Budweiser, Budwar, Budvar or Bud?

Opublikowano: 28 sierpnia 2012

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Such a question is asked by many beer amateurs. However this problem is more complex than it seems.

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Brewing beer constituted from the beginning a considerable income for its producers. Already in medieval Europe middle class was privileged thanks to the law of mile. In the beginning it concerned such crafts as: butcher, weaver, shoemaker and baker. This law prohibited production and purchase of products from these crafts within a mile (initially these were 1000 steps but with time this distance changed). With time these laws were extended to other crafts, including brewing.

Another ban limiting the production on a bigger scale was the law of taproom, i.e. reservation of production and sale of alcohol beverages outside of defined criteria (e.g. brewing houses). It also concerned innkeepers and it obliged them to buy alcohol in defined, limited quantities.

When in 1860 on the territory of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy the law of taproom limiting the freedom of alcohol production and distribution on trans-regional level was abolished, many towns started to build bigger breweries.

In Budiwoyz or Budweis, because such was then the name of the Czech Budějovice (the name remained until 1918), the first bigger brewery was built on the outskirts of the town already in 1795. Budweiser Bürgerbräu, or longer Die Budweiser Bräuberechtigten-Bürgerliches (middle class) was founded by a group of middle class representatives with German origins. With time it started to be called Samson.

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Budweiser from a urban brewery. W nowej szacie kolorystycznej on the left, export version on the right.

 

The Czech population, not being a minority on this territory any more, and being amateur of beer, started to worry about the domination of beer of the Bavarian type. In 1847 it led to the decision of building another brewery in Budziejowice, or more precisely – Budweis. Its capital renovation finished in 1895 and it was undertaken by a joint-stock company. This date is considered to be the foundation of the brewery Budweiser.

Two Czech brewers, August Zátka and František Hromada, were two first producers of a new beverage, different from the Bavarian type, in Budweiser. It was here that beer of the Pilsen type started to become ever more popular (1842). In the beginning production reached 50 thousand hectoliters of beer. Perhaps it is not an impressive amount, but it should be considered that bigger breweries in Protivíně and Třeboni sold their beer in the neighborhood (100 thousand hectoliters of beer annually). With time beer from Budziejowice won many prizes, which increased the number of its amateurs.

After the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy in 1918, when the state of Czechs and Slovaks was born – Czechoslovakia – the brewery constantly increased its production and prestige. In 1936 the brewery was given a new name: Budvar-Český akciový pivovar České Budějovice. In 1958, after signing the Lisbon treaty, the brewery received the right to use the following names for its beer: Budweiser Budvar, Budweiser, Budwar, Bud, written with a characteristic font in red and white. The right was not valid in the United States of America. The Czech brand Oryginal Bohemian Beer was registered already in 1937.

At present the Budweiser Budvar, N.C. in Budziejowice – because this is the present name of the brewery – is considered to be the most indigenous brewery. Although for many Czechs the most known brand is Pilsner Urquell, the brand Budweiser Budwar is considered to be the mainstay of the Czech brewing independence.

An exceptional achievement of the brewery is its export reaching 46% of annual production, which amounted in the first term of 2008 to 641 421 hectoliters. Thanks to this result, the brewery came third in the Czech Republic, gaining a 6.5% market share when it comes to beer production volume.

Its local competitor, Samson, was in the beginning a vapor brewery like the others. It went through a general modernization between 1895 and 1918, when it was electrified. Its contemporary character was given to it in 1996 by modernizing salt-works and by adding a new technology – fermenting tanks. The beer brand Samson was officially registered in 1962.

Until now today’s brewery uses both open and closed fermentation. Its export, even as a percentage, has never reached the level of sales of its competitor on the other side of the town (the first term of 2008 – 73 582 hectoliters, which gives it 0.75% of market share only). Its products, are known outside the Czech Republic under the brand name 1795 Bedweiser Bier (B.B.), and on the local market it is known as Samson.

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… Budweiser Budvar, Budweiser, Budwar, Bud, written with a characteristic font in red and white.

When both breweries in Budiwoyz or Budweis were going through consecutive metamorphoses, new breweries were founded also in America. A significant number of immigrants from Europe, including brewers, contributed to the development of the industry. In 1852 in St. Louis a German immigrant founds a small brewery. In 1860 this brewery is purchased in exchange for debts by a producer of soap and candles, a certain Eberhard Anheuser. In the meantime another German immigrant, Adolf Busch, gets married in 1861 with the daughter of Eberhard Anheuser, Lilli. This relationship gives birth to a new era of beer in the United States of America, called Anheuser-Busch. The company officially underwent a transformation and was given a new name in 1879. It is not a secret that the beer from Budziejowice inspired the American producer. The idea of brewing according to the Czech formula came from Adolf’s Busch’es friend, C. Conrad.

The beer called Budweiser (Bud) appeared on the American market in 1876 and from the beginning it was a big success. The brand Budweiser Lager Bier was wittily registered on the American market in 1878 by Conrad’s company. The company Anheuser-Busch registered it again in 1907. It should be reminded that the Czech brand Oryginal Bohemian Beer was registered in the United States 30 years later.

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…should be called Bud

This is how the quite complicated story of the brand Budweiser Budvar, Budwar, Bud can be presented in short. Therefore the question who should have the right to bear the trademark is still not solved. The first legal dispute for the right to the name and the trademark, independently of the registration of the brand itself in particular countries, broke out in 1911 and ended amicably (with a financial account clearing to the advantage of Budziejowice) with a simultaneous limitation of the sale of the American brand on the European market. Neither the first nor the second world war ended the trials concerning the right to the brand.

The owners of Anheuser-Busch made once again an attempt to solve the problem proposing in the 90’s of the last century to the Czech government a buyout of a majority packet, which was generally disapproved. Many beer lovers in Czech Republic even felt offended.

The beer from Budziejowice represents the classic Bohemia Pils style, while the American Bud is brewed on barley malt with some non-malted rice and a small dose of hop is a representative of a style leaning towards the light lager. Therefore differences are significant and the name remains the same. I personally believe that the best solution for amateurs of the golden drink, which is beer, would be to adopt an appropriate name for each of the three products.

The one from the joint stock company should be called Budwar. The local competitor, which promotes its new design should be called B.B. Their competitor on the other hemisphere should be called Bud (simply read „Bad”) because this is already how it is called. As we can see the problem won’t probably be solved for a long time.

I personally made an attempt to objectively analyze this issue. If someone makes an attempt to solve this problem, I recommend him or her to visit two places in Budziejowice.

The first traditional Czech brewery Masné krámy (meat stalls), located near the old market, on the intersection of Kraijka and Hroznova streets, where since 1336 meat was sold. At present, in perfectly adapted recesses we can spend our time tasting all possible brands of Budvar, and among them the kroužkoaný ležák.

Another place is the beer-house Budvarka Piwnice Malý Pivovar, located in Karla IV street, next to the Malý Pivovar hotel, belonging today to the brewery Budvar, where the old middle-class brewery was located. In a long room we can find dozens of tables and chairs. Here you can perfectly feel the atmosphere of an old beer-house, which is fed by waiters who walk around with mugs of the golden drink covered with dense creamy foam.

In honor of beer

Marek Suliga

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