Beer Culture

Stories about great beer from the countries that invented it.

Tag: Budvar (Page 1 of 2)

Heineken in Talks to Buy Staropramen


The St. Louis Business Journal is reporting that Anheuser-Busch InBev is negotiating with Heineken to sell its Czech brands to the Dutch brewer. The paper places Staropramen’s valuation between $255 million and $306 million.

We’ve seen this before. Almost exactly a year ago, Heineken’s takeover of the Czech Drinks Union brands was given the green light. That move pushed Heineken into third place on the Czech market, just ahead of the legendary Budweiser Budvar, but still lower than Heineken’s traditional market share. At the time, Ron Pattinson sagely noted that Heineken doesn’t enter a market to take third place.

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A New Brewmaster Takes Over at Budweiser Budvar

There’s big news at the Czech Republic’s favorite state-owned brewery: after 24 years as the brewmaster at Budweiser Budvar, Josef Tolar is stepping aside to make room for new brewmaster Adam Brož.

In the picture above, Tolar passes Brož the Budweiser Budvar brewmaster’s ceremonial “wand of office,” an original Réaumur thermometer first used in 1895 by Budweiser Budvar’s founding brewmaster, Antonín Holeček. The 32-year-old Brož becomes Budweiser Budvar’s tenth master brewer.

So what does this mean for the beer?

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BrewDog’s Zeit Geist vs. Three Classic Czech Dark Lagers

Beer geeks everywhere are talking about the small Scottish brewery BrewDog, and for good reason: despite being just a couple of years old — meaning very young — they’re already putting out some head-turningly good beers, and backing them up with a masterful PR game.

One of their recent nice moves on the marketing pitch: offering a sampler of prototype beers and asking drinkers to pick their favorites. Among the prototypes was Zeit Geist, “a 5.1% Black lager taking inspiration from the Czech classics.” As an imitation of a clasic Czech dark lager, it was just begging to be compared to three classics of the genre: Bernard’s speciální černé pivo, Bohemia Regent tmavý ležák and Budweiser Budvar tmavý ležák.

So how does the Scottish upstart compare to the old masters?

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The SPP Czech Beer Awards: Budvar’s Tolar Wins Brewmaster of the Year

On Wednesday, November 19, the Sdružení přátel piva held its annual awards ceremony for the greatest beers, breweries, and the best brewmaster in the Czech Republic.

Often rendered in English as the Union of Friends of Beer, the SPP is the Czech beer consumers’ organization, a counterpart to the Campaign for Real Ale and other fellow members of the European Beer Consumers Union, similarly working to promote quality beer and preserve local beer traditions. Though there are many beer awards in the lager-loving Czech Republic, the SPP awards are among the most prestigious and most anticipated such ceremonies on the Czech beer calendar.

The awards, handed out this year inside the cozy beer hall on the Budweiser Budvar brewery grounds, went to the following:

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30 Great Brews: The Czech Beer Festival Beer List

A couple of days ago, we wondered out loud what beers would be present at the first annual Czech Beer Festival, which takes place 23 May–1 June 2008. As we asked then,

Will Janáček serve its Comenius? Will Jihlava offer Jihlavský Grand? Or will it all be 10° and 12° světlý ležák, the pale lagers that dominate 95% of all local consumption?

We now have the answers: Yes, Yes, and No!

Color us at least slightly impressed: We’ve just received the finalized beer list from the organizers and not only are Jihlavský Grand and Comenius ready to be tapped, but several other great brews from small producers should also be waiting for you over at the Výstaviště exhibition grounds. (We also have a 3-D map diagram thingy you can print up to help plan your session.)

Here are the beers that are supposed to be there, organized by tent and/or brewing group.

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More from Prague’s Salesian Beer Museum


Here are a few more photos from Prague’s Salesian Beer Museum, an “accidental” collection of more than 2,000 bottles, 4,000 beermats and the weird, beer-themed collectibles known as breweriana, many of which come from the Czech lands.

