Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Some Advice for MolsonCoors

I realise that this is maybe somewhat cheeky, but I would like to offer MolsonCoors some advice.

It seems, if the news is correct, that they are intent on buying a company called StarBev. Perhaps the jewel in StarBev's crown is Staropramen in Prague, but they also own breweries in other Central and Eastern European countries as well as distributing a range of western brands in the region. Obviously then the purchase is to gain a foothold in the CEE marketplace, which happens to include the country with the highest beer consumption per capita in the world, the Czech Republic.

There is though, I believe, an opportunity for MolsonCoors to do something good for the beer world in Central and Eastern Europe through their purchase of StarBev, and in particular their Czech brands. Beyond Staropramen, the purchase of StarBev has brought Ostrovar, Měšťan, and most of all Braník into their portfolio.

Braník is something of a sad, cautionary tale of the pitfalls of privatisation and calamities of consolidation. If I remember rightly, when Staropramen in some form or other took over Braník they eventually shut the brewery itself, which is a lovely building overlooking the river in south Prague, and moved production to the main Staropramen brewery. The brands themselves became something of an underappreciated runt of the family and eventually their pubs started to disappear. Caught up in all this though was a legendary beer, the 12° Černé pivo, or dark beer, reputed to have been a close second to U Fleků's magnificent 13° tmavý. Unfortunately I never tried the Braník Černé, though I believe it was until recently sold in Germany.

In some ways I guess I am out of concert with a fair few people when it comes to talking about the large brewing multinationals, I simply don't see them as some monolithic monstrosity which is the antithesis of good beer, and MolsonCoors are a case in point. Over the Christmas holidays I revelled in the delights of a beer called Worthington White Shield, an IPA of such outstanding drinkability that I really hope the rumours are true and it will be available Stateside in the coming months. Sure, MolsonCoors are never going to qualify for anyone's definition of a "craft brewery", but in White Shield they have a beer which makes an absolutely mockery of the idea that only small breweries make great beer.

It is my experience of Worthington White Shield that I think gives MolsonCoors an opportunity in the Czech Republic to revive a legend and bring back Braník Černé from the dead, to once again be enjoyed by the beer loving people of Prague and beyond.

* the picture is not mine, it is the work of Hynek Moravec and used under the licence terms of Wikipedia, the original file can be seen here.


  1. Coors appear to follow the growth-share matrix for most of their brands. In the shorter term they will increase volume by making a brand more available as their own supply chain is well developed. They may even understand the value of some brands, like white shield, is related to their niche status and not mess with it.

    Staro, though, like Budvar is the premium lager brand with a bigger market potential. Longer term you'd expect them to cash cow it.

  2. Braník Černé was a wonderful I beer. I used to hunt out the few pubs that sold it in central Prague. I was heartbroken when it was discontinued. Braník was definitely the pick of the Prague breweries.

  3. MolsonCoors owns Staropramen now, US Coors partner Miller owns Pilsner Urquell group...czech lager country is totally controled by US money:)

  4. Honza,

    All the more reason for Budvar to remain a nationalised company.


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