Tesco lager launch takes it into Czech beer territory

Tesco has waded into the most hotly disputed arena of the beer world with the launch of an own-label lager from the Czech Republic's Ceské Budejovice - home of Budweiser Budvar and its 100-year-old, worldwide legal battle against Anheuser-Busch's Budweiser.

Boheme 1795 is a pilsner brewed by Budejovicky Mestansky Pivovar, the oldest brewery in the city, which started brewing in 1795 and produced the original Budweiser in 1802.

The brewery was forced to give up its trademark rights under Communism, but in 1989 was once more granted the right to use the term Budweiser in the Czech domestic market. It still uses the same recipe and brewing methods as it did two centuries ago - making it the manufacturer of the "original" beer from the region, according to Tesco.

Beer & cider senior buying manager Andrew Carpenter said: "We recognised that the Czech Republic is perhaps the premium beer-producing nation in the world, with a history of brewing that goes back hundreds of years. With Boheme 1795, we have produced an affordable but truly authentic Budejovicke Pivo which has outstanding quality and flavour that will surprise and delight customers."

Budejovicke Pivo, which means beer from Ceské Budejovice - Budweiser in German - is a Protected Geographical Indication under EU law. But Tesco has chosen a different name for the beer in a bid to stay out of the legal battle that has been waged between Anheuser-Busch and Budvar for more than a century.

Denis Cox, spokesman for Budweiser Budvar, commented: "We at Budvar should be grateful for the existence of this brewery, because it was only because of it that the Budweiser Budvar brewery came into existence in the first place in 1895. The reason? The Czech community in Ceské Budejovice so disliked the beer brewed at the German-owned Mestansky brewery that they decided to build their own brewery.

"I'm not suggesting for a minute that it's not a good brew now, and I'm sure they are an excellent own-label supplier."

Anheuser-Busch did not comment on the launch.