Sunday, February 19, 2006

This Bud's for you

London--the Land of Many Beers. Walk into any free house and be stunned at the staggering lineup of ales, pale ales, stouts, bitters, German hefeweissens, scrumpy ciders ... and alongside it all, Budweiser.

Yes, Budweiser is shockingly popular here. I thought the English attitude about American beer was summed up in the Monty Python at the Hollywood Bowl when Professor Bruce of the University of Woollomoolloo compares American beer to making love in a canoe: It's f---ing close to water. But there Budweiser is, a watery, bland, beechwood-aged disappointment alongside the Abbott Ale, Fuller's Pride Bitter and Scrumpy Jack cider.

There's a European connection, of course: The Wikipedia entry on Budweiser notes that Budweiser is merely an adjective that describes anything that comes from the Czech city České Budějovice (in German, it's known as Budweis). As a beer, budweiser is a style of lager that has been brewed in Budweis since 1265. A company in Budweis manufactures a brand called Budweiser Budvar, which of course has made it the target of always-litigious U.S. corporate lawyers, according to Wikipedia:
Although Budějovický Budvar was founded in the 13th century, Anheuser-Busch claims it has only been distributing Budweiser as a commercial brand since 1895, 19 years after the Budweiser brand was first brewed by Anheuser-Busch. The Czech company contends that its history, and thus its claim to the Budweiser name, goes back even further. King Otakar II of Bohemia granted independent brewers in the city of Budweis the right to produce beer as early as 1265. They did so in a style that became known as "Budweiser," much as beers brewed in the fashion of another Czech city, Plzeň (German: Pilsen), are referred to as "Pilsner", the company says.

In many countries, the beer produced by Budějovický Budvar is the only beer that may be sold as "Budweiser" - in those countries, the American Budweiser is usually marketed as "Bud." Since both Budějovický Budvar and Anheuser-Busch have trademarks for the name "Budweiser", they have been party to many lawsuits in a number of countries. In some places where it competes with the American Budweiser it is marketed with the names Budvar and Budweiser Budvar.

Budějovický Budvar recently started having limited distribution in the USA and Canada under the name Czechvar

Budweiser of course has purchased itself some visibility. Note a small advertisement in this photo from Piccadilly Circus:
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That's right: U.S. Budweiser is the official beer of the FA Premier League. That would be like Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais being the official beverage of the NFL.

If ever there was a reason for a soccer riot, that would be it.


Anonymous Fatslug the Impetuous said...

Thanks for the tip! They sell Czechvar at Total Wine; I wasn't aware it was the true Budweis! (Death of a Thousand Cuts to Anheuser-Busch...)

2:18 PM  
Blogger oldest kid said...

My spouse decided to purchase some Czechvar last summer, after reading about it. We found it as tasteless as Budweiser and so I went back to the Paulaner and he returned to his Guiness Stout! We tried for months to give it away, since in order to get it he had to buy a whole case of the stuff!

2:40 PM  
Anonymous Fatslug the Impetuous said...

Au contraire to "Oldest Kid": I just bought a six-pack of Czechvar, and found it to be quite a tasty lager, comparing favorably with the best German lagers. It may not be quite as zippy as Pilsner Urquell, which is cheaper and more readily available than Czechvar in the States, but it beats anything that comes out of Anheuser-Busch by about 850 Imperial Miles.

11:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very nice site!
» »

3:18 PM  

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