Horses, Dalmations, and Beer - Oh my!

Trip Start Feb 09, 2010
Trip End Mar 17, 2010

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Flag of United States  , Missouri
Friday, February 12, 2010

(written by Justin)
Today we previewed Soulard after stopping by K-Mart to pick up some sweet $20 snow boots.  All of the tents and hundreds of porta-potties were already set up in anticipation for tomorrow's Mardi Gras festival.  There seem to be at least 20 or 30 bars in walking distance of each other, and every one of them is going to have an outside bar during the festival.  Pretty sweet.

Next we headed to the Anheuser-Busch Brewery for a tour, which it turns out is less than a mile from Soulard.  While in Colorado last winter, we stopped by in Golden to tour the Coors Brewery - the largest single brewing facility in the world.  This Anheuser-Busch Brewery in St. Louis is said to be the highest volume production brewery in the world.  It is hard to compare them because they are so different.  The Coors Brewery from what I can remember was just one massive building that contained every step of production and bottling in a single building.  The Anheuser-Busch Brewery was like an entire town full of large single-function buildings spread all over its own little mini-city.  I didn't spot any oompa-loompa's but I know they had to be lurking in the shadows somewhere.  As for which one I enjoyed more, I could simplify it down to the fact that Coors gave us three free beers per tour and Bud only gave us two.  However, the tour guides for Bud were much more interesting and we got to see the Clydesdale horses and all of the historic items associated with the company.  Unfortunately the production line was closed for maintenance so we didn't get to see the assembly line in action.  We did however get to see the massive lager fermenting tanks which held over one million, two hundred thousand beers each.  They threw a bunch of production numbers at us that I wish I could reproduce, but suffice it to say that they produce a hell of a lot of beer.

When we got to the tasting room at the end of the tour, I was very surprised to see that they had Stella Artois on tap in their own Anheuser-Busch tasting room.  If you don't care about beer skip the rest of this paragraph.  I asked the tour guide about it and it turns out that Anheuser-Busch (Bud, Michelob, Busch, Rolling Rock) merged with a company called InBev (Stella Artois, Becks, Staropramen, Brahma) on November 18, 2008. These were previously the two largest brewing companies in the world, and their merger (after being somehow approved by the antitrust regulators) created a huge 52 billion dollar beer dynasty.  To have a chance at fair competition, Miller and Coors - the third and fifth largest beer companies - were forced to create their own joint venture called MillerCoors.  So now we have "Anheuser-Busch InBev", "SABMiller", and "Heineken International".  This might help explain how Bud Light had such a ridiculous number of Super Bowl commercials air this year. 

Anyways, we also checked out the Mattingly Brewing Company, which turned out to be a restaurant with a few brews bubbling in the basement.  They had pretty good stuff - but like most micro breweries we have been to it was all very bold and very heavy beer.  If I were going to make beer, my first batch would strive to imitate the light crispness of Peroni (Italy) while still carrying a strong lager taste like Tiger (Singapore). I'll let you know if I ever get it right and need some venture capital. 

To get within taxi distance of Soulard, we splurged on a $60 hotel to the east of the city - it ended up being a king bed suite with a sofa, fridge, desk, and microwave.  After three days of $30 dumps, this place feels like a castle.

(written by Jessica)
This morning, like we planned, we head to Soulard to take a look at the area we'll be hanging out in for Mardi Gras. Porta-Potties and tents already lined the streets in preparation.

Brewery tour time! We head over to the Anheuser-Busch brewery and take a tour of the facilities. Last year we toured the Coors brewery in Golden, Colorado so it was nice to see another major brewery for comparison.  The first stop on the tour was to see the famous Clydesdale horses; they looked like magnificent war horses- they were beautiful beasts! The beer tasting at the end of the tour was nice and informative; I had no idea that the company AB InBev (merger company between Anheuser-Busch and InBev) also distributes Shocktop, Stella, and Michelob. I had had all the beers offered in the tasting room before except for one: Hop Hound Amber Wheat, which was good but mild. I will credit Justin for finding out about why Stella and Shocktop were offered at the tasting, and he'll probably go into more detail about it.

Still in beer-tasting mode, Justin finds a microbrewery that is within a half mile of the AB brewery. It's called Mattingly Brewing Company and looks like a restaurant from what we can tell. Here we have the first beers over $2 since we've been on the road. I have the anniversary ale
and I'm eager to rate it on (I had to throw in some promotion at some point!) We split a meatloaf burger and head to the new hotel for the night.

Yay! The hotel has working wireless Internet; maybe because it's the nicest one we've stayed in so far. I suddenly feel sapped of energy as we unload our luggage, and staying in the room the rest of the night sounds like a relaxing plan. After I brew some complimentary coffee (and stay clear of Justin with my coffee-breath) we wait for the opening ceremonies of the 2010 winter Olympics in Vancouver.
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Jay on

nice plug! much better than later in the trip where you write "a beer rating website" I thought you knew about the ABInbev and SABMillerCoors stuff.. ahh oh well....

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