Beer Culture

Stories about great beer from the countries that invented it.

Tag: marketing (Page 1 of 3)

Heineken: A Traditional Czech Beer


AUTHOR’S NOTE: It now appears that Heineken did not apply for the “Czech Beer” designation for its own brew, but rather on the part of Krušovice. This post has been corrected.

Today’s Prague Daily Monitor has a translation of a story from the Czech newspaper Hospodářské Noviny on the first beers to use the České Pivo (“Czech Beer”) label. Officially approved by the EU last autumn, the label is a mark of Protected Geographical Indication that indicates minimal levels of local products, traditional methods of production, and the beer’s place of origin.

And the first brand listed in the story is Heineken.

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A St. Pauli Girl from Slovakia

I’ve written before about Slovak brewers using Slavic models to market their beers in Germany. Now a German brewery is using a Slovak model to promote its beers in America.

That is to say St. Pauli Girl — the second most-popular German beer brand in the USA — has picked its annual eponymous spokeswoman. This year’s model is Katarina Van Derham, who “grew up in a small village in the woods of Slovakia, a communist country at the time,” and picked by fans of the beer in online voting. She’s third from the left in the cattle-call shot above.

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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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In Japan, Kirin Offers a Pair of Retro Recipes

Next month, Japan’s Kirin brewery will offer a pair of retro brews to celebrate its 120th anniversary, serving up vintage-style cans packed with vintage recipes of the company’s original Lager and Pilsener beers.

The big difference between the old styles and today’s modern Kirin? According to an English-language post at Japan Marketing News, the modern version of Kirin is made “with rice and starch,” while the earlier versions “did without starch” or were made with barley and hops only.

Now, to celebrate its founding back in 1888, Kirin will offer a limited run of beer made without the stuff that isn’t really supposed to go into good beer — just like it did way back when.

Imagine what might happen if this idea spread to the Czech Republic.

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Some Thoughts on the New Czech Brewery Kocour

Author’s note: the following “classic” Beer Culture post is from Friday, October 3, 2008. Along with many other posts, it disappeared in the Wormhole Incident™ and is therefore being re-posted here with a new permanent URL. If you have already read this post, please behave as if you were seeing it now for the first time.

We have always been at war with Eurasia.

On Monday, Pivovarský dům in Prague hosted a tasting of six beers from Pivovar Kocour, the Czech Republic’s newest brewery, with draft versions of Kocour’s 12° pale lager, English pale ale, Scottish ale, American IPA, V3 Rauchbier, and Stout. Like most of the attendees that night, I was impressed enough by these beers to consider the event a success.

However, since then I’ve had some time to think about Kocour’s success a little more. What strikes me now is much more than Kocour’s beer: in fact, in terms of planning, marketing and promotion, Kocour seems to be doing everything right. This comes in stark contrast to many small Czech brewers, who often seem to be doing just about everything wrong.

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How the Other Guys Do It: BrewDog’s Punk IPA

If you want to figure out what’s happening — or not happening — with Czech beer, it might help to look at how some of the other guys do it. Take, for example, the Punk IPA from Scotland’s BrewDog.

But I don’t mean the beer itself. I just mean the packaging.

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What We Learned at Pilsner Urquell

When you spend all day at Pilsner Urquell, you learn lots of things.

Above is a shot of senior trade brewmaster Václav Berka in the maltings with the crew from the Discovery Channel. During a full day of shooting, I had time to ask a number of questions about the brewery and how it operates. The malt house is a case in point: it’s not on the standard tour at Pilsner Urquell, so few visitors get to see it. And yet it’s a rather special feature: Pilsner Urquell is the only major Czech brewery which still has its own maltings, buying raw barley from Czech and Moravian farmers and producing just one type of malt which constitutes 100% of the grist of Pilsner Urquell. Any extra malt is sold to Czech homebrewers and small producers, or used to make Kozel.

And while many people assume Pilsner Urquell and Gambrinus to be the same brewery, there are enough differences to consider them as separate entities. To start, the Pilsner Urquell brewhouse is only used for that beer; Gambrinus has its own, separate brewhouse.

More factoids gleaned during a day at Pilsner Urquell:

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Drinking Mussolini’s Beer

Let’s say my father-in-law is not a beer guy — when it comes to drinking for pleasure, we’re talking wine. But like most people here, he regularly drinks beer with meals, the same way that people in other European countries down mineral water: at every lunch and every dinner, there is one bottle of medium- or low-strength pale lager from Platan, his local brewery, on the table. This makes his beer consumption just about average for a citizen of the Czech Republic: just about one half-liter a day, just about every day of the year. But if it’s a question of his preferred beverage, it’s vino, generally Moravian, generally white, and generally very good.

But that still doesn’t explain the Mussolini beer.

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Klostermann Amber Lager

About half a year back, we had a tasting of beers from Pivovar Strakonice, a complete run-down of the brewery’s lineup in the cellar of Pivovarský klub.

Afterwards, a few of us — ah, who am I kidding? It was just me and Max Bahnson — started grousing about the event, especially regarding the company’s marketing. Later, we were told that our comments had been reported to the directors of the brewery.

Six months later, it almost looks like they listened.

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Czech Beer Fest Update

Max Bahnson has an interesting post about the opening ceremonies and the first day at the Czech Beer Festival, along with some good insight and opinions on what works and what doesn’t. Please read.

From where I sat, the first day seemed to go very well, especially given the scale of the event and the fact that this year’s is the first. There were some great beers that are never seen on draft in Prague. There was a friendly, festive atmosphere with lots of catching up. Honza Kočka from Pivovar Kocour Varnsdorf dropped by. Tomáš Erlich from SPP showed up with friends from Poland’s Bractwo Piwne (still in town from the recent Days of Polish Beer at Pivovarský klub).

The most rewarding thing? To my eyes, the beers from small producers were by far the most popular.

But it turned out I wasn’t the only one who thought so. The next morning, I got a call from the festival organizers.

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