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The 2012 European Championship “Beer-view” – Group B

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 so check your local listings.


The Groups

Group A

Group B

Group C

Group D

Group B

Netherlands – Oranjeboom

It'd be easy to just pick Heineken, Amstel or even Grolsch, but the FBM isn't about the easy way out. For the Dutch we've chosen to pick a domestically popular, but obscure beer: Oranjeboom. Brewed since 1671 Oranjeboom translates to “Orange Tree” and symbolizes the Dutch Royal Family. At 5% ABV it's a pretty standard pilsner, but the cool thing is that it also appears as an “Extra Strong” and a “Super Strong” that bang in at 8.5% and 12.5% ABV, respectively. So that's fun. (Not fun? They also make a N/A version… boo!)

And so Oranjeboom is the beer of choice for the…err… team wearing orange this summer. The Dutch are the perennial under-achievers of the soccer world coming oh-so-close on way too many occasions, most recently the 2010 World Cup Final against Spain. They were also the bridesmaid twice in 1974 and 1978, but do have one Euro title (1988) to hang their wooden shoes on.

This tournament is Holland's to lose as they enter it, with Spain and Germany, as the favorites as well.

Germany – Tannenzäpfle

By Jobst Elster / The Real Footballer

Euro 2012 is upon us. The German football powerbrokers have made their 23-man squad selection, the youngest and arguably most talented group of the 16 European countries competing for the title of UEFA Euro 2012 Champion come July 1st. Expectations are high, sky high in fact since the last silverware earned by the men’s national team was Euro 1996 and loses to Spain in the Euro 2008 Final and 2010 World Cup semifinal have not sat well with the German faithful. 

Which brings us to the option of drowning your sorrows, with good German beer, beer worthy of the title of ‘offizielles Bier der Deutschen Nationalmannschaft’ (official beer of the German NT) for Euro 2012. For me, as a true ‘Germarican—an exiled German paying too much for German brews in the states –  the beer that most embodies the modern Germany and is enjoyed by the working man as much as the corporate tycoon, much like the love for NT football, is Rothaus Tannenzäpfle, a Pilsner-style beer brewed in Germany’s Black Forest. The beer’s literal translation ‘little pine cone’ and  rustic label all point back to its forestry roots.

The beer much like the German team has made a remarkable comeback within the last 6+ years, morphing from ‘another state owned brewery beer’ to THE cult beverage of Germans of all ages. Tannenzäpfle is the best example of a Southern German Pilsner, and with its ‘bitter meets fruity’ flavor is the ideal brewskie to enjoy during Germany’s run for Euro glory in Poland and Ukraine. While my Euro beer choice may be  controversial perhaps due to the fact that 7 of Germany’s probable starters are Bayern players (think Hefeweizen and Starkbier) or because the likelihood of you finding this beer in the states is nearly nil, I’ll stick by guns and put my Euros on the Tannenzäpfle- German NT combo all day long.

Denmark – Mikkeller

Danish brewing history, you say? Pssshyah! Danish industrialist J. C. Jacobsen revolutionized the world of brewing when his brewery, Carlsberg, bred a pure strain of lager yeast. This enabled the breweries to achieve a large and consistent output, and lager has been the most popular style of beer in Denmark since Carlsberg started selling it in 1847.

Danish soccer history, you say? Pssshyah, again! Denmark owned the 1900s and 1910s in soccer and won the 1992 European Championship, making them Greece before Greece knew it could be Greece. Under coach Morten Olsen his “Olsen Army” has returned to its glory days of the 1980s and early 1990s when the “Danish Dynamite” made their mark on European soccer and Denmark could be a surprise if this “group of death” becomes a war of attrition. More likely, though, they'll be the groups whipping boy. Unfortunate, too, because a weaker group might see them through to the quarter-finals.

Is Danish beer making the same comeback? Sure Carlsburg (uh, those green bottles again…) dominates not only Denmark's beer scene and a large part of the export market as well (including a shockingly high number of exports to beer-mecca Germany), but smaller craft breweries in the country and making them look crazy-old-fashioned.

Meet Mikkel Borg Bjergsø, a former math and physics teacher turned brewer. His Mikkeller craft beers are taking the world by storm and now available in over 40 counties. Their “Beer Geek Breakfast” (a coffee and oatmeal stout) launched them to international fame and is one of the highest rated imperial stouts out there. The perfect beer for those morning Euro games.

Since then Mikkeller has brewed loads of amazing and risky craft beers, including several collaboration beer with state-side breweries.

Will Olsen have the same impact on the 2012 Euros as Mikkeller has on the European (and American) craft beer scene?

Portugal – (Insert Cristiano Ronaldo Beer That Doesn't Exist, Here)

There's no way that there's a beer-equivalent of Cristiano Ronaldo so there's no sense in bothering to try. He seems more of a Red Bull and vodka sort of guy…

Apparently there actually is beer in Portugal and it's been brewed there since Roman times. Even back then the Portuguese national team was over-rated and under-performed on the world stage.

So let's just talk about Ronaldo. With no Leo Messi counter-weight (despite what ESPN's Mike and Mike might have you believe) this could be his tournament to shine. That is, of course, if “The Navigators” (yes, that is apparently one of their nicknames) can survive the group and advance. They've got Manchester United's Nani, Chelsea's Raul Meireles, and Real Madrid's Pepe as a strong supporting cast.

Honestly, just have another Mikkeller for Portugal.

Tags: Beer, The Best of Both Worlds

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