Chris Scheer lives near Anheuser-Busch Brewery in St. Louis and admires its Christmas lights every time he walks his white great dane, Leonard.
So when Chris’s mother, Sue, came to visit from Ashland, Mo., last week, he decided to take her to see the holiday display up close.
One of her favorite parts was strolling between historic brick buildings on Pestalozzi Street, where red lights fill trees, white lights and greenery line fences and street lamps, and Christmas music plays on loudspeakers.
She also loved going to the brewery’s fancy horse stable and getting her photo taken with a Clydesdale named Chief.
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“We’ve never stood that close or touched (a Clydesdale) before,” Sue said. “We were talking to him the whole time we were there, and when we got ready to leave, he turned around as if he was saying, ‘Bye.’”
Anheuser-Busch has been decorating for Christmas for more than 30 years and allowing people to drive through its colorful complex. Four years ago, it began offering free, self-guided Brewery Lights walking tours on weekends.
Today, driving hours are dusk to midnight Mondays through Wednesdays through Dec. 28 (enter from Arsenal Street, turn onto Seventh and then Pestalozzi).
Walking hours are 5 to 10 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays through Jan. 1, except for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve (enter through tour center at Lynch and 12th).
“The lights are the main attraction,” said Julia Mize, vice president of beer culture. “We have over 700,000 twinkling lights on our campus.”
Visitors 21 and older always have been able to get wristbands to sample five, 5-ounce beers as part of walking tours, but the stations have gotten more elaborate.
The Lime-A-Rita station features palm trees in green, purple and gold lights and a sand sculpture of the brewery complex. Bud Light station evergreens are trimmed in blue lights with inflated snowmen, picnic tables and portable heaters.
Other activities include an outdoor vendor market with everything from clothing to kettle corn, and fire pits for warming hands and making s’mores.
New this year is an ice-skating rink, where Jan Deiters stopped to watch skaters with her husband, children and grandchildren last week. It was their first time at Brewery Lights.
“It’s gorgeous,” said Jan, 57, of Breese. “It could be a little warmer, but it’s gorgeous. I love the buildings here. I’ve been to the brewery before, but not at Christmas.”
The night of her visit was particularly frigid. Jan bundled up in a parka, a Santa hat with her name on it, green gloves and red, green and white cowboy boots with poinsettias.
Other visitors kept warm by browsing in the brewery gift shop or sitting in the tour center. Festive decorations include a towering Christmas tree, greenery and white lights.
Chris and Sue Scheer were finishing beers in the enclosed Biergarten, where people can also can buy chili, brats, chicken tenders, toasted ravioli and pretzels with dipping sauce ($6 each).
“Since we’re from Missouri, Budweiser has always been part of our family because it’s so close,” said Chris, 35, who works at Gateway Classic Cars in O’Fallon. “And I guess it’s something that we’re proud of.”
Brewery Lights attracted about 90,000 visitors last year. People can go into the Clydesdale stable at no charge; photos are available for purchase.
“Everybody loves to kiss (the horses),” said Renaja Bolden, 22, of Edwardsville, who works for the photography company. “But we only want them to rub the neck or shoulders.”
At a glance
- What: Brewery Lights walking tours
- Where: Anheuser-Busch Brewery, 12th and Lynch streets in St. Louis
- When: 5 to 10 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays through Jan. 1, except Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve
- Admission: Free
- Samples: Visitors 21 and older get wristbands for five, 5-ounce beer samples
- Refreshments: Soft drinks, beer, chili, chicken tenders, toasted ravioli, brats and pretzels with dipping sauce available for purchase in the Biergarten ($6 for food items)
- S’mores: Supply packets cost $2.50
- Ice-skating: Free; skates can be rented for a donation to St. Louis Blues Alumni Association ($5 for adults and $2 for children)
- Information: Call 314-577-2626 or visit http://brewerylights.com/st-louis