November 1st, 2012Beer and travel
Football is mostly about what happens during the game, but if you ask anyone who goes to away games regularly they will tell you it’s more about what takes place outside of the match.
The 2011-12 football season was a fairly disastrous one for Wolverhampton Wanderers, culminating in their relegation from the Premier League. However for three of their loyal supporters, it wasn’t a complete disaster.
Friends Russ, Darb, and Graham decided to start a ritual for away games involving another passion of theirs; drinking beer.
Let’s face it, travelling up and down the country every other week by train can be quite monotonous, so the lads always took along a few cans of beer for the journey.
One week, Darb decided to do something a little bit different and brought a long an assortment of international beers for the lads to get stuck into. In sheer amazement with the selection on offer, Russ suggested “Stick a picture of the bottle label up on Twitter, and see if anyone can guess the nationality.”
As a result, the Away Day Beer Challenge was born.
From here on, the lads have taken it in turns to find beers from across the world to sup on their travels. There have been the odd exceptions to the rule, where a bottle of (readily available) Cusqueña or Cobra has made an appearance, but usually it is a mixture of the weird and the wonderful.
“We hired a limo bus to take us to the Arsenal away game during the Christmas period, and I knew I had to do something special to go with the occasion.” said Graham. “I popped in my local one night and noticed Hobsons Brewery were offering ale in 18-pint polypins (beer-in-a-box) for the festive period. The box got warped quickly, so there we were, travelling to Islington, pouring auburn coloured liquid out of what looked like a catheter bag! I’m glad the windows were blacked out.”
Since the challenge started, the lads have consumed beer from all over the world; including Kenya, Estonia, Ukraine, Iceland, Nigeria, Norway, Japan, Laos, Mauritius and most recently Corsica. A photo of the label is taken, and posted to Twitter, where it is developing a cult following, along with the hashtag #awaydaybeerchallenge.
It’s not only about the international beers, a few real ale pubs are visited upon arrival at their destination. The Unicorn Inn in Hanley, No Sign Bar in Swansea, Huddersfield’s The Sportsman and The Scarborough Hotel opposite Leeds Station have all received high acclaim.
Wherever the destination you are guaranteed to find these guys supping beer en-route to watch their football team, and keeping their twitter following greatly entertained.
Tags: beer, football, world beer
“Graham is better known as @graham_large and started enjoying beer about 11 years ago. His fascination with Beers Of The World has only strengthened since working in conjunction with a bottle label manufacturer. When not drinking beer, Graham is found writing various football features for his website It’s Round and It’s White
and is currently writing his first book.”
June 19th, 2012Beer Events
The plan was to drink one beer from each team in every game of the Euros.
Of course it turned out to be a little ambitious, especially drinking four different beers on school nights. But so far we’ve managed to find a beer from every country in the European Championships (bar one). Our friendly local beer shop Bier Huis in Ossett imported a selection of beers in anticipation of the tournament, so we nipped down, took our fill, and then tweaked the list a little bit.
We’ll have to wait for the quarter finals before confirming the beers for the big matches (along with some continental cuisine food pairings too), but here’s the initial Euro 2012 beer list!
As it’s the last day of the group stages there’s just enough time to drink to the teams that are already out!
The Euro 2012 Beer List
Poland – Lech
Of the Polish lagers we’ve found Lech by far the most palatable. Avoid canned Tatra and Zubr, with their cardboard flower aromas and metallic bitterness, unless you want your head blowing off (6% and 7% respectively).
Greece – Mythos
My love affair with Mythos began on my first Greek holiday to Rhodes. Since them we’ve seen Halkidiki, Skopelos and Crete, and each time ice cold Mythos has cooled the long, sweltering afternoons and lubricated the early evening relaxation as we lazily get ready to go out. It doesn’t work as well without the heat, but under a Grecian sun it’s perfection: crisp and sweet and energy replenishing.
