BITTER BREW by William Knoedelseder


The Rise and Fall of Anheuser-Busch and America's Kings of Beer
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Knoedelseder (I'm Dying Up Here: Heartbreak and High Times in Stand-up Comedy's Golden Era, 2009, etc.) peels away the ubiquitous Budweiser label to reveal an American family dynasty drunk on wealth, power and privilege.

Beginning just after the all-American Anheuser-Busch brand was sold to the conglomerate InBev in 2008, the author examines the company’s golden years. The company began in the mid 19th century when the son of a well-to-do German wine merchant first landed in St. Louis and set about building a brewing empire. Just how that same empire would one day manifest itself in the comic visage of Spuds MacKenzie is at once astounding and abhorrent. Indelible tag lines like "This Bud's For You" and "Bring Out Your Best" were only Budweiser's public calling cards. As the author adroitly points out, the real architects behind "The King of Beers" were far less palatable figures. Self-absorbed A-B leaders like "Gussie" Busch and his heir, August III, may have produced millions of barrels of beer in their time, but they left a lot to be desired in the humanity department. Knoedelseder’s detailed portraits of each man, as well as August IV, are vivid, and their combined histories are enough to outshock even the most scandalous TV drama. No less captivating, however, are the stories behind Budweiser's phenomenally successful advertising campaigns, most notably its tooth-and-nail ad war with Miller Lite in the mid-1970s. For years, Budweiser waged some of its toughest battles across America's TV screens, but it was their largely unseen, interfamily fighting that cost them the most. This comprehensive, fast-paced history adeptly handles both threads.

An engrossing behind-the-scenes look at one of America's most successful and familiar brands.

Pub Date: Nov. 6th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-06-200926-5
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Harper Business
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 2012


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