|Vince Capano is a two time winner of the prestigious Quill and Tankard
writing award for humor from the North American Guild of Beer Writers.
Vince's column is now a regular feature of beernexus.com
Check back often for the next installment of
Vince's Adventures in Beerland
| World Cup Beer
by Vince Capano
Univision Communications Inc., the leading Spanish-language media company in
the United States just announced they set viewership records for the recently
concluded World Cup in South Africa. In fact they surpassed the ratings of ESPN,
an absurd thought before the tournament began since it was hard to believe that
Americans would watch a soccer game in the first place, never mind in a
language they couldn’t understand.
In soccer there’s only one word anyone need understand- “goal”. And on Univision
their great announcer Pablo Ramirez made sure you heard him when he sung out
in his regally stentorian tones “goooooooooooooooal” on every score. By
comparison ESPN’s announcer made ‘goal’ just a four letter word. Whether it
was the announcer, the tournament hoopla, the intensity of play, or the hot
cheerleaders (ops, that’s our football), the members of my beer club, the Draught
Board15 became enthralled. How enthralled? The answer is found in the agenda
of the club’s last meeting.
Since the meeting was held on the day of the final of the World Cup the beer club
honchos, i.e., Cask Commissioners, decided to have a tasting match up of beers
from the final 8 countries in the tournament. The meeting would answer one
burning question – does a nation’s success in soccer correlate with their brewing
abilities? Well, burning might be a bit too strong. Let’s go with semi-tepid since
most in the beer club know a lot about beer but nothing about soccer. After all, it’s
hard explaining to a baseball fan that you need a grounds keeper,not an umpire,
to deal with the “pitch”, that ‘nil’ isn’t shorthand for willy-nilly, or that that ¾ of the
world play ‘football’ and don’t realize it’s only soccer.
Still, since drinking beer was the prime activity of the meeting we had a good
turnout of members. Some even brought their own vuvuzela, which to the surprise
of many in attendance is not the name of a South American county in the World
As meeting was called to order in the back room of our host, the Gaslight
brewpub, you could smell the tension quickly fill the air. Then again it might have
been their garlic shrimp special.
One of the Cask Commissioners announced that we would be without two of the
final 8 nations since no one, including club member, BeerNexus colleague, and
good friend Dan Hodge, was able to find beers from Paraguay or Ghana. Mr.
Hodge immediately said “I guess we’re ‘Ghana” have to do without them.” No
chuckles were immediately forthcoming so he compounded our pain by adding
“I was ‘Ghana’ get them but couldn’t find them anywhere.” Ah, Dan, I think I’m
Ghana throw up.
We were ready for the showdowns to begin. The contest rules were quickly
explained and the most important question from the membership was quickly
answered - “they’re in the ice in the back room”.
The first match pitted Estrella Samm from Spain against Germany’s Hacker
Pschorr Munich Gold. The Gold lost decisively which immediately angered fans of
Germany who said the tasting was “off sides”. They claimed whomever selected
the Munich Gold from all the great German beers should get a yellow card. Yellow
card? Was he was talking about Little Yella Pils from Oskar Blues? And about
that off sides, we’re still waiting for the 5 yard penalty.
Match two saw the Grolsch, the pride of Holland, take on Argentina’s most popular
brew, Quilmes. Grolsch is a pale lager, first made in 1615. You know the one. It
comes in those swing top, green- let the light skunk me- bottles. Quilmes is a
relative upstart from 1888, so if experience means anything, the old guy should
win. Then again, Argentina is the home of Maradona. No that’s not a brewing
adjunct or an old Beatles tune; it’s their national team’s coach and former
The match wasn’t even close. Quilmes won, doubling the vote of the Grolsch.
Don’t feel sorry for Grolsch however since they control 95% of the Dutch market
and as recently as 2007 were convicted of price fixing.
Match three pitted Pilsen from Uruguay against Xingu from Brazil. This was the
most confusing contest of the first round mainly because most of the voters
thought Xingu was from Africa and Pilsen was from the Czech Republic. It was
lager vs. schwarzbier. As the sampling ended, the earlier mentioned Dan Hodge
stepped forward to remind everyone to vote fairly regardless of country of origin.
“You vote ‘Uru-g-uay”, and I’ll vote my-a-way”. Without provocation he added,
“and I’ll Czech the results to make sure they’re honest.” Being unable to retaliate
with a Xingu pun, I could only respond that he must be from Brazil, since that’s
where the nuts come from. Oh, for those keeping score, Xingu moved into the
It was time for the semifinals as Pilsen was moved up from the losers bracket. To
make that selection we used a combined amalgamated mathematical index taken
from Major League Baseball and the National Tiddlywinks Association's
procedures to select a wild card team. Or to put it more simply, we needed an
even number of finalists and wanted to drink more beer.
The first semi-final match saw Estrella Damm crush Pilsen. Forget the rain, it’s
the beer in Spain that falls mainly on the plain. Damm the other beers and full
speed ahead, Spain was on the way to the final!
The other semifinal score was equally decisive as Brazil routed Argentina. There
would have been partying in the streets of Rio if only they had known. Oh, right,
they don’t need a reason to do that in Rio. Still, I blame the Argentinean media,
the Brazilian media, the American media, global warming, Al Gore, and all the
other beer websites for not making the beer drinking world aware of this result. All
of which goes to conclusively prove that all the news that’s fit to read is always
here on BeerNexus. (hey, a gratuitous plug every now and then can’t hurt my
status with the boss.)
Now we have it – the final. One on one. Mano on mano. Beero on beero. It’s
Estrella Damm of Spain vs. Xingu of Brazil. By the way, they actually did meet in
the real World Cup…….. but it was in the airport on the way home from being
Both beers were undefeated and primed for the showdown. Start the pouring and
let the tasting begin. Wait. Several tasters were missing, living testimony to the
truism that beer is only rented. Wait again. There was a protest from a Spanish
fan that the plastic cups being used for the Estrella were clear while those being
used for the Xingu were opaque. A Xingu supporter screamed that both cups
were clear it was just that “my beer is black”.
At that point a returning from you know where voter said someone stole his pint of
Gaslight Pirate Pale Ale that he had kept in reserve since “none of these World
Cup beers are any good to begin with”. Three other members, for reasons
unknown, thought this was a perfect time to unveil their vuvuzelas and serenade
us. At that point Cask Commissioner Brian Lynch stood up and proclaimed
“Gentlemen, please” to which several members turned around to see who was
“Pour the cervaza” yelled an Estrella lover, “you mean pour the cerveja” countered
his opponent, to whit another sage yelled, “forgot those guys, pour the beer!”
Spain opened the last pour with floral aromas while Brazil counterattacked with a
nose of caramel and roasted barley. As play moved into full tasting mode Brazil
struck with flavors of molasses and coffee malts. Spain blocked the attack with
crispy fruitiness, crusty bread, and a faint hint of hops. Both finished slightly sweet
with Spain showing the first signs of adjuncts and Brazil of under-carbonization.
The tournament was now officially over. The last tasting was complete and the
votes were tallied. As the meeting closed the winning side was announced. With
60% of the votes ………..… the winner was………….. Brazil!
I personally voted for a tie since overtime meant more beer to drink!
One last thought. It’s a long four year wait until the next World Cup but the time will
pass more quickly if every day you just imagine yourself tuning into Univision’s to
hear Pablo Ramirez say -“BeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeR!
Note- In the real World Cup Spain emerged as the champion while Brazil lost in the quarter-finals.
|World Cup Beer