Or… Brinks – from the Mediterranean facing town of Rethymnon on Crete, if you’re holidaying there look it up and please bring some back! (Follow the link for more Greek craft breweries).
Russia - Stary Melnik Iz Bochonka Myagkoe
In a similar bottle to Modelo and not a million miles from a soft South American lager, Stary Melnik Iz Bochonka Myagkoe (which translates something like Old Miller Barrel Mild Beer) is smooth like Corona. Was that a touch of Crunchie bar in the aroma? Easy as hell to drink, it may not be memorable, but it is thirst quenching.
Or… Go left field with a Russian Imperial Stout – St Petersburg by Thornbridge is a creamy hop ‘n’ chocolate cuddle, but watch out for its boozy wild side. From Derbyshire with love. Alternatively Kernel Imperial Stout is a coal-infused treacle of hops, chocolate and complexity.
Czech – Bohemia Regent Tmavý Ležák 12°
A creamy dark lager with dried fruit aroma and a roasted peanut character, complete with typical bitter finish.
Or… Kozel Cerny, widely available in the UK, another example of adark roasted pilsner. For real Czech heritage there’s also the original Czech lager, that of Pilsner Urquell. Sprightly Saaz hops keep it freshly flavoured, but don’t rush a pint of it (big bubbles!)
Netherlands – La Trappe Witte
Bier Huis’ recommendation for the Netherlands is La Trappe Witte from the only Trappist brewery outside of Belgium. Not only that, but it’s the only Trappist white beer in the world. And it’s unfiltered! And bottle fermented!! Aromatic, and a self proclaimed quencher of monks thirst.
Or… for something entirely different, try De Molen Rook & Vuur, a dark whisky scarred concoction, stirring images of dirty raspberries smouldering on a pile of ash, peppered with hot chillies. A lot more interesting the Dutch football this year. Or for something a little racier, T’ij IPA is a crude India pale ale in look and taste. Herbs, resin and bittersweet – Amsterdam inspired?!
Denmark – Mikkeller Ricemarket
The Damian Hirst of brewing, Denmark’s most famous gypsy brewer has smashed the taxonomic boundaries of the beer world into smithereens, and left behind a trail of brews to get excited (and poor) over. Ricemarket is made with ginger and honey but starts with an herbaceous lemon grass aroma and ends with blushes of apples. Somehow the sweet and fiery elements of the main ingredients blend into something subtler than the sum of the parts.
Or… For something darker there’s Carlsberg Carmegie Stark Porter – drink fresh for wallops of dried fruits and chocolate and a speculative dash of tangy molasses.
Germany – Helles Schlenkerla Lagerbier
On numerous occasions we’ve heard people whoop as a glass of ‘bacon beer’ is passed around a packed bar. That’s Schlenkerla Rauchbier, the famous German smoked beer. Helles Schlenkerla Lagerbier is a lighter style but also uses smoked malt and each sip reminds me of the embers of a cub scout fire that I tried picking up with bare hands circa 1993. Crisp and dry but bright and golden, and not remotely carcinogenic.
Or… Weinhenstephaner Hefe Weissebier is a German classic, whilst Schneider Aventinus is a connoisseur’s choice. For pure liquid gold though, nothing beats a clean, crisp Jever.
Portugal – Superbock Green
Best served alongside homemade piri piri chicken and rice, Superbock is a citrus twist on one of Portugal’s most ubiquitous lagers. It’s a maltier Sol and lime or cloudy lemonade shandy and fits the bill on a warm evening with a chilli-seasoned meal.
Or… For a more traditional beer Sagres if another popular Portuguese lager. Better still get some Fonseca Port Bin 27, a boozy throat warmer rich in dark red fruit. Small glasses, please.
Spain – Cruzcampo
Cruzcampo must’ve gone down well at Bier Huis as the shelf was empty on arrival. Zak Avery swears by this as a holiday beer and we don’t disagree.
