We personally aren’t fans of Budweiser back home. It sort of tastes watered down to us. We only really drink it when it’s the one option a summer BBQ or concert.
However, Budweiser Budvar is an entirely different story. We could drink one pint after another of this Czech beer!
So we have two completely different beers from two completely different countries, how did they get the same name and what’s the problem?
Also, be sure to check out our guide to all the best things to do in České Budějovice.
A Tale of Two Budweisers: Budvar vs Anheuser-Busch
Budweiser Budvar or Budějovický Budvar goes all the way back to the 13th century in an are known as the Kingdom of Bohemia, or present day Czech Republic.
At the time there were both Germans and Czechs in the region. They both brewed a beer known as Budweis. It was named after the area it was made, České Budějovice.
A similar example that made sense to us was using the popular type of beer Pilsner, which comes from the town of Pilsen.
The Bohemian beer became very popular and began exporting and selling in the United States in 1872 only to 1873. It would again start being sold in the U.S. in 1933.
The American Budweiser
In 1876 (only 3 years after Budweiser Budvar stopped selling to the US), American brewer, Anheuser-Busch began making a beer called “Budweiser.” They claimed that they had been motivated to brew a beer in similar color, flavor, and quality as the Czech equivalent.
Fast forward to today where the U.S. Budweiser is one of the best selling beers in the United States. It is also available in over 80 different markets worldwide.
The Legal Battle
Today, both companies begrudgingly share the global market. In the early 1900s, the two made an agreement about where in the world they could use the name “Budweiser.” Anheuser-Busch can only call their beers Budweiser in the North American market. Budweiser Budvar is sold under the name “Czechvar.”
However, elsewhere, the Czech beer is sold as Budweiser while Anheuser-Busch is sold under different names. Sometimes it’s Anheuser-Busch, and other places, like Italy, it’s just called Bud.
As consumers, you can imagine it’s a bit of a headache to figure out where to know which Budweiser beer is your Budweiser beer! There has been an ongoing trademark dispute between the two Budweisers for decades.
To us, it seems clear that the American Budweiser is in the wrong, but somehow they have been able to keep the fight going.
The dispute initially began in 1907 when the two companies agreed on when they could use the name. However, throughout the years, the both have battled over trademarks in various countries. While Budweiser Budvar has managed to win the majority of the disputes, the battle continues. It also, frankly, doesn’t seem like either is going to back down anytime soon.
How to Learn More About Budweiser Budvar in České Budějovice
Pretty interesting stuff, huh? We learned most of our information from a tour at the main Budweiser Budvar brewery in České Budějovice. We highly recommend including this area on your Czech Republic itinerary, especially if you’re a beer lover.
Here’s our inside scoop on the tour at Budějovický Budvar!
This brewery has gained a lot of popularity over the years. We like to think it has to do with the name, but really any European visitors may be coming just because it is a really popular and delicious beer in the region.
A guide will take you through the running factory where all the Budweiser Budvar is made.
We first got to see the old ways they used to make Budweiser Budvar with antique machinery. Then we moved onto the modern methods currently used. What was fascinating to see was how small this place seemed considering how much beer they are producing on a daily basis.
We were told that the Czech population has the highest beer drinking per capita! The average person drinks 142 liters (or about 37 gallons) per year. This average includes the entire population, that means children and pregnant women who can’t drink alcohol are included! Beer drinking here is no joke.
If you talk to a local they will most likely tell you how they believe beer is actually good for your health. When you go to a restaurant it is actually cheaper to buy beer than it is to buy water or coffee!
Back to the tour, we could smell the malt in the area the closer we got to the brewhouse. It smelled rather pleasant, like someone was making a really good rye bread.
Inside it was really warm like a sauna, and we started to sweat as our friendly guide explained the process in the giant copper tanks.
We quickly passed by the giant vertical fermentation tanks on our way to the building that contained the enormous tanks where the brew matures. Opposite of the brewhouse, the building with the maturing tanks was cold and smelled sour.
This is where we would get a small sample of the fresh beer that is unpasteurized. Consider this the freshest beer experience you can have. Breweries are unable to sell beer that is unpasteurized because it’s 10-day shelf life is so low.
