As the founder, president, and CEO of the William K. Busch Brewing Company, Billy Busch stays busy with all things beer. But he’s more than just a businessman. He’s a family man, a philanthropist, an outdoorsman, and a proud St. Louisan. Basically, Billy wears many hats—literally and figuratively (Shameless plug: Kräftig Gear). Meet the man with a vision for Real American Lager.
What inspired you to establish the William K. Busch Brewing Company?
I wanted to leave a legacy and honor our great family tradition that could’ve gone away had someone in the family not stepped up to continue it.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced with Kräftig and how did you overcome it?
Stepping outside of the box—being a unique beer company with a point of difference and remaining independent from everything else in the market—all while maintaining an uncompromising commitment to quality. Many people don’t realize that Kräftig is the Busch family completely starting over. It’s a lot of work and there’s a lot that goes into it. Regardless of my family’s past success, this is a very competitive industry and you can’t rely on your name alone to stand out. There’s so much competition that you really have to invest the time and energy to make it happen. There’s a lot more to it than meets the eye.
What do you find most rewarding about your job?
I see the signs of success when people approach me and tell me about how much they love Kräftig. They love the fact that we’re continuing the Busch brewing legacy and not just for our family, but also for the community. Not only do they love our products, but I think people also appreciate that we’re continuing our family legacy with the same determination and grit that my ancestors had. I love seeing how important the brewing tradition is to the St. Louis community.
Where do you see the William K. Busch Brewing Company in 10 years?
I see us having built our brewery, producing a variety of styles, and providing a fun, inviting atmosphere for people to enjoy our beers. We aim to add an appeal to the community and build a fun, enjoyable place to visit for both St. Louis residents and tourists alike. I envision us representing our family in a very positive way while exceeding expectations for what a new Busch brewery would be like. We want to create jobs for our community and help to revitalize St. Louis through being a very philanthropic company, just as my ancestors once did.
Kräftig would not be possible without ______________.
Marc Gottfried. I believe we have the best brewmaster around. If it weren’t for his attention to detail, his dedication to doing it perfectly every time, and his incredible understanding of how to brew beer, it would’ve been hard for us to make Kräftig into what it is today. He’s the reason we’ve won so many awards in major beer competitions over the years, both in the United States and internationally.
What’s your favorite food to eat with Kräftig?
Chicken wings, especially when they’re spicy! Syberg’s wing sauce is my favorite. Washing that down with a cold Kräftig Light is perfection.
What do you like to do in your free time?
Pretty much anything that has to do with being outdoors and in nature. I love to drive and ride horses. I also love hunting and spending time with my family on the farm.
If you could have a beer with anyone who ever lived, who would it be and why?
My great-grandfather, Adolphus. I feel like I’m starting over by starting a beer business very similarly to the way that he did. I’m writing chapter two, following in his shoes when he started his brewery with his wife. Although the challenges I’m encountering today are in many ways very different from what he experienced, I would like to get some advice from him on how to overcome some of the obstacles associated with breaking into the beer industry.
The William K. Busch Brewing Company would not be possible without Billy, and not just because it’s his name on the door. His leadership, guidance and can-do attitude have brought Kräftig to where it is today, and we’re excited to see what’s in store for the future. Prost to you and your legacy, Billy!