One of the Czech Republic’s best-selling beers has just revealed an unusual marketing stunt. Its producers “set up” a bogus microbrewery supplying purported craft lager – only to announce that the brew had been their Gambrinus all along. The reason: A bid to improve the reputation of a brew many regard as bland.
Twenty years ago no self-respecting beer drinker in the Czech Republic would be seen dead swigging beer from a can. There was a widespread perception that bottled beer is superior and beer in cans loses its quality, tasting flat and acquiring a metallic tang. That is fast changing and breweries are expanding their packaging capacities to meet growing demand for canned beer.
The makers of the Czech beer Gambrinus have admitted to selling it under a fake microbrewery brand in order to help improve its reputation. Producers Plzeňský pivovar set up the bogus Patron microbrewery in a village in West Bohemia and began supplying the purported craft lager to specialised pubs in Prague and Plzeň. Revealing the unusual marketing step, Plzeňský pivovar said it had been taken because Gambrinus had begun to receive a bad name despite its high quality.
Farmers’ markets have become an inescapable phenomenon for anyone interested in the culinary opportunities on offer in Prague. I’ve discovered that the markets in Anděl, Jiřího z Poděbrad, Holešovice, and Náplavka – on the banks of the Vltava – are somewhat akin to a traveling circus. On one day here, the next there. Familiar faces, familiar stalls, moving from one location to the next.
The agriculture ministers of the Visegrad countries, along with Bulgaria, Romania and Slovenia, agreed on Tuesday on a joint statement in which they are calling on the European Commission to take measures to hamper the allegedly excessive economic power of retail chains in relations with their suppliers.
Prison sentences of five to nine years were handed down by a Zlín court on Wednesday on seven of the main players in the so-called methanol affair. Sentences of up to 21 years were originally handed down last year but appeals were lodged the Olomouc High Court which returned the cases to Zlín. Most of Wednesday’s verdicts for the seven defendants are a lot shorter than the original penalties. The methanol affair erupted in the autumn of 2012 when the first deaths were caused by spirits mixed in a deadly cocktail with methanol. Forty-seven people were eventually killed and around 90 seriously poisoned with the state at one stage putting a ban on spirits sales.
There has been a marked increase in the percentage of Czech 15-year-olds who have tried alcohol, according to a freshly published international report from the OECD. While in 2002 the figure stood at 70 percent, in 2012 it had risen to 94 percent. The Czech Republic had the worst record in this respect of the 36 states surveyed in the report. The average Czech consumed 11.6 litres of pure alcohol in 2012, compared to an OECD average of 9.1 litres.
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