a Beer with a Clean, Crisp… er, “Taste”


Most Americans who drink beer seem to prefer Budweiser, Anheuser-Busch’s hallmark line of brew. The proud Clydesdales pulling the gaily painted red and gold wagon is the mainstay of football season advertising.

Turns out there is another “Budweiser”, lesser known here in the states, produced in the Czech Republic. More specifically, it is made in the town of Budweis. In other words, the Czech beer is actually a “Budweis-er” as opposed to Anheuser-Busch’s “Saint-Louis-er” brew.

And, as would seem to be obvious, they are locked in a legal battle over the name. A hundred years ago, the Czech company agreed to allow A-B to have the naming rights in America. But as new markets have beckoned, A-B has been trying to get their Bud into all the markets around the world. Unfortunately, the European courts seem to think that since the Czech product is actually made in Budweis, the local company should have the right to the name.

I mean, how rude is that, huh? Especially if you are the American giant… or rather the Belgian-Brazilain giant InBev who bought out the company in 2008.

But co-existence has been possible in one market: Great Britain.

Both brewers were granted the right to use the name in 2000 after a British court ruled that drinkers were aware of the difference between the two beers. But that rankled Anheuser-Busch and they took the case to an appeals court requesting to have Budvar’s trademark declared invalid. They lost. And they are not happy with the situation.

“Our concern is that coexistence on the U.K. market with the Budweiser brand will lead to consumer confusion,” said Karen Couck, the spokeswoman for Anheuser-BuschB Inbev. “We want to make sure that when our customers order a Budweiser that they receive the clean, crisp taste of the global brand we have created.”

But it turns out that is not really the problem. Iain Loe, a researcher for a British consumer rights organization, said that most British beer drinkers can spot the difference immediately.

Loe said that “the Czech Budweiser has a full bodied taste while AB’s Budweiser has little taste, or in the words of AB InBev, a clean taste,” said Loe. “Customers know which beer is which.”

The comments following the article spoke volumes. Some of them were:

“They really believe their own advertising agency lies that they could fool enough serious beer drinkers or sophisticated beer drinkers into buying that swill.”

“US Budweiser is very similar to sex in a canoe… they’re both f**king close to water.”

“American Budweiser is sold to us just like our politicians, all advertising, no substance.”

“Why would anyone in Europe want to drink the US Budweiser? It’s like used dishwater by comparison.”

“I find it hard to believe American Bud would sell in Europe, except as a novelty.”

“I doubt anyone in Europe is buying American beer anyway, unless they’re using the swill to put out fires.”

“I’ve tried the Budweiser Budvar when I was in Austria. It’s really incredibly good beer. The Budweiser beer made here in America is an insult to the art of brewing.”

When I was younger and indulged in the suds with friends, I very quickly learned to stay away from “The Bud” if I wanted something that actually tasted. I had worked with horses before and – though I never drank the stuff – I can honestly say Budweiser does not smell like horse urine, so I really doubt it tastes like it.

But the allusions to water are very close. I found the very light and clear beverage was very clear of flavor as well. I much preferred a beverage where the smooth taste of the grains came through, robust, complex… Yes, I usually preferred European ales.

A friend of mine brought over some Corona once and I took a taste and winced. Boy was that skunky! He laughed and handed be a slice of lime. “You have to slip this in the neck, like so…” After that, the beer was palatable. Without the lime, forget it!

Some friends from south of the border stopped once to get some brewskies after work and came out of the convenience store with “Dos Equis” and “Superior”. I asked them if Corona was popular in Mexico and they laughed. It was a very cheap beer, something like “Milwaukee’s Best” here. Always the cheapest, and something you drank only if you couldn’t actually afford “beer”.

So, though Bud and Corona are probably the poorest items in their respective markets, they both sell well and have a firm and loyal base of fans.

I had no idea there were that many people born without taste buds.

And, as a humorous footnote (humorous if you are as demented as I), it should be noted that Corona is also a product Of Anheuser-Busch In-Bev. Coincidence? I think not…

I wrote this post a couple of weeks ago and thought I had posted it but apparently, it fell through the cracks. But – lucky me! – Bud is back in the news for “watering down” their beer.

I wonder how anyone could tell?


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