Blog: Andy MortonUS beer called "filthy water" as Czech president gets patriotic

Andy Morton | 25 November 2014

The long-running spat between US and Czech brewers stepped up a notch this week after the Czech president described American beer as “filthy water”.

Milos Zeman, whose mind may have been on the century-long dispute between Anheuser-Busch and the Czech-based Budejovicky Budvar, made the remark during a summit in Kazakhstan this week, claiming that no country can outdo his national brew masters.

“Czech beer is the best in the world,” Zeman reportedly said. “No American company that offers some filthy water instead of beer can compete with us.”

The caustic comments may not go down well in the States, where high-quality craft beer is enjoying a golden age. However, Czech consumers might agree, especially if they side with Budejovicky against what some in the country consider to be A-B's bullying attempts to lay sole claim to the Budweiser trademark.

In the latest manoeuvre in the fight, A-B's Belgium-based parent, Anheuser-Busch InBev said in July its purchase of Pivovar Samson in Czech “further strengthens” its position in the legal row with Budejovický.

Cynics would suggest that Zeman is using the US/Czech dispute for political gain. The president's approval rating has plummeted since he said the use of force in 1989 to quell pro-democracy protests in Prague could not be considered a massacre. For that, Zeman was pelted with eggs; for his latest outburst, he may find he has rather more home support.

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