BACK when I started this blog, I knew nothing about beer. Now, two years and hundreds of beers later, I now know almost nothing. A slight improvement over where I was before. The upshot of this is that my early posts weren’t always very good. My first attempt at ‘reviewing’ Budweiser Budvar for instance had so many mistakes, that the entire Internet felt compelled to leave angry comments. So, I replaced it with what you’re reading now.
Before going any further with a less erroneous ‘review’, I’ve got to get something embarrassing off my chest. I don’t much care for Budweiser Budvar. I’ve enjoyed can after can to try and figure out why it has such a dedicated following. It is an excellent Pilsner lager, but that distinctive, bitter aftertaste just doesn’t do it for me. Pilsner Urquell on the other hand has deliciously hoppiness, flavour, and a rich, smooth character. Budweiser Budvar does an outstanding job of being a different kind of pilsner lager and one I don’t like as much. It’s only one point of view. No doubt the comments at the end of the post will fill up with anger over my ‘wrong’ opinion.
So why bother with this ‘review’? Well, the detail junkies need to be fed. While the old version was up, it was one of the most popular on the blog. And this new version is a chance to upgrade the photos.
So, here we go again. With a big-ish bottle of Budweiser Budvar Czech Imported Lager.
First impressions are that it’s a big, upmarket bottle of lager. Unless you buy the smaller bottle. In which case it’s a small bottle of upmarket looking lager. Either way, it’s a green bottle with some fancy foil wrapping.
Neck foil isn’t normally worth a look, but they went to the trouble of putting a picture of a stamp on there. So let’s take a quick peek.
It features a picture of what looks like castle towers with a crest in front of them. And around the border it says “Budweiser Budbrau”.
The front label is a funny thing. Stuck half way between a tasteful European style and the in-your-face American Budweiser style. I think it gets away with it.
The top has a clearer version of the logo on the neck foil. But this time, around the border is written something different. Thanks to ‘Adam’ for explaining that “Sigillum Civium De Budiwoyz” is “coat of arms of Budějovice (or Budweis), or city seal of Budweis literally”.
Behind the logos is a crest. Not of a lion or dragon this time, but two medieval characters standing next to to a shield. And down at the bottom of the label is confirmation of the fact that sets this bottle apart. That’s because this has been “Brewed and bottled by the brewery Budweiser Budvar, N.C. České Budějovice (Budweis, Czech Republic”. Thank goodness it doesn’t mention a certain provincial town or city the keeps popping up on imitation foreign beers.
Over on the back label, and the original Budweiser remains that much classier than the one with all the advertising.
Budweis” has “Protected Geographical Indication” status. And that’s important because it means you won’t find anyone else pretending to sell and Budvar. At least not legally.
The little ‘story’ paragraph gives away a lot of juicy details as well. That Budvar has some 700 years of heritage. That they use Saaz Aroma Hops, which are new to me. That they have “carefully selected Moravian Malt” and use soft water from their own wells. All very welcome details indeed. But where is the rice? Without that, this will taste radically different to normal Budweiser.
Further down, and they get to the small print. That this is a 5% alcoholic volume lager. Little surprise there. The ingredient list is not a complicated one, giving only with only water, malt and hops.
There is also a web address which is www.original-budweiser.cz where you can tempt yourself with beers in their range that you can’t buy over here. Darn it. Lastly, you are told in no uncertain terms that this unremarkable 500 millilitre bottle (unless you bought the 330 ml one) is to be served cold. So I will.
This time around, it was a synch to pour. No uncontrollable fizzing at all. Just smooth pouring and a thin, patchy white head. It’s a slightly darker shade of amber than regular Budweiser. Much less head too. By the way, this time the bottle has been in the fridge. Not sure quite how much that will change things.
What does Budweis Budweiser Budvar smell like? The few cans of this I’ve tried seemed to have almost exactly the same smell of blended malted barley as every big-name lager. But this bottle right here is changing that. Maybe it’s the coldness? Whatever the reason, this time around, I can smell malted barley and hops! That would be the Saaz Aroma Hops at work then.
A couple of gulps in to my very cold glass of Budweis Budweiser Budvar, and things are turning out very differently to the first few times I’d tried it. This time , the old familiar “bite” is replaced by something else. Namely, a nice, clean, crisp and refreshing malted barley (that would be the Moravian Malt) and a bitter finish that tastes a tiny bit hoppy.
Before opening the bottle, I expected to find the same taste that put me off it again and again. Then to leave the ‘review’ there and just post it up to the photo above. But this time, possibly because of how cold it is, it smells and tastes utterly different. Now, at last, I can see what everyone was banging on about.
So, now that my Budweis Budweiser Budvar is sufficiently cold, what am I enjoying about it? At last, it’s doing the things that a lager should do. It’s clean, crisp and refreshing. It has a distinctive taste of malted barley and hops that I can’t remember finding elsewhere. It’s different to the other high-end lagers. You can taste how well made it is. And now you can buy it from many more shops than you used to.
What aren’t I enjoying about Budweis Budweiser Budvar? You can’t ignore how important it is to serve it cold. Most beers say on the label or can to serve it cold, but it’s not absolutely necessary to enjoy it. This time, when the label shouts “Serve Cold!”, they mean it. It tastes nowhere near as good at room temperature. Even at if just chilled. It needs to be cold; properly cold for it to taste right. And that’s not always easy. Especially in summer when you want a refreshing lager and can be sure that it won’t stay cold for long. Besides that, this one came out on the gassy side, although others I’ve tried weren’t. And that malted barley taste, as it warms up when you get to the bottom of the glass or bottle won’t be as refreshing anymore.
So how can I sum up this re-review of Budweis Budweiser Budvar. In a word, a surprise. When I started re-writing it, the plan was to stop after the photo of it all poured. “I’m not going to enjoy drinking that” I thought. Only this time, the Budvar was much colder than before. And that suddenly made it delicious.
So how can we sum up a cold bottle of Budweis Budweiser Budvar? It’s a fine lager, that’s for sure. It goes a different direction from some other fine lagers. Pilsner Urquell and Samuel Adams Boston Lager are like lagers pretending to be ales. Budweis Budweiser Budvar on the other hand is more like a mainstream pilsner lager that just does what it does very very well. Watch out for the coldness of your glass or bottle though. Without the rice that regular Budweiser has, it quickly looses it’s smoothness as it warms up. Well worth trying if you haven’t already.
Have you tried Budweiser Budvar Czech Imported Lager? What did you think of it? Leave your personal opinions, corrections, opinions and recommendations in response to my personal opinions, here in the comments.