As football’s World Cup continues and absolutely definitely doesn’t whitewash Russia’s human rights record – wait, did you see Africa’s best player Mohammed Salah repeatedly pictured with all-round nice guy Ramzan Kadyrov – we thought we take an offbeat look at the tournament. (By fantasising about beer, obviously.)
Unfortunately Russia’s entries for the Beer World Cup were somewhat lacking. In the end, Vitaly Mutko tried forcing us to accept several flagons of vodka in lieu of beer. This went down well. But still wasn’t beer. Meanwhile, Uruguay sent Zillertal, which confused us with an Alpine name. Egypt entered the appropriately named Pharaoh lager, and Saudi Arabia, understandably, decline to enter.
Result: In a very weak group, Uruguay and Egypt progress to the knockout stages effectively by default.
Spain and Portugal set a strong standard in Group B with San Miguel and Sagres both drinkable light lagers. In another example of a country’s beer entrant having a faintly predictable name, Casablanca from Morocco puts on a strong showing. Iran entered a non-alcoholic beer. This was fine, if – sadly -non-alcoholic.
Result: Giants Spain and Portugal see off plucky Morocco to make the knock-out phase.
From France, Kronenbourg makes an imposing competitor. The Australians initially try sending Heineken – they make an argument that with Holland absent from the tournament, they should be able to naturalise the Dutch beer. This appeal is rejected, and instead we get Castlemaine XXXX. Denmark send Carlsberg and beer minnows Peru send Cristal.
Result: The first big upset of the tournament: The Danes crash out with Carlsberg judged ‘not as good as the adverts’. Australia sneak through instead behind the French.
Dark horses Argentina make a strong start – Quilmes is a tasty lager with a fantastic label. Iceland misunderstand the competition, sending an astonishing percentage of their population to our office. The hoarde politely explain that they’re here to drink us under the table – so we get them involved with getting rid of the Russian vodka. Croatia send the delightful Ožujsko, and Star from Nigeria completes a very tight group.
The hoarde politely explain that they’re here to drink us under the table – so we get them involved with getting rid of the Russian vodka.
Result: The nice but bland Quilmes doesn’t distinguish itself enough with both Croatia and Nigeria shock the Argentines. Iceland are the moral victors though.
Brazil‘s Brahma and Serbia‘s Jelen are the big favourites in Group E. Meanwhile, Costa Rica send the little-known Imperial, and Switzerland, who struggle to find a good lager with summer vibes, fail miserably. They send a nice IPA, but even this feels confusedly like they’ve entered the wrong tournament. Amusingly, a national stereotype falls by the wayside – turns out the Swiss aren’t meticulous enough to read the terms and conditions.
Result: Big guns Brazil and Serbia make it through. Serbia winning the group with a bold last-minute winner.
Germany, Sweden, Mexico and South Korea make up the sort of World Cup group that strikes fear into fans. Unfortunately, a couple of these teams are probably somewhat better at football than beer. Big hitters Germany are torn between sending conservative big beast Becks, or something a bit more exciting. Sadly, as with the football team – they leave a some flair player at home and Angela Merkel’s folks send the dullest choice. It still wins the group, edging Mexico’s light favourite Corona. Beyond that Sweden’s fare makes a remarkably forgettable entry (seriously, not worth mentioning simply because we’ve forgotten) whilst South Korea send something watery and insubstantial – a bit like the promises made by their northern neighbours in recent months.
Result: Uninspiring progress from Germany and Mexico.
The usual arrogant predictions accompany England‘s decision to send Carling to the tournament. Funnily enough, Carling is the sort of lager that has the personality of a wet sponge. Fortunately for beer lovers, Belgium are also in Group G, and the decision to bring Vedett is inspired. (They even come in fantastic glasses.) Despite the strong offering, Belgians are, as ever, split – some are convinced that refusing to choose a Trappist beer was an outrage. Panama‘s tipple of choice is, coincidentally, called Panama. Those Central Americans are imaginative, eh? From Tunisia, plucky underdog 33 Extra Dry does a solid job, without really threatening the big guns.
Result: Belgium are a strong first, somehow, England sneak through unconvincingly. Surely a second-round penalty defeat awaits.
Poland are spoiled for choice. Tyskie and Lech end up fighting out in an intense qualification battle, but Tyskie’s international penetration gives it the edge. As for Japan, Asahi is a dark horse, and immediately troubles observers from Colombia and Senegal. Pilsen from Medellin leads the Colombian charge, but it quickly becomes clear that there was a reason they put a deal of time and money into other recreational substances during the 1980s, while Senegalese favourite La Gazelle wins the best name competition without giving anyone a sleepless night.
Result: Poland and Japan storm through a straightforward group.
The knockout stages:
Nursing one hell of a hangover – aren’t we too old for these? – a much enlarged group of official judges and friendly Icelanders reconvene to decide who will be crowned champions. Complacent big hitters France, Germany and England are all picked off swiftly. Nigeria keep the African flag flying but Egypt fall flat. By the time we hit the semi-finals, dark horses Croatia finally fall by the wayside – leaving a final that pits Poland against Belgium.
Belgium takes it at the last. As much as Tyskie stirs strong feelings in the now paralytic congregation, the stylishness of Vedett impresses too much to ignore. A good time was had by all.
How the knockout stages unfolded:
(Winners in bold.)
Uruguay v Portugal
France v Nigeria
Spain v Egypt
Croatia v Australia
Serbia v Mexico
Belgium v Japan
Brazil v Germany
Poland v England
Portugal v Nigeria
Mexico v Belgium
Spain v Croatia
Poland v Germany
Nigeria v Belgium
Croatia v Poland
Poland v Belgium
Cover photo: Mathieu Comoy (Unsplash)