Beer Finals!

And here it is. With the main event over, it’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for – who is the champion beer?

After the quarter-finals HERE, we were left with a distinctly northern hemisphere semi-final line up, in complete contrast to the real thing.

In the first semi-final, outsiders France took on the ever-growing craft beer market that is the USA.

Representing France is the Bellerose Biere Blonde, brewed by the Brasserie des Sources. The only thing I could find online was this Facebook page and on Twitter @BDS59230IMG_2935

This was a really nice fresh beer, crisp and a good flavour. It continued the strong line of French beers I’d had so far and I was surprised by the quality of the efforts so far. Having spent time in France, you really have to search out decent beer but I’ve managed to find a few for this competition!

Up against that is Boulevard Brewing Co’s Single-Wide IPA. You can read more about the beer and brewery here and @Boulevard_Beer on Twitter.FullSizeRender

Compared to the Blonde, this was a massive hopmonster. There was a lot of bitterness but it wasn’t overpowering, and had a great flavour. From the first drop, it was clear the French were on the ropes. They’d fought bravely to get this far, but they were coming up against a powerful beast. I’ve been to Kansas City, and other than barbecue, there wasn’t much going for it – but this is a winner.

In the second semi-final, the powerful drinking nations of Ireland and England face off.

Allendale Brewery’s APA, representing England, was first. Details of the beer and brewry are here and they’re on Twitter here @AllendaleAle.IMG_2929

This was a hoppy, malty IPA-style beer and had a very good, lingering flavour, with a bit of citrus at the end. At 5.5% it was a decent strength and went down very well!

Up against that strong start, was O’Hara’s Irish Pale Ale. It’s made under the umbrella of Carlow Brewing here and on Twitter @OHarasBeersIMG_2931

Slightly lower strength than the Allendale’s, the flavour had lots of similarities – generous hops, a bit of citrusy zest and a long lingering flavour. It’s got a bit more bitterness but they were both solid beers and this was close to being a coin-flip.

After the USA being the clear winner of the first semi-final, this was much tougher but, for me, England just edged it.

The third place play-off pitted France, represented by La Choulette’s La d’Artagnan Ambree, and Ireland, with McGargle’s Cousin Rosie’s Pale Ale.IMG_2942 IMG_2944

The French effort, found here, was a strong amber beer. By strong, I mean 8%, malty, caramel-y and packing quite a punch. Boom!

The Irish beer, found here and @TheMcGargles, was nowhere near as strong but had plenty of flavour. Lots of citrus, malt, hoppiness. They call it perfectly balanced, and it was pretty much that.

For the first time, I’m calling draw. Nobody deserves to lose this so they can share the bronze.

And now the Final, and my wife selected the beers to avoid any bias. She might be an American but she’s more likely to pick based on the label she prefers than type or flavour… or nationality!

The USA led with Sierra Nevada’s Summerfest Crisp Lager. Details can be found here and on Twitter @SierraNevada.IMG_2947

This wouldn’t have been my choice, and it’s described on their website as “the perfect warm weather beer”. This is England – we last had warm weather in 2006. However, I turned the central heating on and ploughed straight on. It was a really crisp, clean lager and was nicely hopped, a surprisingly strong contender. At 5% it’s average lager strength and is certainly a lot better than your standard pilsner options.

In reply, England came flying in with the 3 Tigers Beer Company’s IPA. Amazingly, I can’t find a website for them, or a Twitter account. That’s a rubbish start!IMG_2949

As for the beer, it wasn’t a great start, but it proved to be a slow burner. At 4%, the initial flavour was pretty overwhelmingly citrus but as the beer went down, the hoppiness and bitterness kicked-in and built up. By the end, I could’ve drunk more but it just lacked that punch.

So, we have a lager vs a low ABV slow burner…

On my beer app, I gave Sierra Nevada 3.75* and 3 Tigers 3.5*, so the winner is…

USA!usa

Well done to the participants for ruining my liver, and thanks to @UpperTierSteve for the idea!

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