Sunday, 4 July 2010

Cup of Good Hop Final - which is the world's finest beer?

This is the final Cup of Good Hop - at least as far as WC2010 is concerned. We'd like to thank everyone who has made the competition possible, all those who have promoted it and made COGH the wild success it has been. It's been a hell of a lot of fun, and chances are we will reprise the format during the season, and undoubtedly we'll do something around the theme of the 2012 Euro qualifiers.

So, enjoy the last two matches, Stuart's final examination of European beer and other fripperies and catch you soon. There is of course, the whole COGH experience here - more than 50 posts from tracking down our first beer, through all 64 match reports to the grand final right here.

All the best and enjoy,

Peter and James...

Northumberland Police's new crack negotiator yesterday


Match 63:
France 1
Cointreau 46
Nigeria 3
Amataxi 6, 48, Yobbo 23, Ohdear 71

Guinness Foreign Extra rides roughshod over La Choulette, though both sides can be far happier with their COGH performances compared to the complete rubbish they served up in South Africa over the last month. The French brew was ultimately a little too sweet, and tasted a little too much like Special Brew for it to win the bronze medal. The Guinness - dark, brooding and tasting a little of liquorice (but not too much to offend) had ample class to cruise through the penultimate encounter - a fitting build-up to the final itself, which promises to be a classic.

here's Stuart Fuller's final preview of the 2012 Euros...

Group G
England – Fullers Honey Dew Ale
Switzerland - Samichlaus
Bulgaria- Zagorka
Wales- Brains
Montenegro- Niksicko

A strange suggestion for the English entry but sharing my surname, and having a distinct honey taste, Honey Dew Ale is absolutely perfect, served ice cold on a summer’s day. It has to be a good beer to get anywhere near our World Cup winner, the 14% Samichlaus brew which is only brewed once a year on the 6th December in celebration of Santa Claus. It is a ploy by the Swiss that if you drink this you have no knowledge of whether Santa actually makes it down the chimney or not. Wales may be a dark horse here as well. Brains is no weak link here. The tipple of choice of toddlers in the valleys, and drunk in huge quantities by Gavin Hensen after mistaking it for Ronsil i.e “Does what it says on the tin”. Bulgaria have only recently got into beer after blocking out the memory of some awful fashion statements with Raki for so many years and so Zagorka may not fair too well although I doubt it will stop Redknapp making a ludicrous bid for him. Montenegro’s offering could well be the title from a Tarrantino film and the gore that could result may just be a bridge too far for us.

Group H
Portugal – Super Bock
Denmark – Jacobsen Brown
Norway - Ringnes
Cyprus – KEO
Iceland – Viking Sterkur

This is the group that could spring a surprise. It is also the group of pleasure if we were ever thinking of holding the Euro Championship of women. Denmark is my second home and for that reason I am calling the shots on this one. Carlsberg produce a dozen or so brands in Denmark and the Jacobsen brown is a lovely chocolately brew found in a few bars and off licenses around the city. Ringnes may be the most popular beer in Norway but it is another “same old” from the Carlsberg brewery and the similarities with plain old Carlsberg international brew is all too clear to see. Super Bock is another holiday favourite and is commonality may be its undoing here. Cyprus’s KEO is in the same camp – almost unheard off outside the tourist resorts but you cannot escape it when you are there in the sunburn burger bars. Iceland is a strange place – not just for its economic and volcanic situation. Beer was actually banned until 1989 and every day on the 1 March the country stops for Beer Day to celebrate its repeal, enjoying a few Viking Sterkurs along the way. Out of sheer admiration for such abstinence they may get one of the two top spots here.

Group I
Spain - Moritz
Czech Republic - Budvar
Scotland- Deuchars
Lithuania- Svyturys
Liechtenstein - Brauhaus

Without a brewery of its own for over 90 years, Liechtenstein’s offering is certainly worth the wait and could well spring a surprise in this group. Lithuania is one of those countries that need an identity and its beer seems to blend in with the offerings of Poland and Latvia and that may be an issue here. Scotland – well what can we say? Tenants Extra would be harsh on a country better known for its Whisky. But we have plumped for a Deuchars which is becoming one of the best exports from north of the border since Kelly Dalglish. We could have gone with a typical San Miguel from Spain or for their offering from the COGH but we have gone with a Catalan Moritz which hopefully is more palatable than a walk down the Las Ramblas at night. Finally, the Czech’s. They love a good Pilsner but we don’t think you can get a better lager in the world than Budvar and this must be favourites from a weak group.

