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06 March 2011

České Budějovice and the original Budweiser

Another sunny weekend in the ČR made for a great day trip two hours south of Prague to a smaller city called České Budějovice. It's quite the mouthful, pronounced Chess-kay Boo-day-yo-vitz-say. It is actually quite a large town, bigger than I expected but still easily navigable. It's claim to fame is, you guessed it, the original Budweiser brewery and (completely unrelated) one of Europe's largest market squares named Naměsti Přemysla Otakara II. 


A brief self-guided walking tour revealed the city's many historical treasures that would normally go unnoticed. The key to finding them is to look up. Boroque, Art Nouveau, and Gothic-Renaissance architecture literally towers over the streets simply overlooked by the daily passer-bys. The city is seamed together by the Vltava and Malše Rivers, which are lined with benches and pedestrians- a great place to eat lunch and people-watch. Of all the places I've traveled in the Czech Republic, České Budějovice definitely was the most bike-friendly. At first it took me by surprise. What are those mechanical wheely-things propelling humans forward? Oh yeah: bicycles. It's been far too long since I've seen bicycles in a city setting, not to mention the weather has not allowed cycling for the past few months. Needless to say it was a refreshing day-trip out of the big city and the brewery was just an added bonus.

You might be wondering if Budějovický/Budweiser Budvar is the same as the Anheuser-Busch Budwieser and the answer is a simple no. There's no question that the Czech Budweiser (sold as Czechvar in the states) is the original and, in my opinion, much tastier. I was interesting to visit this brewery, especially after a grand tour of it's Czech rival, Pilsner Urquell. The two breweries and their tours are very different and in their own ways are equally impressive. I think the biggest differences lie in the fact that Pilsner is owned by SABMiller while Budvar remains state-owned since the days of communism. I was absolutely mesmerized by the Bottling Plant and took some video which you can see below.  The tour, tasting, and overall experience was a 10 and was followed up with a delicious brew straight from the tanks at the renowned Masné Krámy Restaurant in the city center. 
video

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