If you want the Budweiser Clydesdales on your city’s streets, you’ve normally got to plan about a year in advance, close a few intersections and put up some barricades — those horses weigh about 2, 000 pounds apiece.
It was all worth it, though, when the gentle giants paraded through Auburn and Opelika in early October to help local beer wholesaler Adams Beverages celebrate the company’s new distribution center. Adams Beverages has operated in Alabama as the selected Anheuser-Busch beer distributor since 1937 and boasts a new 72, 000-square-foot facility in Opelika.
CEO Clay Adams charged HDA Architects with creating a new building with the charm of an old Anheuser-Busch brewery. The red brick-and-stone office has majestic windows and awnings that suggest a 1900s warehouse.
For their part, the eight-horse Clydesdale hitch made the rounds through city streets, delivering beer to lucky restaurants and taverns in the area with a watchful Dalmatian named Clyde atop the rig. The Dalmatian, the story goes, was trained in the old days to protect the horses and guard the wagon while the driver was inside making his beer delivery.
Horses chosen for the Budweiser Clydesdale hitch must be at least three years of age, stand approximately 18 hands — that’s about six feet — at the shoulder, be bay in color, have four white legs, with a blaze of white on the face and black mane and tail. A gentle temperament is important as hitch horses meet millions of people each year.
A single Clydesdale hitch horse will consume as much as 25 quarts of feed, 50 pounds of hay and 30 gallons of water per day.
Text by Dave Helms