Tomorrow, Budweiser Budvar, N.C. is commemorating the 120th anniversary of the founding general meeting of shareholders of the “Czech Joint Stock Brewery in České Budějovice” (hereinafter referred to as “CJSB”), which is the direct predecessor of today's national corporation. Mainly brewers of Czech nationality from České Budějovice, led by JUDr. August Zátka, were behind the origination of the CJSB. The newly founded brewery thus directly followed in the historical tradition of brewing the original Beer from Budweis in České Budejovice and began to develop this tradition. "We are proud to continue in the 750-year long tradition of brewing the original Beer from Budweis under the brand of Budweiser Budvar. We have looked after and kept this tradition for future generations. When brewing the Beer from Budweis, we follow time-tested craftsman procedures, using only original ingredients and brewing only in České Budějovice. For that reason our beer can boast the Protected Geographical Indication," says Budweiser Budvar’s director Jiří Boček. The right to use the Protected Geographical Indications "Budějovické pivo" and "Českobudějovické pivo” was acquired by Budweiser Budvar in 2004 when the Czech Republic joined the European Union. Protected Geographical Indications guarantee consumers genuine quality, therefore that the product purchased is not a cheap imitation, and that it was made at a specific location using exactly defined ingredients and a specified manufacturing process.
The CJSB founding general meeting approved the existing activities and procedures of the founding committee and elected the first ever board of directors as follows: chairman JUDr. František Hromada, secretary of the Chamber of Commerce; vice chairman JUDr. František Dlouhý, lawyer; executive Josef Pillmann, landowner. Other duly elected members were: a former brewing master Jan Břeský from Birkenfels, a property owner Bohdan Francko, a factory owner Augustin Hromádka, a retired staff physician Jan Jirka, M.D., an innkeeper František Karhan and chaplain Martin Šrámek. The first batch of beer of a mere 200 hectolitres was brewed by the first brewing master Antonín Holeček on 7th October 1895.
Founding the CJSB was a culmination of a long process, preceded by a number of historical events. At the end of the nineteenth century, České Budějovice was a town of mixed nationalities; nonetheless the town itself was presented as German, despite the 1890 census confirming the prevalent Czech nationality population (16,271 of Czech nationality inhabitants vs 11,117 German nationality inhabitants). In spite of outnumbering the Germans, the Czechs had no representation in the České Budějovice Town Hall. The existing electoral regulations at the time distinguished electors in accordance with their belongings and the amount of tax paid. Considering the mentioned facts (e.g. in direct taxes in 1900, the German-speaking population paid nearly 70%), the Czechs had no chance to win the election. In order to be able to succeed in the political level, the Czechs had to strengthen their position in the economic sphere first. Therefore in the last third of the 19th century, a whole lot of new Czech companies was established in České Budějovice (e.g. in 1890 a factory for artificial fertilizers, in 1891 a cask factory, in 1893 the enamel cookware factory, pencil factory and a match factory etc.).
The first attempt to establish an own brewery was carried out in České Budějovice in 1891, the incentive to found a Czech brewery being the 1890 census mentioned hereinbefore. During the census, German employers extensively urged Czech employees to fill in German, as the language they speak, in the census sheets. Many Czech brewers and employees opposed similar practices. The management of the Civic Brewery, one of the bastions of Germanness at that time, pointed out that if they did not like it in the brewery, they might as well start their own brewery. The initiative to establish the CJSB therefore came primarily from the Czech brewers, e.g. JUDr. August Zátka, Karel Čertík and Antonín Effmert. Many brewers found the courage, despite the threat that they would not be paid the proceeds from the brewing rights, and directly subscribed for first shares.
The Czech side led by JUDr. August Zátka and JUDr. František Hromada began preparatory works on starting a new business; the provisional committee called several meetings and developed the company statutes. Meanwhile, there was a nationwide-scale political rift between Czech political parties concerning the elections to the Imperial Council. Certain incoherence was apparent even among Czech politicians in České Budějovice, and the idea of establishing an own brewery had to be put off for some time. Further negotiations regarding the Czech brewery were commenced in late 1893, and following the first meeting of the subscribers on 21st January 1894, carrying on the activities aimed at building the brewery was recommended. Furthermore, a founding committee was elected, headed by a Czech brewer and prominent entrepreneur JUDr. August Zátka.