Or… Should Spain need as many beers as they need passes to score we can always fall back on San Miguel, well stocked at the local supermarket and corner shop. For something more interesting though, we’ll head further afield and pick up some Alhambra Negra (5.4%) a dark ruby trickster hiding a roasted coffee bean streak.
Italy – Tipopils
If I could give one recommendation to a dying man with a passion for good beer and just one pint left, Jever would be high on the list. But that was before we tried Tipopils, one of the most delicately smooth and zesty pilsners we’ve ever tried.
Or… My Antonia is a rich Italian-American hybrid showcasing a sherbety sweet aroma and rich cheesecake body. Failing that the supermarkets already stock one of Italy’s finest in Peroni Gran Riserva, a dark, munchier beer that’s perfect with good pizza.
Ireland – Porterhouse An Brainblásta
The Irish beers pack lots of punch, but you’ll have to take Phil Hardy’s word on Brainblásta.
Or… We instead opted for Guinness Foreign Extra. This is Guinness with gusto, a treacly brew with hints of morello cherry atop buckets of roasted malt. Will leave your glass sticky after just a sip or two.
Croatia – ???
Unfortunately Bier Huis informed us that Croatian beer wasn’t on the menu (not available in the UK). Instead their Facebook fans voted in Bandidos Tequila beer from nearby Slovenia. Slovenian Desperados wasn’t for us (snobs that we are!) so, just like Slaven Billic’s charges, Croatia are out. (Please let us know if you do find some Croatian beer in the UK!)
Ukraine – Obolon Light
We’ve saved our Ukranian beer for tonight’s Group D finale in the hope that we can drink to England’s success. Tasting notes to follow, but hopefully we won’t be ordering any more Obolon (*cue smily face*). Should England get unlucky, Beers of Europe have a Ukranian section ready and waiting to be raided, with the dunkel style Obolon Deep Velvet top of our list.
Sweden – Nils Oscar Coffee Stout
Nils Oscar God Lager was recommended to us by the lovely staff at Beer Ritz Leeds. Its brother, Nils Oscar Coffee Stout is our nightcap as we wave bye bye to the Swedes tonight.
Or... Crocodile Lager, a smooth and not too bloating (but unexciting) lager. Continuing the Nils Oscar theme, we recommend Nils Oscar Ctrl Alt Delete, for the name alone. A Swedish take on altbier that we can’t wait to try.
France – Pelforth Blonde
In small 25cl bottles Pelforth Blonde makes a good beer for the summer, easy to chill and perfect for the back garden. Sweeter than a stubby and with much more taste, it’s cute branding and refreshing style make it hard not to like.
Or… In imposing 75cl bottles Trois Monts (St Sylvestre 3 Months) has a fresh vinous nose, dough like body, peppered with herbaceous notes and zesty hops. It’s a joy, and even though refreshing, not as much as a similarly large bottle of real Normandy cider brought back from a small homestead in the north of France by a friend. If you can get it, is a joy.
England – York Brideshead
England can nail a place in the quarter finals tonight (c’mon, believe!), and Bier Huis will be drinking York Brideshead, a beer with a name synonymous with English TV.
But… instead we’ll be heading back to our roots, and as England progress (!) we plan to go back to our old favourites. First up will be Hooky Gold, a light, bright and zesty Oxfordshire ale, widely available in beer shops and supermarkets; followed with Old Hooky, a beery piece of nana’s fruitcake, and from the brewery we grew up just a few miles away from.
So cheers, and here’s to an update when we know the quarter final draw in it’s entirety!
Tags: football, lager
Good luck sampling Euro 2012 beers and let us know what you’re recommendations for each country is, If you go back to your favourites with England, we want to know what you opt for!
So the pint is done with we’re told!
Well what would they say in Prague, where refreshing pilsners stand proud in tall half litre glasses, quenching thirsts almost with their looks and frothy gusto alone.
Tell the football fans sinking a pint of bitter before the well trodden march to the ground that their beer will be served in flutes or tulips or whisky tumblers. “Like hell” they cry!
