The settlement of Budweis was one of the new towns created by the King of Bohemia King, Otakar ll in 1265, the year in which the first Parliament was called in England. Those inhabitants of the new settlement who could pay their Council Tax, or its mediaeval equivalent, got brewing rights with the royal deal and that's how brewing began here. There is of course nothing special about this. It was just that a regular supply of beer offered the average citizen a chance to get beyond 30 which the drinking water certainly didn't, and governments then as now knew a little earner when they saw one. What was different about the Budweis situation was that, for whatever reason, the inhabitants brewed a particularly good beer that early on stimulated its commercial production.
This meant specialisation occurs relatively quickly- by the early 15th century there are specialist maltsters for instance and at the end of the century the first commercial brewery was opened.
Rarely can a town have been more focused on its brewing than Budweis which somehow managed to shrug off the momentous European events in which it was in the eye of the storm. The Hussite wars for instance left the Budweis burgers unmoved. Hussite leader Jan Ziska decided that the town was too well defended to attack and the Thirty Years War, that devastated so much of the Czech lands, besides causing a mega-slump in trade, left the town more or less unmolested. They did take advantage however, and under the cover of the war turned out en masse to take out some rival brewing activity that had grown up at the nearby mining settlement of Rudolfov.
The Emperor Rudolph ll had given this place free town status and the right to brew its own beer, overturning the original Otakar ll deal whereby nobody could brew within a certain radius of Budweis. This assault by the citizens of Budweis closed Rudolfov down as a brewing centre and 10 years later Emperor Ferdinand ll legalised this municipal mugging by ordering that the citizens of Rudolfov should buy all their beer from Budweis.
After a post-war decline in brewing in the town, along with other trades and activities - silver mining, fish farming and salt production being up there with brewing - a long period of recovery marked by desultory local beer wars followed. Through most of the 18th century these went on between the town council and the burghers of the town with brewing rights over who owned the town brewery. Amoeba like two breweries appeared before the end of the saga when the Council transferred both to the brewing-right holding burghers who backed them into one operation.
From here on in we shall refer to this brewery as the German brewery. Which in a sense it was as practically all of the burghers with brewing rights were German speakers and of German origin. Although about half the inhabitants of the town were Czech by the last quarter of the 19th century these townsfolk found themselves more or less disenfranchised. This situation was particularly felt by the fast growing and highly successful Czech middle-class who were more and more the driving force behind booming economy of the Czech lands, which had become the industrial and commercial heartland of Austro-Hungary. What really upset the Czechs was that they lacked political clout to go with their economic muscle.
In Budweis this, as would be expected, manifested itself in beer terms. Expressing themselves dissatisfied with the quality of the beer produced by the town's German brewery the local Czechs declared they would set up their own. As they did this they broke with the feudal past at the same time. The new brewery was to be a modern joint stock company with a green field state-of-the-art plant, not some weird medieval survival depending on archaic charters for its existence. It was in fact an expression of a new dynamic Czech society opposed to the crumbling Hapsburg Empire represented by the old German brewery.
To enter this site you must be at least 18 years old or of legal drinking age in your country
Are you of legal drinking age?
Budweiser Budvar N.C. complies with the current Advertisement Regulation Act as well as the Advertisement Board’s Code and the Responsible Brewers Initiative’s voluntary Ethical Code. Therefore all the persons under the age of 18 are asked not to visit our website.