What might have been

Whilst rooting out the beers I needed for my Euro 2016 beer odyssey I thought I’d spare a thought for the bottles and cans that won’t be joining us.

BALTIC STATES

Lithuanian beer (‘alus’ as they call it) does ok and turns up more and more in places. Švyturys is good. Utenos sounds like it could make you ill but is also in fact drinkable. It really wouldn’t be worth searching out Estonia’s absurdly-named A. Le Coq beer unless it were really needed.

DENMARK & THE NORDICS

Denmark’s absence is a biggy, not least because it makes Carlsberg, the official beer of Euro 2016, ineligible for my Euros beer adventure. I might’ve ruled it out anyway on the grounds that the bottles and cans which abound in every shop have all been brewed anywhere but in Denmark. I also dodged a bullet in not having to consume one of those big scary cans of Faxe.

faxe.jpg

A Norwegian craft beer did leap out at me just once in a craft beer store in Warsaw but had to stay on the shelf this time. Surely it’s just too expensive to bother brewing and exporting anything from that country? Finland’s Lapin Kulta would’ve been a shoo-in for a football championship in France, except the name has nothing whatsoever to do with rabbits.

HOLLAND

The most notable absentee on both the footballing and fermentation front, but at least on the latter front it won’t be missed. It rules out Heineken, but rightly so frankly (I’ll inevitably be drinking other beers that they own, at least three I think). Last time round for the World Cup I think I had a Grolsch and possibly a Bavaria but I don’t even remember. Obviously wasn’t very memorable.

GREECE

Mythos beer (believe it or not) is available in a specialist international food shop in Warsaw and occasionally ends up in Lidl at knock down prices. Funnily enough it came up in a discussion amongst work colleagues about how some of these drinks just aren’t quite the same when taken out of their habitat and how Mythos is a case in point. Apparently Mythos in Greece is served in glasses that have just been taken out of the freezer. Difficult to replicate here without risking my glassware. Luckily, I don’t have to.

ISRAEL

Had Israel qualified the kosher beer staring mysteriously at me in a local falafel joint would have done nicely. Will have to wait for another occasion.

MICRO NATIONS

UEFA’s micro nations must surely also have micro breweries. It would definitely be fun to try Gibraltar, Liechtenstein or San Marino’s finest offerings, assuming somebody’s garage brewery is up to the task, but one of those either qualifying or having their beer available is a Leicester City x 5000.

SCOTLAND

Some nice looking Scottish beers have turned up out here. I particularly liked the look of Innis and Gunn‘s various offerings, and just today was looking longingly at a bottle of Belhaven, but alas the Tartan Army haven’t qualified so that’s that.

SOUTH CAUCASUS

No, it’s not a way of choosing presidential candidates (although it couldn’t do a much worse job). These are of course the three UEFA outliers of Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. I spent my winter holiday drinking Georgian beers and they’re not bad, particularly when accompanying scrumptious Georgian cuisine. One of them, Natakhtari, just turned up a week ago in a local wine shop, but alas the land of Georgi Kinkladze and Temuri Ketsbaia failed to make it this time.

nat

That does say Natakhtari. I checked!

I seem to remember Armenian beer turning up in a supermarket here about a year ago, but if so it’s come and gone. The absence of Armenia’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan, arguably one of Europe’s best players, is surely a far bigger loss to the tournmane, albeit a blessing of sorts for the commentators. About Azerbaijan I have no clue, and with Kazakhstan the same come to that. I have had Moldovan beer, from a Russian shop which closed down a year or two back, but I’d have a devil of a job trying to get it now. It wasn’t bad either. Belarusian beer was on sale here one day when I wasn’t paying attention and I briefly considered buying it in lieu of a Russian one.

YUGOBEER

At one stage I found a shop that sold the whole gannet of Balkan beers-Serbian, Macedonian, Montenegran…but not Croatian. I won’t be troubling myself over Kosovo quite yet, who are yet to kick a ball in UEFA competition (and whose population will almost certainly be supporting Albania after their drone flag antics that impressed the Court of Arbitration for Sport so much).

As it happens I was in a Warsaw beer store this very day and a group of Serbians were in the queue in front of me were bemoaning the dearth of decent beer in Serbia (i.e. they said “it’s shit”). Perhaps we have been spared.

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