Jacques-Yves Cousteau

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If you ask anyone raised in Europe or the US between the 1960’s to 1980’s to name an iconic and impactful TV programme, I can assure you that for many the under water natural history films of Jacques Cousteau would rank very high on a not very long list.

From the curious French soundtrack of slightly strident strings, to the Gallic, faltering commentary – I can never hear the French pronouciation of the name “Philippe” (one of his four children) without thinking of Capt Cousteau – this was pioneering television at its best. It left such an impact on us, a Jacques-Yves Cousteau sized hole that I suspect David Attenborough fills, but who was Cousteau?

Born 11th June 1910, Cousteau, in 1930 studied at the École Navale in Brittany (West France) after graduation he joined the French Navy. His commission was brief curtailed by a car accident where he sustained breaks to both arms. In 1937 he married Simone, the mother of his first two sons, Jean-Michel and Phillipe, who both would accompany their father on subsequent adventures.

In the late 1930’s Jacques first used diving goggles and in 1943 he received an award for the first French underwater film, filmed on a pressurized camera, entitled “Par dix-huit mètres de fond“ (“18m Deep”). The same year Cousteau’s team made “Epaves” (“Shipwrecks”) – which resulted in his commission to establish the French Navy’s Underwater Research Group based in Toulon. During filming he using pro-type aqua-lungs incorporating the recently invented demand regulator.

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The resultant freedom of the Aqua-lung allowed his team to explore the depths of the oceans of the World and document them through a myriad of films. His first films from the late 1940’s were celebrated at the Cannes Film Festival in 1951 and his early adventures were captured in his book published in 1953 “The Silent World”.

In 1956, a film of entitled “The Silent World”, made with famed director Louis Malle won the Palm d’Or at Cannes and an Academy Award for the Best Documentary in 1957. The Rolex Submariner – Rolex – The Submariner – the first divers’ watch waterproof to a depth of 100 metres with a rotatable bezel showing the diver their immersion time, was featured prominently in his film which shows Cousteau wearing a pre-launch Submariner The Silent World – The Film

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Leaving the Navy in 1949 he founded in 1950 the French Oceanographic Campaign (FOC) and leased his trusty ship Calypso from its owner, for a symbolic one franc a year, and wealthy benefactor, Thomas Loel Guinness.

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The documentaries commissioned by US TV stations, “The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau ran from 1966 to 1976 followed by a second series “The Cousteau Odyssey” from 1977 to 1982. Cousteau had spent time growing up living in the US so his English was excellent but he retained his Gallic accent that added much to the authenticity of his films.

In 1979, Phillipe – Cousteau’s favourite child – was sadly killed when a sea plane he was piloting crashed in Portugal.

Following Simone’s death in 1990, in 1991 Cousteau remarried, Francine, already the mother of his two other children. Cousteau died from a heart attack on 25th June 1997 and Francine continues her husband’s work as President of the Cousteau Foundation and Cousteau Society. The Museum in Monaco – where Cousteau was a Director from 1957 to 1988 – is well worth a visit.

In the early 1970’s, like many other teenagers I enjoyed snorkeling. The clear influence of Capt. Cousteau stimulated my interest to know more that resulted in my first steps to undertake the British Sub-Aqua Club’s training course that included pool and open water diving. For quite some time, prior to me realizing my future lay not in the sciences, in response to that irritating question from a friend of my parents, “What do you want to do?” my response was always “To be a Marime Biologist” – Merci Capt. Jacques!

A lasting tribute in Cousteau’s own words: “The sea, the great unifier, is man’s only hope. Now, as never before, the old phrase has a literal meaning: we are all in the same boat.”

Join Jacques Cousteau’s on his undersea adventures – by clicking the Amazon link below the image 

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Jacques Cousteau – The Ultimate Collection [DVD] [2007]

May be for those who are not yet ready for Capt. Cousteau’s Ultimate Collection and would – how do you say – like to put a toe in the water….the Undersea World of Jacque Cousteau must the finest starting point – click the Amazon link after the image 

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The Undersea World Of JACQUES COUSTEAU 6 DVD Box Set PAL

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Image credit – with grateful thanks – Globalfirstandfacts.com, The Cousteau Foundation, The Cousteau Society, ABC, NBC, Metromedia and Fred Muller II.

