There was only ever the one contender for world’s best beer – the original Budweiser Budvar, brewed in the Czech city of Ceske Budejovice. It looks, smells and tastes like a proper beer should do, and I’d be quite happy if I were told it was the only beer in the world.
Beer has been brewed in Ceske Budejovice since the 13th century – the term Budweiser refers to beer from Ceske Budejovice. It’s so good, it was supplied to kings throughout Europe, earning it the nickname “Beer of Kings”. No-one thought to trademark Budweiser (why would you?) or Beer of Kings – a decision that would cost dearly centuries later.
The American Anheuser Busch brewery liked the name so much, they stole it for their piss poor chav-beer, Budweiser. They even stole the slogan and turned it into King of Beers. Anheuser Busch has a massive legal team, and they’ve been wrangling with the Czech people for years now – the result is, in some countries Budweiser Budvar can only be called Budvar, and in North America it has to be called Czechvar.
There’s a lot I could say about Anheuser Busch and those who choose to drink American Bud, but as I say they have a massive legal team behind them and I don’t want them to close this blog down or put a price on my head.
In fairness, all Czech beers are pretty good. On my last visit to Prague in 2009 I struggled to find Budvar sold in many central pubs – no major hardship, as Staropramen, Gambrinus and Pilsner Irquell are always there to fall back on. Fortunately, the nearest pub to our apartment – U Kocoura (“The Cat”), on Nerudova in Malastrana – was one such pub so I could easily get my daily Budvar fix.
On that visit, we had planned to go on a day-trip to Ceske Budejovice so I could taste the best beer in the world in its natural habitat. About 160km south of Prague, I was really looking forward to experiencing another part of the Czech Republic. The city in southern Bohemia has a population of just under 100,000, and I’d read it has a massive old town square – the ideal place to sit down with a pint of Budvar and watch the world go by, I thought.
Unfortunately, we missed the bus there so went back to The Cat to drown our sorrows.
So there we have it, just to re-cap:
Top 10 beers of the world – #10 Hoegaarden (Belgium)
Top 10 beers of the world – #9 Zlatorog (Slovenia)
Top 10 beers of the world – #8 Bia Hoi (Vietnam)
Top 10 beers of the world – #7 Kölsch (Germany)
Top 10 beers of the world – #6 De Koninck (Belgium)
Top 10 beers of the world – #5 Guinness (Ireland)
Top 10 beers of the world – #4 Zlaty Bazant (Slovakia)
Top 10 beers of the world – #3 Kriek (Belgium)
Top 10 beers of the world – #2 Tsingtao (China)
Top 10 beers of the world – #1 Budweiser Budvar (Czech Republic)
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this list as much as I’ve enjoyed writing and researching it. As I could only feature beers from countries I had actually visited, this ruled out anything from Africa, Australia or the Americas. But let’s be honest – would any of these trouble the top 25?
There are a few beers that narrowly missed out on the top ten – Bitburger, Duvel, Singha and most Czech other beers – but stick to the top ten, and you can’t go far wrong.