Saturday July 5th - Netherlands v Costa Rica
Having been corrected in my use of 'Holland' and the 'Netherlands' I am still in love with all things Dutch in this tournament. For this game there was no opposition for them and I chose this 4.6% ABV saison from Brouwerij Emelisse. This Dutch craft brewer began in 2005 and has grown steadily producing a range of beers based on traditional recipes. This Saison is certainly a fine example of this style of beer. It has a cloudy appearance with a vibrant golden colour to it with a nice frothy head. The aroma is yeasty and fruity and the flavour is bursting with bitter citrussy notes combined with a zesty spicy zing with hints of tropical fruits coming through in the finish. This is one more Dutch success and I am delighted they won this game so I can try another Dutch beer in the semi-finals.
Match score 0-0 (Holland win 4-3 on penalties). Beer score 8/10.
Saturday July 5th Argentina v Belgium
My sinlge bottle of Argentinian beer has long departed thankfully so I was desperately hoping Belgium could win this game. The bottle I chose for them comes from the smallest of the currently approved Trappist breweries located in the Belgian municipality of Achel. The monks of the Abdij de Achelse decided to restore brewing in 1998 and become the sixth Trappist brewery in Belgium. There is actually a brewpub in the grounds of the abbey where visitors can drink the beers and view the brewhouse. The brewery began with a blond 5% and a brune 5% and they added the 8% varieties in 2001. It has a deep russet colour to it and there are some big flavours of fruit cake, caramel and some spiciness. Everything you would expect from a rich, strong Belgian brune ale in fact. A veritable intoxicating feast.
Match score 1-0. Beer score 8/10.
Friday July 4th Brazil v Colombia
With some lovely beers lined up for the quarter-finals I could not bring myself to ruin it by opening another bottle of Brahma so this was a dry match. Brazil went through what was a very physical game and if there was a beer called 'lenient ref' then that would have been appropriate for this one.
Match score 2-1. Beer score n/a.
Friday July 4th France v Germany
The quarter-finals kick off with what promises to be an excellent beer match. For France I chose this effort from the Brasserie de Saint Sylvestre based in the NE region of France. Gavroche is a character in Les Miserables apparently and this beer is a traditional Paris Red Ale (8.5% ABV) that is refermented in the bottle. It is certainly a complex beer that I did not keep cool enough which is probably why it exploded out of the bottle when I opened it. My wife thought it had the aroma of marmite. I could really just smell alcohol. The taste was quite harsh with hints of wood and tobacco and mustiness. Not totally unpleasant as there was some subtle hints of rich fruits in there but these struggled to come through ahead of the woodiness and overall booziness of it. An interesting beer for sure but one which I struggled to appreciate.
For Germany I went for a traditional Doppelbock. Paulaner Salvator (7.9% ABV) is described by Roger Protz in '300 Beers To Try Before You Die' as 'the classic Munich Bock, the benchmark for the style'. It is brewed with lager malt, caramalt and Munich malt. The hops are of the Hallertauer variety. The colour is a deep russet colour. It has the smell of a rich malt loaf and the first sip is quite intoxicating. Rich and malty with hints of sherry and rich heavy fruits like raisin mixed with bonfire toffee. My wife found it too rich and malty but I liked it a great deal. This is a style I generally like and this is a beer I would willingly come back to. Following the game it is goodbye to France and more beer from Germany to come.
Match score 0-1. Beer scores 6/10 and 8/10.