Thursday, 28 June 2012

GERMANY VS. ENGLAND


These traditional rivals have been far and away the best two nations in this Beer Tournament. It would have been fitting for these two nations to have met in the final but that was not to be. Schoefferhofer Hefeweizen will represent Germany in this do or die clash with Wychwood's Hobgoblin of England. I've had the German entry before but this is the first time I've had this Extra Special Bitter from England. This should be a cracking semi-final!

Schoefferhofer Hefe
GERMANY
Hefeweizen
5.0%
Schoefferhofer Hefeweizen is one of the best German wheat beers regularly available in Australia. It has an overall fruity flavour, mostly banana, and leaves a lovely zesty dry taste. It's just beautiful!

In my mind Hobgoblin is more of a brown ale than an ESB. Still it's a very tasty ale! There is lots of caramel flavour and dark fruits. I would say the carbonation is a little higher than expected but it's still a really nice beer and one I will be buying again.

Hobgoblin 
ENGLAND
ESB
5.2%

Both countries put up excellent beers and this game was of a quality I expect of the final. The German entry, Schoefferhofer Hefeweizen, has just edged England into the final with a superior drinkability. The Hobgoblin was delicious, but the carbonation was slightly high and the actual beer was more viscous than I had expected. Both of these beers are great, but it is the German's who have set up a final with the Czech Republic on Sunday. Join us then for the final installment in the EURO 2012 Beer Tournament!

3-2 win to GERMANY
On the pitch: GERMANY vs. ITALY 

Just like in the Beer Tournament I would expect the Germans to progress to the final on the pitch. They have a young team, brimming with confidence and Joachim Loew has a huge number of options to choose from. The Italians were the better side against England but had to do it the hard way, eventually winning on penalties. This extra time will have take alot out of them and I expect them to crumble against this German side, 2-0 to Germany.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

CZECH REPUBLIC VS. IRELAND


A Euro semi-final between the Czech Republic and Ireland seemed highly unlikely on the pitch before the tournament started, but the Beer Tournament has given these two nations the chance to stake a claim for a spot in the final. The Czechs will be represented by yet another of their pilsners with Staropramen up this time. It will come up again one of the most controversial selections of the tournament in Caffrey's Premium Irish Ale, this beer would normally be considered English or Northern Irish but this can is marked as being brewed in Dublin... Enough with the politics though, lets get down to the beers!


Staropramen
CZECH REPUBLIC
Czech Pilsner
5.0%
Staropramen was my first true Czech Pilsner that I fell in love with and it is just as good as I remembered! It's incredibly drinkable with a distinctly Czech, bitter hop finish. The perfect beer for almost any occasion, but especially summer.

This Caffrey's beer is rather strange. I like surger cans normally but this one produced a rather disappointing head, and the flavour of the beer left a lot to be desired. It's very bland and the mouthfeel seems unnecessarily thick, just not for me...

Caffrey's Premium
IRELAND
English Pale Ale
3.8%

The Irish beer helped avoid a political scandal by being a huge disappointment on one of the biggest days in the history of Irish beers in this country (possibly an overstatement...)! Staropramen once again proved itself to be a fantastic all purpose lager, it's one of the best value for money lagers out there if you can find it. A comfortable win for the Czech Republic sees them reach the final of the Euro 2012 Beer Tournament where they will face the winner of tomorrow's second semi final between Germany and England.

3-1 win to CZECH REPUBLIC

On the pitch: PORTUGAL vs. SPAIN 

On the pitch this is a battle for footballing supremacy on the Iberian peninsula. Spain and Portugal have a fierce rivalry and I expect this to be a particularly testy encounter. With Cristiano Ronaldo, arguably the player of the tournament so far, on the pitch Portugal are a chance, but his supply will be limited by the Spanish possession game. I imagine Spain will win this 2-0, however watch out for a huge upset if Portugal score early. They will sit back and defend for their lives and Spain without a recognised striker may struggle to break them down.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

ENGLAND VS. ITALY


England play Italy tonight, both in the bar and on the pitch! In the bar Fuller's India Pale Ale will represent England in this last quarter final, I haven't had this beer and English IPA's don't always hit the spot for me, we shall see though. Italy have sent up Birra Moretti, a decent high quality Euro Pale Lager. I'm interested to see which one of these drinks better this evening.