In an ideal world we would love to see some of the underdogs qualify but we know that come Cup of Good Hop time in June 2012 we will be faced with the likes of England, Italy, France, Germany et al. And that will surely mean no place on the European stage for the classics of Hooligan or Layla Dirty Blonde. Shame real shame.

The sole reason Dutch football is riding high

Cup of Good Hop Final

Match 64:
Spain 1
Amarillo 54
Switzerland 3
Federal 20, Toblerone 51, Franc 76

Samichlaus was heralded as the world's finest beer with a majestic display - not only for its sublime taste, but also the mythic 14% effect on the brain. It's hard to describe the feeling but its mighty, mighty fine. The whole of Spain can be proud of the performances of Alhambra Mezquita throughout COGH - arguably of better quality than the national team in S. Africa, but ultimately it wasn't quite enough. Samichlaus was the first beer we sourced way back in mid-May, and little did we know that we needn't have searched any further to find the best... over and out - well done Switzerland, you brewing maestros...

The Winner: Glorious

The presentation of the trophy... emotional scenes

Semi-Finals - which are the two mightiest beers?

Cristiano Ronaldo - a cry baby who is incapable of doing anything other than rolling around on the floor... or is that his son?

Twitter Titter #6

davidschneider Congratulations to Cristiano Ronaldo on the birth of his son, John Terry Jr

Cup of Good Hop
Semi-Final 1
Match 61:
France 1
Ribaldry 35
Spain 1
Amarillo 4
(Spain won on penalties)

An almighty battle and no mistake - was almost impossible to select a winner - but ultimately Alhambra Mezquita winkled its way into the final by a whisker. France's La Choulette was 'just a tad too sweet' and 'tasted more boozy' than its smooth Spanish adversary. However, to come this close to the final means the French can hold their beery heads up high - well, far higher than their footballers can. And with Spain's WC2010 progress and Rafa Nadal, what a summer it has been for the Spanish - no need for an inquisition right now...

COGH unveil new taster for next World Cup

Euro 2012 Preview - part two

Stuart Fuller takes us through down some of the stranger cul-de-sacs of european booze who'll be fighting it out in COGH 2012...

Group D
France – Kronenbourg
Romania – Ursus
Bosnia –Herzegovina – Nektar
Belarus – Brovar (Carlsberg)
Albania – Birra Malto
Luxembourg - Mousel

France has more to offer than just Kronenbourg and this variety will be needed to get out of a group of ordinary beers on the face of it. Bosnia’s Nektar may be fit for the gods in Sarajevo but will it cut the mustard when up against a big Brovar from White Russia. Carlsberg again providing the ammunition in a world in which they dominate.

And what about Albania? Birra Malto sounds a bit agricultural to me, as it is been fermented with various unexplained root vegetables. Luxembourg is just dull, and despite its borders with great beer nations France, Belgium and Germany I am not holding out much hope. I have a feeling this will be the group of death in terms of disappointing offerings but I may be wrong....

Group E
Netherlands – Amstel
Sweden – God Lager
Finland – Sahti
Hungary – Arany Arzok
Moldova – Bere Chisinau
San Marino – Amacord

Finland’s Sahti, which apparently has a strong taste of bananas kicks off the group and sets a fruity tone for events to come we imagine. The Swedes love a beer, but their government frowns upon such excesses and waters down their brew, so much so that many hop on a boat every Saturday in Helsingborgs and head to Denmark to import their special brew.

God Lager - from the Nils Oscar brewery - is Sweden's biggest export but will it have the strength to knock out the likes of Hungary’s Arany Arzok’s who Arsene Wenger tried to sign for Arsenal a few seasons ago. Top marks to San Marino for actually bothering to have a brewery despite its size and no marks for Amstel, because, well it’s just Amstel which tasks as if it has been produced in a brewery that is simply called Beer.

Group F

Croatia – Zlatni Medved
Greece - Mykos
Israel – Layla Dirty Blonde Beer
Latvia - Kimmel
Georgia – Argo Dark
Malta – Cisk XS

Croatia may have top billing as seeds in this group but will it come out on top in a group of unknowns. Zlatni Medved or Golden Bear is one of the best reasons to go to Zagreb, along with the stunning women and the football violence – perhaps the three are interlinked in some way? Greece – Euro2004 winners but since then they have bored us rigid on the world football stage and with an offering like Mykos they will need to do so much more to finish above bottom spot.