Iconic TV Advertisements

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As we emerge from the Christmas Season when parlour games and an over-dose of TV co-incide I wanted to pay homage to those moments of TV history that are either so creative, successful or engaging that they allow us to be described as iconic.

There can be little doubting the power of the well-timed TV advertisement to support the marketing efforts of a major brand in a critical buying season. However, there are some commercials that go beyond the marketing mix to become – almost National Treasures – being both iconic and loved by audiences.

Here are a few TV commercials that have an appeal all their own. I make no apology for the nostalgic nature of this collection as, to some extent, the core audience was then less sophisticated. The “short-hand” language of known music to accompany aspirational images is no coincidence.

The Seasonal Campaigns – when Fizzy Drinks Manufacturers and Department Stores corner the run up to Christmas.

Coca Cola Santa

Coca Cola Christmas – “Holidays are Coming” Holidays Are Coming – Coca Cola

The first iteration of the Coca Cola Christmas commercial was aired in 1995 featuring the “Christmas Cravan” of illuminated trucks as devised by agency W. B. Doner and Santa Claus as depicted in 1930’s for Coca Cola by the artist Haddon Sundblom. The song “Wonderful Dream (Holidays are Coming)” was first used for the Coca Cola Christmas advert in 2001.

The Bear and The Hare

Christmas John Lewis – “The Bear and the Hare” The Bear and The Hare

UK Department Store, John Lewis, released their first Christmas advert in 2007 but the £7m campaign in 2013 entitled “The Bear and the Hare” is truly a masterpiece. With its superb Lily Allen soundtrack (her version of Keane’s 2004 single “Somewhere Only We Know”) and meticulous artwork from a team including Aaron Blaise – known for his work with Disney – we see our hero the Hare ensuring that his hibernating friend the Bear wakes up to enjoy Christmas.

Perhaps one of the most iconic seasonable adverts that courted as much controversy as plaudits was Sainbury’s 2104 offering. This was a wonderfully evocative advert that encapsulated not only a documented historical event but made contemporary and relevant.

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The AMV BBDO produced classic harnessed the World War One commenmoration that swept the UK in 2014. The director, Ringan Ledwidge, was keen to engage the support of the Royal British Legion for whom Sainbury’s donated a heathy chunk of the sales of a special chocolate bar that reproduced part of the Tommy Christmas trench rations.

Sainbury’s “Truce” Sainsbury’s “Truce”

The Iconic:

Even if I didn’t think that Levi’s 501s – see my earlier post here – Levi 501’s were the best jeans made I suspect this advert would have converted many to this iconic brand.

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Levis – Nick Kamen Levis 501 – Marvin Gaye

First shown on Boxing Day (26.12) in 1985, it was conceived by John Hegarty and Barabara Noakes of BBH and directored by Roger Lyons. It had the desired effect of making jeans sexy and revived Levis flagging fortunes – it also stimulated the sale of boxer shorts!

Even if Guinness isn’t your beer of choice – see my earlier post here – Aestheticons’ Guide to Iconic European Beers – Part 1 one of the UK’s most favourite commercials ever made was for the Black Stuff.

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Guinness Surfers and Horses

The campaign was devised in 1999 by Abbott Mead Vickers for the Guinness brand and was directed by Jonathan Glazer, who later directed the cult movie “Sexy Beast” starring Ray Winstone. It was shot in Hawaii with one surfer, known as Rusty K, finally conquering the wave. Leftfield’s track “Phat Planet” beats out the inspiration drawn from Herman Melville’s Moby Dick “Ahab says, ‘I don’t care who you are, here’s to your dream.'”

