2016 Summer Olympics | Beer from Around the World
It’s Summer Olympics time. Sure, a flight to Rio is expensive. So, stay home, turn on the T.V. and have a flight you can afford — an international beer flight. Anthony Norkus, who specializes in imported beer for the 127-year-old Chicago-based Louis Glunz Beer explained, “The international/import beer market is aggressively trying to stay relevant as much as the American craft breweries. Due to this we are seeing a lot of innovation coming out of breweries that are hundreds of years old.”
According to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the five Olympic rings represent the five inhabited regions: Africa, the Americas, Asia, Australia and Oceania and Europe. In that spirit of cultural camaraderie, let’s celebrate the Summer Olympics with beer from around the world.
Tusker (East Africa Breweries) Lager (4.2% ABV)
Tusker has brewed since 1922. Today, Tusker Lager is the biggest beer and alcoholic brand in the country as well as all of East Africa. East African Breweries explains that Tusker Lager “is brewed from 100% African ingredients that are all locally sourced; the barley is from the Savannah and the Maasai Mara, the spring water is from the Aberdare Mountains and all the yeast is developed locally.” And, you can find it in the States!
Rachel Arthur wrote recently in beveragedaily.com that “the beer market in Africa is predicted to grow faster than any other region over the next five years, driven by a rising population, urbanization and increased GDPs.” So, there’s a good chance you may be seeing even more African beer in the near future.
Xingu (shin-goo) Black Lager (4.6% ABV)
Black lagers may not be the first beer that comes to mind when thinking of Brazil — home to this year’s Summer Olympics. However, Norkus notes, “Most beer that is made in Mexico and South America are German style lagers whether they be light pilsner lagers, Vienna (amber) lagers or Schwartz black lagers because of the German explorers from a couple hundred years ago and the fact that lagers held up through the long journey across the ocean.”
The medium to think-bodied Xingu offers beer drinkers both mild aromatics and flavor, including a kiss of cacao and roast along with slight sweetness from the smooth, dark malt. A bit of carbonation rounds out the larger nicely.
La Fin Du Monde (The End of the World) Triple Fermentation Golden Ale (9% ABV)
The brewery states, “ This beer is brewed to honor the great explorers, who believed they had reached the end of the world when they discovered America.” Of course, the man for whom the continents are named — Amerigo Vespucci — knew better. So, while watching the 2016 Summer Olympics, go ahead and toast ole Amerigo with a La Fin Du Monde.
Norkus explained this beer, “ When this brewery was founded they wanted to stay true to their French roots and like to call themselves Nouveau France style beer instead of Belgian style. So in order to separate themselves these original recipes all have spices in them because they approached them like a French chef would approach creating a new dish for a menu.” It shares some similarity to champagne, but the body is much richer.
Coopers Sparkling English Pale Ale (5.8% ABV)
Coopers declares that it relies on “century old brewing techniques, which produce a complex flavor that is smooth enough to be very enjoyable with intense fruity and floral characters and displays a crisp bitterness and a full malt character.” But what makes a beer sparkle? Norkus explains, “Basically they use this term because of the secondary fermentation in the bottle, which creates a bit more carbonation.”
Alongside the carbonation, the beer pours cloudy with a deep, amber color. Strong malt character and esters from the top-fermenting yeast provide intense aroma that balances the strong bitter hoppiness.
Echigo Beer Co. Premium Red Ale (6% ABV)
The land of the (red) rising sun makes a darn good red ale. Echigo delivers citrusy aroma and well-balanced flavor notes comprised of berry and caramel on the nose followed by a healthy dose bit of hops bitterness throughout the aftertaste. The beer pours like a Belgian, with plenty of frothy, foamy head and plenty of lacing. The beautiful crane design represents the Japanese culture and culinary style that influenced this beer.
Most beer drinkers are familiar with a host of European beers. But, what better accompaniment to watching sports you don’t even understand than European beers you likely have never tried before? Here are three examples.
Hirter Herbal Radler (2.5% ABV)
Watching athletes compete while you sit on the couch doesn’t burn calories, so maybe this is the beer for you!
Norkus commented, “The radler style is very popular and common in Austria as a menu item with restaurants mixing their own varieties to include lemon, raspberry and grapefruit. The uniqueness of the Hirter Herbal Radler is that it is made with the Alpine herbs found in the region of the brewery.” For instance, Hirter adds gentian, vermouth, sage leaves, and local elderberry flowers its Herbal Radler. It’s also brewed using mountain spring water from the Hanslbauer spring located directly opposite the brewery. Norkus added, “The Herbal Radler is GMO-free, non-pasteurized, and contains no artificial sugars… a 100-percent natural delicacy that even the most health-conscious beer lovers will enjoy, as the lower ABV means it’s lower in calories, too.”
Norkus exclaimed, “You have to taste this one! [It’s] about balance of the citrus and piney attributes from the hops with the mild musky funk from the brett. This is one of my favorite beers in the world!” The Wild Beer Company describes the beer as, “100% fermented with Brettanomyces. For the first 3 months the beer tastes the same as a fresh pale ale, then the differing flavor compounds start to shine through and after 6 months the Brett really takes hold.”
Birrificio Del Ducato Nuova Mattina Saison (5.9% ABV)
Wine Enthusiast magazine (2009) awarded 90 points to this Italian interpretation of a saison. It’s brewed with chamomile, coriander, ginger, green peppercorn and a bit of licorice, as well as oats, wheat malt and rye malt. Norkus commented, “This is one of the most complex beers I have had. It has an intense floral and spicy nose that comes through all across the palate due to the use of wild flowers and a handful of different spices. Most of the Italian breweries we work with are doing more complex beers and I can only think that Italians approach beverages differently, they are always thinking about food with their beverages.”
So, if you find yourself cheering on Italian cyclist Vincenzo Nibalirder during these Summer Olympics, indulge in a little Italian food and sip on some Nuova Mattina!