The committee dealt with a number of complex issues, the first of them being the choice of a suitable location. Due to the location near Prague road and railway, the Prague suburb was selected, also with regard to the confirmed groundwater analyses. The actual construction works on excavating the foundations started during August 1894. The order to build the brewery was placed with the Prague Czech company of “Dvořák and Fischer”, while the manufacture of machinery with the renowned company of “Novák and Jahn” and the supply of refrigerating and moving machinery was provided by the Ringhoffer company. By the end of the year, the brewing house, cellars, fermenting room, engine room and one administrative building were under the roof. To obtain high-quality water two wells were dug in the premises. In October 1894, the Ministry of Interior decree No. 21884 approved the statutes of the joint-stock company, which with minor changes applied until 1940. Antonín Holeček became the first CJSB brewing master as of 1st April 1895.
The CJSB is the direct predecessor of Budweiser Budvar Brewery, N.C. On the occasion of celebrating its 120th anniversary, Budweiser Budvar is preparing a series of events for its favourers. During the year, the market is going to see limited beer editions, and the anniversary theme is going to appear on a number of souvenirs (e.g. a ceramic beer mat, a metal sign with a historical motif, bottle opener, a set of historical photos, a beer jug, a tankard with a lid etc.). Budweiser Budvar is also preparing a series of cultural events, such as the publication of a book about the history of Budweiser Budvar, completion of the reconstruction of the multimedia exposition "The Story of Beer from Budweis", historic evening tours of the brewery with dramatized scenes in period costumes and the Open Day in Budvar. The brewery is going to continuously inform about individual events.
Why Budweiser Budvar?
The name of the brewery and the name of its key brand - "Budweiser Budvar", are related to the place of origin, therefore to the town of České Budějovice. From the very beginning, the CJSB used for the sale of its beer the word "Budweiser" in various forms, which was based on the names of Budějovice or Budweis used at the time. As far back as in the 13th century, the town of Budějovice - Budweis - excelled in brewing beer designated as Beer from Budweis, or called "Budweiser Bier" (i.e. "Beer from Budweis). Designating the product by the place of origin was logically adopted by the CJSB when it was established (e.g. "Budweiser Aktienbier"), which thus directly accepted to continue the tradition of producing original Beer from Budweis. During the development of its business activities, the CJSB began to register miscellaneous designations with the "Budweiser" element as trademarks. In 1930, another important trademark - "Budvar" was registered, which originated by bringing together two Czech words - BUDějovický (“from Budweiser” in English) and pivoVAR (“brewery” in English). Subsequently in 1934, the trademark “Budvar – budějovické pivo” (“Budvar – Beer from Budweis” in English) was registered. The "Budvar" trademark was supplemented by the previously used designation of origin - “Budweiser”. Since the name of "Budvar" beer quickly became synonymous with high quality, the CJSB was officially renamed as "Budvar - Czech Joint Stock Brewery České Budějovice” in 1936.
"Budweiser Budvar" Premium Lager gradually became the key and flagship product of the brewery. Under the brand name of “Budweiser Budvar" a further seven kinds of beer are sold besides pale lager B: ORIGINAL (draught beer B: CLASSIC, dark lager B: DARK, Krausened lager B: SPECIAL, non-alcoholic beer B: FREE, special beer B: STRONG, special beer B: CRYO and non-filtered yeast beer CVIKL). Currently, "Budweiser Budvar" is one of the best known and most valuable Czech brands in the world - it participates in the beer export from the Czech Republic by more than 20%, being exported to 70 countries. The modern history of the brewery began in 1967, when the Ministry of Agriculture of the Czech Republic established Budweiser Budvar, N.C. as the direct legal successor of the original "Czech Joint Stock Brewery in České Budejovice."
During its existence, Budweiser Budvar has brewed 48.3 million hectolitres of beer.