Anheuser-Busch serves up open house

Jimmy LaRoue
Contact Reporterjlarouejr@vagazette.com

Jim Dooley lingered over the Anheuser-Busch timeline on display during the Williamsburg plant’s open house Saturday.

He reminisced over the 20 years he worked at the plant — two of those years as a tour manager in 1990 and 1991 — when it was still intertwined with Busch Gardens amusement park.

So when he heard the plant was offering a tour again, Dooley returned.

“It’s bringing back memories for me,” Dooley said of being on the plant grounds.

In his time as a tour manager, he said visitors could come and visit the then-hospitality center, or come visit the plant through the park when the two were connected.

“It was a kind of Anheuser-Busch museum,” Dooley said, later adding, “A big part of my life was out here.”

Even though the Williamsburg plant no longer has the hospitality center, it still retains its charm for Dooley.

“This company was so regal it was like visiting a palace, not a factory,” Dooley said. “It still has that feel. The gardens are well manicured. Everything was quality.”

He hopes the plant will offer more tours in the future. It’s a sentiment shared by Tim and Meghan Indoe of Williamsburg.

“He keeps hoping that they’ start making this a regular part of their operation inviting the public in,” Meghan Indoe said. “So if we supported them today, maybe in the future it can be something that happens more often.”

Tim Indoe, who said he went on the tour as a child when the plant was connected to Busch Gardens, recalled the hospitality center and the free samples offered then, but not much else. He enjoyed the tour Saturday.

“I thought it was pretty cool to see the insides of it, see how everything was made and works,” Tim Indoe said.

He said he’s also taken a brewery tour of the Anheuser-Busch plant in St. Louis. He said St. Louis was “a much more elaborate building and tour. It’s a beautiful building over there. This is more industrial.”

They said when they were in St. Louis, they enjoyed a beer garden in their brewery where they could enjoy the beer, eat some food and listen to music.

“They made it a destination in St. Louis,” Meghan Indoe said.

The Indoes were at the plant earlier in the day when the Clydesdales horses were present.

In addition to the Clydesdales, visitors could check out food trucks, buy Virginia-labled beer and go on a virtual reality tour of the St. Louis plant. And, of course, take a tour of the plant.

Still looking at the display, Dooley said he stayed loyal to the brand and did not drink competing brands during his tenure with the company. And, though he has the freedom to do so now — and occasionally does — he still had a Budweiser in his hand as he stared intently at the timeline.

“I still have stock in the company,” Dooley said.

LaRoue can be reached by phone at 757-345-2342, by email at jlarouejr@vagazette.com or on Twitter @jlaroue.

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