EuroBeery 2012: The Final, Italy v England

As I sit down to write tonight, Spain are in the process of teaching the rest of Europe just how football should be played. Periods of stultifying possession enlivened with slivers of shimmering brilliance. England didn't make it, of course, succumbing to their classic footballing fault in a quarter final. No, not missing the penalties. Being unable to engineer a goal to actually win the damn match in normal time.

Anyoldhow. Italy. Italy have always excited me. Rossi and Zoff, Tardelli and Baggio. Pirlo. Buffon. Totti. There's graft and flair punctuated by occasional brilliance and brutality. They're what I'd love a not-shit version of England to be.

And the beers? Yeah, they excite me too. The unstinting excellence of Birrificio Italiano's Tipopils. The leftfield creativity of Toccalmatto. The knowing arrogance of Baladin. And yet...

England can stand toe to toe with these brewers. We can exemplify and subvert style in equal measure. We can craft with complexity and confidence. We can produce tasty beer in volume.

And for all the barrel-ageing, craft keg, high ABV, uber-hopped, bleeding-edge beers that England brews, we do something that no other country can touch.

We can brew a beer of balance and finesse and put it into the hands of a landlord who cares for it and nurtures it. We have trust in a relationship that, at its best, produces a beer that nothing else in the world can beat.

We have a pint of cask beer, in a pub.

It doesn't really matter which beer in which pub. You'll have your favourite combination. But that experience, the confluence of great beer and place, that moment when you take the first sip of a cask pint...

Nobody does it better. Nobody.

The Italians have a word: chiaroscuro. The contrast that gives volume and depth to its subject. The light and the dark. The shadow and the relief. In that interplay, England are both the old masters and young pretenders.

Result: Italy 0 England 1.

English beer? Bloody hell ;-)


  1. does this perhaps say more about your lack of travel than english beer being he best in europe ;-)

  2. Fair comment, Dave. I haven't travelled anywhere near as much as I'd like to. But I'll maintain that English cask beer is something world-beating. The number of collaborations that certain brewers are involved in all over Europe stand testament to that ;-)

  3. collabs rule, we're doing as many as we can!

    a good cask beer is something special... but 99% of cask beer is as dull as most keg beer! those that are great, i'm not sure how much of that credit belongs to the cask-conditioning... i suppose looking at your footy knock-out analogy, you're looking for the best beer in europe - is it english? probably not... but at least english beer has more in common with our cricket team than our football team, and we should be grateful for that!