I am willing to admit that a tour of a brewery may not be the first thing you associate with ‘Family Fun in St Louis', but hear me out before you plan a trip.
The Budweiser Brewery Tour in St Louis, MO has very little to do with beer. This tour is really about the history of manufacturing in America and how a small local company became one of the top five brands in the WORLD.
On a personal note, let me say this. I am not a beer drinker. I just don't care for it. And I certainly would never encourage my children to partake of any alcohol before they were 21. I do not feel that this tour promotes alcohol consumption anymore than a tour of a winery or distillery. Lots of people agreed with me because our tour was packed with kids. I feel completely confident in saying that this is a family friendly tour.
The tour begins in a large hospitality type building. There is loads of parking in a lot just a short distance from the building. When you enter, an employee will ask what tour you are interested in. The main tour we took is free but they do offer ‘Brewmaster' tours for the serious beer enthusiasts. We were given tickets for the next tour available. We had around 15 minutes to wait. The building where the tour begins has huge, clean bathrooms. (Go now! Because options are limited as the tour progresses.) You also have the opportunity to look at the displays through the area. There is lots of information about the history of Budweiser and the brewing process. There is also a giant collection of beer steins on display.
Once it was time for the tour, two guides gathered us together to begin. The tour does involve quite a bit of walking and one building requires several flights up and down an escalator. That building does have an elevator but I would probably skip this tour if I had a stroller situation.
As you begin the walking tour, the guides will tell you about the early years of the company. The first stop is probably the most popular. The famous Budweiser Clydesdales! These horses are kept in a building that looks more like a church than a stable. (That's another great part of the tour. The architecture alone is worth a trip.) The tour allows plenty of time to gaze at the horses and take pictures. The guides have some great stories about these animals too.
If the Clydesdales were the only reason you wanted the tour, you can leave once you are done. If you choose to continue, the next stop is the industrial area where the ‘beechwood aging' happens. The size of these metal containers will simply amaze you. And the smell? Well, it smells like a brewery. 🙂
One of the next stops is the building where they used to receive rail shipments. It's a beautiful old building with lots of things to look at. You will sit in the lobby here for a short presentation on the brewing process. It's short and your kids will have no problem sitting through it. From there, you will load onto huge elevators for a trip up to another manufacturing area.
As you are walking from building to building, the tour guides keep up a nearly constant stream of information. They have funny stories about the history of the brewery and the area surrounding it. Did you know they once had a school on the brewery property? So many people were employed by the company that it just made sense to have a school close. It's since been turned into an administrative building so don't worry 🙂
One of the last stops on the tour is the bottling facility. This is where the escalators are. You ride up several floors and are escorted into a large viewing area. This place is made entirely of windows and gives you a great view of the production lines. Once you are done here, you will take an escalator down a few flights to the canning area. You are actually allowed to walk through this area (in a designated path with an escort) so you get to see the process up close. What kid (or adult) wouldn't love that?
As the tour finishes, you will load buses to return to the building where you started. When you arrive, you will be ushered into a room for tasting. They do offer samples of several different types of beer here (to guest 21 and over of course!) They also have unlimited soft drinks and pretzels. We stayed long enough to fill ourselves full of Pepsi and snacks before we called it a day.
Family Fun Facts
Hours : Varies depending on the season – find an updated calendar at this link.
Cost : FREE!!!