The European Championship 2012 Beer-View: Group A
Planting the Seed of Soccer Across America: Danny Beerseed
The every-four-year extravaganza known as the European Championship (or "Euros" for short) is about to roll. The 2012 edition is co-hosted by Poland and Ukraine and features the top 16 teams (in four groups) from the continent in fierce competition for the Cup that Spain currently holds. You can read all about the squads on any number of websites and magazines, but where else can you get a team-by-team "beer-view of the "Euros"?
The answer.... only on the Free Beer Movement.
We'll preview the continental competition in four parts, one for each group. The beer we chose might be the most popular in that country, have the coolest name, or have the most interesting back-story. It may or may not be the best tasting, though, so be warned beer-snobs. Either way it some how represents that country for your drinking enjoyment.
The tournament kicks off on Friday, June 8th and continues through July 1st. All of the games will be televised by ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPN3.com so check your local listings.
Group A (today)
Group B (Thursday)
Group C (Friday)
Group D (Saturday)
Poland - Tyskie
When you think of European beers your mind probably wanders to Great Britain and certainly Germany, but Poland? Probably not. The same question asked of European football might produce a similar response, but in both beer and football Poland is no slouch.
Tyskie is Poland's most popular beer, filling up 18% of the Polish's glasses, but interestingly enough, it is the most served and bought beer in all of Europe. Quantity doesn't always equal quality, though. Despite a storied history (brewing in the town of Tychy goes back 400 years) the Pale Lager gets mixed reviews; the best of Poland's beer, but compared to other Euro beers it's a far cry.
Poland's national team will find a similar reception at the European Championships. They first qualified for the Euros in 2008 and had disastrous (and failed) run to qualify for the 2010 World Cup. The 1970s and 80s were the high-point of Polish football, finishing third in both the 1974 and 1982 Cups and taking gold in the 1972 Munich Olympics and silver in the follow Games in Montreal.
Poland makes this year's tournament as one of the co-hosts (along with Ukraine) of the Euros.
Will Poland advance out of its group? Probably not, but they'll certainly make life difficult for those who will.
Greece - Mythos
After stunning Europe (and the rest of the world following along) in the 2004 European Championships, Greece has returned to earth. They still sit inside FIFA's top 30, but hardly look like Euro-beaters this year.
For Greece we've gone with the country's second largest brewery, Mythos, because the name fits well with the near-mythological status that Greek football occupied following their 2004 rise. It was a time for team football that frustrated (and sometimes lulled to sleep) opponents. Spain's 2008 Euro (and 2010 World Cup) dominance made the case that a team-oriented game could also be attractive.
Mythos the beer is a favorite of vacationers in Greece (if there are any left there after the economic downturn and austerity-fueled riots), but like any lager that comes in a green bottle you're not going to be too pleased with it.
In a few more years Greece's Euro title will seem less like a myth and more like a dream or arbitration in the global game. They've got a decent chance of getting out of their group, but hoisting the Cup again seems very unlikely.
Russia - Толстяк
If we want to play with stereotypes Russians only drink vodka and there's snow on the ground 365 days a year. Truth-be-told the reality isn't that far off. There are breweries in Russia, but they seem to have everything backwards. Production is down (while global numbers are up) and they categorize their beers by color instead of style.
Our beer of choice out of Russian is Толстяк, roughly meaning "Fat Man", shockingly served in a plastic bottle like it was a "Code Red" Mountain Dew. Is it good? Probably not, but it might be on the right day. At 6.1% ABV it sports the slogan " in the company of friends, in a good mood guaranteed". Sounds like a FBM-type of beer.
Russia's upside-down beer world is surprisingly because one would think that distilling vodka wouldn't be too far a bridge to cross to brewing quality beer. The same goes for Russian's European Championship team. With dominant domestic sides like CSKA Moscow, FC Zenit Saint Petersburg, and Spartak Moscow regularly making (and competing well) in the Champions League and UEFA (now Europa) Cup and players like Andrei Arshavin they really should be putting up more of a fight. With veteran Dutch coach Dick Advocaat at the helm anything is possible.
Czech Republic - Pilsner Urquell
The Czechs have put in over 800 years of brewing so you know that the history is behind the beer.. The soccer, however, has missed the mark. In 2006 World Cup they impressed early by dismantling the U.S. in their first game, but lost Jan Koller and lost steam. The 2008 qualifying campaign saw the Czech Republic easily qualify then flame out of the tournament and they missed out on the 2010 World Cup. The Czech's run to the 2012 Euros took a detour through the playoffs, but they managed to get in. Having Chelsea's Champions League winning keeper Peter Cech between the posts and fellow London-er in Arsenal's Thomas Rodsicky on the pitch substantially make things easier. Even Milan Baros (Euro 2004's leading scorer, remember him?) is still around.
Pilsner Urquell is our beer of choice for the Czechs. It was the first "pilsner" style beer in the world, first brewed in 1842. The world's first light-colored beer became so popular through the Austrian Empire that a special train traveled each day from the Czech city of Plzen to Vienna.
Since 2000, Pilsner Urquell (now owned by SAB MillerCoors) is the largest exporter of beer from the Czech Republic.
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