Now Israel...We could have gone with the Maccabee brand but when you see a beer named after one of the songs and singers of all time you just have to track that down. Eric Clapton and Madonna would be proud of this export beer. Kimmel is the best known brand in Latvia and has been the tipple of choice for all discerning stags for the past few years.

Many a monumental night has been accompanied by strippers and Kimmel and we think the Latvians may be onto a winner here. I typed in Georgia Beers into Google and blow me down it told me that she was a world renowned author of Lesbian fiction. Do we need to look elsewhere for a winner in this group? We do? Bother – ok well let’s try an Argo Dark then.

Finally, Malta, home of one of the most historical pubs in the world – aptly called “The Pub”. It was here that Ollie Read finally fell off his bar stool whilst drinking a Cisk XS 9% pale lager...probably.

Semi-Final 2
Match 62:
Nigeria 2
Oddbinnsa 1, Youngboy-Byrne (O.G) 42
Switzerland 3
Pepperami (pen) 7, Schwigger 50, Yacking 77

The Swiss going storming on, picking off some of the genuine heavyweights of the tournament as they progress. The intoxifying effects of Samichlaus - 'Santa Claus' in German - is by this point quite profound. 'It really has a different affect on the old noggin than anything else,' says Dan. And more to the point, its an effect we all love. Guinness Foreign Extra has had a hugely positive reaction over the course of this tournament, and could well have got through to the final had it faced any of the other semi-finalists... hard lines.

Next time... tune in on Sunday for the Cup of Good Hop Final and 3rd / 4th playoff match and much, much more... cheers, Peter and James

Two beers - 26% - well hello... + 2012 Euros preview

World Cup trophy replica made entirely of
cocaine - not to be sniffed at

Match 59:
Nigeria 4
Amataxi 2, Yobbo 34, Ohdear 61, Shittu 66

Australia 2
Chippyfeel 37, Galesalesovic (pen) 90

A tasty match here but yet again Guinness Foreign Extra piles on the goals and powers into the semis. 'I don't know how many of these you could drink in an hour, but I wouldn't mind finding out,' says Deaks, loving the sole African contender left in the competition. Coopers Sparkling Ale put in a very respectable account of itself, only to be felled by one of the giants of world beer. 'This would win the Oceanic COGH Cup by a country mile,' says James, supping down the final drops.

It's a genuine shame that Paraguay got knocked out last night...

COGH 2012 Euro Previews (part one)

Cup of Good Hop taster Stuart Fuller looks forward to what the future of fusing beer and football might hold...

With the ticker tape still floating down on Soccer City in Jo’burg, our thoughts in Europe turn to Poland and Ukraine in 2012 for what promises to be a very strong tournament judging by the European fairing in South Africa. And after the success of the inaugural Cup of Good Hop it would be rude for us not to start looking forward and trying to predict what the final sixteen beers could look like. We already know that hosts Poland and Ukraine will be well represented.

Who has not tried the delights of Polish Zyweic or even a cheeky Bosman – beer that has helped Poland become the 10th biggest beer drinkers in the World. Ukraine on the other hand is more defined. Like its women – blonde, striking in outside appearance, but essentially just after your money. Obolon and Lvivski are major brands, whilst Arsenal has its own brand too – made by Carlsberg which at least makes it more interesting than the real Arsenal.

So what can we look forward to in qualifying? Will the Swiss carry on their COGH form into the Euros? And what of the emerging nations? Well, one thing is for sure – the COGH team will be sampling them all over the course of the next two years. We’ve just to find them first. Hooligan anyone?

Group A
Germany – Weissbier
Turkey – Efes
Austria – Steigl
Belgium – Hoegaarden
Kazakhstan – Derbes (owned by Carlsberg)
Azerbaijan – Xirdalan (Castel brewery)

Group A looks like it will go with on-field form with the Germans favourite simply down to the number of excellent beers they could offer. Our tip would be the refreshing Kolsch beer from Cologne or the very dark, almost black offering from the Neckar, Schwarzbier. Austria will also fancy their chances with Salzburg’s Steigl tasting so good it makes nanny’s go all loopy and start signing Do-Reh-Me. Is there a country in the world with as many different beers as Belgium? Probably not and for that reason they will struggle. Who can really take them seriously with their chocolate or cherry offerings, or when they put a wedge of lemon in the Hoegaarden? Efes off some might say, but this is the staple drink in Bodrum and enjoyed by many before they got dysentery (personal experience talking here) and spend the rest of their holidays talking on the phone to God.
And what about the outsiders? The ex-Russian states of Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan have western influences all over them. The biggest breweries are owned by foreign giants such as Kazakhstan’s Derbes brew which is owned by Carlsberg and Xirdalan in Azerbaijan owned by Castel. Have they got a chance? Not really.

