No, you’re not seeing things; I’m writing an article and beer review about Budweiser for The Brew Club!
After a month or two exploring heavy Belgian Ales I figured it was time to lighten up a bit and explore some classic European lagers. I recently wrote articles about Pilsner Urquell and Staropramen, both classic Czech lagers in the ‘Pilsner’ style; that is a lager recipe based on the brews from the Czech city of Pilsen. In the same way that here in the UK we have ‘Burton’ ale, and a brew from the town of Budweis would be called (ahem) Budweiser.
Budweis (that’s its German name, it’s also known as ?eské Bud?jovice) lies to the south of Prague in South Bohemia. Much like those in Pilsen, the burghers of the town were given the right to brew beer in 1265, and down the centuries the beers from Budweis became popular across the Holy Roman Empire (as much of Europe was once known). In 1895, following the lead of the burghers of Pilsen, the town’s various brewers joined forces to create a purpose built brewery and Budweiser Budvar was born.
Meanwhile, in St Louis in the United States, a Czech immigrant first brewed and marketed beer in the Budweis style in 1875, providing work for copyright and trademark lawyers for over a hundred years. The name ‘Budweiser’ was indeed first trademarked by what is now Anheuser Busch, so they have the legal (if not moral) rights to the name, but given that the name describes a style of beer things get complicated.
In some parts of the world, the courts ruled against A-B in the use of the name (in Vietnam, for example, their beer is sold as ‘Bud’) and then finally in 2001 the Czechs rebranded their beer ‘Czechvar’ for sale in the United States. Amusingly it is now being distributed in the US by AB.
You will note from the photograph that I’ve gone a bit over the top with the drinking vessel on this one, Budweiser produced this tankard in Bohemian Crystal to commemorate their beer being allowed into the Great British Beer Festival a few years ago. It’s not a glass I use regularly (at all) but I just couldn’t resist it.
So, onto the beer itself; again, the beer is made with Saaz hops from the fields of Bohemia, but unlike Pilsner Urquell there’s very little nose. The colour is perhaps slightly darker than a classic pilsner, but still a rich golden colour with a pure white head that quickly subsides, with no noticeable lacing.
The taste is softer and perhaps slightly sweeter than you might expect, certainly slightly sweeter than Pilsner Urquell or Staropramen, and very different to its St Louis based namesake. It’s still very refreshing; after the initial hint of sweetness you get a rich malty flavour that gives way to a crisp hoppy finish. Wonderful.
Four Stars – and if you’re lucky enough to find a bottle of Budvar or CzechVar, open it alongside a bottle of ‘Bud’, I challenge you! Also try to check out the Budweiser Dark Lager review!