Tuesday, January 17, 2017

So You Think You Know the Budweiser Clydesdales

Earlier this week I met with a client.  After we concluded our business we sat down for a social drink. I ordered my usual cocktail and she had a beer - her favorite a Budweiser. 

When I told her I am not a big beer drinker she proceeded to share a story about Budweiser that I was not aware of; it was the story about the Budweiser Clydesdale.  It was so fascinating I thought I would share it with you.

The Budweiser Brewing Company first introduced the Clydesdale's on April 7, 1933 but do you know why?  August Busch Jr. (the son) was so ecstatic that prohibition was going to end that he went out and bought his father August Bush Sr. a gift - eight beautiful Clydesdale horses.

August Sr. was not only impressed with these magnificent creatures but he immediately saw a great idea to help re-launch Budweiser now that prohibition was coming to an end. He decided to present the two people most instrumental in ending prohibition a Budweiser gift. Those two people were the former Governor of New Your Governor - Al Smith and the President of the United States himself - Franklin Roosevelt.

August Sr. bought a huge freight wagon and painted it bright red.  He then mounted several huge barrels on it and hitched his eight Clydesdale horses to it.  He then hired a team of drivers who he had custom clothing made for and they were given instructions to leave St Louis and drive the wagon to New York City.

Once in New York the drivers presented Governor Al Smith a glass of Budweiser beer. From New York, Bush directed his drivers to haul the wagon to Washington D.C.; however, he had them make a circuitous journey across many of the New England and Mid-Atlantic States.  When his team of horses finally arrived at the White House the drivers presented a glass of Budweiser beer to the President of the United States - Franklin D. Roosevelt and all his guests at the White House.

There on the front porch of the White Horse the President of the United States sipped Budweiser beer with his guests as he Washington press corps snapped photos. However the brilliance of Bush Sr. did not end there. 

Before the team of Clydesdales left St Louis for New York Bush dispatched press releases to every town newspaper along the route the horse would travel.  Town’s people from all across the Midwest and eastern parts of America lined the streets to watch these huge Clydesdale's parade through their towns.

The newspapers in each and every town - large or small - printed front page stories of these beautiful, yet behemoth, horses parading through their main streets.  After the horses marched through Main Street the wagon pulled off to the side and every resident in the town was treated to a glass of Budweiser beer to celebrate the repeal of prohibition.

Now what people didn’t know was that the huge barrels on the wagon were empty.  Each night the wagon would meet up with a train that had a fresh shipment of Budweiser beer - hence the beer given away was always fresh during the three week trek across the heartland.

Needless to say "every" newspaper in the country ran stories of this unheard of, and unprecedented "Free Beer" event.  The popularity of Budweiser skyrocketed across America the Bush name was known in every household in the land; hence Budweiser immediately became America's favorite beer.  Realizing how well the country responded to his Clydesdale's, Bush Sr. decided to make the horse a permanent part of the corporate strategy.                              

Today Budweiser Brewing has three "hitches" or teams of Clydesdale's ready to travel around the U.S. at any time and one team that permanently resides at the corporate headquarters of Anheuser-Busch in St Louis.

Anheuser-Bush has approximately 250 Clydesdale's in its stables which makes it the largest Clydesdale herd owner in the world.  Ironically not just any Clydesdale can quality to be on a "Budweiser Hitch".   Only Clydesdale's that meet the following strict criteria are chosen: 

1) They must be Geldings (ouch)

2) They must have an easy going even temperament

3) They must be very strong 

4) They must be at least four years old

5) They must stand at least 18 hands or (6 feet tall) at the withers -(the tallest point on the back)

6) Their weight must be between 1,800 and 2,300 pounds

7) They must be bay in color (a reddish-brown coat)

8) The must have a black mane and tail

9) They must have four white stocks, and

10) They must have a white blaze on their face 

So the next time you see a commercial or the actual Budweiser Clydesdale's stop and remember the genius of August Bush Sr.  A man who took a present his son gave him and turned it into the greatest marketing ploy in the Brewing World.

Just so you know Budweiser is the third largest selling beer in the Unites States slightly behind Coors Light – which is number two and Bud Light with is number 1.

In addition, Budweiser is the fourth largest selling beer in the world just slightly behind Bud Light which is third largest selling beer in world. The top two selling beers in the world are currently both Chinese; Tsingtao and Snow – Snow being the largest beer in the world.  

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