Friday, February 20, 2015

The many faces of Faust.

Photo credit: Linked article in RFT

Thanks to a Twitter exchange between Stan Hieronymus and Mitch Steele, I was made aware of this excellent article about Faust -- a St. Louis restaurateur and lager of olden times, and either of two Anheuser-Busch (now AB InBev) revivals of the beer -- not of the man, even if AB InBev is the Great Satan and the original Faust made a pact with the devil.

Here's the link, and permit me to say that the the rooftop beer garden of Faust's was badass.

Anheuser-Busch Resurrects Faust, the 130-Year-Old Beer Named for a St. Louis Legend, By Nancy Stiles (Riverfront Times)

... Apparently, even non-St. Louisans are instinctively drawn to the man on the postcard: Anthony (or Tony) Faust, Oyster King. Faust was a restaurateur, not a brewer, but he, the Anheuser-Busch family and the history of St. Louis itself became inextricably linked in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In 1884, Adolphus Busch himself brewed a beer named Faust Pale Lager after his favorite drinking buddy. For many years, it existed only in the documentation in A-B's massive archives.

Mitch Steele was at AB in 1998, when Faust was brought back the first time. I've always enjoyed telling this story (below), most recently last year prior to the beer writing symposium at the University of Kentucky. Mitch was to have been a speaker along with Stan and me, but couldn't make it. Maybe he'll be nearby next year, when Stone opens Gravity Head 2016.

I'm no fan of what AB has become, and yet 130 years might as well be the age of the pyramids. I'd try the latest revived Faust. Wouldn't pay for it, because I don't want my money being recycled to fight House Bill 168 in Kentucky.

But if you gave me one for free ...

Mitch Steele at Rich O’s in 1998 – Part One

 ... One of the American Originals series was Faust, the purported recreation of a 19th-century golden lager, named for a St. Louis restaurateur, and brewed as a house brand for him by pre-1900 AB. I ordered four kegs of Faust from the puzzled wholesaler, yanked the Budweiser, scattered P-O-S materials around the pizzeria, and instructed our employees to pitch the new beer as an AB product just like regular Budweiser, and better than regular Budweiser; furthermore, we were prepared to sell Faust at the very same price point as regular Budweiser even though the cost per keg was higher.

As it turned out, turkeys still couldn’t fly.

Sales of bottled Bud promptly skyrocketed. It took more than a month to sell the first two kegs of Faust, and by the time the third was ready for tapping, the “sell-by” dates already had expired. More confused than ever, the wholesaler bought back the unused kegs.

Brand-loyal Budweiser drinkers wouldn’t touch Faust, even at the same price point, precisely because it wasn’t their totemic Budweiser. Conversely, although it was a good product, and far more interesting a lager than the norm, those aficionados hanging out at Rich O’s wouldn’t drink it, either, because it was suspiciously inexpensive — and emanated from the hated multinational monolith.

(Part Two)

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