William “Billy” Busch, the great grandson of Anheuser-Busch co-founder Adolphus Busch, has failed with his attempt to replicate the famous family's success with his own brewery. Eight years after starting the St. Louis-based The William K. Busch Brewing Company in 2011, Billy Busch said in a press release on Wednesday he was “shutting down, dissolving and stopping” brewing operations of its two Reinheitsgebot-adhering lager beers, Kräftig and Kräftig light.
“After careful consideration, the William K. Busch Brewing Company has decided to shut down,” Busch said in the statement. “I want to thank all of our customers, retailers, suppliers, and vendors who have supported us over the last eight years.”
The brewery was an attempt of the 59-year-old to prove himself as more than just a wealthy heir. Billy Busch was always considered the "black sheep" of the family. He bit off another man's earlobe during a 1981 bar fight. One year later he was accused of punching a drive-thru worker in the throat. In later years it became a little calmer about the bad boy beer heir. But only two years ago, Billy Busch hit again the news when he was accused of bloodying a kid's nose when the sixth-grader had a confrontation with Busch's son at a basketball practice.
In the first years of its existence, the William K. Busch Brewing Company expanded with double-digit growth rates and could expand distribution throughout Missouri. However, in 2016 the tide turned and volume sales of Kräftig and Kräftig Light nearly halved in the last three years to about 7,000 barrels (8,350 hl). Considering the recent announcement, Billy Busch saw apparently no way to contain the losses and pulled the plug.
Still in December last year, Billy Busch announced to build a farm brewery and distillery outside of St. Louis, Missouri, where he intended to brew artisan, small-batch beers and craft, barrel-aged whiskeys along with his Kräftig beers. The two all-malt beers were brewed so far at City Brewing, the brewery of the former G. Heileman Brewing Company, in La Crosse, Wisconsin. The new greenfield project was expected to be completed by spring 2020 but is put now on hold.
However, this might not be the end: “I’ve always been passionate about brewing, because it’s in my blood. I hope to one day return to this great American-led industry,” Billy Busch said. In an interview with KMOX, a St. Louis-based radio station, he confirmed, that he is still considering a distillery as “spirits continue to siphon volume from beer”.