When you pursuade a major rock bands to allow you to use one of their songs in support of your first TV comercial, the launch of Windows 95, you have to expect to pay heavily for the priviledge. It is said that The Rolling Stones were paid $3m – for a six month license – but reports suggest that it was money well spent and made Microsoft a household name. Bill Gates apparently had the idea for the commercial from the “Start” button on his pc. The $200m launch was directed by Portland ad agency, Wieden & Kennedy

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Rolling Stones Microsoft – Microsoft – Rolling Stones

The Sexy, Cute and Clever:

Eating a crumbly chocolate bar in a hot bath sound perilous but Cadbury’s managed to turn jeopardy into sexy with a series of adverts in the 1980’s/90s – even if the 1991 version featured an overflowing bath that no doubt caused havoc with the downstairs neighbours…..

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Flake – Bathtime Flake

An altogether more breezy and cute image was created in 1991 by the French Publicis agency featuring a fictional father and daughter in a series of adverts for Renault’s Clio. So successful were the ads that in 1996 a survey suggested that the female lead “Nicole” – a none driver at the time of the first commercial – was more recogniseable than John Major, the then Prime Minister! The sound track to the version shown below – and there were eight ads in total – feature an acoustic recording of Robert Palmer’s “Johnny and Mary” played by an old friend, the guitar genius, Martin Taylor.

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Renault Clio – Nicole/Papa Papa & Nicole

Adverts featuring a large numbers of extras that through careful choreography create stunning images fall into a category we call “cleaver”. In 1989 a Saatchi & Saatchi campaign for British Airways saw the combination of very beautifully Hugh Hudson (Chariots of Fire) directed photography, filmed in Utah, with a stunning Malcolm McLaren and Yanni produced classical soundtrack (the Flower Duet from Léo Delibes’ opera “Lakmé”) and you have an iconic advert that’s instantly recognizable.

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British Airways BA Face Commercial

Given the proliferation of media and the understandable pressures on budgets for TV/on-screen adverts, todays advertising gurus need to be a smart as their predecessors to engage an audience quickly and convincingly.

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Image credits with thanks to Coca Cola, BBC, The John Lewis Partnership, Levi Strauss, Guinness, Leftfield, Microsoft, The Rolling Stones, Sainsbury’s, Cadburys/Mondelez and British Airways.

 

 

Aestheticons’ Guide to Iconic European Beers – Part 2

Beer A

I am very excited by the growth of Craft Beers. The very name suggests the image of a ruddy faced and smocked farmer sucking on an ear of wheat but nothing could be further from the truth. These start ups that have emerged from the micro-brewing scene are many well capitalised business making amazing products.

The ethos of the craft brewer is not at all at odd with those beautifully crafted European beers that have seen international success.

In our second appreciation – see our first guide here – Aestheticons’ Guide to Iconic European Beers – Part 1 of some of Europe finest and most iconic beer I have highlighted those beautiful beers that stand strong to the noble tradition of brewing.

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BrewDog: I was in a bar in Camden North London about two years ago with an old friend – and a very successful entrepreneur – from the music business. He suggested a pint of Dead Pony Pale Ale. Indeed a delicious pint, but it was the usual branding and obviously compelling punk attitude that required a deeper sampling of this recent UK beer brand.

Founded by James Watt and Martin Dickie in Scotland in 2007. In 2011 they raised £2m by via crowdfunding and by October 2015 production had risen to 2.2m bottles and 400,000 cans. Their first bar was opened in 2010 in Aberdeen and their fourth being the bar in Camden – many others world-wide have followed. By April 2017 22% of the business was sold for £213m to The Shansby Group (TSG), a US based private equity firm housed in the iconic Transamerica Pyramid building in San Francisco (CA.).

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By mid 2017 the canned Punk IPA became one of the regular house pours on EasyJets European services – an accolade for sure.

Hope you will support this fabulous new movement in UK brewing? If you’d like to try a mixed case from BrewDog hit this Amazon link:
BrewDog: Headliner Mixed Case, 12 x 330 ml

Pelforth

Pelforth Brune: French beers are typically “blonde” and have many refreshing qualities. However, on colder autumn/winter days with a warming bowl of Cassoulet – a delicious traditional white haricot beans and pork stew – a delicious accompaniment is a glass of deep brown Pelforth. Its has a rich caramel aroma and profound, almost sweet, flavours for a brown beer.

