If you like beer and been to Hungary, or just coming for a visit, you should listen to the story of the Real Csíki Beer. Its story has something to tell about how things are done in Central Europe. Of course, you have to form your own opinion by tasting it on a pub crawl in Budapest!
Some say it’s a decent beer, others like it, and some people complain that it tastes of fake national pride. In either case, Real Csíki Beer managed to create an international scandal and made its name known all around the country. Before jumping into the story, let’s see the big picture.
Romania and Hungary haven’t always been on the best of terms, and this relationship rarely improves. The case of the beer didn’t help either. The Csíki is produced by a small company in Transylvania owned by some Székely people, who are an ethnic group of Hungarians living in Romania. Due to some legal issues, the Heineken owned Ciuc brewery filed a protest in court to ban the name Csíki, because the patent and product name resembles to their own product. Although their claim was rejected on international fora, a Romanian court decided in 2017 to ban the production and revoke Csíki’s patent. Not to mention the fact that all bottles currently existing had to be destroyed, which is bad news for beer lovers.
So this was the point when Csíki decided to fight back. First, they marketed their beer as Real Banned Beer in Romania. The Hungarian government invoked a national boycott against Heinekken products, even coming up with a new proposal to ban all products displaying symbols of oppression (ie. Heinekken’s red star). The ensuing legal and propaganda battle turned the fate of Csíki. Heinekken agreed that its Romanian products and Csíki will be marketed separately in Romania and all legal claims were dropped. So by the end, production resumed and the Hungarian government mercifully overlooked from Heinekken bottles and their red star. There’s no moral to this story, but be it Dutch or Székely, beer is for everyone.
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