Group B
Russia – Baltika
Slovakia – Saris
Republic of Ireland – Guinness
Macedonia – Skopsko
Armenia – Hooligan (beer and vodka)
Andorra – San Miguel?

You may think that this group is a foregone conclusion with Guinness and Baltika all but confirming qualification early doors. There is no denying the quality of Ireland’s finest, nor the variations (Guinness Cold, Mild, Export to name a few) but they are all a bit samey. Russia’s Baltika is crisp, refreshing but still has that Cold War edge. But then along came the Armenian offering – Hooligan. What brilliant mind came up with the idea of mixing Vodka and Beer together, and then calling it Hooligan? Sheer genius and we make this favourite for the group. Andorra deserves nil points for not bothering to produce a beer of its own.

Group C

Italy – Peroni
Serbia – Lav Pivo (owned by Carlsberg)
Northern Ireland – Clotworthy Dobbin
Slovenia – Union
Estonia – Le Coq
Faroe Islands – Green Islands Stout

Surely a group for the underdogs? Whilst Italy would expect to win with its Peroni, the comedy names keep on coming in this group. Northern Ireland’s Whitewater brewery produces some excellent beers but the contender here could be Clotworthy Dobbin. Estonia’s Le Coq has nothing to do with the sportswear brand, but is the signature brew of the biggest brewery of the same name. Surprisingly the Faroes’ could fairo quito wello in this group and if we can lay our hands on the Green Islands Stout then it may be a match for the 2nd favourite Lav from Serbia.

Match 60:
Paraguay 1

Alcatraz 20
Switzerland 2

Tell 41, Federal 85

This was an immense encounter - the two strongest beers in the contest going head-to-head, and with a combined ABV of 26% there was going to be fireworks along the way. However, whilst Swiss giant Samichlaus had universally high ratings, Palo Santo Marron was a love-it-or-hate-it kind of feel to it. 'It is the Marmite of beers,' says Dan, 'and I bloody love it.' Is definitely one for those who like esoteric flavours, but in this match of the big, dark flavours that have put the frighteners into all their opponents thus far, there were infinitely more holes in Swiss cheese than the Samichlaus defence.

Next time:- the semi finals - France v Spain & Nigeria v Switzerland plus more 2010 previews...

Friday, 2 July 2010

COGH Quarter Finals - The Big Beasts start to clash...

Cup of Good Hop - The Final Countdown
There are only eight matches left in COGH - eight countries left - eight beers that have admirably displayed their attributes, their strength and all the ingredients that make them among the best brews on the planet. To reach this stage, every single one of them are winners, but ultimately seven of them will lose. Here's how the quarter-finalists line up:-
France (La Choulette) versus

Germany (Erdinger)

Japan (Sapporo) v

Spain (Alhambra Mezquitza)

Nigeria (Guinness Foreign Extra) v

Australia (Coopers Sparkling Ale)

Paraguay (Palo Santo Marron) v

Switzerland (Samichlaus)

Match 57:
France 2
Aznavour 34, Mitterand 69
Germany 1
Hasselhoff 67
A mammoth pan-European encounter produced drama a-plenty, with the French Blonde Bombshell winning our over the Weissbeer. 'This is like Special Brew for Kings,' said Peter of the Gallic £3-a-bottle concoction. Erdinger won lots of plaudits but just fell short in a titantic, tight battle. 'Ooh la-la,' was all Dan had to say, and let his tastebuds do the judging as La Choulette took a well deserved berth in the semis.
Match 58:
Japan 0

Spain 2
Chavvy 23, Burrito 80
To be fair, Sapporo had enjoyed a relatively easy passage into the last eight - winning the frankly awful Group E. Consequently when it was time to face some proper beer in top-flight competition it was found wanting. 'Essentially it doesn't taste of anything much,' says Stu. Conversely Mezquita was pulling up taste-trees, a strong yet finely balanced beer that can hold its own with the best - is among the bookies favourites for the COGH trophy.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Why the England Team resembles Indian food + Rest of Round of 16

Currying favour? Why the England team resembles Indian food

Unappetising - England's performance

It was the same old story – gathering with a sense of realistic anticipation to watch England play Germany yesterday. Beery laughter, combined with a genuine belief that Gerrard et al had a decent chance of defeating the old foe. After all, were they not worth twice as much on paper than the Germans in terms of market value? Did the majority of them have vast experience in the Champions League? Tick tick.

