In Prague, this Bud(var)’s for you
While we were in Prague, we decided to try a beer with a different look but a very familiar-sounding name: Budweiser. That’s right, the beer synonymous with U.S. barbecues and red Solo cups has roots (sort of) in the Czech Republic. Around 1876, Adolphus Busch of Busch beer fame named a new brew “Budwieser, King of Beers.” Some say he picked the name out of the map randomly, but others claim that he modeled his beer on a Czech pilsner from Budvar. Budweiser is the German name for Budvar, Czech Republic, where beer has been brewed since 1785. To complicate matters, nineteen years after Busch formed his company, the Budvar Brewery was formed and sold its beer under the name Budweiser.
A brewsky battle began a century later, when efforts to expand the respective beer markets led to an awkward introduction. Busch had trademarked the name in America; Budvar had European rights. The two agreed to stay out of each others’ territory, but globalization and thousands of lawyers later, the two companies are still duking out the rights to the name Budweiser.
We grabbed a bottle of the stuff to develop our own stake in the cold beer conflict. Budvar Budweiser tasted akin to the King of Beers (KoB), which isn’t surprising since they’re both pilsner. However, Budvar Budweiser is smoother and lacks the the watery essence and slightly metallic aftertaste that seems to be the hallmark of the KoB. We preferred the Budvar, but nothing compared to the cheap and plentiful Pilsner Urquell that flows through Prague.
If you’re interested in trying Budvar Budweiser, but lack the funds or will to get to Prague, take heart: the beer is now sold in the United States under the name Czechvar.
The name may not roll off the tongue, but the beer might. “Czech” out the distributor on Czechvar’s web page: it’s none other than Anheuser-Busch. And you thought politics made strange bedfellows…