Fuller's IPA
ENGLAND
English IPA
5.3%
Fuller's IPA is a fantastic example of the English style of IPA's. This beer is bitter sweet and delicious, the hops are impressive and this is the main taste you are left with after drinking. One I would definitely buy again.

Birra Moretti is a very clean lager. It's well made and has a crisp, dry finish. The issue with it is that the flavours aren't strong enough. The malts and grains are weak and inoffensive, while there just aren't enough of the hops to provide bitterness. Still very easy drinking.

Birra Moretti 
ITALY
Euro Pale Lager
4.%

The Italians put up a good fight but I have had to award this extremely close match to England. There wasn't alot wrong with Birra Moretti, but it is very hard for a lager to top an English ale. In arguably the closest match of the tournament England have just edged it due to the delicious hop flavour. England now progress to play Germany in the next round in an absolute clash of the titans! I really would like this clash to eventuate on the pitch as well...

3-2 win to ENGLAND AET
On the pitch: ENGLAND vs. ITALY 

This is the first time in the knockout stages that the beer gods have aligned with the actual tournament. England didn't convince hugely throughout the group stage and now with expectations rising I wouldn't be surprised to see them fall. Italy played well against Spain and I still believe that the Balotelli/Cassano partnership is going to do some damage, and I feel tonight will be the night they click. Italy to win in extra time, 2-1 or on penalties.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

IRELAND VS. FRANCE


Ireland topped Group C with a perfect record, thanks mostly to their range of stouts. Today they come up against a French side always fancied to get out of a group including Sweden and Ukraine. The Irish will send up Guinness Foreign Extra Stout to try and see them through to the semi-finals, while the French will rely on a beer from Alsace called Meteor. I haven't had the Meteor, but it would want to be good as the Irish haven't missed a beat all tournament.


Guinness Foreign
IRELAND
Export Stout
7.5%
Right away you can see this difference in this beer compared to normal Guinness. The head is much darker, for one but the real difference is in the flavour. It's much more intense, this is like a nice proper craft stout. It's fantastic on a cold winters afternoon!

Meteor was quite a disappointing lager. It's got some beer characteristics to it but not many. The flavour is incredibly thin and quite metallic, the one saving grace is that the beer drinks well. Still I don't think I'd buy it again, it's pretty average.

Meteor 
FRANCE
Euro Pale Lager
4.6%

To say there are better beers than Meteor would be an understatement, it's really not that good at all. The Irish beer ran all over the top of them, Guinness as usual proved it really is a class above. If you haven't had the Foreign Extra Stout before, go out and get one! You will be amazed by the change of intensity of flavour from the normal one. A comfortable win for Ireland was the only fair result.

3-1 win to IRELAND
On the pitch: SPAIN vs. FRANCE 

At the beginning of the tournament I tipped France as a team to make the final, that was sort of dependent on them winning their group as they now come up against Spain... I don't think it's going to happen now, Spain are looking in imperious form and I can't see the French beating them. Rami and Mexes are by far the weakest link in the French team and the quick Spanish players are going to cut them to shreds. 3-1 win to Spain.

Friday, 22 June 2012

GERMANY VS. POLAND


Neighbours Germany and Poland will play off in quarter final 2 of the beer tournament. Both nations produce a vast array of different beers and so this match is set to be a cracker. Germany have sent up Radeberger Pils to take on the Zywiec lager from Poland. Both of these beers are lagers, which really makes it easier to compare. This quarter final should be fantastic, Radeberger I've never had and Zywiec I have had but cannot for the life of me remember what it tastes like.


Radeberger Pils
GERMANY
German Pilsner
4.8%
Despite the less than impressive pour Radeberger Pilsner is a seriously good beer! There is a heap of bitterness present at the back end of this beer and the hops are fantastic. This is a delicious beer and one I will be buying more of.

Zywiec is a better than run or the mill lager but not by a lot. The extra ABV is a Polish thing to try and compete with vodka. (That's 100% true!) It has a lot of sweet malts with only some bitterness from herbal hops. Still it's very drinkable and quite enjoyable.

