On Friday, July 27, the 2012 Olympic Games will open in London, England. . Viewers who watch the opening ceremony on television can expect oodles of pageantry and eye-popping visuals. With a bar set very high four years ago by China, there are great expectations for London’s opening festivities. The show is to be directed by Oscar winner Danny Boyle and feature appearances by Daniel Craig as James Bond 007 and Sir Paul McCartney.
If tradition holds, the broadcast is sure to be iconic and very long, which means that you will likely need some refreshing beverages to bolster your viewing stamina. In keeping with the worldly atmosphere of the Olympics, why not drink beers from the five countries with the most athletes participating in the games: Great Britain, with 541 athletes; the United States, with 530 athletes, Russia, with 436 athletes, Germany, with 391 athletes, and China, with 380 athletes.
The Olympic host country is no stranger to great beer. As a matter of fact, there was great controversy over Heineken’s designation of Official Olympic Beer Sponsor. But, Londoners have nothing to worry about with so many great beers to choose from. One of those outstanding brews is Fuller’s London Pride.
Three of the beers brewed by Fuller’s have been named as Champion Beer of England, a feat that has never been matched. The Griffin Brewery, where Fuller’s is brewed in Chiswick has been in operation for over 350 years. But, it was not until 1845 when the partnership of Fuller, Smith & Turner was formed and Fuller’s came into existence.
Fuller’s London Pride is the company’s flagship brand and is a mahogany colored bitter. The beer is best known in England in its 4.1% cask conditioned form, but is also sold in the UK and worldwide in 4.7% pasteurized bottles. The brew has a sweet malty and caramel aroma with smooth, sweet malts, biscuit, and caramel flavors followed by just a hint of hops.
In the past 20 years, the United States has experienced a true renaissance in its beer industry. The big boys that produce millions of barrels of macro lager have seen their market share shrink and defect to the tastier craft brew upstarts. At last count, the Brewers’ Association listed over 2,000 craft beer breweries in the U.S. One brewery has made a name for itself with off-beat brews that stretch the imagination. Recently Dogfish Head collaborated with Internet giant Google to create a “worldly beer;” the result was Urkontinent.
The brewery sent team to collect five ingredients from five different continents including; wattleseed from Australia, toasted amaranth from South America, rooibos tea from Africa, myrica gale from Europe and honey from the United States. The result of careful brewing of these ingredients is a complex and exciting Belgian Dubbel that treats the drinker to coffee and chocolate-covered cherry flavors.
In Russia vodka is definitely the king of alcoholic drinks with an average of five liters of the potent potable consumed by each adult every year. But, beer is a close second for favored alcoholic drinks in the former USSR. Beer in Russia is categorized by color rather than fermentation process: Light, Red or Semi-Dark and Dark. Light is more or less equivalent to Lager and the last two are close to Ales. Based in St. Petersburg, Russia, Baltika is the number one Russia exported beer with the second largest brewery in Europe.
Baltika #3 Classic is billed as a classic example of an American Lager and the aroma of sweet corn and low hops tends to find that statement true. The flavor is similar to the aroma, it is very crisp with a corn-like sweetness, very low hops flavor, and moderately-low hops bitterness. The overall balance is just slightly towards the bitter side with a dry finish.
If there is one country that epitomizes great beer other than Belgium, it is Germany. These folks are so serious about their beer they passed the Reinheitsgebot, sometimes called the “German Beer Purity Law.” This regulation concerning the production of beer in Germany originally allowed only water, barley, and hops to be used in the production of beer. After its discovery by Louis Pasteur, yeast became the fourth legal ingredient. The law, though obsolete, is still more or less followed by many German breweries. One beer that still adheres to the law is Gaffel Koelsch.
In 1396 Gaffels, the political arms of tradesman’s guilds, staged a peaceful revolution to bring new ideas to the city of Cologne, Germany. It is for these men Gaffel Koelsch is named. Gaffel pours like a lager clear and light golden with a white foamy head. It even tastes a bit like a German Lager with light malt characteristics, slight sweetness, and minimum hops. But, it is in the softer, creamier mouthfeel that this ale gives itself up.
The world’s most populated nation also has a thirst for German-style lagers. With over 1.3 billion citizens on mainland China alone, that is a lot of beer drinkers. One fo the most popular brews in China is Tsingtao.
The beer is produced in Qingdao in Shandong, and it gets its name from the a French transliteration of the city’s name. It is a well-hopped standard pilsner and is the breweries flagship brew. Originally, Tsingtao Beer was brewed in accordance with the German Reinheitsgebot the recipe changed. Now, like many other beers made in China, Tsingtao Beer contains less-expensive rice as an adjunct in the mash. The beer’s current logo displays an image of Zhan Qiao, a famous pier on Qingdao’s southern shore.
- Heineken raises ire of some Brits for official beer of Olympics designation (sprbrewcrew.wordpress.com)
- Heineken, official Olympic beer, condemned by British politician/pub advocate (sports.yahoo.com)
- London 2012 Olympics: small bottle of beer at Games will cost £4.20 as organisers reveal food and drink prices (telegraph.co.uk)
- Beer At The London Olympics Will Be Expensive (sbnation.com)
- Drinking beer at the London Olympics will cost you (worldnews.msnbc.msn.com)
- Munich’s best beer gardens (telegraph.co.uk)