This morning I saw on Evan Rail's Twitter feed, and if you aren't following him you should be, that global brewing beast ABInBev have bought the Budweiser Bier trademark from Budějovický měšťanský pivovar aka Samson.
For years the three claimants to the "Budweiser" name have been engaged in a slugfest over the rights to that name in courts around the world. Sometimes the Czechs won and sometimes Anheuser-Busch came out on top. In the minds of most beer geeks though, there was only one "original Budweiser" and that was Budvar. Something of a strange choice for the "original Budweiser" given that they are 100 years younger than Samson and some 30 years younger than Anheuser-Busch.
Generally though I am not one for getting my knickers in a twist over a business deal, but there is a great sense of disbelief that of all the multinationals to hook up with, they have chosen their erstwhile nemesis. Rationally speaking it is just a business deal, but rationality can go out of the window for this, though I am sure the shareholders of Samson are rationalising their decision with abandon. Having taken on the Goliath for donkeys years, one half of the David has decided to take the filthy lucre.
So while you won't hear me banging the drum about "selling out", today I am sad that a brewery founded in 1795 and with roots that stretch back even further than that, has been swallowed up by a leviathan of the brewing world.
Here is the text of the ABIB press release about the deal:
"AB InBev and BMP (Budejovicky Mestansky Pivovar) have settled all their trademark disputes and AB InBev has acquired the rights to BMP's "Budweiser" trademarks."
Apparently, contrary to some reports, InBev have not bought the brewery, simply the rights to use the trademark "Budweiser". I imagine then that as Budějovický měšťanský pivovar trade as Samson, we will see a re-branding of the beers currently bearing the "Budweiser" mark under the Samson brand.
While I am saddened that they have sold the rights to the trademark, at the end of the day, regardless of the labelling, as long as the beer remains decent that is the important thing.
Now, someone on February 1st, pass me a Budvar.