Zywiec 
POLAND
Euro Pale Lager
5.6%

Both lagers were enjoyable to drink and I enjoyed both of them for different reasons. The German entry was simply superb, the bitterness was excellent and I enjoyed drinking it immensely. The Polish beer, Zywiec, was good but not quite up to the same level. Don't get me wrong it has great drinkability but for someone who likes to taste some hops in their lager, this wasn't quite the beer for me. I would happily drink both beers again, but for today the Germans have won.

3-2win to GERMANY
On the pitch: GERMANY vs. GREECE 

Just as in the beer tournament the Germans topped Group B on the field. The Greeks snuck through on the last day with a 1-0 win over the Russians, which sent them through with a superior head to head record. They have been passionate throughout the tournament but without Giorgios Karagounis they are going to struggle in the middle against a brilliant, quick German side. In my opinion the Germans will smash the Greeks in their first really dominant performance of the tournament, 4-0!

Thursday, 21 June 2012

CZECH REPUBLIC VS DENMARK


The Czech Republic topped group A with some impressive results, while Denmark went through after draws against their two top rivals. Denmark are pulling out the big guns (pardon the pun) today to try and beat the Czechs, with a 1 litre can of Faxe representing them. The Czechs will be represented by Kozel Dark, the lager performed admirably earlier in the tournament will the dark beer live up to expectations and see the Czechs through? Let's find out!


Kozel Dark
POLAND
Munich Dunkel Lager
3.8%
This is a sensational dark beer! The drinkability is awesome, theres some good roast flavours and it's fantastically smooth. This is a dark beer that won't offend people not used to them, while still giving an insight into what they taste like. Magnificent!

Faxe Premium is a nice Danish lager, only available in Australia in 1 litre cans. It's one of the best ways to enjoy beer, and this one is no exception. It's an enjoyable lager, but it's on the lower end of the quality scale. Brilliant for drinking though, it's got high sessionability.

Faxe Premium
DENMARK
Euro Pale Lager
5.0%

The first quarter final of the beer tournament saw a brilliant performance from the Czech Republic send them through to the semi-finals of Beer O'Clock Australia's Euro 2012 competition. Denmark's entry, Faxe Premium, was a solid lager but nothing more, it didn't quite have that extra thing it needed to take the next step and really challenge the Czechs. In saying that if you are after a session beer, these 1 Litre cans are $6 at Safeway and First Choice at the moment.

3-1 win to CZECH REPUBLIC
On the pitch: CZECH REPUBLIC vs. PORTUGAL 

The Czechs play the Portuguese in the real tournament's first quarter final this evening (well tomorrow morning...). Any team to get out of group B is going to be one of the sides to beat in this tournament, however I think the Portuguese while they are dangerous aren't a great side. The Czech Republic were impressive after their first up loss against the Russians. I expect them to beat Portugal, but if they don't watch out for Portugal to win the tournament as it will lift their confidence hugely. I reckon a 2-1 win to the Czech Republic.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

GROUP STAGE OVERVIEW

The group stages of both the beer tournament and the actual tournament concluded last night. Here are the tables for each of the groups, and at the bottom you will see the draw for the quarter finals. The beer tournament will split from the actual tournament at this stage, I will still give my prediction for the actual match at the bottom of each post. The real tournament is shaping up as a cracker and the beer tournament is just going from strength to strength, bring on the knockout stages!

GROUP A

 
Group A didn't through up any major surprises. The two favourites to top the group, Poland and the Czech Republic, progressed with relative ease. The Russians were severely hampered by a lack of beers in the country at the moment, while the Greeks were undone by slightly superior beers in their games against the favourites.



GROUP B












The Netherlands were the real disappointment of this group, there lineup of world reknowned lagers flopped horribly in this group of death. The Portuguese performed above expectation but still weren't good enough to get out of the group. The Germans progressed comfortably and go into the knockout stages with some big guns in the locker. The Danes surprised a few but go into the quarter finals full of confidence.


