Battle of the Buds (moved from the Outer Bouroughs board)
As part of a restaurant review a few weeks back I included a discussion about the 100 year old legal battle between Anheuser-Busch and the small traditional brewery of Budweiser Budvar in the Czech Republic over the legal rights to use the name "Budweiser". After more than a 60 year absence Budvar is again being marketed in the U.S. under the name "Czechvar". IMO Czechvar, while a lesser beer than the draft variety available in Europe, is an excellent beer and definitely worth a taste. Sales in the U.S. have been good and Budvar is expanding their distribution
Jim Dorch recently responded to my original post and since the discussion really didn't belong on the Outer Bouroughs board I've moved it here. (There's a link to Jims' original post below.)
Hello Jim. At your suggestion Ive done a bit of web research to back up my original post regarding the stormy history between the St. Louis Budweiser and traditional brewer of Budweiser Budvar in the Czech republic. Ill put your original remarks are in quotes followed by my reply. The web references will follow. Im not a big fan of the products of A-B or their business practices so please excuse my tone. Its directed at A-B, not at you.
1. I believe if you check a bit, you'll find that Anheuser-Busch's Budweiser brand predates Budweiser Budvar.
The international courts dont seem to be impressed by this. The Budweiser name was established as a regional appellation, applied to the product of the town of Budweis, for centuries before the concept of trademark was a gleam in a patent attorneys eye, and as a result Budvar has won the right to use the Budweiser name in 60 countries. Anheuser Buschs position can be boiled down to Hey, if you guys were too stupid to trademark your name thats just too bad. Its ours now. I guess the concept of tradition carries more weight in Europe than it does here.
In 1547 King Ferdinand I of Bohemia contracted with the brewers of the town of Budweis to brew beer for him and allowed them to call their brew The Beer of Kings. Alas, the naïve townsfolk neglected to copyright their slogan and Adolphus Busch felt free to borrow it along with the name of their town.
2. Also, the pilsner style, under which I think Budweiser Budvar would broadly fit, was invented around the mid-1840s, so it's nothing like an 800-year-old style.
I could find no mention of a change in brewing style for Budvar anywhere on the web. In any case my point was not that the Anheuser Busch people pirated Budweiser Budvars formula. (If they had, they would be producing a much better beer.) Adolphus Busch merely took the name of their town and stuck it on his label.
I could go on in this vein for awhile but I think if youre interested you should go directly to my sources.
Some of the content above came from a web article by George Cerny (http://www.flakmag.com/features/bud.html) which contains lots of amusing details of Anheuser Buschs heavy handed attempt to soften up Budvar for a takeover attempt by showering the town of Budweis with millions of dollars worth of gifts. (I believe this story was on 60 Minutes about 6 or 7 years ago as well.
Most of my facts came from an extensive article by Roger Protz. (http://www.protzonbeer.com/documents/27660-001488.html
As you know, Roger is President of the British Guild of Beer Writers and editor of the famous Good Beer Guide. In your position as co-chair of the Guild of North American Beer Writers Im sure youre familiar with his work and may even know him personally.
Unfortunately, both the Budweiser and Pilsner names (appellations) sort of went up for grabs, since neither seems to have been protected.
"In any case my point was not that the Anheuser Busch people pirated Budweiser Budvars formula. (If they had, they would be producing a much better beer.)"
Har! (But seriously, it's a well known fact that the pilsner style came about in the mid-1800s, and that lager beer as we know it was invented around that time. However, it is true that lager yeast was naturally selected over a long period of time before that.)
I am actually the former co-chair of the North American Guild of Beer Writers. Since I'm more active these days as a publisher, I'm much less a writer and much more an ad salesman. I know Roger Protz, although I'm not sure if he'd know me if I happened to walk by.