Czech Republic: AB InBev undertakes substantial investments in Budweis brewery

AB InBev, maker of of American brand Budweiser, is investing US$15 million in their Czech brewery Pivovar Samson in Budějovice (Budweis) to boost production capacity form currently 90,000 hectoliters to about 400,000. The money will also be needed to replace the outdated technology of open fermenters by modern cylindro-conical tanks storage and fermentation tanks. Other money will go into a new machine room, pasteurization and improved filtration of the beer.

The brewing site is important to AB InBev because it strengthens the name rights of their international brand Budweiser in a legal battle with state owned brewery Budejovický Budvar. Both breweries are locatedin the Czech city of České Budějovice, also known with its historic German name Böhmisch Budweis.

In the 19th century, when both Czech and German were official languages, pale beer from Bohemia, which was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, was the benchmark for breweries all over the world. Brewers outside of the region started brewing beers like in the cities of Pilsen and Budweis.

By that time different breweries from the city of Budweis used the name Budweiser as a designation of origin rather than a brand mark. Soon, confusion about the origin of the beer started, when foreign breweries used the same name. The most important imitator was Anheuser Busch from St. Louis in the United States. Adolphus Busch, German-born co-founder of Anheuser-Busch, was inspired by the desire to "brew a beer similar in quality, color, flavor and taste to the beer then made at Budweis".

Soon, Anheuser-Busch outsold the original Bohemian breweries in volume. Therefore both sides concluded a contract in 1907 that Anheuser-Busch could market its beer as Budweiser only in North America, while the Bohemian brewers had the rights to the European markets. Still, trademark battles are going on and AB InBev, interested to market their flagship brand worldwide, made several attempts to buy European brand holder Budejovický Budvar without success. In 2014 AB InBev bought Pivovar Samson, which has some historic value for the brand name, in order to strengthen its own legal position.

The Belgium-Brazilian-American brewing giant has no plans for the time being to brew the Budweiser brand at the improved plant in the Czech Republic, according to sources within the brewery.

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