The ugliness of a nonik pint glass aside (does anyone use one at home?), the pint, and the pint glass, is an important measure of beer and heritage that should not be done away with.
The two third measure – and add to that beers of 2-3% ABV which are seeing a resurgence – will fill an important piece of the drinking puzzle in the UK, where a half never suffices and a pint can be crammed too easily into too short a space.
And we should firmly encourage the open embrace these opportunities extend to us, just as we should openly embrace a more diverse and appropriate appreciation of glassware. Any trip to Belgium will reveal the theatre and enjoyment of a beer drawn in it’s own peculiar glass served with the aplomb of an expensive long cocktail.
But beer isn’t wine or whisky or a white russian.
Beer is unique in its ubiquity and its diversity. And its price range too. There’s a beer for every occasion – refreshment, celebration, reverence, gastronomy, solace and lubrication.
A Belgian triple is undeniably better in a angular chalice with a volcanic head lifted by the incessant bubbles of strategically placed nicks in the glass. An aromatic IPA, strong and robust, requires a voluptuous curve to protect the aroma and limit the portion. Cherry beer fizzing and frothing in a flute would lose all it’s charm and pizazz transferred to a conical pint glass.
But none of these requirements demand the extinction of the great pint, all five hundred and sixty eight millilitres of it. It would be like recalculating the marathon, famously stuck at twenty six miles three hundred and eight five yards since the British tweaked and tangled with the route in the lead up to the 1908 Olympics in London.
Not all things are worth saving in the name of habit or nostalgia, but neither should we do away with something so useful and iconic when the pint is such a well worn part of our daily drinking.Tags: drinking, football, glassware, pint, pub
November 10th, 2011Beer Reviews
Orval is the sort of beer spoken about with reverence. I like to think the same goes for North Bar.
It should have been me and my friend Tom sat there, dissecting Leeds United’s yo-yoing fortunes, laughing at the Howson Is Now blog and deliberating the creaminess of the Orval cheese whilst sat on the classroom chairs and the well leaned on tables.
But it’s my brother partnering this trip due to Tom’s tight schedule as a relatively new father, North being one place us siblings have a record of sharing together, along with a sense of adventure and an intuition for getting pissed. And brother Fletch is not going listen to me rabbit on about the brettanomyces qualities of the difference between yeast-in and yeast-out, or how the bitterness of this anti-quintessential Belgium beer cuts through the cheese (which it does) …
And so I’m drinking one of my favourite beers with a cheese I’d actually craved (made by the brewers) and I’m chatting about Leeds United’s yo-yoing fortunes, laughing at the Howson Is Now blog, and… generally forgetting about the beer and cheese North’s manager had so kindly put to one side for me because I couldn’t make Orval Day earlier in the month.
That North Bar had enough bottles of aged Orval to reserve some is very kind. That they could even get some of this coveted cheese let alone put some aside for me speaks of their customer service ethos. That I scribbled a hasty one liner on my smartphone as my only tasting note is just plain disrespectful to their efforts.
But here’s the thing. Sat in the dimly lit confines of North, veiled in conviviality and that twilight between sober and drunkenness, the yellow light of North illuminates a certain truth about beer.
So the two-year aged Orval tastes good, and is probably worth waiting to experience. So the cheese is rare and barely seen outside of Belgium. And not to mention the bread – so luxuriously soft and cleansing – which is to die for. So what? Is beer not meaningless if not enjoyed in a place that’s bright with conversation, buoyed with gesticulations, rich in the patchwork diversity of people, and splashed with beers of colours Yates or Lloyds or Scream could never imagine.
If an evening spent extolling the virtues of Ken Bates leadership of Leeds United could be improved in anyway, it’s surely by the creamy monastic cheese paired with the musty, peppery Orval and all its always-changing quirks of character. Does it matter that I thought the end of the bottle shared the same earthiness of the bottom of a well made mojito?