Founded in Lille (Northern France) in 1921 the three local brewers, Louis Boucquey, Armand Deflandre and Raoul Bonduel, joined forces. By 1937 Jean Deflandre, Armand’s son, used high fermentation, two malts of barley and English yeast to create a beer that he called “Pelforth 43”. Why? Based on Pelican – as seen on the bottle – the French word for “strong” – “fort”. “43” refers to 43kg of barley required to produce a hectolitre of the beer – it also happens to be the name of the local infantry regiment. 

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Following various mergers and acquisitions Pelforth became part of Heineken in 1988.

I highly recommend that you try a Pelforth Brown, particularly if you like a typical mild beer – there is much in common. If that appeals please click the following AMAZON link:
Pelforth brown 6.5 ° 65 cl – 6 x 65 cl

Franks Weiss

Franziskaner Weissbier: Is a wheat/white beer – is a deep, complex and flavoursome beer – produced by the Bavarian brewing giant Spaten-Franziskaner-Bräu GmbH.

The brewers origins can be traced to the late 14th century and the name derives from the German for “Franciscan” as their was a monastery diagonally opposite the original brewery. The Friar was first used as a logo in 1909. In 1922 the breweries of Spaten and Franzikaner merged.

In 1964, the Spaten-Franziskaner brewery brewed its first wheat beer. By 1984 Franziskaner Weissbier became available by export. By 2003 the brewery was selling 1m million hectolitres annually. It is claimed that Franziskaner Weissbier is now the world’s favourite wheat beer.

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In 2004 following a merger with Lowenbrau the business was acquired by brewing giant Interbrew – now Anheuser-Busch Inbev.

So you missed Munich’s world famous “OktoberFest” in September this year. Why not try a few bottles of Franziskaner Weissbier at home by clicking the following AMAZON link:
Franziskaner Weissbier Beer, Case of 12

Fullers

Fullers London Pride: Fuller’s London Pride has alway been proud that it is “Made in London”. It is in fact the UK’s best selling cask-conditioned ale and is sold worldwide in bottles. Its a deep and very flavourful ale that was first brewed at Fuller’s Chiswick (West London) Thames-side based Griffin Brewery in 1959.

The name for this fine beer stems from the early 1940’s when a flower, colloquially called “London Pride” (Saxifraga x urbium) – a perennial flowering plant – was noted as blooming on bomb sites around London left by the Blitz. The symbolism of the flower, its reliance and the resolve of Londoners to resist the misery of the War years was celebrated by Fullers.

In 1979 and 1995 at the Campaign For Real Ale Awards London Prised won Champion Beer of Britain in the Best Bitter Class. Since 2007 it has been the official beer of the London Marathon.

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One of the finest ways to enjoy a pint of Pride is at the Fuller’s owned pub in Hammersmith, “The Dove”, with its wide terraces overlooking the River Thames. It’s said to be where Charles II dined with his mistress, Nell Gwynne, and has been owned by local brewer, Fuller, Smith & Turner, since 1796.

Like many other Londoners why no “Take Pride” by clicking the following AMAZON link:
Fullers London Pride Premium Ale – 12 x 500ml

Youngs Bitter

Youngs Bitter: Progress is often a bitter pill best enjoyed with a pint of Youngs’ fine bitter. A real pint of bitter that results from many years of brewing tradition.

Since the 1550 the Ram pub has been recorded on the site of the former Youngs’ brewery in Wandsworth (South West London). The Ram was purchased in 1831 by co-founders Charles Allen Young and Anthony Fothergill Bainbridge. In 2006 the last chairman of Young & Co, John Young – a direct descendent of Charles – agreed to sell the site for re-development ending over five hundred years of brewing tradition. Sadly, Mr Young died shortly after the sale and a final brew from the Ram’s Brewery was served at his funeral.

For many years I recall seeing the Young & Co brightly coloured shire-horse drawn drays delivering beer to the local area around South West London.

Youngs Dray

Since 2006 the brewing of Youngs’ beers, to service its licensed trade – including as of August 2017, 177 managed pubs and 74 tenanted houses in the area – and its off license business was transferred to a new business – a joint venture between Charles Wells Brewery that operates from the Eagle Brewery in Bedford. Wells have subsequently acquired full control of this joint venture.