Yet within an hour the bar in Brighton was thinning out and the laughter had been replaced with angry recrimination. What went wrong? The players obviously wanted to win, but were completely outclassed. Reports that they were bored at their training camp suggest that most of them have mindsets similar to spoilt, surly ten-year olds. The manager wanted to win – not least to justify his £6million a year salary – but proved to be intransigent and tactically inept from start to finish.

To quote BBC commentator Alan Green – it’s been a mess, but what kind of mess is it and how can we rectify it? In an attempt to get our heads round the myriad problems that have beset the England team over the last month we have chosen the extended metaphor of Indian food to investigate why England failed to deliver tasty product. This was inspired by a post-pub take out from one of Brighton's finest.

David James – day-old Pilau rice

Traditional staple but essentially past his best.

Glen Johnson – puri flatbread

Generally uninspiring - failed to rise to the challenge.

Matthew Upson – pilchard curry

Looked tasty to begin with but eventually got distinct feeling there was something fishy going on.

John Terry – Rogan Josh

Exposed to intense heat before the tournament then went off the boil. Odd moments to savour.

Ashley Cole – stuffed paratha

Oily and not to everyone’s taste - rich and somewhat flaky.

Stephen Gerrard – six pints of lager

Marvellous when placed in the appropriate part of the evening. Otherwise troublesome and can throw the whole meal wildly out of kilter. Apparently popular with sixteen year-olds.

Frank Lampard – mutton dhansak

Generally tasty and well balanced but meat getting a little tough.

Gareth Barry – tarka dall

Lumpen and quite unappetizing – not the centerpiece of a meal, can be satisfying on occasion.

James Milner – mushroom biryiani

All things to all people but can be bland if unaccompanied.

Wayne Rooney – vegetarian ceylon

Thought to be hot by many, but disappointingly mild in reality. No meat, no impact.

Jermaine Defoe – popadoms

Lightweight and relies on early service – intrinsically uninteresting.

Defoe - unlikely to withstand much pressure

Joe Cole – mango lassi

Tasty and often well worth ordering but often forget to do so.

Emile Heskey – ghee butter

Fat scraped off the bottom of the barrel. Best if stored for extended periods.

Peter Crouch – onion bhaji

Well regarded side dish but often overlooked.

Fabio Capello – the chutney tray

Gives impression of being strong and shiny but ultimately leaves you in a pickle.

Capello - no variation under the lid

Sepp Blatter – dirty kitchen

Standards have been allowed to lapse, stove is outdated and work surface is filthy. Suffers from insufficient inspection – should be closed down.

So what to do about this? We need better service and hot, exciting new dishes made from more wholesome ingredients. Most of the existing stock needs to be thrown away and the restaurant needs a complete rebranding and a new, simpler business plan. So when your appetite for international football next kicks in, don't settle for anything less.

Cup of Good Hop Match 55:

Paraguay 2

Dirty-Sanchez 34, Santa-Claus 51

Holland 0

The distinctive nature of Palo Santo steamrollered Oranjeboom without breaking sweat, let alone wind. 'Are you still here,' says Deaks - referring to the Dutch entry, and there were no cries of dissent to counter this, no fingers in the dyke of defeat. Game over.

Match 56:

Switzerland 4

Hurlimann 2, Von Trapp (pen) 13, Toblerone 61, Boy-Dun-Gud (O.G 88)

North Korea 0

A thorough leathering - and that was us by this stage. Samichlaus's label has written upon it 'The World's Most Extraordinary Beverage' - which is some claim but not without some justification. 'It tastes like all your favourite Christmases,' says James, and we nod in unison like Churchill the unfunny insurance dog. 'The gothic typeface suggests something dark and mysterious,' says Peter, 'this beer can lead me through any number of strange adventures and I wouldn't care.' Probably enough to put curls on Harry Potter's head.