World Cup Sipping: Quarter Finals Beer

photo by Addison Berry
photo by Addison Berry

Eight enter, and four advance to the next round. On Friday, July 4 and Saturday, July 5, the quarter finalists will be battling for soccer supremacy. I've done some digging around to find a representative beer for each country. Unfortunately, some may be available where you are, but they might not, so don’t get your heart set on anything before it’s in hand. But if you can find these gems, it's a great way to support your team.

Friday, July 4:

In America, we celebrate our independence from Great Britain, and also, sadly, from the World Cup. Our valiant efforts against Belgium (Tim Howard, call me!) went unrewarded, but we can now drink beer and judge other countries still in the World Cup competition.

First up on Friday (noon EST) is the France-Germany game. For France, see if you can get your hands on a La Goudale, a bier de garde from Les Brasseurs de Gayant. It placed bronze in the Belgian and French style ale category in the 2014 New York International Beer Competition (NYIBC). The sweet notes of the yeast and the toasted malt flavors make this 7.2% ABV beer true to the biere de garde style, and is a worthy beer to try if you are feeling adventurous.

For Germany, I recommend either a Julius Echter Hefe-Weissbier Dunkel from Würzburger Hofbräu AG, if you like darker beers, or Neumarkter Lammsbräu’s Organic Pilsner if partial to lighter beers. They both took home silver medals in their categories (German Style Dark Wheat Ale and German Style Pilsner, respectively) in the 2014 NYIBC. The Julius Echter dunkel’s dark fruit and malt notes balance the hefe yeast esters beautifully, and it’s as easy to drink as the organic pilsner, which is a clean drinking and naturally carbonated balance of grain malt and hops.

Victor (for beer): Germany

The second match of the day starts at 4pm EST and is Brazil v. Columbia. Brazil was some pretty easy research, since I just did a whole article on their beer. I would recommend the dark and mysterious yet easy drinking Xingu for match watching. Columbia is a bit more difficult to find an appropriate World Cup beer for, but after much research I settled on Cajica Honey Ale from Bogota Beer Company. The BBC is a relatively new craft beer brewery in a country that mostly serves adjunct lagers and pilsners. This honey ale is classified as a cream ale, and at 5.3% ABV, it’s a great sipper during the game.

photo by James Cridland
photo by James Cridland

Victor: Brazil

Saturday, July 5:

We are fully immersed in the holiday weekend by now, as well as the quarter finals.

At noon EST, Argentina will be taking on Belgium. I know that there may be some hard feelings about Belgium knocking the US out of the competition, but their beer is across the board pretty awesome, so I can’t hold a grudge for too long. To wit: in addition to legendary breweries Cantillon and Westvleteren, the Tripel Karmeliet from Brouwerij Bosteels is a world class tripel that more or less sets the standard for the style. At 8.4%, the alcohol is buried deep and beautifully, with the Belgian candi notes creating a warming and comforting brew with a semi-dry finish. You can really sink into this one, and if you are still annoyed with Belgium, then it will help soothe your aggravation.

Argentina has a quieter beer scene, but the Imperial Amber Lager from CCU Argentina is an interesting sounding beer, not least because the imperial label comes attached to a 5.5% ABV beer. One fan of the beer on Beer Advocate describes the aroma as a “nutty-sweet scent of toasted amber malts” and “an airy floralness to compliment the scent of pralines and cream,” and the flavor as having “elements of candied nuts, crunchy caramel, toffee cake, and plain old toasted malt.”

Victor: Belgium (a bit of a gimme, though.)

photo by Antti T. Nissinen
photo by Antti T. Nissinen

The last game of the quarter finals starts at 4pm EST on Saturday, pitting the Netherlands against Costa Rica. The Netherlands, best known as the home of Heineken lager, also has a darker side with a weakness for imperial stouts, quadruples, and barleywines. The Brouwerij De Molen is crazy for Russian Imperial Stouts, with at least 25 different versions ranging from 11 to 20% ABV in their portfolio. I’m most intrigued, though, by Engels, their 4.5% ABV English-style bitter. It’s easy drinking with lots of flavor crammed into a low alcohol beer, with lots of aroma, combining a Belgian yeast character with a bitter’s malt and hops balance.

Costa Rica's Craft Brewing Company was founded in 2010 and has two flagship beers as well as a range of seasonal offerings. One of their year round beers is Segua, an amber ale that not only complements the warm weather of the region, but also delivers a higher quality of craft beer.

Victor: The Netherlands.

So, this weekend we will see if my beer predictions have any correlation with the actual winners. Looking at the World Cup through a beer perspective this year has been very interesting! I highly recommend it to anyone who doesn’t really care about soccer but still wants to socialize with those that do.