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Budvar looks to drive tank beer in bar trade with aim of giving outlets a point of difference

Published:  16 July, 2015

Czech brewer Budweiser Budvar is calling on progressive bar owners to create a point of difference in their outlets by adding fresh tank beer to their repertoire.

The firm transports beer from its cellars in Budweis to the UK in refrigerated tanks that protect it from light and oxygen.

It can regularly top up a tank that sits in a bar, allowing bartenders to pour fresh, unpasteurised beer all year round and offering beer lovers a smoother mouthfeel and amplified flavours.  

Zigfrid von Underbelly in London's Hoxton Square was the first bar to take on a tank and owner Paul Daly said sales have soared ever since.

"The tank beer is fantastic - it looks great and it tastes great and sales are going really well," he told "In a world of craft beer - especially in Hackney, the hippest borough in this country - it's important to have things that are really good, and this is really good. The liquid is delicious."

Budvar is about to install a tank, known as Tankové Pivo, in a second London bar and aims to get them into 30 across the UK in the near future.

UK sales director Simon George said: "We are about to go into a second London on-trade site with tank beer.

"I would like to get to 30 on-trade tank beer sites. I'd like to get up to 10 at the start, and then go up to 30. They can act as real lighthouses for the brand. We're looking for real iconic bars with the right operators, progressive operators that want that point of difference.

"We have a programme where we take our mobile tank around the UK, going to places like Manchester, Scotland and Bristol. It's going in Borough Market [in London] soon.

"We are trying to engage a younger, more diverse audience than we have engaged before.

"The consumer insight is that the 25 to 35-year-old cohort is looking for an experience when they go to the pub. Twenty years ago they went to catch up on news but now they have done that already on social media and want an experience when they go out, be it a Vietnamese meal, a secret cinema or tank beer. We are talking to some good operators about tank beer."

He added: "Budweiser Budvar is a symphony of flavours because it's beautifully made and the back-story is true. Tank is the same beer, just played louder."

Daly at Zigfrid von Underbelly visited the brewery in Budweis and was impressed by its refusal to compromise on taste.

Daly, who has been on the Hoxton site for 28 years, during which he squatted with Damian Hirst when they were art students at Goldsmiths University before opening the bar 13 years ago, said: "I had a real connection to the head brewer. It's great to hear them talk about the evolution of the brewery after communism and how it continued to grow, all the time maintaining this incredible purity of production. Everyone has to compromise but they never compromise.

"It's owned by the Czech people and not shareholders driving compromise into everything. They could probably increase their profits if they compromised, but they don't and that's great."

The brand is embarking on a sampling campaign that will take in 102 pubs across the country, where they will hand out 102 free half-pints to drinkers in each venue.

It marks the 102 days it takes to make Budvar - 12 days' brewing and 90 days' maturation - while retro packs will also be released to celebrate the brewery's 120th birthday this year.

Beer has been brewed on the site for hundreds of years, but the brewery was officially incorporated in 1895.