This would be a great blog post. If only I had a blog. Now presenting the 2010 FIFA World Cup Beer Companion! The following is an attempt to list an enjoyable beer from each nation participating in the World Cup. I would love to try and match beers with the character of each team but some nations aren't deep enough in beer to do that. I have provided links to each beer on the website RateBeer.com. I prefer BeerAdvocate but RateBeer is more internationally focused.
South Africa - Draymans (South Africa) Altstadt Weissbier
A Hefewizen in the classic German style. Refreshing summer flavors of banana, clove and lemon make this a good host beer for watching the games.
Uruguay - FNC Zillertal Premium
A pale lager - the common beer of most countries - only with an actual hop presence. Grassy, lemony hops balanced with a honey sweetness.
Mexico - Cucapá Barley Wine
A legitimately good Barleywine; said to me Mexico's best beer. Flavors of toffee, dark fruits and rum with a certain "dirty" quality from Mexican water that compliments the beer.
France - La Bavaisienne Ambrée
A world-class Biere de Garde (the maltier, French version of a Belgian Saison. Both styles are considered to be 'Farmhouse Ales'). Flavors of dried hay, nuts, lemon, oats and and brewing spices with a dry finish.
Argentina - Barba Roja Barrel Aged Red Ale
From Argentina's vibrant young craft beer scene comes this Irish Red Ale that has been aged in bourbon barrels. Slight bourbon accents the abundance of caramel and toffee malt flavors.
Nigeria - Guinness Foreign Extra Stout (Nigeria)
Gunness has a brewery in Nigeria and that specific brewery is the only one to brew this recipe. Said to be the best of all Guinness products, it uses some Nigerian ingredients which provide more of a vinous character to play off the chocolate malt.
Korea Republic - Hite Stout
The first real clunker of the list. South Korea's beer scene isn't strong, but this canned Stout is an honest effort. Average at best but an average stout is still a decent drink.
Greece - Vergina Red
This isn't considered to be Greece's very best beer, but it is close. I chose it because of the name. Vergina. A red vergina at that. Chuckle. This beer is essentially a Sam Adams Boston Lager clone, with the balance of malts to hops favoring the malts.
England - Fullers London Porter
One of the best beer nations on Earth. I could have listed dozens, but let's go with Fullers London Porter, the best example of the old Mild Porter style that was developed in London. Milk chocolate, vanilla, slight coffee and easy to drink at that.
United States - Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
Again, one of the best beer nations on Earth. I could have listed dozens but let's go with the beer that symbolizes America's craft brewing renaissance. This is the first beer brewed in what would become the American Pale Ale style - the choice of new Cascade hops made this pale ale brash and assertive with citrus and pine flavors like no other pale ale before it. America shocked the world with this beer in the late 70's and American soccer shocked the world in 1950 by beating England.
Algeria - Tango Sans Alcool
Of the few Algerian beers that are commercially distributed, this one has no alcohol. Which is fitting because Algeria has no chance of getting out of this Group. If you're watching games at a sports bar then give this to your designated driver.
Slovenia - Sokol Svetlo Pivo
An Eastern Eurpean lager belonging to an esoteric style called Zwicklebier or Landbier, this beer tastes of medicinal bittering hops, lightly toasted grain and some unique vegetal characteristics.
Germany - Schneider Aventinus
Again, one of the best beer nations on Earth. I could have listed dozens but let's go with my favorite German beer and one of my favorite beers period. Aventinus is a Weizenbock - a wheat dopplebock. Tangy wheat meets flavors of dark toffee, plums, blackcurrants and even some chocolate. Very complex.
Australia - Redoak Baltic Porter
An excellent Baltic Porter. It tastes much like the Aventinus, minus any wheat/lemon flavors. Very sweet; a dessert beer. Celebrate a win with this one.
Serbia - Jelen Pivo
Most nations in this part of Europe are utterly devoted to Czech-style Pilsners. Jelen Pivo is Serbia's preeminent example. The label contains an image of a baying Elk, which is pretty cool.
Ghana - Accra Chairman
A uniquely Ghanan beer. This is, essentially, a ginger malt liquor. Spicy from ginger root and strongly malty like all malt liquors.
Netherlands - Koningshoeven Quadrupel Trappist Ale
Koningshoven, also known as La Trappe, is one of the world's seven Trappist monasteries that brew beer. The Quadrupel is one of the classic Trappist/Abbey beer styles. Koningshoven's Quad is an internationally renowned beer and not only because of its official Trappist distinction.
