10 June, 2008

A Pint of Lager…In a Straight Glass

So people you might have noticed our somewhat esoteric approach to Euro 2008 coverage, but that’s mainly because we appreciate that there’s only so many team-by-team preview articles people can take, and to be honest they tend to be totally pointless. Wow, Cristiano Ronaldo is Portugal’s dangerman eh? Interesting, interesting, I’ll have to watch out for him then. The foxy chicas over at Ladiesdotdotdot held an impressive meeting-of-minds this weekend to discuss things from an oestrogen-fuelled perspective, so their symposium is well worth checking out for another take on events.

Without England though, these matches are basically an excuse to justify leaving work early to get down the pub before 5 during the week, so we thought it’s this part of the process we had a duty to help you out with. As you might already have noticed, a helpful guide has already been posted to help you track down like-minded supporters around London, but then the question becomes what to order. In the spirit of the European Union then, here is a useful rundown of the competing countries’ tipples of choice…oh, by the way, quick word of thanks to http://www.beersofeurope.co.uk/ for helping us out with this, check their catalog to purchase the majority of the following at what I’m assured are ‘very reasonable’ prices…

Group A

Czech Republic:

Pilsner Urquell – Originally the term Pilsner was reserved specifically for beers brewed in the Plzeň region of Czechoslovakia, and Pilsner Urquell was actually the originator (first trademarked way back in 1842). As a result, the clever bods over there know what they’re doing when it comes to lager, and the result is quite pleasant to say the least.

Budweiser Budvar – Similarly, Budweiser was originally first coined for those beers brewed in České Budějovice region, so this famous export is the other Czech bastion of taste. According to brewery folklore, some guy called King Otakar II of Bohemia granted independent brewers in the city of Budweis the right to produce beer as early as 1265, so once again, by now they’ve honed their craft majestically.

Portugal:

Sagres – The big brand in South Portugal, this Lisbon-based brewery encompasses all styles of beer from a traditional Stout to a festival strength ‘Bohemia’ lager. A good all-rounder then, but none of the tastes are exceptional.

Super Bock – The North of Portugal is all about this Porto-based lager which also interestingly comes in redcurrant and lemon-tinted flavours. The advertising line is also impressively inspired by pornography: “Serve with sensuality... Drink with passion.”

Switzerland:

Vollmond – This variety of brain-juice is one of the world's few biodynamic beers, whatever that means, so I guess it’s good. Interestingly it is only brewed on the night of a full moon (hence ‘vollmond’) using barley sourced exclusively from the world's highest fields, which all hints at supernatural power should one consume enough…

Turkey:

Efes – This unique taste should be familiar to all of you lucky enough to have a kebab shop nearby with a fluid interpretation of alcohol licensing laws. Brewed from rice instead of barley, the result is not unpleasant but not exactly something to tell your friends about. Kind of like Turkish women then.

Group B

Austria:

Stiegl – Perhaps the country’s most famous export, this robust lager is light-coloured and refreshingly crisp. Founded in 1492, the famous Stiegl brewery prides itself as being one of the oldest and largest in Europe; for those of you with little else to do while visiting Austria, an insightful tour of the Wonka-esque factory is also available apparently.

Croatia:

OzujskoCroatia has a couple of decent beers actually, with Karlovacko being the other big hitter, but this sternly unpronounceable offering resonates more purely because it is the national team’s official sponsor.

Poland:

TyskiePoland’s best-selling beer was voted the whole world’s favourite way back in 2002, but this robust favourite of immigrants and nationalists alike is still killing it countrywide.

Germany:

Lowenbrau – Awesomely meaning “lion’s brew,” this is the German connoisseurs’ choice with a history dating back to the late 14th century. Löwenbräu has been served at every Oktoberfest in Munich since 1810, even in 1945 when the brewery was destroyed by an allied air raid. Hardcore.

Bitburger – Originally marketed as a magical nectar that miraculously wouldn’t give you a hangover, this slogan was quickly proved false by Europe’s darededvil lager fans. The current strapline however is the amusingly pun-tactular The “Bitte ein Bit,” literally, “Please, a Bit,” and the company’s currently run by a guy called Ludwig, so we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.


Group C

France:

Kasteel Kru - Full of finesse and subtle flavouring, don’t let the fact that this lager originates from Alsace (home to Arsène Wenger) put you off. It’s brewed using champagne yeast so I guess it gets you twice as wasted.

Desperados – Amazingly this relatively unknown tipple is mixed with Tequila, and is of course pretty unpleasantly strong. There are plenty more French beers, but since most of the country exercises and drink wiiiine we decided to give them a miss.

Holland:

Grolsch – Everyone loves the Dutch and therefore everyone loves Grolsch; it has fancy bottles, great adverts and it doesn’t taste too shabby either. Enjoy before, after or during a smoke and a pancake.

Italy:

Peroni Nastro Azzuro – Classy and full-bodied, the Italians like their beer like they like their women. Most of you should be familiar with this lager from over-priced wine bars in town that think they can keep the riff-raff out by not offering draught beer. They’re wrong.

Romania:

Ursus – Incredibly the brewery for this relatively unknown beer is actually in Transylvania so presumably the likes of Dracula and Count Duckula consistently whet their beaks with its strong wheaty goodness.

Group D

Greece:

Mythos – Despite being the taste of so many under-age school trips and lads-on-tour Club 18-30 abortions, Mythos is actually quite nice. Relatively pale and mild, this slips down a treat whether you’re holding your date’s hair back while she’s being sick or sitting in a park with The Guardian.

Russia:

Baltika – In Soviet Russia, beer drinks you!

Spain:

Cruzcampo – One of Spain’s best kept secrets, this strong Pilsner-style lager is becoming increasingly popular outside of its home country. There’s even a pub in Bethnal Green that serves it; how’s that for progress?
Alhambra Reserva – A festival strength lager for those short on time and short on drunkeness. A wide range of Alhambra off-shoots are also available on the continent including the frankly oxymoronic ‘alcohol-free.’ It’ll never catch on guys…

Sweden:

LandsortStockholm’s finest, this is an under-rated strong lager with plenty of imitators in the weird part of the world known as Scandanavia. Considering the standard of girls that live in Sweden, you don’t really need booze to find something attractive to grab hold of, but still, Landsort’s pretty sweet.

Kopparberg – Ok so not technically a beer, this Swedish range of flavoured ciders is still well worth having on your radar. Coming in a variety of garish colours, this brand has appeal to underage girls and seasoned drinkers alike. Kind of like Girls Aloud in that sense.

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