Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Beer of the Week: The European Bud (AKA Czechvar)

By William Brand
Monday, January 28th, 2008 at 1:00 pm in Uncategorized.

Budvar

Glasses of Budvar Budweiser make a beautiful sight in a cafe in Europe.

Photo: Daniel Zolli.

WILLIAM BRAND: BEER OF THE WEEK

Make new friends with the original Bud
TALK ABOUT THE WORLD spinning ’round. There was a momentous piece of beer news last year for those of us who like great beer. The original Budweiser — labeled as Czechvar — is coming to the United States and the importer will be (drum roll here, please): Budweiser.

There are two Budweisers in the beer world: The world classic Budvar Budweiser (****) that has been brewed in a town in the Czech Republic for centuries and Anheuser-Busch Budweiser (**), long the world’s best-selling beer, brewed in St. Louis, Mo., since the 19th century. The two companies have been in courts around the world, battling for the right to sell Budweiser. A-B argues that it registered the trademark Budweiser in 1878 before the present Czech company, Budejovicky Budvar, was created. There’s always a local angle isn’t there?

This wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for Kip Bruzzone, who owns World of Wine Limited in Lafayette, CA.

He discovered Budvar Budweiser in Prague as an exchange student and fell in love with the beer. During the course of a decade, he made friends with Budvar’s brewers and in 2000 won approval to import the beer here as Czechvar. Four years later, the brewery dumped Kip and signed on with a larger importer: Distinguished Brands International, Littleton, Colo.

Now A-B has aced Distinguished: A-B’s sales are nearly flat, and the company’s been scouring the world for premium imports to build income. The prospect of having its beer distributed nationwide in A-B’s distributor network was irresistible.

Anheuser-Busch has found a European champion this time. This is a ruddy copper beer with a spicy, malty nose from the Saaz hops and the Moravian barley. The taste is mouth-filling, malty, mildly sweet well-balanced by a hoppy dryness. It’s the kind of beer that drove visiting Americans, like Bruzzone, wild and helped ferment the craft-brewing revolution in America.

Try this: Pour yourself a glass of Czechvar and a glass of American Budweiser. Notice the difference in the pour, in the aroma and in the taste. If you like dry and kind of sweet and light, then Budweiser’s the one. If you like a full and hearty taste, you’ll really like Bud … er … Czechvar.

You can find more on the dispute and the history in my blog, Can’t find this beer? E-mail me at whatsontap@sbcglobal.net or call 510-915-1180 and ask for our 2008 Bay Area Retail Beer Store List.

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