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Friday, May 12, 2006

Bud, the official beer of the world, really

Bud faces tough taste test in World Cup Germany
Mon May 8, 2006 8:02 PM ET

By Louis Charbonneau

BERLIN (Reuters) - Budweiser may be the "King of Beers" in the United States, but it's often laughed at in Germany, where it will be one of only two beers available in football stadiums during the World Cup.

An official sponsor of the month-long soccer tournament that kicks off on June 9, Budweiser parent Anheuser-Busch (BUD.N: Quote, Profile, Research) originally won the rights to a monopoly on beer sales at the 64 World Cup matches to be held in 12 German cities.

But the decision outraged Germany's fiercely proud beer drinkers, many of whom dislike the taste of weaker U.S. beers. The German television station n-tv summed up the country's reaction on its Web site: "A cry went out across the nation."

The St. Louis, Missouri-based firm took note of the furor and relented. It agreed to give 30 percent of beer sales rights to the family-run German brewery Bitburger to sell its popular Bitburger Pils, better known as "Bit."

"We obviously read the stories and are aware of the media ... the German fan, the German consumer, has great pride in the local beers," Anheuser-Busch Vice-President Tony Ponturo told Reuters in a telephone interview.

According to government figures, some 1,200 German breweries produce over 115 million hectoliters of beer every year, much of it for export.

Germany is the world's third largest beer market after the United States and China, and Germans down around 140 liters of beer per capita each year, well ahead of Americans. Only the Czechs and Irish drink more.

Anheuser-Busch markets its beer in Germany under the clumsy name "Anheuser-Busch Bud." It is banned from using "Budweiser" and "Bud" labels due to legal disputes with the Czech brewer Budweiser Budvar over the former and Bitburger over the latter.

But the World Cup deal persuaded Bitburger, which has successfully argued in the past that "Bud" sounds too much like "Bit," to temporarily suspend its legal dispute, allowing the name Bud to appear at World Cup stadiums.

"We've been able to work out an arrangement with Bitburger that will allow us to use 'Bud' on the perimeter boards, which we think has certainly value for us," Ponturo said.


The result of this beer diplomacy is that an estimated 2 million German and 1 million foreign fans will be able to choose between a traditional German pilsner and a lighter U.S. lager.

But the deal has not silenced all Bud's German critics.

Berlin university student Johannes Schnitter is collecting negative epithets about Bud and posting them on his Web site.

"An insult to all true beer lovers, taste buds and football fans," Schnitter says about Bud and its World Cup domination.

"I don't think it's appropriate for Germany to welcome the world into our country with this pseudo beer," he told Reuters.


"As the younger people are traveling and becoming much more of a global society, maybe beer tastes will change," he said.

It might take a while.

German breweries follow purity rules that date back half a millennium to Duke Wilhelm IV's 1516 edict stating that beer can only be brewed from four things: barley, yeast, hops and water.

Budweiser has an extra ingredient -- rice. The company says this creates "its characteristic lightness, crispness and refreshing taste."

Wow, Bud in Germany. What the fuck? I thought only GI's drank that.

Man, talk about a miscue

FIFA goes for the money, and pisses off Germany.

Now, if it was Budvar Budweiser, that would be cool. But it's not.

posted by Steve @ 12:03:00 AM

12:03:00 AM

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