GROUP C








Ireland's lineup of beers better suited to the winter conditions in Australia saw them top the group unopposed, with a perfect record. The Spanish had a couple of beers that performed well, but they came up against better beers in those games, and there just wasn't enough quality across the board. Italy and Croatia finished on the same number of points, with the same goal difference and with a draw in the game betweeen the 2 sides. Under the standard UEFA system Croatia would progress on goals scored, however here in the beer tournament VBP (Variety of Beers Played) will decide who progresses. The Karlovacko's of Croatia performed well but were bundled out of the tournament by Italy's 3 beers.

GROUP D


Finally to Group D and England and France both progressed with real ease from this group. Ukraine's squad failed to turn up while Sweden were represented by one of the worst beers I've ever drunk, seriously it's that bad! The English have a real chance of going a long way in this tournament with their variety of ales, it just all depends on the draw!


QUARTER-FINALS DRAW

CZECH REPUBLIC VS DENMARK


GERMANY VS POLAND


IRELAND VS FRANCE


ENGLAND VS ITALY

All of these matches promise to be exciting, with the pick of the matches being either the Czech Republic vs Denmark or the battle of the neighbours Germany vs Poland. The first game of the quarter finals kicks off tomorrow, with the Czechs playing the Danes.

REVIEW: ALMAZA

Macro Lager

STATS
  • Country: Lebanon
  • Style: German Pilsner
  • ABV: 4.2%
  • Serving Type: 330ml Bottle
  • Price: Inexpensive
Just a week ago I didn't even know that beer was brewed in Lebanon. Then I found this beer glass in a box of beer glasses I bought and some research led me learn about Lebanese beers. By sheer coincidence Dad's cousin asked me if I'd ever tried Lebanese beer and I jumped at the chance to try some.

So Almaza Pilsner is brewery (funnily enough) by Brasserie Almaza in Beirut, Lebanon. The brewery still retains the French word for brewery as it was opened in 1933 when Lebanon was still controlled by France. The brewery is now owned by the Heineken International Group. It's also the first middle eastern beer that I have ever sampled, let's do this.

This is one of the hardest beer glasses to pour a beer into, the shape just isn't conducive to a nice pour. Anyway the colour is a deep golden with lots of bubbles that rise to the thick white head. The head has quite poor retention considering the apparent carbonation, but while it's there Almaza Pilsner is quite an impressive looking beer.

What to say about the nose of this beer? Well it's certainly not inviting, but it's also not offensive either. It has quite a normal grainy nose with some hints of husk. Towards the back end there are hints of hops, they appear to be of a herbal variety and slightly spicy. I will be interested to see how they taste, as I would like to smell more hops in a German Pilsner.

Almaza Pilsner has more flavour than I expected. The beer starts out with a slightly malty sweetness and a bit of grain. There isn't a huge amount of hops, but the hops that are there are quite spicy and are indeed of a herbal nature. They provide some bitterness but not as much as I would normally like to see from a German Pilsner, still it's not a bad tasting beer.

By no means is this an exceptional beer, but I imagine if you were in the heat of Lebanon it would be fantastic! The drinkability is fantastic! Almaza, despite appearances, has only moderate carbonation and this really helps the ease in which this beer is able to be drunk. The flavours are much better than the nose, and although it's not an exceptional example of the style, it's pretty good. I certainly wouldn't be against having it again.

Remember it's always Beer O'Clock somewhere in the world! 

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

SWEDEN VS. FRANCE


Sweden have been absolutely destroyed by their squad selection (despite how much my hand was forced). Pistonhead Low Ridin' lager is just attrocious, if Kronenbourg 1664 in the can doesn't beat it the French don't deserve to go through. I really hope Sweden don't beat them because I don't think I can stand to drink another one! France only need a draw to knock the Swedes out, please let them do it.



Pistonhead Low Ridin'
SWEDEN
American Pale Lager
5.2%
I've been really harsh on Pistonhead so far, and with good reason, but this is the best one of the lot. The flavour isn't disgusting! It tastes like a mineral water not a beer, but thats a significant improvement!

Kronenbourg 1664 in a can is such a refreshing lager. The heads fantastic, just compare it to the bottle on the opening day! It's so fresh and in this form is one of the best lagers you can buy in Australia.

