Budvar slams big brewers

Czech brewer's ads lament death of traditional brewing at home

Oct 25, 2004 - Czech brewer Budwesier Budvar has launched an ad campaign slamming global brewers for damaging the heritage and quality of beers in the Czech Republic.


The campaign, appearing in the main Czech daily newspapers, laments the death of traditional brewing in a country that itself sees as a "superpower of brewing."

Budejovicky Budvar continues to be locked in a a global dispute with America's Anheuser-Busch over who has the rights to the trademarks Budweiser and Bud. In dozens of countries, the Czech Republic's third largest brewer in terms of output, is going head to head with A-B, which is 100 times larger.

Banned from the North American market under an agreement drawn up between the brewers in 1939, Budvar took its first steps back into the market three years ago with the launch of Czechvar, a label specifically developed to get round North America trademark restrictions. A-B has raised no objections.

Distinguished Brands, which imports Czechvar, recently announced the first Czechvar will be available on draft in select markets beginning in January. The draft version will be tested in four cities, with interested bars expected to meet certain standards. They will be required to pre-order Czechvar, and the restaurant or bar must commit to serving a 50-liter Czechvar keg in three days, thus ensuring the freshness of the beer.

Budvar insists it has a geographical right to the name as the southern Czech town in which it is based, Ceske Budejovice, was formerly known by its German name Budweis and has a brewing tradition dating back to the 13th century.

A-B counters that it has been in operation longer. "Anheuser-Busch started brewing its flagship beer in 1876 and registered its famous brand name two years later, more than 17 years before Budvar was established in 1895," said spokesman Stephen Burrows.

The dispute is the key reason successive Czech governments have sidelined the privatization of Budvar, the last state-owned brewery. "Given the ongoing trademark dispute the privatization would not be a good idea at present," said Ministry of Finance spokesman Marek Zeman.

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