Showing posts with label mestansky pivovar budejovice. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mestansky pivovar budejovice. Show all posts

Thursday, January 12, 2012

RIP Budweiser

This morning I saw on Evan Rail's Twitter feed, and if you aren't following him you should be, that global brewing beast ABInBev have bought the Budweiser Bier trademark from Budějovicky mě??ansky pivovar aka Samson.

For years the three claimants to the "Budweiser" name have been engaged in a slugfest over the rights to that name in courts around the world. Sometimes the Czechs won and sometimes Anheuser-Busch came out on top. In the minds of most beer geeks though, there was only one "original Budweiser" and that was Budvar. Something of a strange choice for the "original Budweiser" given that they are 100 years younger than Samson and some 30 years younger than Anheuser-Busch.

Generally though I am not one for getting my knickers in a twist over a business deal, but there is a great sense of disbelief that of all the multinationals to hook up with, they have chosen their erstwhile nemesis. Rationally speaking it is just a business deal, but rationality can go out of the window for this, though I am sure the shareholders of Samson are rationalising their decision with abandon. Having taken on the Goliath for donkeys years, one half of the David has decided to take the filthy lucre.

So while you won't hear me banging the drum about "selling out", today I am sad that a brewery founded in 1795 and with roots that stretch back even further than that, has been swallowed up by a leviathan of the brewing world.


Here is the text of the ABIB press release about the deal:

"AB InBev and BMP (Budejovicky Mestansky Pivovar) have settled all their trademark disputes and AB InBev has acquired the rights to BMP's "Budweiser" trademarks."

Apparently, contrary to some reports, InBev have not bought the brewery, simply the rights to use the trademark "Budweiser". I imagine then that as Budějovicky mě??ansky pivovar trade as Samson, we will see a re-branding of the beers currently bearing the "Budweiser" mark under the Samson brand.

While I am saddened that they have sold the rights to the trademark, at the end of the day, regardless of the labelling, as long as the beer remains decent that is the important thing.

Now, someone on February 1st, pass me a Budvar.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Original Budweiser?

Regular followers of this blog will know that I love Czech beer, in fact I think Czech lager is the best on the planet by a long, long way. Even stuff that I wouldn't normally drink when I lived in Prague, such as Gambrinus or Staropramen, is better than many a lager from the rest of the world. From the ranks of the mass produced Czech lagers, Budvar has long been my favourite, so it may come as something of a surprise that I think the latest Budvar vs Budweiser stunt to be utterly pointless.

In case you haven't seen their tweets or Facebook page, Budvar in the UK are organising a taste test between "The Original" and "The Other", kind of like the Pepsi vs Coke challenge from the 1980s. I don't know why they feel the need to do a taste test, given the appalling nature of a palate that would be required not to be able to tell the difference.

My problem with the whole shenanigans isn't with trying to show that Budvar tastes far superior to Budweiser, that's pretty much a given. Rather, it is the use of the term "the Original" to describe Budvar, because it simply isn't true.

The dictionary definition of "original" includes the following:
  • belonging or pertaining to the origin or beginning of something, or to a thing at its beginning
  • arising or proceeding independently of anything else
  • created, undertaken, or presented for the first time
  • being something from which a copy, a translation, or the like is made
  • a primary form or type from which varieties are derived
I guess Budvar have definitions 4 and 5 primarily in mind with their claims to be the "Original", though they also claim an element of the first definition, as the term "Budweiser" pertains the place of origin. However, the claim to be the "Original" is entirely spurious.

A quick history lesson, the year is 1795 in the Bohemian town called Budweis and there is a new brewery in town, the "Bürgerliches Brauhaus Budweis", which translates as the Budweis Citziens Brewery. The sign above, which I have posted many times on here, reads "Budweiser from the Original Source", made by the Bürgerliches Brauhaus Budweis. I have also posted a sign for Budweiser Porter, suggesting that "Budweiser" is not a description of any given beer style, but rather than appellation (I have no problem with Budvar claiming the appellation, after all they brew in Budweis - different argument). Today, the Bürgerliches Brauhaus Budweis is known by it's Czech name Budějovicky mě??ansky pivovar, and sells most of it beers under the brand name Samson, though in the USA it is known as "B.B. Bürgerbrau".

In 1875, the Bürgerliches Brauhaus Budweis started exporting its beer to the USA using the name Budweiser. In 1876, Anheuser-Busch started producing their own pale lager in St Louis, apparently based on Bohemian brewing techniques and sold under the name Budweiser.

Skipping back to Bohemia about 20 years later, to 1895, and a group of mainly Czech brewers in Budweis decide to establish their own brewery, Budějovicky Budvar was the result. A brewery that is 19 years younger than Anheuser-Busch and 110 years younger than the first organised brewery in Budweis.

I think it is a safe bet, given the post Pilsner Urquell brewing revolution that swept Central Europe, that Bürgerliches Brauhaus Budweis were brewing a pale lager a few decades before Budvar even got in on the act. As such, Budvar, while being superior to Budweiser, is far from being the "Original" beer from Budweis, that honour belongs to Budějovicky mě??ansky pivovar.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Things I Didn't Expect

I think the technical phrase for the jolly little surprises that come your way in life when you cross the ocean to take up a new life is "culture shock". I have been having it in spades in the last couple of weeks, and in almost every possible situation; pleasant immigration officers at Atlanta airport (those of you who have dealt with the Czech Foreign Police will no doubt know to what I refer); shops with nine million flavours of yogurt, but only one plain white; churches as ubiquitous as pubs in Prague; the feeling of not really being so "velky" after all; the list could go on and on.

A couple of things though stick in my mind, I will deal with the negative first off. Yesterday Mrs V and I went to her aunt's for dinner, as they don't drink we obviously weren't going to buy a bottle of vino as a gift, so in to Walmart we jaunted for a bunch of flowers. Walmart is another culture shock after 10 years of soul destroying Tesco - the variety of almost everything available is mind boggling at times, and the fact that someone packs your shopping bags for you and wishes you a pleasant day, a welcome change from the sour cashier in the Tesco on Narodni asking if you have a note smaller than 200k?, the near equivalent of $10.

The nasty shock though is Walmart's new alcohol sales policy - anyone who looks under the age of 40 must provide ID in order to walk away with their favourite tipple. Thankfully I keep a form of ID on me, but I find it remarkable that for 19 years after coming of age, people will be required to prove they are legally allowed to buy alcohol. No doubt Walmart and many of their ilk will cite insurance policies and the inevitable criminal prosecutions that would follow selling alcohol to minors, but if you are going to have such a ridiculous policy, why make someone who is clearly over 21 produce ID like some wannabe under-age booze baron? What happened to innocent until proven guilty, to trusting people to use their discretion?

The positive shock though was on going to to see what lovely crafty beer goodness they had, and seeing beers from a raft of my favourite British brewers; BrewDog and Wychwood to name but two. But on one aisle I found several Czech lagers that I hadn't expected to see in a million years, including ?atec, B.B. Burgerbrau (from the original brewery in Budweis! hint: it isn't Budvar) and Staropramen. Happily though, Budvar seems to be quite readily available, so when I have the urge to drink a good lager again I know I can get hold of something worthwhile.

Perverse as it may sound, I was actually quite glad to see the presence of Staropramen in the USA as it allows me to do a couple of taste tastings comparing the worst of Czech mainstream lager with the mainstream lagers here, the likes of Budweiser, Miller and Coors - masochistic I am sure, but certainly worth it for interest's and comedy's sake.

Beyond January

Dry January is over, but my beer fast continues. Well, it continues until Friday. As a general rule I only drink at the weekend, thus my win...