We also were informed that 6-8 degree Celsius (42-46F) is the optimal drinking temperature. Also, that in the Czech Republic, the beer and foam ratio is a science of its own. They prefer pouring a beer with just the right amount of foam, and this takes time to master.
While walking through this cold building we passed an old wooden maturing tank from the medieval times. This was actually really cool to see in person. You could see small holes in the tank that had been patched up.
This is where the Brewers would drill holes to taste and sample their beer to find out how much more time it had or if it was ready to consume.
Our last stop in the tour was the factory where the beer is bottled, bottles are cleaned and reused, packaged, and sent off to distribute. We felt like we were in an episode of How It’s Made.
Before entering the factory you will see TONS of crates all on the outside of the buildings full of bottles. These are the bottles that are sent back to the factory to be reused.
When you’re inside the factory you will get to see the machinery cleaning the bottles and removing labels preparing them for reuse. The machines are able to detect if the bottle has any damage in any way and those will be removed. They are able to wash 44,000 bottles per hour.
Then you move on to the filling of the bottles. Here the machines can fill around 40,000 bottles per hour. After is the labeling process, which they are able to do at a rate of 50,000 bottles per hour. Last is the packaging where you see these clever robotic arms moving and organized crates that get lowered onto a pallet. They are able to package around 45,000 bottles per hour.
This entire part of the trip was mesmerizing to watch. There was an organized chaos to everything going on. It looked like a city of little bottles weaving in and out of traffic.
However, before you can just stand there and watch all day the loud noise will eventually get to you and you’ll be ready to leave.
The Budweiser Budvar Exhibit
After the tour, you can enjoy the interactive exhibit in a few different languages without the guide in the Budweiser Visitor Center.
Our favorite was the very end where there was a Mission Impossible style movie. An investigator hired by the evil U.S. corporation businessman to take down Budweiser Budvar. The investigator gets a lady of the night gifted to him from his U.S. boss.
He sneaks into the Czech Brewery and samples the beer where he realizes this is the purest and delicious beer in the world that dates way back in time. He exposes this information in the courtroom and wins the case for Czech. The movie was completely over the top and hilarious. Oh and the news reporter just happened to be named Kate Winslet.
České Budějovice and Nearby
We recommend making a day trip to České Budějovice and touring the brewery as well as see some of the surrounding area.
You can easily visit from Český Krumlov like we did as it is only a 30-minute drive. Try to get the morning tour at 10:30 so you have the entire day. You will need to book tickets in advance as these tours are very popular with tour buses.
Přemysl Otakar II
Afterward, we recommend going to the city center square, Přemysl Otakar II. There are shops and restaurants to enjoy.
We enjoyed a delicious local meal at the microbrewery Krajinska. They have daily specials. We had to use iTranslate to figure out which meals were available the day we were there. Luckily the staff speaks pretty decent English so you can always ask if you have no idea what’s going on.
We also recommend going up the Black Tower, or Černá věž for only 25 CZK. This is a great way to burn off some of those calories after lunch. Once you get to the top you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views. You’ll notice a beautiful white castle in the distance!
Hluboka n. Vltavou
The castle is known as Hluboka n. Vltavou and is only a 20-minute drive away. We recommend visiting as it seriously feels straight out of a fairy tale and may be the most amazing castle we have ever seen in person.
You’ll need to find parking on the street in the downtown area and walk the rest of the way. The entire castle was built in the Neo-Gothic style. As you walk around you will notice all the amazing details to the place.
Give yourself enough time to do a tour of the interior. We didn’t plan for this and regret not making it inside!
Last, you can visit a Czech Republic UNESCO World Heritage Site about another 25-30 minute drive from Hluboka n. Vltavou.
Holašovice is one of the most charming small villages in seemingly the middle of nowhere and a quick stop. Walk around the small city center and enjoy the beautiful Baroque style homes. This entire place is like an open-air museum with inhabitants.
We enjoyed dinner at one of the two restaurants open overlooking the small, rural town. Be sure to walk over and check out their local Stonehenge, rocks forming a Celtic stone circle in the middle of a field.
Where to Stay in České Budějovice
You can also extend your time in Ceske Budejovice and enjoy the area some more! Look below to see where you can stay:
Have you heard about Budweiser Budvar, aka the real Budweiser? What do you think? Let us know!
For more tips on visiting, check out our complete Czech Republic travel guide!