The fifth-generation members of a family that formerly built the Griesedieck Bros., Falstaff and Stag brands hope to revive the Griesedieck Bros. Brewery Co., which closed after it was acquired by the Falstaff branch of the family in 1957.
Cousins Buddy Griesedieck, Ray Griesedieck and Steve Butler hope to capitalize on the brand name – which once inspired some colorful plays on its name – by opening a microbrewery or brewpub in St. Louis. For the past two years they have brewed small batches of their pilsner beer through a contract with Morgan Street Brewery on Laclede’s Landing. The brand is carried at 15 area bars and restaurants and sells about 30 kegs a month.
That’s a tiny compared to Falstaff/Griesedieck Bros.’ peak in the 1960s. The company was the country’s fourth-largest brewer, selling 7.5 million barrels a year in 26 states and generating about $275 million in annual sales.
Buddy Griesedieck, 51, owns the trademark and has spent his entire career in the beer and wine business. His cousin, Ray Griesedieck, 54, is the son of Henry Griesedieck, the last president of Griesedieck Bros. Brewery before it was sold in 1957 to Falstaff.
“Certainly they have a name that has a long, rich history in St. Louis brewing,” said Tom Schlafly, owner of St. Louis-based Schlafly Beer. Unlike Griesedieck Bros., however, many craft brewers such as Schlafly have conceded the market for pale lagers to the major brewers such as Anheuser-Busch, he said. The Griesedieck pilsner would be bucking that successful approach.
Support from local bars and restaurants has given the Griesediecks hope the brew can be successful. “Small-business people support other small-business people,” Buddy Griesedieck said. “That’s what makes these things go. That’s why we have this dream.”