Saturday, 19 January 2013

Not good Buddies

A Czech Budweiser beer mat
(serving suggestion)
I learnt from this post on Matt's blog that multinational beer manufacturer Anheuser-Busch InBev, producer of American rice alcopop Budweiser, has failed in its attempt to take sole control of the name "Budweiser": the British Supreme Court rejected their attempt to overturn a ruling made against them last year. Had they succeeded, the Czech brewer of the entirely different, and vastly superior, Budweiser Budvar would have been forbidden to use the name in the UK, which would have been bizarre, seeing that the brewery is situated in České Budějovice (Czech for Budweis). As far as I know, the UK and Ireland are the only two countries where both companies can use the name Budweiser, which really annoys the Americans who are used to their money buying anything they want. This is how the story was reported in The Independent.

AB InBev have been doing this for decades all over the world - you could call them cereal offenders - and they've won some cases and lost some. When Czechoslovakia ceased to be communist and began privatising industries, A-B (as they were then) were confident they'd be able to buy the Czech Budweiser brewery. They even had names (Budvar rather than Budweiser), label designs and a marketing campaign ready. CAMRA were party to taking a supply of American Bud to Prague and calling a press conference with the attraction of free beer, the Bud of course. Czech journalists were so disgusted with it - it hadn't been on sale there previously - that any hope A-B had of getting the press on side were scuppered. This action may have also been instrumental in the brewery not being privatised at all, as the Czechs decided to place more value on preserving their distinctive beer heritage than on a short-term financial gain.

I like this story on three counts: I'm pleased to see the victory of an underdog* over a bully, a typically English sentiment I suppose; it's good news that a quality beer can continue to use the name of the town where it has always been brewed; and it's reassuring to know that the mighty dollar can't buy everything.

* In 2011, AB InBev sold 399.4 million hectolitres of beer, 307 times the production (1.3 million hectolitres) of the Czech brewery.


  1. Táto informácia pre zberateľov

    Budweiser Budvar bierdeckel

  2. Translation of the previous comment:

    This information for collectors. Budweiser Budvar beer mats.


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