Anheuster-Busch (AB)and Czech brewery Budweiser Budvar have signed an historic deal that will allow the US brewing giant to import and distribute the Budweiser Budvar brand alongside its own Budweiser in 30 US states. The Czech beer will be known as “Czechvar” in the US.
The deal is unlikely to mean an end to almost 100 years of bad feeling between the two companies over which has the right to use the Budweiser name. It has no impact outside the US, and, Tony Jennings, chief executive of Budvar UK, Budweiser Budvar’s wholly owned UK subsidiary, says: “There have been no concessions on the trademark question by either side. It remains unresolved.”
Jennings adds that AB “need us much more than we need them” because the deal underlines the shift in beer drinking away from mass-market products towards speciality beers.
The agreement only covers North America and Czechvar will continue to be brewed at source in the Czech Republic. The Czech brewery continues to be state-owned, and AB is not taking any kind of stake in it. Previous attempts by the Czech government to sell off part of its stake, and fears that AB might buy it, led to public outrage in the Czech Republic.
AB has already signed similar importing and distribution deals with Grolsch, Tiger, Kirin and, recently, InBev, for the Belgian beer giant’s Stella Artois, Beck’s and Bass Pale Ale brands.