An international conflict between India and the Czech Republic erupted earlier this summer when the Indian government criticized the Chříč brewery’s depiction of spiritual leader and nearly lifelong teetotaler Mahatma Gandhi on the label of its India Pale Ale, Mahatma. The Indian folk hero was an outspoken critic of the perils of alcohol consumption.
“Our beer is exclusively for the domestic market, and we introduced Mahatma on the occasion of 70 years since the tragic death of the Indian spiritual leader to honor his legacy. Therefore, we regret that our intention was misunderstood. At the same time, we are convinced that if Gandhi lived in the Czech Republic, he would certainly drink beer,” said Petr Jakubíček, brewery manager.
The special brew has been withdrawn from the market this weekend at the request of the Indian Embassy.
“Finding a new name for India Pale Ale, which used to bear the image of Gandhi, was not easy at all. We did not want to exchange the spiritual great for something banal or culturally inert,” Jakubíček added.
“On the contrary, we felt that it was necessary to replace him with another great personality who had fought for the freedom of his nation and represented a similar model for contemporary man. Perhaps no one fits this purpose better than Winnetou, the Apache chief.”
Brewery Chříč is a microbrewery in the northern Pilsen region with a tradition dating back to 1567. It resumed operations four years ago and operates as a sheltered workshop, employing dozens of people with mental disabilities.
Winnetou is the fictional Native American hero of a series of German-language novels written by bestselling author Karl May in the late 19th century.
The ’60s-era Winnetou films starring French actor Pierre Brice as the titular Apache chief were dubbed into Czech and have a legion of devoted fans in the Czech Republic.