A Game of Two Halves

Drinks: Beers

This summer’s World Cup in South Africa offers a real opportunity for bars and pubs to cash in. Our pitchside reporter Nigel Tarn takes a look at the ways that you can make this tournament a winner, whoever lifts the trophy on 11 July

I’m sure it was a wise old man who said ‘Nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd’, and this summer seems the ideal time to bolster your world beer offering and align it with a bit of crowd-pulling provided by fine weather and fine football. Bring on the World Cup.
Pubs and bars that capitalise on this summer’s sporting extravaganza are set to benefit from thousands of pounds in incremental trade unseen since the last World Cup four years ago. While many in the trade aren’t relying on the World Cup to make their summer (because the wise ones among you know you can’t rely on the weather, either) it is still a unique opportunity to capitalise on a month’s worth of sales.
Remember Euro 1996, held in England and supposedly a time when football was ‘coming home’? Well, they were wrong. And it makes the point that in order to make the most of this summer’s opportunity, you will need to hang your hat on more than just one nation. Carlsberg and Coors seem to be offering great POS kits to merchandise your bar with… but what about the other 31 nations?
An estimated 715 million people will watch the games this summer. To attract your share, you will probably need to appeal to a broad range of consumers.
One of the wisest men of all, Confucius, said, ‘Knowledge is recognising what you know and what you don’t.’ Below are some beers you might not know, some ideas to sell them and what you will
need to know to create individual events around this summer’s matches.

What better excuse do you need to upgrade, install or add to your existing screens than a summer of world-class football? Make sure the screens are in prominent places, and the standing room is cleared ready for the increased footfall. Getting this layout right, coupled with the right atmosphere, will make the at-home football experience seem paltry by comparison. According to brewing giant Carlsberg, 21m TVs were sold in advance of the last World Cup. Make sure you get in early to avoid being left with the dregs.

With 32 teams in the tournament, there are ample themes to delve into when deciding how to decorate your venue to attract a crowd. Speak to your wholesaler about flags and banners to show your support for England – sorry, no other home nations qualified – or alternatively, show your support for one of the underdogs with a few flags and a coloured themed bar for the evening. See below for some great world beers around which to build your event, and some specialist beer wholesalers who will be able to offer you guidance on merchandising your venue.

Whether that’s themed food and bar snack deals or an evening offer of world beers, there are four weeks of action starting on 11 June, all of which offer plenty of chances to increase footfall with some interesting offers.
It’s widely accepted that World Cup football attracts a mixed crowd, and that crowd will provide you with a great opportunity for tapas-style catering, providing dishes of the competing nations for your customers to share. A good world beer offering is also paramount to up-selling and generating margin. World beers generally carry a price premium, and according to on-trade data guru CGA, generate 10p per bottle, or £2.40 a case, more profit than standard bottled beers. Ask your existing supplier, or contact the wholesalers below, which all carry a broad range of world beers.
And so to the big question: which of the competing nations will you support? And with which beers? Below are just a few options to get you started.

Beer, as with football, is a relatively new arrival to Japan. But, although slow to become established, it has now been firmly embraced, and the country is one of the greatest beer-drinking nations, as well as home to international players such as Kirin, Sapporo and Asahi.
As has been their way with so many inventions they have adopted, beer has been refined and developed by the Japanese. They even developed a can that opens up into something resembling a traditional beer mug. Most Japanese beers are ultra-clean, high-tech versions of international pilsners, although they are renowned for their match-winning striker, Asahi Super Dry.

Brand: Asahi
Style: Super-dry pilsner
ABV: 5%

It was the 1980s when the Asahi brewery took to the international stage as a strong forward player in the world beer market with the release of their enduringly popular Asahi Super Dry, adopting the method of post-extraction of residual sugars from the wort, hence the ‘dry’ tag. Readily available through most wholesalers and breweries in the UK, Asahi is always a popular choice for the world beer enthusiast and bottled lager drinker.
Asahi beers are renowned for their subdued hop aromas and crisp, clean taste. Japan plays Denmark in one of the last ties of the first round, on the evening of 24 June – a veritable clash of beer styles, and your bar should be a sea of red and white for this game.

While many nations look to Europe for heritage and influence in their brewing techniques, South Americans are intent on establishing a distinctive style for the province in which they brew. Argentinian brewers are developing imaginative beers using, where they can, local ingredients. In this geographically vast and geologically diverse country, there is a great variety in their brews, but, like their footballers, only a few make it to the world stage.
Quilmes is one of those international stars, not unlike Lionel Messi, dominant in the domestic game for Argentina and seen day in, day out, in our great British bar. Like many breweries in South America, the Quilmes brewery was founded by German settlers.

