Last week, for the first time in fourteen years, England and Scotland met on the football field. To commemorate the welcome return of the home international, we thought it only right to emulate the occasion in the only way we know how – by drinking beer (and in an orderly, pre-defined, yet rapid manner). Not quite crates of Fosters in Trafalgar Square, but four English beers pitched against the very best rivals from our home turf, north of the border.
It was down to me to select the Scottish beers, and BeerCast Paul was delegated to pick up four from England. As we both originally hail from south of the border, for balance we invited BeerCaster Stu along, a ukulele-playing Scotland fan from Zambia (no, really). As for the beers, there were no rules other than one for each of the vague styles of ‘golden’, ‘amber’, ‘IPA’ and ‘dark’ – with identities revealed at the end of each round.
Would the beer score emulate the football result…?
First Half, Round 1 (Golden) Fyne Ales Jarl v Dark Star Sunburst
As Stu lays out a passable ‘Flower of Scotland’ on the ukulele, the night ahead seems even longer. Yet, thankfully, the beers arrive and the first matchup begins. Although they both look invitingly golden, each with a mere suggestion of haze, the flavours are very different. One is noticeably sharper, with more lemon and grapefruit, whereas the other is milder and peachy. Even if I hadn’t seen them poured, I’d have picked which was which in a moment, so it comes down to personal preference. As Stuart concludes “the peachy one is more mellow, it’s smoother – I prefer that to the bitter one”. As the voting comes in, England take the first round, with a 2-1 victory.
Eng 1 Sco 0 [Dark Star Sunburst]
First Half, Round 2 (Amber) Luckie Scotoberfest v Harbour Amber
In real life, the football is turning into an old-fashioned ding-dong encounter, with goals flying in at each end – punctuated by throaty yelps from the room with the telly in. Pouring in the kitchen, I only saw about half the game, but the delivery man from Sitara Spice timed perfectly with the second round of beers, right before half-time. For England, Cornwall’s Harbour Brewery, facing off against the pride of Fife, Luckie Ales. I selected Scotoberfest as the German influence could have helped the Scotland team in case of a penalty shootout, but it wasn’t needed as a) friendlies don’t go to penalties, and b) the Harbour had unfortunately picked up an infection. So three votes for Luckie.
Eng 1 Sco 1 [Harbour Amber o.g.]
Second Half, Round 1 (IPA) Stewart Radical Road v Wild Beer Madness IPA
With the half-time beer scores tied, curry finished, and England leading 2-1 in the actual football, both second halves started. It was certainly all to play for. Recovering from the disappointment of the infection-related amber round, the English team (i.e. Paul) fielded a hugely strong hand in Wild Beer Co’s Madness IPA. Up against it, Stewart Brewing’s Radical Road – two big-hitting, hop-forward IPA’s. It was hugely close – the Madness was fantastic, sweet, sticky and resinous, with a huge rich fruitiness to it. The Radical Road tasted like a liquidised Fruit Salad. It really could have gone either way, but in the end all three votes went to the same beer – the one from Stewart Brewing. Scotland take the lead (but not in the football).
Eng 1 Sco 2 [Stewart Radical Road]
Second Half, Round 2 (Dark) Tempest Old Parochial v Camden/Odell Versus Baltic Porter
Could England come back to force a draw, as they took the lead in real life? The heavyweights were rolled out at the end – for Scotland, Kelso’s finest Tempest Brewing Co and their 10% barrel-aged Imperial Scotch Ale, Old Parochial (or ‘Old PArochil’ as I typed, the emotion clearly getting to me). For England, Camden’s 7% Baltic porter brewed with Odell – cries of ‘Ringer!’ silenced on the lips as the flavours of both came out. Stunning stuff, the latter was hugely roasty, with chocolate, coffee and a fabulous balance, whereas the former positively thrummed with soft, rounded whisky, caramel and umami. Again, voting was tight, but there were nods of acceptance as Scotland that prevailed once more, with a 2-1 vote.
Eng 1 Sco 3 [Tempest Old Parochial]
So, there you have it. Scotland lose the football 3-2, but win the beer match 3-1. Gordon Strachan and the boys can draw some comfort in that, I think. Rather amusingly, the national team’s next game is against Belgium – they couldn’t…could they?