Budweiser History in New Hampshire

Photograph of a Budweiser Clydesdale from the Merrimack NH facility in 2013, exhibited at a Merrimack Police Department event. Copyright Janice W. Brown.

Budweiser beer was a popular drink in New Hampshire even before the Anheuser-Busch Company built a brewery in our state. Only three years after this beer’s introduction, the Boston Daily Advertiser newspaper of 23 August 1879 published an advertisement of the sale of Budweiser lager beer, in pint bottles. They claimed health benefits stating, “Physicians are generally recommending Lager Beer…”

Initially called the E. Anheuser Brewing Association in 1860, by 1879 the company was renamed the Anheuser-Busch Brewing Association to honor Adolphus Busch who was the (then) president. Founded in St. Louis, Missouri, the parent company remains there though they have manufacturing facilities elsewhere–one in Merrimack, New Hampshire.

Edward Flanagan, police officer in Manchester, riding on the Budweiser Wagon in 1933. Photograph from the family of Edward F. Flanagan. Used with permission.

In 1933, the year Prohibition ended and New Hampshire men and women could legally drink alcohol again, we were visited by the Clydesdale horse team pulling the beer wagon. The horses were shipped by rail to several major cities on the east coast as part of the company’s celebration and return to beer brewing.  The team stopped in New York, Boston, and Manchester, New Hampshire (and other locations).

During the Manchester NH exhibit of 1933, Edward Francis “Ed” Flanagan was 45, and a Manchester police officer.  He is pictured here, riding with the official Clydesdales driver as they pull the famous Budweiser beer wagon.  A newspaper article describes how the Clydesdales were driven in teams of 6 with a paired backup/alternate team. The Clydesdales that visited New England in April of 1933 were named Sundial, Shamrock, Brookdale, Wallace, Teddy, Bob, Director, and Lindy. [ Editor’s note: One old newspaper article stated that the drivers often will not share the name of the horses as they react to voice commands, and it would not be good for members of the audience to be shouting out their names.]

In the late 1960s the Anheuser-Busch Company began looking for a new location with a good source of water to build a brewery. The company advertised in several newspapers, including The Lowell Sun (Lowell) Massachusetts of 31 October 1971. A full-page notice touted “In June of 1970, the ultra-modern $40 million Anheuser-Busch brewery was completed in Merrimack (NH)...” and the ad tied in the presence of the native peoples to the high-quality water supply (i.e. “Passaconaway valued the fertile lands and natural spring waters of Merrimack…”).

The Merrimack Brewery remains today, on the land that Passaconaway and his people roamed so long ago. The Anheuser-Busch plant includes the brewery, a Biergarten (for tours) and a Clydesdale Hamlet (housing some of the famed Budweiser Clydesdales).

1918 Bevo advertisement

I thought now would be a good time to add a bit of Budweiser trivia that few people today remember. During WWI and later during the Prohibition era (where the making and sales of alcoholic beverages was outlawed) there were many breweries who went out of business.  Anheuser-Busch managed not only to survive, but to thrive by producing alternative drinks and products.

Bevo was a “cereal beverage” (do not call it a “near beer”) advertised as a family drink, and “ideal beverage with hot or cold dishes including lobster, sardines, oysters, sausage, spaghetti, swiss cheese, goulash, raviola, pickles and chile-con-carne.” This drink was first made in 1916 when the sale of alcohol to military personnel was banned, and continued until 1929 when sales had dropped. During its heyday, the use of specially imprinted “Bevo glasses” was even supported in the drink’s advertising. In 1918 the company advertised that “Our boys in the Navy enjoy their Bevo. The Navy Department has put its official seal of endorsement on this triumph in soft drinks, by allowing it to be sold and served on all Naval Vessels.”

6 Sep 1932 Malt Syrup ad in Suburbanite Economist newspaper, Chicago

March 1919: newspapers reported on new industries established by Anheuser-Busch including a mixed-feed manufacturing plant (cattle, horse and hog feeds), pork packing, Bevo, malt candy and a malt sirup business.

1926-1928: Anheuster-Busch produced a powerful and unprecedented advertising campaign for Malt Syrup, keeping it in the public eye in 1,500 newspapers.

In 1926: Anheuser-Busch created a “near beer” called “New Budweiser” that they advertised “tastes like the old Budweiser but without the kick.” In 1933 when Prohibition ended their focus returned to brewing the real thing. [See Anheuser-Busch’s Advertising History].

If my readers have additional details that they can add to this story, please comment below!


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6 Responses to Budweiser History in New Hampshire

  1. Amy says:

    Interesting! I used to like Budweiser—back in the days before all the new and local and craft beers came around. Now I prefer a nice Belgian or German beer! Did you know that there is a Czech beer called Budweiser that has been around almost as long as the US version, leading to a long history of trademark litigation?!

  2. Pat_H says:

    Great entry. I had no idea that Budweiser had introduced a non alcohol drink during Prohibition, although I have to say that the name “Bevo” doesn’t strike me as the best.

    • Janice Brown says:

      Thank you Pat for reading and commenting. Actually BEVO was introduced before Prohibition, when the United States entered World War I. Most people today do not realize that in 1917 the government passed laws regulating the sale of alcohol to those in the military, and that is where Bevo comes in. The company did not consider it a near-beer but rather a “cereal drink” that vaguely reminded people of the taste of beer, but was marketed as a family drink for everyone. Late in Prohibition, a version of Budweiser was being produced as a “near beer” but when Prohibition ended, they went back to making the alcoholic kind, retaining the name Budweiser.

      • Pat_H says:

        Thanks for the clarification.

        You’re quite correct, Prohibition came close to becoming the law during the Great War and Congress not only restricted sales of alcohol on posts but it further acted to prohibit the sale of grain to distillers as a food conservation measure. It went one step further and took that step as to brewers as well, but the date it was supposed to take effect actually fell after the end of the war. It was a short step to Prohibition from those measures.

        Additionally, people now really fail to appreciate the extent to which the public supported such moves. My state has a pretty easy relationship with alcohol now but at the time the papers were full of support for Prohibition and it was a generally popular concept, at least before it actually came in.

        I wonder what Bevo tasted like?

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