Kronenbourg 1664
FRANCE
Euro Pale Lager
5.0%

I thought that the significant improvement from Pistonhead was worthy of giving them a goal in this tournament, even though it still didn't taste like a beer. Kronenbourg just ticked all the boxes for a lager, really refreshing, good bitterness and real drinkability. It can form it is one of the premier lagers of the competition so far! 3-1 is a great way for France to round out the group and move into the knockout stage.

3-1 win to FRANCE
On the pitch: A point from France send them through and although they are playing the pointless Swedes this will be a tougher challenge than anticipated. Sweden have played quite well and not for 7 minutes against Ukraine where they capitulated and some shonky defending against England they could easily have 6 points instead of none. I think the French should manage that point though, a 2-2 draw to round out the group stages.

ENGLAND VS. UKRAINE


England are through to the next round in the beer tournament while Ukraine have failed to even show up for the tournament. Considering the lack of Ukrainian beer, the nice Obolon glass has represented them well without scoring a goal. England will be represented by Poacher's Choice from Badger brewery, a brewery I'm quite familiar with but a beer I haven't had yet.




Poacher's Choice
ENGLAND
Winter Warmer
5.7%
This ale packs a really nice flavour punch. It's one of the strangest English ales I've ever had. Poacher's Choice has a really strong fruit flavour, it's not that dissimilar to a Christmas mince pie. I really like! More of this will be in my fridge come the end of this tournament.

So somewhat disappointingly the Ukrainians failed to rock up in time for this tournament. It's alright though as although this will be another loss, but when the beer turns up it can be part of the European Beer Challenge, don't forget to check that out.

Obolon Glass
UKRAINE
Beer Glass
0.0%

Before this tournament started there is no way I would pick an English beer to have been the equal highest rated beer come the end of the group stage (well one game to go...). I can't quite put my finger on what made it so good, but I really enjoyed the flavour and the drinkability was excellent for an ale. I'm going to have to try more of it another day and see if I like it just as much. But with the Ukrainians again not providing a beer to taste, the only result could be a thrashing at the hands of the Poms.

4-0 win to ENGLAND
On the pitch: I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that Ukraine will upset England tonight and progress to the knockout stage. Despite getting the result against Sweden I was really disappointed with the English performance and with a passionate home crowd behind them, a Shevchenko inspired Ukraine should/will hopefully knock them off. 2-1 to Ukraine in a surprise.

Monday, 18 June 2012

ITALY VS. IRELAND


Unlike the real tournament where they are anchored to the foot of the table, Ireland are already safely through to the next round with wins in their opening 2 games. The Irish onslaught of beers more suited to winter conditions continues with Murphy's Irish Stout. The Italians need a win to ensure their qualification and will be represented by Ichnusa, a beer I'm quite familiar with, bring on the beers!



Ichnusa
ITALY
Euro Pale Lager
4.7%
Ichnusa is a beer I've had a few times. It's not that good but as far as Euro Pale Lagers go it's not unflavoursome. This isn't a lager you are going to be impressed with, but if you see it on a restaurant menu it's a pretty good option.

Murphy's has a very light mouthfeel for a stout, but retains all of the smokeyness that I would expect from a full blooded stout. It's only got a 4% ABV so you can put a few away, as I have done this evening.

Murphy's Irish Stout
IRELAND
Irish Dry Stout
4.0%

Ireland are going through this group undefeated, which is very different to what will happen on the pitch. Murphy's Irish Stout was a tad watery, but after a big night of drinking it was a pretty nice stout. Ichnusa is a light flavoured lager, which is pretty run of the mill. Some research has told me that it is produced by Heineken Italy, so that explains the relatively bland flavour somewhat. 2-1 to Ireland is the only result that justifies how the beers taste.

2-1 win to IRELAND
On the pitch: I don't expect Ireland to lie down in this one, it's Damian Duff's 100th international cap and they will want to win it for him. Italy know they have to win this and for the other result to go their way in order to progress. I think the Italian's should be too good for the Irish, I think they will win but I've got no idea what the score will be, maybe 1-0.