 

Busch even released limited edition “camo cans” aimed at hunters in 2006, solidifying their brand as the ultimate outdoorsman’s beer.

Of course, Busch will always, first and foremost, be the beer of the St. Louis Cardinals. Today, the St. Louis Cardinals play at the Busch Memorial Stadium, a new ballpark built in loving memory of August Busch after his death in 1989. August Busch was inducted into the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame in 2014. 

Busch: A Conservationist’s Beer

It’s not often that a big company like Anheuser-Busch pursues a green agenda, but that’s exactly what the Busch brand is all about. Although the beer may trace its origins to baseball, Busch has made great attempts to cater to campers and other outdoor enthusiasts with a variety of conservation measures.

One of these, for example, is the development of the Busch solar cooker. When Busch found out that most forest fires are simply campfires that have run amok, they took it upon themselves to minimize that risk. The Busch Light solar cooker is a solar-powered frying pan that doesn’t need any fire to cook your food. Busch also provides solar cooker recipes on their website.

Of course, there’s no type of music more indelibly connected with the American outdoors than country music. That’s why Busch made it possible to build a guitar using a toolbox and a few cans of Busch Light. The assembly instructions on Busch’s website recommend starting with a 30-pack of Busch Light and ending with a beautifully picked rendition of your favorite country song. 

Where Was Busch First Brewed?

Busch, although it was marketed as “Busch Bavarian”, is not brewed in Germany. Busch was originally brewed in St. Louis, Missouri, at the Anheuser-Busch brewery that also produced Budweiser. 

St. Louis, the second-largest city in Missouri, became a national center of brewing when Anheuser-Busch first set up shop there in 1852. There were many features of the city that made this easier, including the significant market of beer drinkers among the German-American immigrants calling St. Louis home. St. Louis sits on the Mississippi River, giving it plenty of clear, fresh water to brew with. Finally, before refrigeration was widespread and industrialized, St. Louis is surrounded by caves. Caves were used in the German brewing tradition to keep lagers cool during storage. In fact, the word “lager” is derived from the German word for “storage”, in reference to the cold caves where old brewmasters used to store their beers.

What’s the Difference Between Busch and Budweiser?

Although Budweiser is undoubtedly the flagship brand of the Anheuser-Busch company, Busch enjoys a strong reputation among American drinkers. Busch is particularly favored among outdoors enthusiasts like hunters and hikers for its easy drinkability and relatively low alcohol content. The main difference between the two is that Busch is sold at a slightly lower price point than Budweiser and competes directly with the second-tier MillerCoors brands Milwaukee’s Best and Keystone. 

How Many Types of Busch are There?

As the second brand of the Anheuser-Busch brewing empire, Busch beer has a few variations on the market. The first of these to enter the market was Busch Light Draft, launched in 1989 to capitalize on the growing appetite for light lager among American drinkers. Busch also entered the world of non-alcoholic beer in 1994 with Busch NA and offered an extra-strong ice beer called Busch Ice a year later. 

Although Busch’s various iterations compete directly with their equivalents from the MillerCoors family, such as Keystone Light and Keystone Ice, simple, old-fashioned Busch remains the stalwart of the brand.