Young & Co is still based in Wandsworth. In 2007 the company moved to a new head office around the corner from the former brewery site.

As part of the 2013 redevelopment plans for the site, there is a commitment for the Ram’s historic buildings to be retained and restored to include a micro-brewery and preservation of the bank of the River Wandle that passes through the site.

I have several favourite Youngs Pubs in London. “The Guinea” in Bruton Place is perhaps the home of the finest steak in London. “The Fox and Anchor” in Charterhouse Street where you once could enjoy an early morning pint with the porters of Smithfield market and the recently refurbished “The County Arms” in Trinity Road, Wandsworth is a delightful evening local.

If you cannot get to one of the above fine pubs – or many of Young’ others – why not try the dray deliveries from AMAZON by clicking the following link: Young’s Bitter – 12 X 500ml

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So sorry to our international readers as the AMAZON links are UK only.

Images courtesy of the Brewers

Aestheticons’ Guide to Iconic European Beers – Part 1

Beer

I like beer. I like the beer itself, I like its iconic packaging, marketing and labelling. I like the stories behind the brands. Whilst the economics of acquisition may chisel at the intimate nature of the relationship between the beer drinker and his/her preferred brew, arguably it has provided a life line to survival of many smaller brands.

Let Aestheticons ‘whet its whistle’ and take you on a journey across some of my favourite  European locations to sample some of the delights of the brewer’s craft.

Beer Moretti

Birra Moretti was first brewed in 1859 by Luigi Moretti in the Northern Italian city of Udine which was then still part of the Austrian Empire. Famous for its “doppio malto” brewing process that makes a golden beer, with an intense and delicious flavour.

The brand was owned by the Moretti family until 1989 when it was sold to a third party that was subsequently swallowed up by the giant Heineken group in 1996.

There is some dispute over the famous image of the moustachioed drinker on the label. It is said to have been taken in 1942 , with the sitter’s permission, by Lao Menazzi Moretti in a trattoria and given to illustrator Franca Segala who drew the finally used image. An alternative view, was that it was taken by a German photographer in 1939 near Innsbruck and was used without authority until in 1956 a legal dispute concerning its use was settled by Moretti. The romantic in me prefers the earlier tale!

Why not try this exceptional Italian beer by clicking the following AMAZON link

Birra Moretti – Premium Italian Lager Beer – 24 x 330 ml – 4.6 % ABV

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Estrella Damm Inedit – Ok so there you are in Roses (Catalonia) overlooking Cala Montjoi on Spain’s Costa Brava. It’s 2008 and you run one of the world’s most feted restaurants but you need the definitive beer to compliment your fine food. This is the challenge that faced Ferran Adria, the founder of el Bulli, and the brewers of Damm.

Damm was founded in Barcelona in 1876 by a young emigre brewmaster from Alsace, Augustus K Damm. Damm also make the delicious Estrella brand, that debuted in 1876.

The combination of barley malt, wheat hops, coriander, liquorice and orange peel gives Ferran’s beer a fabulous and, yes, unique yet delicious flavour.

Don’t be swayed by the advice that this beer is best served, half full, in a white wine glass in order to “fully appreciate its intensity and aromatic complexity”. This is a beer after all, allow it some dignity. If it were a dog it would be a clipped poodle but this is a wonderful beer. The cleaver branding and antecedents should not distract you from fully enjoying it.

Want to give it a try? Click the following AMAZON link

Estrella Inedit Damm Beer, 6 x 330 ml

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Boddingtons – I spent some formative days  – and nights – in the Manchester and it saw my first pub visits. It was a magical, if edgy place, for a “Soft Southerner”.

A character to Northern beer that doesn’t seem to translate in the South is the “Creamed Pint”. In the late 1970’s if you went to any pub North of Stoke on Trent you’d be able to order such a marvel often from a high arch hand pulled tap, delicious.

