Origin: Secuimea (Székelyföld or Szeklerland), central Romania
Obtained: Couriered personally by a very kind Romanian work colleague
One of the country’s most popular beers, Ciuc (roughly pronounced ‘chook’), known as ‘Csíki Sör’ to the locals, hails from the largely Hungarian-speaking town of Miercurea Ciuc (Csíkszereda), the coldest place in Romania. The town, which I have visited, is a peculiar place. The original town was partly demolished and rebuilt in brutal communist concretism by notorious Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu. Much of the present town was built on swampland and is an incongruous mixture of grand brutalist concrete buildings (some left half finished when I visited) and wide boulevards juxtaposed with narrower streets more in keeping with the size and importance of the town. Historically the authorities used Romanian-speaking public officials to keep order in these minority areas, and even 10 years ago, wandering down the street after a couple of drinks was enough to demand the attention of the Romanian police who dress like French gendarmes, such is the eternal Romanian fascination with all things French. Appropriate enough for tonight’s opening fixture I suppose.
Anyhow my memories of the place were good enough for Ciuc be the obvious choice, and as Transylvanians are known for their hospitality, I received not just one can but a set of six and its own glass no less. The rest have all long since been guzzled leaving just one for the tournament opener. Nothing like a cheeky beer, is there?