Nov 9, 2011

Czech this out

So I guess everyone in the Czech Republic writes with a quill pen. That might explain the universal language of their beer branding: elaborate, quirky old-fashioned scripts with a bold underline. This is supported with even older-fashioned coats of arms or wax seals of medieval towns and cities, and some uncompromisingly dowdy colour choices.

So what’s the difference? And why should I care? Budweiser Budvar has that famous name, and the vaguely interesting back story of legal battles with an all-conquering American beer of the same name/very different taste; the packaging comes from the Laphroaig/Jack Daniels school of avoiding design niceties. Pilsner Urquell comes from the town of Plzen, spiritual home of all lagers, but now chooses to introduce us to the wild, unspoilt Bohemian countryside, so I’m guessing this is an ingredients story; maybe they should do a beer-tasting holiday promotion, it looks fabulous.

Staropramen, the beer of one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, manages to look as dull and uninteresting as if it came from Murmansk (this city chosen carefully to minimise any risk of outraged readers); having been involved in the original resurrection of this old logo, trade mark and label shape, I feel this latest incarnation is neither the charmingly old-fashioned nor vibrant central European story it so could be.