Kräftig Beer Maker Announces Plans to Close

The William K. Busch Brewing Co. is “ceasing all operations” eight years after after launching the Reinheitsgebot-adhering Kräftig lager brand in St. Louis.

William “Billy” Busch, the great grandson of Anheuser-Busch co-founder Adolphus Busch, and son of Adolphus A. “Gussie” Busch Jr., founded the Kräftig brand in 2011 with visions of going national. However, those dreams never came to fruition as sales began to decline in recent years.

In a press release Wednesday, the St. Louis-based beer company said it was “shutting down, dissolving and stopping” brewing operations of its two lager beers, Kräftig and Kräftig light.

“After careful consideration, the William K. Busch Brewing Company has decided to shut down,” Busch said in a statement. “I want to thank all of our customers, retailers, suppliers, and vendors who have supported us over the last eight years. 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.”

In an interview with KMOX News Radio in St. Louis, Busch said his idea of producing a “high-quality beer” and selling it at an “affordable” price had backfired.

“I wanted to price our beer so everybody could enjoy it, everybody could afford it,” he told KMOX. “Maybe I should have come out with a higher price on it.”

On June 28, the company filed a “notice of winding up” with the Missouri Secretary of State’s office, according to the St. Louis Business Journal.

The news of the closure also puts into limbo the company’s plans to build a 20,000 sq. ft. brewery and distillery in Defiance, Missouri. That project was expected to be completed by spring 2020. Nevertheless, Busch told KMOX that he’s still considering building a distillery, as spirits have taken drinking occasions away from beer.

According to estimates from national trade group the Brewers Association, William K. Busch Brewing Company’s production declined from 12,000 barrels in 2016, to 10,860 barrels in 2017, and finally 7,000 barrels in 2018.

Busch told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 2016 that his goal was to produce 17,000 barrels of beer that year, as the company expanded distribution throughout Missouri, including in the Kansas City market. However, sales began to decline.

In 2017, the company rebranded Kräftig’s packaging and launched a series of digital ads featuring St. Louis rapper Chingy, whose image is still prominently featured on the company’s website.

Now, the remaining inventories of Kräftig beers, which was contract brewed at City Brewing in Wisconsin, are expected to be depleted by September.

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