Cheers

Don Kavanagh is the editor of Hospitality magazine.

Don Kavanagh: Battle of the brands

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Czech and US beers are vying to win over Kiwi drinkers, writes Don Kavanagh.

I've always had an issue with Budweiser, the beer synonymous with all things American.

It styles itself "The King of Beers" in that understated way so beloved of American business, and there are few more globe-buggeringly big brands in the beer market.

But King of Beers?

That's harder to swallow than Bud Light and leaves a far more bitter aftertaste than Budweiser ever could manage to.

It's not that the beer is bad, it's just that that level of hubris always annoys me.

I've had Budweiser on and off over the past 25 years or so, in various places and in many guises. When I was young a few pints of Bud were handy on a shaky Sunday after a hefty weekend's intake of soothing libations.

Two pints of Bud and the body was feeling much more human so the Guinness could be safely approached.

I've also had it in the US and even some of the locals looked askance at me when I ordered it, although that was in Texas, where Lone Star ruled the bars.

All in all, Bud's a light, easy to drink lager, without major faults - apart from the use of rice in the brewing process, which drops quite a bit of bodyweight out of it - but without any major attractions either.

It's also famous for a lawsuit some years ago against a Czech beer, which called itself - as it had every right to do - Budejovicky Budvar. The name came from the town in which it was made and Budweiser was the German word meaning "from Budejovicke", or Budweis as the Germans called it.

The legal wrangling began in 1907 and continues today, but what is more important is that Budejovicky Budvar is now on the shelves here, in New Zealand, which gives people the chance to try it and see what genuine Czech lager tastes like.

There have been other Czech beers here, notably the wonderful Pilsner Urquell, but this is a great addition to the shelves in time for summer.

It's also a nice chance to try a decent European lager that is still brewed in its hometown, rather than produced under license elsewhere around the world.

If the American Budweiser is the King of Beers then this beer is the angry republican mob coming to eject the royal family and burn down the palace, and I love that it's here.

Grab a few of each and see which one you think is the better beer.

- Herald on Sunday

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