The other day, when reviewing this year's SPP awards I wanted to be bit of a badass and I took issue with their decision to give Budvar the second place, and wrote the following:
"Budvar as second, not a chance, they haven't innovated, they haven't grown, they haven't done anything new worth mentioning. Primátor should be in their place (if not first)"I don't have any animosity towards Budvar (as I do have with other big brewers). I might not be a fan of their beers, but I like most of them, in fact, I prefer Budvar beers over pretty much any other from the big breweries.
There was, of course, some reaction. First there was a comment from Velký Al, who saw things differently. Then I got an email from Petr Samec, who obviously wasn't too happy with my opinion, and said...
"I have only one important comment to your text - the cathegory of breweries:After reading this I started thinking about the words I'd written, and finally, came to the conclusion that I'd been unfair (and also wrong about the growth bit).
You are mistaking little bit:
In fact, we have grown (+ 9% beer otput in 2007 in comparison with 2006) and we have launched quite new brand Pardal (in March 2007) on local market in South Bohemia. It was important innovation. In South Bohemia, we have sold 76 000 hectolitres of Pardal in 2007. That is why we have decided to extend the Pardal distribution acrosss the whole Czech Republic since January 2008. Pardal is very succesfull - our sales forecast for 2008 is 150 000 hectolitres (this sold volume is similar to the total production of Bernard brewery and the growt of Pardal will be almost 100% year to year).
Of course we did not innovated our traditional beer brands - i.e. Budvar - but this NO INNOVATION of Budvar brand is our basic and stategic mission. We are proud not to innovate/change this product (with the exception of packaging)."
I could have easily dismissed the thing, continued my life as if nothing happened. But that's not my style, I like critising hard those who deserve it (and believe me, I have fun with that), but I don't think Budvar deserved such hard words.
I still don't think they should have been second place. But the truth is that, at a time when many industrial breweries are cheaping down their beers, budvar at least still lagers them as long as it takes, and still uses hops flowers, and not extracts or other subsitutes. Their beers are still of good quality. Maybe not comparable with many of my favourite beer's, but they brew more than a million hl a year!
The only serious criticism I have towards them is Pardál. I still don't think it is a good beer. I don't know why Budvar came out with it, being that they already had a very good výčepní. I also believe that is something that came into the market a couple of years too late, but then, I don't work in the brewery, and, according to what Petr tells me, it is successful. Anyway, I really hope Budvar will come out next year with a product that will compete with Master, the premium brand Pilsner Urquell presented last year. I believe they have the chops for that.
In the meantime, I stand corrected, and apoligise, first to the people in Budvar, but foremost, to my readers.