• Thursday, 7 June 2012

    The Euro 2012 of Beer

    We like a drink about as much as we like football. To that end, a plan emerges - a Euro 2012 of beer. 16 beers, some thirsty gents and some rules to be made up as we go along.

    Group A
    Poland - We've all become familiar with Polish beers in recent times. There are plenty out there - Zywiec, Lech and Tyskie are all widely available - but we're going with Perła, a distinctively hopped lager. An acquired taste, perhaps.

    Greece - Mythos is a relatively new entrant on the market, launched as it was in 1997. It's a relatively inoffensive, crisp lager, far removed from the artless brutality of the Otto Rehhagel regime.

    Russia - You'll no doubt have seen the bottles of one of Baltika's many varieties the last time you made an ill-advised trip to a Wetherspoons, but we're not going that way. We're going for Zhiguliovskoye. Never heard of it, but want to try saying it when we're eight bottles in to this challenge.

    Czech Republic - Another country with plenty of candidates to choose from. We'll take a Zatec, boasting over 1000 years of heritage. It's a 4.6% Bohemian pilsner, but does it pack a Jan Koller punch or a Milan Baros tickle?

    Group B
    Netherlands - Again, lots of beers we're all familiar with originate in the Netherlands, but you can forget your Heinekens, Grolschs and Amstels of this world. Those monks knew what they were doing, so we'll have a La Trappe Dubbel, a 6.5% job, and pour it into a silly glass for the occasion.

    Denmark - Again, you're immediately thinking Carlsberg, and the stuff the Danes actually make - as opposed to that hideous monstrosity brewed in Britain - isn't bad, but still a bit mainstream for our palates. Mikkeller Bravo Single Hop IPA please, a big-flavoured, big-hitting pale ale weighing in at 6.9%.

    Germany - So much to choose from, but something special is needed in this group of death. Wheat beers don't register on our list of likes so highly. The Paulaner brewery turns out some of our favourites and we'll take their 7.5% double-bock Paulaner Salvator.

    Portugal - With three big-hitters in this group, what can Portugal come up with that simply isn't going to be blown away? Try the Superbock Stout, only a five per-center, but full of flavour and character. An outsider perhaps, but not one to be written off.

    Group C
    Spain - One of the things that struck us on our Euroballs outing to Bilbao was the locals love of cider. To that end, Spain's entry in this competition is El Gaitero, an Asturian cider that weighs in at 5.5%. But can it compete in this company?

    Italy - Tempted as we are by the LoverBeer range, a tenner a bottle is pushing our budget beyond all reasonable recognition. Instead, give us a Menabrea, a light, fruity lager with floral tones.

    Ireland - What else could we go for but a traditional Irish stout? An Irish ruby red ale, that's what, and Porterhouse Red Ale hits the spot precisely. Fruity, hoppy and caramelly.

    Croatia - We're going to cheat. Getting hold of Croatian beer in the UK is hard. Instead of going for the Kaltenberg Pils which is brewed under license from Germany, we'll nip over the border and grab a Lasko Dark Lager from Slovenia. It's not a bad substitute - a 5.9% dunkel

    Group D
    Ukraine - With plenty to choose from in the Russian style, again it needs something different to stand out. Obolon Deep Velvet, a 5.3% dunkel, should fit the bill there.

    Sweden - Nils Oscar Imperial Stout is a former world champion. What else could the Swedes put up to challenge but this 7.3% heavyweight?

    France - We considered the French overseas territories influence on football and thought about beers from Guadeloupe, Tahiti and North Africa, but when we're in France we like a Pelforth. Specifically, we like a Pelforth Brune, a 6.5% dunkel with hints of toffee and caramel.

    England - Again, so many to choose from. Thornbridge have been turning out some excellent stuff lately, but we're going to Sheffield and taking a Kelham Island Pride of Sheffield down from the shelf as England's representative in this contest.

    Right. Next job is round up at least one of each of these - fully expecting to have to take alternative selections at some point - and get to it. We'll follow the draw as per the football and see what wins.
    Best drinking trousers on.

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