Denmark - Mikkeller Beer Geek Brunch Weasel
Denmark is undergoing a serious brewing renaissance right now. The most visible brewery to U.S. beer drinkers would be Mikkeller. Mikkel is a nomadic brewer - owning no brewery of his own, he brews as a guest at breweries all over Europe. He is a prolific innovator, giving Europeal drinkers a taste of the crazy stuff coming from the United States. Perhaps his best beer is also his strangest. Beer Geek Brunch Weasel is a Imperial Coffee Stout (or Breakfast Stout) that uses one of the most expensive coffees in the world - Civet Cat coffee. The Civet Cat is a weasel-like animal that forages for beans on the forest floors of Vietnam, its enzymes break down the beans and then it poops out a richer coffee substance than before the bean was digested. Yes, seriously, this is poop beer made from poop coffee. And it is world-class.
Japan - Hitachino Nest Espresso Stout
Another coffee stout, this one from experimental Japanese brewers Hitchino Nest. Predictable flavors from a coffee stout but flavors that are marvelously executed. Japan is an underrated beer nation.
Cameroon - Castel Beer
Cameroon is not a strong beer nation at all. Their best commercial offering is this pale lager, nicknamed "The Queen of Beers." Comparable to Coors Light; hand one over to to an NFL coach if the cold-activated can of his isn't blue yet.
Italy - Baladin Xyauyù Etichetta Rame (Copper Label)
Look out, wine. Italy's youth are increasingly getting into the nation's burgeoning craft beer scene. Among the vibrant, exciting beers coming out of Italy today is Baladin's Xyauyu barleywine. Deep flavors of port and sherry round out the toffee and sourdough bread from the malt. Oak accentuates the whole drink.
Paraguay - Cerveceria Paraguayana Pilsen Dorada
This pilsner is about the best beer the country produces. Tinny from cheap hops. Hey, only one team gets to win the World Cup of soccer. Same with the WC of beer. Paraguay won't win either but their futbol is the superior product by far.
New Zealand - Epic Armageddon IPA
You can tell from the name that this beer is American-inspired. New Zealand's Epic Brewery has made an IPA that actually stands up with some of the best IPAs in the U.S. Bravo.
Slovakia - Topvar 12% Tmavé - Marina
A classic example of the Schwarzbier (or Black Lager) style. Licorice and chocolate flavors combine in a light package.
Brazil - Eisenbahn Lust
You may have noticed this beer on liquor store shelves because of its enourmous $25 pricetag. This is a unique Belgian Strong Ale that is sent to a winery for three weeks to undergo the same process that Champagne goes through. What you get is an ale tasting of pear, clove, green apple and even some bubblegum.
Korea DPR - Taedonggang Beer
Amazingly, North Korea isn't the worst beer nation of the 32 FIFA WC participants. This pale lager is said to be startlingly average in every respect. Hooray, comrade!
Cote d'Ivoire - Mamba
Guess what? It's a malt liquor! When Billy Dee Williams runs out of Colt 45 on his vacations to the Ivory Coast he reaches for one of these.
Portugal - Cerveja Super Bock Stout
Portugal is better than some when it comes to beer, but not many. I picked this beer because of its nonsensical name. Is it a dark bock? Is it a stout? Bocks are lagers and Stouts are ales and this beer surely isn't both but maybe, just maybe, it can defy convention like Portugal's star, Christiano Ronaldo.
Spain - Agullons Setembre
Spain is just now starting to innovate with beer. This is a sour ale, sort of a gueuze that has been blended with a pale ale to get some citrus hops in there. Then it is aged in wine barrels. Crazy.
Switzerland - Trois Dames Saison Houblon
I loves me a Saison. This farmhouse ale is inspired by American takes on the style; it is aggressively dry-hopped. It isn't too far off from Boulevard's Tank 7.
Honduras - Cerveza Port Royal Export
It isn't good when your brewery's name is simply your language's word for "beer." This is a predictable atrocious pale lager that, like most bad pale lagers, becomes fine drinking taking into account 1.) the nation's water and 2.) the spiciness of its food.
Chile- Szot Rubia Al Vapor
Finally, we end on a nation that is more exciting in terms of beer than one would think. This beer is a Steam Beer/California Common, only with a twist - brewed with slightly roasted malts so that it becomes a sort of Steam Beer & Porter hybrid. Chile has some innovation going for it.
I hope this was a fun read. I haven't had even half of the beers on this list but I hope that you, like me, will seek some of these beers out.