Brand: Quilmes
Style: Pilsner
ABV: 4.9%

Cervecería y Maltería Quilmes (or just Quilmes, for simplicity’s sake), was founded in 1888 in Buenos Aries, and quickly grew to become a national icon. By the 1920s, it was already the most popular beer in Argentina. A light and crisp multigrain lager, it now boasts an astonishing 75% domestic market share. Those paying attention will notice the colours of the Quilmes labels are that of Argentina’s national side, and rightly so, as they are a principal sponsor. Make sure you ask your wholesaler (see p.78) about their blue-and-white flags, especially for 7.30pm on 22 June, when they take on unlikely Euro 2004 victors, Greece.

Erdinger Weissbier is a bit like the

German captain Michael Ballback:

reliable, dependable, and full of character

So much to drink and so little time – only 90 minutes and thousands of beers from Germany to choose from. Drinkers the world over tend to regard Germany as the land of lager, and rightly so. Germany (to be precise, the German region of Bavaria, along with the Czech Republic) is credited with inventing lager as we know and love it today. Lager is a German word, meaning ‘to store’, an essential stage in the maturation process of all bottom-fermenting beers, and a stage that takes longer than most nations will stay in the World Cup.
Few countries take more pride in the quality of their beer, and the rules of the beer purity laws, the Reinheitsgebot, mean that German brewers cannot deviate from the four key ingredients (barley, hops, yeast and water) and cannot indulge in the wayward flights of fancy of their neighbouring Belgian brewers. But within these limits, Germans brewers still show plenty of quality (just like their footballers), efficiency (just like their footballers), and flair (er, um…). Top-fermenting ales, wheat beers (breaking the aforementioned Reinheitsgebot) and hoppy pilsners are a speciality. Expect great delivery at set-pieces from their Erdinger, and in particular the weissbiers.

Brand: Erdinger Weissbier
Style: Cloudy wheat beer
ABV: 5.3%

Erdinger Weissbier is not only the undisputed classic in the Erdinger product range, it is also quite simply the wheat beer that benchmarks all others. While not as humorously named, Erdinger Weissbier is a bit like the German captain Michael Ballack: reliable, dependable, and full of character (Are you sure? – Ed). It’s a great team player, too – Weissbiers go well with many foods and bar snacks.
Brewed using fine yeast according to a centuries-old traditional recipe and, of course, in strict accordance with the aforementioned Bavarian purity law. Even today, the beer is still bottle-fermented in the traditional way; it takes three to four weeks for Erdinger Weissbier to mature.

Just as they did with Beckham (well, before he got crocked), the Italians imported all they needed to make their beers full of flair. Traditionally a land flowing with wine, beer was always viewed as a thirst quencher, until it became caught up in the worldwide success of Italian chic.
Beer consumption in Italy is growing, and it’s the fastest-growing microbrewery market, although few of these domestic brews are available in the UK. The domestic league, just like our own Italian imports, is dominated by two flashy players: Peroni and Moretti. Either of these two and mountains of pizza to share is the order of the day.

Brand: Peroni Gran Riserva
Style: Full-bodied ruby lager
ABV: 6.6%

Birra Peroni has had a turbulent time, with a plethora of owners over the past few decades. The new management has changed the way the team plays. Once the second-biggest brewery in Italy (Heineken owned Moretti), since SAB Miller took over the reins it has expanded internationally. Now a player of global as well as domestic influence, Peroni launched Gran Riserva in 1996 to complement its Nastro Azzurro (blue ribbon) and Peroni red. Richer and more thoughtful, Gran Riserva is more of a player/manager than a young hotheaded pilsner. Add in some pizza to share, and you’ve a match made in Rome.

The Spaniards have a brewing tradition to rival that of their football, going back centuries. The Romans, while kicking stuffed sheep bladders around, were impressed by the Spanish grain-based brews. It was the 16th-century monarch Charles I, a self-confessed beer fanatic, who established the first commercial breweries, buying in international stars from Bavaria to bolster his brewing team. The Spanish are the biggest beer drinkers in the Mediterranean region, quaffing an equivalent of 125 pints each every year. As European Champions, and the pre-tournament favourite to lift the World Cup, this summer is the perfect time to review your Spanish beer offering.
The country is dominated by five major breweries: Cruzcampo, Aguila, San Miguel, Damm and Mahou, and all offer promise of a tremendous tipple.

