The Original Budweiser

In Europe, Anheuser-Busch is prohibited from marketing their beer as "Budweiser." Yet, especially in the southern part of the Czech Republic, there are Budweiser signs hanging in front of many pubs and the beer is frequently found on tap and in stores. Why? It's not the same beer.
In fact, there are currently two beers using the "Budweiser" trademark that aren't made by Anheuser-Busch. The name is actually meant to describe the style of beer, made in the Bohemian town of České Budějovice - Budweis, in German - where it's been brewed for centuries. One beer, made by Budweiser Bürgerbräu, was the first to use the term for marketing purposes. Production began in 1785, and the beer was first exported to the United States in 1871. Soon after, in 1876, Anheuser-Busch began using the name and filed a trademark request. At the time, Budweis was a town in the Austria-Hungarian empire, and the American company was seeking a name that would evoke some of the cachet of Austrian brewers, who were considered the best in the world.
Nowadays, though, Budweiser Bürgerbräu plays second fiddle - at least in the Czech Republic - to another beer: Budweiser Budvar. It's a state owned company, begun by a collection of farmer-brewers in 1895. The town of České Budějovice is dominated by the brewing business, and the headquarters covers a huge area on the outskirts of town. We went, hoping for a tour, but were turned down - they don't do as many tours as we thought.
Visible through the gate were stacks of bottle crates attended to by a fleet of forklifts. The third biggest brewer in the Czech Republic (after the ubiquitous Pilsner Urquell and Staropramen), Budvar makes about forty million gallons of beer per year, most of it produced right there in town.
I'm certainly not a beer expert, but it's my opinion that the Czech stuff tastes surprisingly similar to the American version. Maybe the taste is a little stronger, and the beer is a little less alcoholic, but not much different otherwise. That opinion, of course, is probably blasphemous here.
At the local Flop mini-mart (isn't that a strange name?), it sells for twelve koruna per half liter bottle, which includes a three koruna deposit. Twelve koruna is equivalent to about seventy US cents, which is a pretty good deal.
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