My personal favourite of these great brews is Boddingtons Bitter or known as “Boddies” to its friends. Founded by Henry Boddington in 1853, a former employee of the predecessor brewer at the iconic Strangeways Brewery – founded in 1778 – North of Manchester’s city centre.  Boddingtons remained independent until 1989, when direct descendent of Henry, Ewart Boddington, sold Strangeways Brewery and the Boddingtons brand (but not the tied estate which then exceeded 500 pubs) to Whitbread for £50.7 million. Sadly, the Strangeways Brewery was closed in 2005 when production moved to South Wales.

The Boddies logo that features the worker bee has been a long standing symbol of Manchester, its vibrant and busy culture.

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In Manchester earlier in this year, a school friend, travelling and drinking companion and I failed miserably to find a pint of Boddies. Looks like I will have to survive on the rather decent canned versions.

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If you’d like to sample this fine Northern pint you can by clicking the following AMAZON link.

Boddingtons Draught Bitter (24 x 440ml)

Guinness

Guinness – is a dark dry-stout but it is so much more. A combination of an Irish cultural icon, a completely nutritious liquid food – at around 198 calories a pint and high in anti-oxidents – and the World’s headline sponsor of St Patrick’s Day.

St James’ Gate Brewery in the heart of Dublin, a then disused brewery, became the home of Guinness in 1759 when Arthur Guinness, who with amazing foresight signed a 9000 year lease with the family of Mark Rainsford, a former Lord Mayor of Dublin, for a rent of £45 per year, started brewing with some of the barley being roasted giving the dark ruby colour and taste. He was funded by the bequest of £100 from his Godfather, Dr. Arthur Price, an Irish Archbishop.

The brand developed and its aficionados grew.

In 1986 Guinness acquired Distillers – amid a share price scandal and in 1997 Guinness merged with Grand Metropolitan and was re-christened Diageo Plc. By 2011 Guinness was selling 850 million litres worldwide. By the end of 2017 it is expected that Guinness will be consumable by all including vegans, as the isinglass (derived from from fish) fining element that is used to improve clarity will have been phased out.

The preeminence of Guinness’ advertising has been a long-standing feature of its commercial activity. Certain campaigns have included the art of Sir John Gilroy. In the 1930’s he worked with Guinness’ then advertising agency, S.H. Benson (who in 1948 invested $48,000 in David Ogilvy’s fledgling agency that later acquired Bensons), for whom he created  “Guinness for Strength”

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and zoo creatures enjoying Guinness including the Toucan’s iconic pronouncement that “Guinness Is Good For You”.

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In 1999 Guinness’ still incumbent advertising agency, Abbott Mead Vickers, used Left Field’s “Phat Planet” in the Jonathan Glazer directed, “Surfer/White Horses”. In 2002 the commercial was  voted “Best Ad of All Time” (in a Channel 4/The Times Poll). See the advert here: Surfers/White Horses

Why not sample a pint of “Uncle Arthur” for yourself with these original Guinness Bottles – click this AMAZON link

Guinness Original Beer Bottles, 12 x 500 ml

Budvar

Budweiser Budvar – is the anglicised spelling of the name of the state owned Czech brewery, based in the city of Budweis in Bohemia. It has brewed its Pilsner beer according to a strict local brewing regulation since 1516.

What is Pilsner? A brewing process that originated in the Czech city of Pilsen where brewing began in 1295. Using a technique that aged beer with bottom fermenting yeasts the clarity and shelf life were improved. The Pilsen brewery used the pilsner techniques, paler and brighter malts brewing the first Pilsen in 1842. By the late 19th century the product was being enjoyed around Europe and in 1898 Pilsner Urquell created their famous and original trade mark  – more on this brand to follow.

This wonderful pale larger results from the combination of local water, barley from Moravia (East of the Czech Republic) and the indigenous Saaz hops – the hops also used to flavour the Stella Artois brand.

Given the similarity of their brands there has been an ongoing dispute with Anheuser-Busch the owner of the US beer brand “Budweiser” since the start of the 20th century.

Have you tried Budweiser Budvar? If not, you should by clicking the following AMAZON link:

Budweiser Budvar Czech Pilsner (20 x 500ml Bottles)

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So sorry to our international readers as the AMAZON links are UK only.

Images courtesy of the Brewers