No, because it was a good night out with great beer. We saw the hygge, we tried aged Orval, we put the world to rights, and we liked it.Tags: Beer and Cheese, cheese, football, hygge, leeds, north bar, Orval
July 15th, 2010Beer Reviews
First off I should point out that I don’t often take kindly to products and advertising that jump on the football bandwagon. The best footy related marketing is the football advertising by Nike and Carlsberg (ignoring their most recent attempts).
So, I’m potentially a little biased against Marston’s Fever Pitch…Tags: football, marstons
April 21st, 2010Comment
“Mark from Morley has texted in” said Adam Pope, and he proceeded to read the whole of the text message I’d sent to BBC Radio Leeds (all 500+ characters of it) word for word, live on air. I burst into tears, full blown streaming tears, soaking my chin and my shirt and blurring the M621 in front of me.
Fuck, it really happened. It really fucking happened.
I’d known since early that Friday afternoon it was happening. On my lunch I’d walked up to Leeds City Square expecting a handful of local reporters and desperate supporters outside the grey, charmless building of the administrators that were deciding the fate of Halifax Town AFC. But there was nothing but disinterested office workers and recruitment consultants in ill-fitting suits wandering around aimlessly. Back at my desk I didn’t do much work that afternoon, between refreshing BBC Football and repeatedly pressing F5 on the Halifax Evening Courier sports pages.
That long motorway drive, listening to my own words read back to me by Pope’s familiar tones, was two years ago, and my tears did little to stop Halifax Town disappearing from the face of English football. I welled up at the sound of my own desperation and slammed my hands against the steering wheel in a mix of anger and despair.
Tonight, however, my beloved Shaymen fought back.
FC Halifax Town1, the phoenix from the flames of the team that had played at the famous Shay stadium since 1921, recorded a historic point that secured the Unibond Northern Premier League Division One North title. 99 points and 107 goals were enough to fend off the challenge of Lancaster City’s Dolly Blues and confirm Town’s status as champions. The long road back to Conference and League football is a step closer.
Tonight there are no pathetic tears, no pointless despair. Tonight’s celebratory beer is pure, unrivalled, pride.
This beer helps drown all the joys and sorrows of missed play off finals and the unparalleled relief of staying up on the last day of too many seasons. This beer is for the years, the heroes, the woodwork and the bulging net.
This beer is for Steve Norris, Jamie Paterson and Geoff Horsfield; for Lewis Kileen and Chris Wilder. This beer is for Neil Apsin, all the people who resurrected the club, and the fans who trudge to the ground each week.
This beer is for Tom Baker, because his 87th minute goal – which made me erupt with emotion in the presence of 1,932 strangers – is why I’m not in bed yet and instead, still up late, on a school night, drinking beer.
1 See what they did there?!Tags: football, halifax town
November 19th, 2009Uncategorized
This weekend’s return of the Premiership following the latest round of international fixtures would seem to make a good time to announce the winner of the Real Ale Reviews Fantasy Football for October. Once again Stuart Young has topped the monthly table, so a bottle of fine ale is heading your way…again! Charlie Upton has received his bottle of Hook Norton Haymaker for taking the September crown and Stu has very kindly provided a review of the beer he won in August, a St Austell Tribute.
The table for October is below and there are two game weeks left for November so still time to overturn Stu who is once again in the mix and fast becoming the most hated man at Real Ale Reviews HQ!!! Jim Oliver is rumoured to be considering sacrificing points to replenish an injury struck midfield while Jimmy Boardley needs to hope for a few more months like he is having so far in November if that title isn’t going to drown him like a millstone around the neck.
Oh and Charlie, make hay and get that Hooky reviewed!
# Team Manager GW TOT 1 Stu’s Skillz School Stuart Young 58 215 2 World In Motion Joe Mewis 48 209 4 Hunslet Hawks Andrew Clarkson 55 205 Read the rest of this entry »