Beer drinkers fear Budweiser truce (CORRECTED)

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CORRECTION (PUBLISHED 11 NOVEMBER 1992) APPENDED TO THIS ARTICLE

WHEN the cold war finished, the battle of the cold beers continued. But after a century, the dispute between the United States and Czechoslovakia over the Budweiser brand name is nearing an end, writes Rachel Borrill.

Post communist reforms have finally allowed Anheuser Busch, the producer of the American Budweiser, to bid for a 30 per cent stake in the Budvar brewery, its Czechoslovakian rival. By next week the American brewery expects to be partners.

Although the American brewer has given assurances that it will maintain the Czech company's independence, the Campaign For Real Ale believes the Czech beer will not survive. Steve Cox, Camra's campaign manager, said: 'It is like David fighting off Goliath, it just won't happen.'

For Anheuser Busch, the world's largest brewer, it is essential that its bid is accepted. The clash of names has caused worldwide confusion. Britain is the only country where both beers can be sold under their full titles.

Until now, the American Budweiser has not been sold in many European countries because the Czechs registered the name first. The solution was to sell the beer under the abbreviated name of Bud.

The two Budweiser beers differ greatly in taste, aroma and body. One Camra beer taster said: 'It's simple, one tastes like beer, the other like gnats' piss.'

John MacDonough, vice-president of Anheuser Busch' marketing, admits its 'light, refreshing' taste does not appeal to many Europeans. 'It's like trying to sell white wine as red wine - Europeans want full-bodied beer and Budvar is just that,' he said.

CORRECTION

In an article on 10 September it was wrongly stated that Britain was the only country where Czech and American versions of Budweiser can be bought. The trademark 'Budweiser' was first registered in 1878 by Anheuser-Busch.

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