Looking through the shelves, I was struck by how much evidence these artifacts provide for the way people here once lived, as well as a contrast to the way we live now. One of the most interesting items in the collection is the advertising placard (above) for the Měšťanský pivovar na Královských Vinohradech, the brewery in the Vinohrady neighborhood which ran from 1893 to 1943, along with scores of other beer makers once working in the Czech capital. In a sign of changing priorities, the Vinohrady brewery has recently been converted into luxury apartments.

So we don’t need historic breweries — we need plush digs. But our old beer culture had at least one advantage: much better graphic design, as witnessed by the museum’s collection of unusual beermats.

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Budweiser Budvar Privatization News


There’s more news in the Budvar privatization saga: the Czech government’s tender for an adviser is now complete, with the contract going to the Prague law firm of Kříž & Bělina, as the Prague Daily Monitor reported yesterday, via Hospodářské noviny (subscription required). Kříž & Bělina will help the Czech government take the initial step toward privatization, that of turning Budvar into a joint-stock company.

Though the path forward remains unclear, we now know four of the parties stumbling down it: the Czech government, Budvar, Kříž & Bělina and, inevitably, Anheuser-Busch, described in the article as “considered the most serious bidder in the privatisation.” The article also takes a stab in the dark at Budvar’s worth, suggesting 1 billion dollars or perhaps even 1 billion euros.

Why so much? Well, it’s not what Budvar sells, currently just 1.25 million hectoliters of high-grade lager per year. It’s what Budvar’s regional rights to the name Budweiser might keep Anheuser-Busch from selling.

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The Reader Contest’s First Winners


The world seems to have gone beer-haiku crazy: just 24 hours after our month-long reader contest was announced and we’ve already spawned a lengthy and very funny beer-haiku thread at Ratebeer, got a shout-out from Nunc Scio (cool) and the always-excellent Beer Haiku Daily (those guys are pros) and been challenged to a beer-poetry-contest-contest by A Good Beer Blog.

And we already have our first winners.

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The Beer Culture Reader Contest


Tempus fugit, amigos: Beer Culture has been live for eleven and a half weeks and we’re now serving 6,500 page views per month, spreading the word about beer culture in the Czech Republic and Central Europe to 65 countries so far. As a means of promoting Czech brewing and saying thanks, we’re announcing a big beer-themed giveaway, by which we mean a reader contest.

But first, it is time for haiku.

That is to say the art form known as beer haiku. I first encountered the beast on the beermats (above) created by David Wheatley for the excellent Whalebone brewpub up in Hull. David is a friend, so when the mats were published he sent along a set; the poems were also included in his latest collection, Mocker. A favorite:

A pub is a boat.
It sails on froth. Each pint pulled
helps keep it afloat.

As it turns out, beer and haiku go along so well that some people even write beer haiku daily. Thus, our first reader contest: write a haiku with a beer theme and send it to the email address of Good Beer Guide Prague and the Czech Republic (also known as If it’s good enough, your entry could win one of the excellent prizes donated by some of our favorite Czech breweries and pubs, including shirts, glassware and more.

Herewith the rules.

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Czech Beer and Protected Names


Here’s an interesting bit from the Czech news wires: an article at notes that the term “Czech beer” is moving closer to protected name status. Much like the AOCs and DOCs of the wine world, the special status will mean that brewers in the EU can only use the term “české pivo” if the beer is, in fact, brewed in the Czech Republic, as well as if it meets certain requirements of ingredients and quality.

If the application is successful, “české pivo” will join 10 other Czech geographically protected names in the EU, including “žatecký chmel” (“Saaz hops”). The big one that’s missing outside the country itself (barring “Budweiser,” of course), is “Pilsner,” used all over the world for widely different beers of varying ingredients and varying quality, even though it originally meant a certain style of beer from a certain place: a clear golden lager from the west Bohemian town of Plzeň, known as Pilsen in German. I can’t remember how many times I’ve heard people say it’s too bad the Czechs didn’t retain control over the name.

Ah, but they tried.

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