Budweiser's darker, more flavorful twin
A small Czech brewery has made its own version of Budweiser for centuries. Anheuser-Busch InBev is not happy about sharing the name, however.
For more than 100 years, what the world's beer drinkers recognized as Budweiser depended largely on where they were standing. That won't change anytime soon now that talks over exclusive use of the name have collapsed.
Global megabrewer Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD) wants the world to know Budweiser as the U.S. does: A pale, Clydesdale-pulled, multi-packaged light lager that permeates every aspect of adult culture and is nearly inescapable if you're attempting to buy a beer. The Budejovicky Budvar brewery in Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic, wants to keep its Budweiser name associated with its town, its brewery and its darker, more flavorful lager. The former wants the name for brand consistency, the latter says the name is the primary reason it exists.
Before exclusivity talks broke down, the courts have been siding with the relatively little Czech brewery. Though Budejovicky Budvar produced 279 million pints of Budweiser last year to A-B's 73.9 billion and brought in revenue of $101 million in 2011 compared to InBev's $39 billion, Budvar has won 88 of 124 lawsuits against Anheuser-Busch over the past 11 years. Though A-B InBev has the rights to the Budweiser name in roughly 80 countries, Budvar still has exclusive rights to Budweiser in 68 countries, mostly in Europe, including beer-loving Germany.
So how did we get here? Much as the U.S. embraced baseball when the rest of the world took up soccer, history's disparate paths on each side of the Atlantic made Budweiser mean many things to many people. Budweiser was born in 1795 at the Budweiser Burgerbrau brewery in Ceske Budejovice and hit U.S. shores as an export in the early 1870s. The founders of Anheuser-Busch liked the style so much that they built their own beer around it and began selling it as Budweiser in the U.S. in 1876.
That became a bit of a problem in 1895, when Budweiser Burgerbrau became a house brewery for German royals and Budejovice's citzens founded Budejovicky Budvar to keep the Budweiser name in town. International legal wrangling between the three brewers began in 1906, but came to a settlements in 1907 and 1939 that allowed Anheuser-Busch to use the Budweiser name in North and Central America.
A-B has never been happy about this, but has been thwarted in various attempts at using the Budweiser name exclusively. In 2000, Britain allowed both A-B and Budvar to use the Budweiser trademark om the United Kingdom, stating that drinkers could see the clear difference between the two. That decision was upheld this summer as an appeals court refused to overturn Budvar's trademark.
Anheuser-Busch briefly tried to market Budvar's Budweiser in the U.S. as Czechvar in the mid-2000s to curry favor with the Czech brewer, but to no avail. The European Union took this line of thinking a step further in 2009, when it rejected A-B's application for a Europe-wide trademark on Budweiser. Today, the trademark dispute is the subject of 61 lawsuits in 11 countries.
The stakes are high on both sides. While Budvar's hold on Budweiser in beer-swilling European markets is somewhat disconcerting to A-B InBev, the big brewer can work around it with its huge portfolio of other brands including Stella Artois and Becks. That's a bit tougher in growing beer markets like Japan, Korea and China, where Budvar owns rights to A-B's best-known brand. A-B wants to unleash Budweiser everywhere, but that's a tough proposition when you can't even control what's on the label.
Budvar, meanwhile, has reason to fear what may happen if its native Bohemia loses exclusive rights to Budweiser. Fellow big Czech brewer Staropramen fell into InBev's hands in 2000, was sold to a private equity firm in 2009 and was just picked up by MolsonCoors (TAP) in April. With Budvar's international growth already stifled thanks to its Bud battle with A-B InBev, its Budweiser exclusivity may be the only thing preventing it from becoming just the latest small brewery snatched up by the big brewing conglomerates.
The Brits have a point, however. If you're a beer drinker in St. Louis used to light, refreshing, canned fare, you'd never reach for the darker, more complex Budvar or Czechvar. Meanwhile, beer pilgrims in Prague would be loathe to pick a yellow, fizzy American Bud over a big glass of the browner brew sitting before them at a beer hall. Unfortunately, brewmasters and beer companies seldom see it the same way, which is why drinkers will still want to check your passport stamp before ordering a Bud when far from home.
More from Money Now
american budweiser is made of old sweatsock drippings,goat urine,and water directly from a louisiana bayou
at least thats what it tastes like.....so bad....its popularity is such a sad sign of the corporate brainwashing of america
ill stick to newcastle,st peters organic,and various belgian brews
While all you wannabe beer drinkers can stand/sit around sipping your microbrews in your speedos and dresses, the rest of us will continue to reward Budweiser, Miller, and Coors for sponsoring almost every sport available to mankind. I can't nor want to imagine a world without these "big boys"; without them, it would be very boring listening to you wannabes sewing dresses or knitting mittens for your husbands!
Copyright © 2013 Microsoft. All rights reserved.
Quotes are real-time for NASDAQ, NYSE and AMEX. See delay times for other exchanges.
Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Thomson Reuters (click for restrictions). Real-time quotes provided by BATS Exchange. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Interactive Data Real-Time Services. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by SIX Financial Information.
The British comic's interview turns into a much-deserved criticism of wrong-headed media tactics.
- 7-Eleven targeted in human smuggling raid
- Why 'Dumb Ways to Die' became a viral hit
- Lone Signal lets you tweet aliens for a fee
- Red Robin ad doesn't go down well with vegetarians
- Pity the millionaire: Mansions in short supply
- Who needs a husband, anyway?
- Bloomberg's new crusade: Food scraps
- China eyes stockings that shoo away perverts
- NYU's pricey perk: Loans for vacation homes
[BRIEFING.COM] The major averages ended higher across the board as the S&P 500 advanced 0.8%.
Equities climbed steadily since the opening bell as investors prepared for tomorrow's policy decision from the Federal Reserve. Although chatter in recent weeks has included speculation the Fed would look to taper its asset purchases, today's broad gains suggest investors expect mostly reassuring words from Chairman Bernanke at tomorrow's press conference.
All ten sectors ended with ... More
More Market News
The tech giant surprised Taiwanese manufacturers when it unveiled the first full-size iPad for $499.