Brand: Estrella Damm
Style: Cerveza pilsner
ABV: 5.4%

Estrella Damm is a bright-gold honeyish beer and as the best-known Damm, the Barcelona of the portfolio. A great refreshing beer. Estrella means ‘star’, and the national team could be one of the stars of South Africa. Make sure you bedeck your establishment with tapas and Estrella in time for Spain’s opening game against Switzerland on 16 June.

I recall a pub joke once that  began: ‘What have American beer and making love in a canoe got in common?’ Answer: They’re both f***ing close to water. In fact, this is mightily unfair, as the US is a nation of great brewers. Unlike its football squad, the Americans boast more home-grown brewing talent than the rest of the world – there are more microbreweries in the US than the rest of the world combined. And as well as home to the most, it is also home to a vast import market. Like Beckham playing for LA Galaxy, the US was dominated by British ales, Guinness and Czech pilsners, which stifled their own brewing credentials. But since the 1970s, craft brewers have cropped up all over the US, and are now available in the UK through some of the wholesalers listed. Look out for Coors, supplying a range of POS to support the US, as well as Anchor Steam, Brooklyn, Goose Island, Sierra Nevada and Blue Moon.

Brand: Blue Moon
Style: Wheat beer
ABV: 5.4%

Blue Moon, brewed in Golden, Colorado, by Molson Coors, is a Belgian-style whitbier. Cloudy in complexion and orange in colour, it is spiced with coriander and orange peel. A great one to bring out in the second half to please the crowd. Instead of the customary half-time oranges, Blue Moon should be served with a wedge of blood orange in the bottle. Perfect mid-match refreshment.

A nation renowned for its orange kit and big-headed beers, brewing in the Netherlands, along with consuming it in sophisticated street cafes, is a way of life that spans decades and has been heavily influenced by its neighbours. From Germany the Dutch took ideas of quality, from Belgium diversity – it’s a melting pot of international talent, from the Belgian-influenced Oranjeboom (owned by AB InBev) to the German-style Amstel (owned by Heineken), Grolsch (SABMiller) andthe world’s largest privately owned brewery, Bavaria.

Brand: Bavaria Pils
Style: Pilsner
ABV: 4.8%

In the 2006 World Cup, the Bavaria brewery caused controversy as more than 1,000 Dutch fans were forced to remove their orange lederhosen emblazoned with the Bavaria logo, because the company was not an official FIFA sponsor. Hopefully Bavaria and the Dutch will be allowed to add to the colour of the tournament this time round.

South Africa
A country dominated by one national brewer – South African Breweries – and now merged with Miller of America. Prevalent in most provinces, the South Africans seem globally dominant. Not so in their football… as hosts and underdogs in the tournament and having to get through the group stages against Mexico, France and Uruguay, it’s worth stocking up on a case of Castle Lager for their opening game, as well as the opening celebrations on 11 June against Mexico… perhaps with a few tequilas for half-time refreshment?

Brand: Castle Lager
Style: Pilsner
ABV: 5%

Castle Lager is the star of SABMiller’s domestic operations but is rather eclipsed by the likes of Pilsner Urquell and Peroni on its global agenda. Sidelined to the subs’ bench, this classic golden pilsner deserves a runout in honour of the South African hosts this summer. An award-winning lager made from African Gold barley and Southern Star hops, it’s a great toast for the host.

The Portuguese national side was one of the pre-qualifying favourites, but having only scraped into the finals, and ending up in the ‘group of death’, its odds have dropped. The brewing industry in Portugal was stifled by the dictator Salazar for many years, shutting off foreign influence, and even today two brewers (Centralcer & Unicer) control almost 100% of the nation’s brewing, both concentrating on bottled beers.

Brand: Sagres
Style: Pale pils
ABV: 5.1%

One for the pub quiz: Sagres is named after the old, beautiful cape on the south-western tip of Portugal, where Prince Henry the Navigator started his naval school in the 15th century. Now where, other than Imbibe, would you learn that? Introduced in 1940, Sagres is the number-one-selling beer in Portugal. The brand’s marketing focuses on supporting Portugal’s top-flight football league, officially called the Liga Sagres. Expect the Portuguese team to be well backed with lubricating liquor should they win.

