Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Budvar - The Original Budweiser

I recently discovered that there was a monthly series regarding beer topics, courtesy of The Brookston Beer Bulletin. I am thankful for the inspiration, and will probably hit on one of these each month in the future. You will know that it's part of The Sessions by the logo at the top. Other than that, it will start out like this:

Eastern Beers

I'd like to think that I had two beer awakenings in my life. The first was when I lived in Germany and learned to drink beer there. I got about 3 good years of beer drinking done before we moved back to America. As I finished out high school, I just went along with the crowd, pretty much drinking whatever cheap American lager we pooled our money to buy.

My parents moved back to Germany in 1989. I was in my 3rd year of college and on Christmas break when I returned with my best friend. My mom and dad took us to Sachsenhausen, where we toured the bars, drinking Hefeweizen on tap (for some reason, most places only served these in half liter bottles. The guy told us some story about needing proper pressure to have it on tap. I wonder, now, if that was a casked hefeweizen we drank). The beer that really stuck with me that night, however, was a draft of Budvar.

I remember it was the last bar we went to, and I believe I still had my senses about me. I had both the Pilsner Urquell and the Budvar at this place, both "vom fass" (from the tap). My buddy, Paul, said he thought the Urquell was the best beer he'd ever had in his life. I was kind of shocked, because I felt the same about the Budvar.

A big, fluffy head, and a nice Saaz hop bitterness with a somewhat fruity and dry finish. I still remember how crisp it was to this day. While I've had it in the states, I don't think you can really compare the bottle version to the kegged version. Also, it is difficult to find it in a brown bottle. It really is a shame that both the Urquell and Budvar come in green bottles. They actually had Urquell on tap at U.S. Cellular field for a time. I would gladly walk halfway around the stadium and stand in line for 10 minutes to get that.

There is an ugly side to this story, as well. See, this beer is actually known around the world as Budweiser-Budvar. Adolphus Busch apparently stole this name around 1876, from the town of Budweis in Czechloslovakia, where Budvar had been made in some form since 1245 A.D. As a result of this thievery, the original Budweiser has had to put up with fighting to keep its name in various countries worldwide.

In the U.S., you can find this beer under the name "Czechvar". It is still worth trying, if you want to get an idea what this beer is all about. However, I will always look forward to a future day when I can once again taste the original on tap.

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