Used to be bigger: Österreich – Magyarország / Austria – Hungary

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Austria

Beer: Stiegl

Origin: Salzburg

Obtained: in Vienna, in person, 4 days before the start of the tournament

 

Hungary

Beer: Borsodi

Origin: Bőcs, near Miskolc, Eastern Hungary

Obtained: Wine shop opposite my office in Warsaw

 

Post-imperial tussles are not uncommon at major tournaments: match-ups between Portugal and Angola and Algeria and France are just two examples that spring to mind. Austria v Hungary is a bit different, on the count that they are both European, and that for a while they jointly ran the gig. The Austro-Hungarian empire would’ve once accounted for at least 7 (!) of the beers in my beer odyssey. In footballing terms too both nations have, to a greater or lesser extent, fallen from greater footballing heights. Hungary’s Aranycsapat or ‘golden team’ (Puskás and co) will never be surpassed, much as Hungarians know that their lost lands of Transylvania and other various chunks of neighbouring countries will never return.

As great as it once was in football and territorially, I’m not sure Hungarian beer has ever reached the heights of either. Not far from where my Hungarian beer Borsodi is brewed is a valley known as the ‘szépasszonyvölgy’ or ‘valley of beautiful women’, the idea being that a woman can look all the more beautiful after a few drinks. The drink in qustion however is wine, and it is in its hearty wines, not its beeers, that Hungary excels. In fact I can positively say from my 3 years living there a decade ago that Hungarian beer is pretty awful, and I tended to avoid Borsodi for the slightly better Dreher. Hungary’s craft beers are now taking off and I’m sure thy’re not bad but I kind of wanted to stick with the dubious quality Hungarian beer I remember, so Borsodi it is.

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The Austrians are much better at making beer, as I can vouch for from a recent trip to Vienna. I settled on the Salzburg beer Stiegl but there are many others I could have happily gone for. Wieselburger is outstanding and the local Vienna brew Ottakringer is also quite nice.

When the Austrians defeated the Hungarian 1848-49 uprising by executing the so-called ‘martyrs of Arad’, Hungarians said they would not clink beer glasses for 150 years as the Austrian generals had done. So the biggest question for me is, will the Hungarians clink glasses tonight if they win? 😉

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