I fondly remember racing down my local high street back in the Summer of ‘96. I was on the way to pick up an England kit, my first England kit. I opted for the away incarnation, itss duelling shades of gunmetal grey accented by white and red stripes were, and still are, a thing of beauty. I can’t remember if I selected a player’s name to adorn the back… perhaps Shearer (the tournament’s eventual Golden Boot winner). However, I do remember instantly wanting to wear the strip home and watch England reclaim a fraction of the World Cup glory experienced thirty years prior.
After caning Holland 4-1 in the group stages (yep, really happened) and sinking Spain in a penalty shootout during the quarter-finals (yep, also really happened), the stage was set for an epic showdown with Germany upon the hallowed pitch of Wembley. Back at home a youthful wide-eyed version of myself sat expectantly watching the action unfold. Oooh penalties… exciting! Shearer, Platt, Pearce, Gascoigne, Sheringham – all scored their respective penalties. Unfortunately the Germans were just as convincing under pressure. Ahh Gareth Southgate… sorry, wait, what!? Why’s Southgate walking toward the goal? And the rest is history; history stained with English tears that is responsible for the first taste of sporting misery for children up and down the country wearing their first kit. Can it be different this time? Is football finally coming home twenty years later?
Now ultimately we’re here to talk about beer and not sporting sorrow on a national level. Beer from all over Europe that you can enjoy throughout your country’s attempts to capture footballing glory at this Summer’s European Football Championships. Don’t sit their with a lukewarm tin of mass-produced, flavourless alcohol water, celebrate the spoils of your homeland’s landscape and the hands that tend it. That way, when penalties beckon, you can take comfort in the fact that whatever happens, you’ve got a fridge loaded with incredibly flavourful, brewery fresh craft beers that will make you realise that things really aren’t that bad. Also I don’t blame you Gareth, Paul ‘I play for Inter Milan’ Ince should have taken that pen.
Manchester, city of footballing glory and greatness (at least the red half). It’s no wonder that one of England’s most promising goalscoring hopes comes in the form of a 18-year-old Manchester United player. With Marcus Rashford now facing the opportunity to nutmeg years of English disillusionment and seal his fate in the annals of sporting history, it only makes sense to toast the young star with a Mancunian brew from Runaway brewery based thirty minutes down the round from his hometown. This Rye IPA is a full-flavoured, stone-fruit filled ale with a devilish spicy rye twist – some might say a ‘red’ devilish twist. If you wanna be adored come match day, skip the orange slices and hand out a few bottles of this flavourful brew.
Wales, remember all those years you kept Giggsy away from that left wing spot England so desperately needed – not quite sure whether I forgive you for that yet. However, similar to watching Gareth Bale demolish a defense, it’s hard to deny pure class when it’s in front of your very eyes. Much like Steven Gerrard, this hopped lager was born slippy. Welsh Brewery Crafty Devil are one of HonestBrew’s latest signings and they’re already causing a ruckus in the locker room we like to call our bottle shop thanks to their flavourful and musically inspired brews. Got a mate who’s scared of craft beer? Knock those hesitations into the back of the net with a rather special craft lager.
Roy Keane, Damien Duff, Shay Given, John O’Shea and Robbie Keane are but a few of the many footballing hurricanes that have swept through the Republic of Ireland’s footballing campaigns over the years – Keano probably being the most destructive on and off the pitch. Celebrate the wave of passion and skill they left in their wake with a boisterous bottle of 8 Degrees’ Hurricane IPA brewed in Cork. This India Pale Ale showcases punchy American hops – Simcoe, Citra and Mosaic – making it an explosion of fruit, lemon and pine flavours. Maybe this year the eye of the storm might somehow grab a trophy.
Belgium have managed to become one of the tournament favourites this time round, perhaps experts are expecting many crosses and corners to ricochet off Marouane Fellaini’s impressive coiffure… and most likely his elbows… his elbows get everywhere. Buxton Brewery isn’t strictly Belgian. Nevertheless, for nearly nearly two years its brewers have put their skills to the test with an exploration of some of the most famous styles in European brewing – and there are none more storied than Belgian styles. With a darker and richer malt character than Belgian blonde ale but with a distinct yeast character instantly recognisable as Belgian, this potent Dubbel is far more effective than any magic sponge.
Just because Andrea Pirlo’s not in the Azzurri squad this time round, it doesn’t mean that we can’t celebrate Italian brewing and party with some incredible beer. Full bodied, rich with history and and downright inspirational to look at, Birrificio Del Ducato brews are the beer equivalent of Pirlo’s beard. This gloriously smooth oatmeal stout brewed with up to 11 different malts including flaked barley, flaked oats, and roasted barley is akin to one of the talismanic midfielder’s free kicks, as it gracefully soars into your mouth before making your tastebuds scream “Gooaaal Lazio!”. Why’s he not in the squad again?