In Australia, VB is a beer that dominates

the domestic market, unlike their squad,

who will have to fight their way in the opening stages

As with the Americans, the Aussies have received much unjustified taunting for their brewing credentials. Since it’s so hot, lagers are, it’s true, often brewed for refreshment rather than taste, but a few staunch revolutionaries are providing an alternative.
In 1995, two major brewing groups led by elders IXL (Foster’s) and the Bond Corporation (Castlemaine & Swan) noticed the decline of the Australian beer market and started to look to foreign acquisitions. Buying up breweries the world over may have established Foster’s as a global brand, but both companies were riddled with crippling debt. They collapsed and were bought up by Lion Nathan (of New Zealand) and a restructured Foster’s Brewing Company. Now these two giants own 98% of the Australian market, leaving a miniscule 2% for the likes of Boag’s of Tasmania and Coopers of Adelaide, and a handful of newer microbreweries and brew pubs. One of the survivors of the financial catastrophe of Fosters is VB, the nation’s biggest-selling beer.

Brand: VB
Style: Pilsner
ABV: 4.6%

Despite the VB standing for Victoria Bitter, this brew is a traditional golden pilsner. Selling the equivalent of a case every second in Australia, this is a beer that dominates the domestic market, unlike their national squad, who will have to fight their way past Germany, Serbia and Ghana in the opening stages. VB is available in most UK wholesalers, and is a sure way to attract any ex-pat Australians into your venue. The Aussies’ first game is an evening kick-off against Germany on 13 June – promises to be a great one.

The most acclaimed Brazilian to arrive

on our shores isn’t Ronaldinho,

but the curiously shaped Brahma

Brazil, along with Spain and England (have I cursed our luck?) are among the favourites. Brazil, which was colonised by the Portuguese, follows their beer lead, and looks to the Germans for its influence in beer styles. As a result, pilsner styles dominate the Brazilian scene, with 98% of the market. The domestic market is dominated by AB Inbev, Heineken and Molson Coors, which all brew pilsners in the country. The most acclaimed Brazilian to arrive on our shores isn’t Ronaldinho, but the curiously shaped Brahma.

Brand: Brahma
Style: Pale pilsner
ABV: 4.8%

Founded in 1888, Brahma has won many awards, even at Cannes (did our very own Vinnie Jones ever win at Cannes?) and strikes a rightly deserving star-like pose on the bar with its curved bottle and innovative point-of-sale material. A pale, pilsner-style beer, it’s undeniably easy-drinking. And given that Brazil look set for a lengthy run in the tournament, that’s no bad thing.

French beer, like their football, has been infuriatingly inconsistent. With so much great wine, the country’s beer has tended to be overlooked, treated as a refreshment rather than a serious drink in its own right. The country is dominated by a few large global companies, with Dutch giant Heineken perhaps the biggest player. If you ask for une bière at a French cafe, you would undoubtedly receive a draught of light, refreshing, golden lager. Kronenbourg is one; Fischer is another.

Brand: Fischer Gold
Style: Blonde
ABV: 6.5%

Other than La Bière du Démon from Les Brasseurs de Gayant of Douai, a masterful French brew that claims to be the strongest blonde beer in the world (12%) and becoming widely available through wholesalers in the UK, there is the classic Fischer Gold. Brewed in Alsace since 1821, and now owned by Heineken, Fischer is sold in a characteristic swing-top bottle. Full of flavour, this is the beer to toast the French as they play their first game against Uruguay on the evening of 11 June.

Where to buy

Amathus Drinks, 020 8808 4181
Location covered: London & the South
(Asahi, Blue Moon, Brahma, Estrella Damm, Peroni Gran Riserva, Quilmes)

Beer Paradise, 01423 359533
Location covered: Nationwide (via courier from York)
(Blue Moon, Erdinger, Peroni Gran Riserva, Quilmes, Sagres, VB)

Classic Drinks, 0870 609 2609
Location covered: Northern England
(Asahi, Blue Moon, Brahma, Erdinger, Estrella, Peroni Gran Riserva, Sagres)

Coe Vintners, 020 8551 4966
Location covered: London & the South
(Asahi, Blue Moon)

Hills Prospect, 020 8988 2800
Location covered: London & the South
(Asahi, Brahma, Estrella Damm)

James Clay, 01422 377560
Location covered: North

LWC, 0845 345 1068
Location covered: Nationwide
(Asahi, Blue Moon, Castle, Erdinger, Peroni Gran Riserva, Sagres, VB)

Madison Drinks, 020 7511 7671
Location covered: London
(Estrella Damm)

Venus, 020 8801 0011
Location covered: London & the South
(Asahi, Brahma, Estrella Damm, Peroni Gran Riserva, Quilmes)

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