The return of the World Cup has got me thinking about different beers and styles from around the globe. Here’s a round-the-world tour of craft beers to inspire your tastebuds while you’re watching the tournament.
We've just launched a couple of handpicked World Cup Special boxes - 10 glorious craft beers to get your fridge nicely stocked up over the next few weeks.
1. Euro lagers
Let's start with the most obvious example of influence from around the globe - Europe and lager. From Pilsner, through Helles, all the way to the kolsch, we have a lot to thank our friends from Germany and the Czech Republic for. The perfect summer drink, you can’t beat a few ice cold lagers in front of the football.
A personal favourite of mine is the Cologne staple - Kolsch - a beautifully pale, crisp, light lager, with an almost sweet aftertaste. Kolsch was a well-deserved saviour when exploring beautiful Cologne mid-summer.
There are some great kolsch inspired beers being brewed on our shores - with Hackney Lager from Hackney Brewery and Champion Kolsch from Canopy leading the way.
2. IPLs and Pils
As with all great styles, there are infinite variations and one of the recent lager-styles we’ve seen most prominently over the last year or so is the IPL (Indian Pale Lager) - a hopped lager, providing more body and little bitterness to give a more complex and interesting flavour.
One of our favourites is the Untraditional Lager by Pillars Brewery - they only brew lagers, so you trust they know what they’re doing! If you can find them – their experimental Chocolate Orange Black lager and new Rebel Helles are definitely worth a try too!
A hat-tip to Villages’ Whilstle, Brick’s Peckham Pils & Five Points’ Pils too - they’re all fantastic Pilsners worthy of mention - but sadly the Czech’s aren’t the same team since Karel Poborksy retired (Ed. Crikey how old do you think our audience is? Since Pavel Nedved retired maybe?), and failed to qualify for the World Cup this year!
3. Belgian beers
Moving on to Belgium, a country famed for its beer and influence on brewing - just like the Belgium football team, however, some see them as a bit ‘hit and miss’ and struggle with the unique flavours of Belgian styles!
First stop is the saison and farmhouse styles - unlike many more familiar styles, the flavour in a saison does not predominantly come from the hops or malt, but from the yeast used.
The use of yeast is really important to getting that ubiquitous Belgian flavour - and there are some great examples of Belgian style beers being brewed at the Solvay Society (unsurprisingly, head brewer Roman is Belgian) - we loved their Belgian take on classic styles, especially Coulomb, a saison and Superposition, a session IPA/Witbier crossover.
4. Sour beers
Turning our attention to the rise in popularity of sour beers in the UK over the last few years, let’s look at Lambic style beers that originate in Belgium (including beers like Kriek and Gueze).
Lambic styles are hundreds of years old and the brewing process is aligned to wine making as much a beer making. Rather wonderfully, Lambic beers are ‘spontaneously’ fermented, using natural airborne yeast to ferment the beer, meaning there is something magic about the whole process, that science can’t replicate.
This process produces a tart, sour beer that divides opinion between beer drinkers across the world. With the addition of some sour cherries, Kriek is born and this is a real favourite of mine.
5. German sours
Quickly skipping back to Germany, Gose beer is a lighter beer than a Lambic and a great introduction to sour beers (Note: tbh, I thought Gose was Belgian too! But, as they often do in the World Cup, Germany has the last word...) - using spices such as coriander, citrusy, tart fruits, and brewed with salt, it provides a sharp hit of flavour.
A really great example of this style has been produced as part of Moncada’s limited edition Blueprint series - their Apricot Gose is a sharp but refreshing beer, another one great cold in the sun.
And whilst we're back in Germany, I should probably mention Berliner Weisse - which has also grown in popularity over recent times, like the Gose, it has a sourness not usually associated with German beers and in traditional Berlin pubs (I sampled this Berlin's oldest pub no less!), it comes topped up with green (watermelon) or red (raspberry) syrup, which makes it look more like WKD than beer!
Putting the colour aside, it's a tasty sour treat, and a must if you're in Berlin. If you fancy trying something new and challenging - you should definitely jump on the sours wagon; we’ve loved the range from Brick over the last year or so - especially their Citrus Sour and Rhubarb Berliner Weisse.
And the rest...
There are many other fantastic beers I could mention – German altbiers, heffeweizen, dunkels and rauchsbier, Belgian dubbels, trippels and Trappist beer, bocks from across Europe (again they originate in Germany!), the many amazing breweries in Denmark (Mikkeller and Tool are making some amazing beer)…but I think that might be for another blog in future!
Before bidding adieu, just an honourable mention for another couple of countries who didn’t make this year’s tournament in Russia.
Whilst their footballing prowess might be lacking, you can’t knock the American’s beer making skills, particularly the amazing hoppy pales they’ve been brewing for the last decade or so. Where would we be without all the US hops that have invaded our shores?! All hail Citra!
And probably the biggest surprise of all is the failure of the Italians - this is the first time they’ve not qualified.
Manned by four Italians, our friends at Brewheadz are one of the most exciting new breweries in London - I’m sure a few Fired Up Donkeys will drown their sorrows this time round! We also love the beers from another group of Italians, ORA Beer - particularly their Balsamic Milk Stout; it’s an absolute stunning beer.
Why not get into the World Cup spirit with a Hoppily box? Our World Cup Special box is great for enjoying a couple of games with friends or commiserating England losing (again!)
>> Plus, more from our blog: our weekly round-up of match predictions and beery accompaniments