České Budějovice in the South Bohemi region of the Czech Republic has had a long association with brewing. It was founded in 1265 by Ottakar II of Bohemia and became a Royal City, used by Ottakar to counter the power of the Houses of Witigonen and Rosenberg. As a result of the purity of the local water, České Budějovice started to brew beer from the 13th century and the city at one time had more than 40 breweries. It became the major brewing region of the Holy Roman Empire and its product was known as the Beer of Kings.
The city and its environs became a German-speaking enclave from the 17th century and it was better known by its German name of Budweis. Beer from Budweis was known and labeled as Budweiser beer. In 1795, German-speaking businessmen merged two breweries in the city and formed the Burghers’ or Citizens’ Brewery, which used the Budweiser trademark for its exports.
But during the industrial revolution, Czech speakers became the majority population in the area and in 1895 a group of Czechs built a rival brewery, Budejovicky Pivovar, or Budvar for short. It also exported beer using the Budweiser trademark, which led to a series of legal battles with the American brewer Anheuser-Busch.
During the communist period that followed World War II, the regime changed the name of the Burghers’ Brewery (with its German associations) to Samson, after the name of the main square of České Budějovice. Since the return of the free market, Samson has renamed itself the Town Brewery and it exports beer using the Budweiser label. In the United States, beer from this brewery is sold as “B.B. Burgerbrau” to avoid clashing with Anheuser-Busch InBev, though the label notes that it is “Budweis City Beer.” Budvar is a much larger company with a major export role. Within the EU, its beer is called Budweiser Budvar, but in the United States it is marketed as “Czechvar.”