At the end we collate the notes and hand out a guide so they know which is which. There are spot prizes given at random and at our discretion, such as one for the best description and one for anyone who guesses any of the beers correctly (no one did on this occasion) or the person who identifies the most countries of origin.
We provided pie and peas at half-time and there were also crisps, nuts and sandwiches on offer (ham and mustard; beef and tomato; and cheese and pickle for the vegetarians). I didn't hand out a spot prize to whoever made the hummus and guacamole, but I should have done because it was delicious!
Beer Number One - Chang, 5%, Thailand
Just because they sponsor Everton Football Club, there’s no need to hold that against them. Chang (Thailand’s biggest brewer) do good things too – such as establishing the Chang-Everton village in Thailand in the wake (sorry!) of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami. The beer’s symbol is two Asian elephants because these beasts (more closely linked with the extinct woolly mammoth than the African elephant – random useless fact) have played a major part in Thailand’s history.
Tasting notes suggest a ‘full-bodied citrus quality and a smoky blend of sweet green apples and full-bodied vanilla’, which is allegedly especially brewed to complement the exotic flavour and textures of Thai dishes. It was awarded a gold medal at the Australian International Beer Awards – make of that what you will.
If you drank it on your hols and you thought it tasted different (even Fiji bitter can taste decent under a palm tree on a beach), you would be right. The beer brewed for export is 100% malt beer and is 5% abv; that brewed for the domestic market is stronger (6.4%) and contains rice. I kid you not.
Comments for this beer from our drinkers included the following:
A hint of woodland spices with higher notes of lime and kiwifruit
Rotorua hot pools
Could drink it all night, but not worth writing home about
Weak, watery and flowery - could be alcohol free?
Is it supermarket brand lager?
No body or legs - good hair of the dog
Undertones of banana
Was this once a beer?
No flavour and not much alcohol - perhaps low carb?
Like eating carpet, but I wouldn't know
Tastes very New Zealand-y, better than stadium beer - not boutique, more mainstream
Unsurprisingly, it came 10th (i.e. last) overall.
Beer Number Two - Peroni, 5.1%, Italy
Most Italians drink wine to complement their meal, but apparently pizza is too salty and if you drank a red wine with it you would be very thirsty by the end. Heaven forbid! To the rescue comes Peroni Nastro Azzurro which is allegedly the perfect pizza beer, or an aperitif.
Claimed by the marketers to be Italian style in a bottle (are they putting Feraris and Gucci handbags in it?), it is supposed to bring out the Italian in you. It means ‘Blue Ribbon’ and has something to do with boats – the Blue Ribband was a prize awarded for the fastest crossing of the Atlantic Ocean by passenger liners – you could tell the Italian ships, because they were the ones going backwards.
A pissy lager, I would say
Drank it loads when I was 15
Lingering after-taste with severe after-burp; I expect a windy belly by night end
Not very distinctive – a little bit bland
The sort of thing I’d end up drinking in a foreign country because there’s nothing else
Flat, flowery and not good
Goes down fast and has a bit more biteThis one tastes the same as the last one, but it’s probably different
And this beer was the group's second least favourite - it came 9th
Beer Number 3 - Methode Moa, 5.5%, New Zealand
What happens when a winemaker makes beer? Josh Scott, winemaker for Allan Scott Family Winemakers put his winemaking expertise to finding out. He brewed a beer in the normal fashion, and then added a dose of yeast and sugar and sealed the cap. Just like champagne, the bubbles produced by the second fermentation are dissolved in the liquid.
There are several varieties in this range, but the German style Pilsner is the original lager. Described on rate beer.com as ‘tarty and flat with a strong bite’ could this be the Teri Hatcher of the beer world?
Very nice nutty oaky vintage
Like a night on whizz – lively and unpredictable
Nice warm after-feeling
Definitely has a Belgian beer flavour to it – very more-ish
Real personality – unlike the Belgians
Wheaty hoppy number – not bad, but two pints only
Very drinkable – taste lingers in the back of the throat
Frothy glass of lovely hops and yeast
Perhaps a vanilla after-taste? Giving me heartburn
Not my thing – I like to be able to see through my beer
Hoppy and wheaty – a touch of Northern Europe in New Zealand
Smells like Hoegaarden, but much greener in flavour
Wheat beer but quite hoppy and lemon-y
This one was 5th overall.
Beer Number 4 - Bluebird Bitter, Premium XB, 4.4%, England
If ever a beer were light and refreshing, this is it – it could be the ultimate session brew, and is the perfect fireside ale to be drunk after a hard day’s hiking over the nearby fells – trust me, I have done the research on this one. It is named to commemorate Donald Campbell’s tragic attempt on the world water speed record on Coniston Water, but it is far from being all doom and gloom.
The bottled Premium XB ingredients and the abv are different from the CAMRA Supreme Champion Cask Ale (brewed out the back of the Black Bull Inn, Coniston), but it is brewed in Hepworth (Yorkshire) under the supervision of Peter Scholey (former master brewer for the late and much-lamented Brakspear Brewery of Henley-on-Thames). It combines the English pale ale tradition with American hops (Mount Hood) and is apparently extremely popular with our more discerning American beer-drinking cousins.
Fruity, honey summery taste, leaves a fizz on the palate
A glass of alcohol gold – taste sensation
Not too fizzy – no after-taste – I like it!
Quite flat and no real bite
Quite insipid and tasteless but less fizzy and slips down easier than the others
Orange colour, subtle nutty flavours
Fresh and fruity, easy to drink – could get you in trouble with the wife
On first glance, the amber nectar – a Vienna-style – tasty
Fruitful but not sweet – half and half on this one but I think I like it
It tastes like beer and it looks like beer
Very mellow, honey tones
A (for me) disappointing 7th on the ladder for this one.
Beer Number 5 - Little Creatures Pale Ale, 5.2%, Australia
From a small, independent brewery in Freemantle, Western Australia, comes this hoppy pale ale. The brewery was established by a group of mates in an old crocodile farm, because they wanted to make, and drink, the perfect pale ale. They make theirs in small batches with Australian malts and hop flowers from Tasmania and Oregon, USA. It is named for the live yeast, present in the bottle, and has a cult following among young Australian drinkers.
Some interesting comments include: ‘In a land of bland beers, this makes for a pleasant change’ – Oxford Bottled Beer Database, and ‘This is love. An angel from the west, armed with a mischievous grin and a schooner of ale, has stolen my heart. They make the best beer in the country.’ – Peter Lalor, Sydney Daily Telegraph. It takes a lot to make a Sydneysider so sentimental – I’ll wager he’d had a few.
Nice mellow taste but an average beer – I wouldn’t trek across the moors for a pint of it
Sweet smelling and tasty – hangover material perhaps?
Kate Moss meets Robbie Fowler – a little beauty with a nice finish
Independent brewery – all round fine beer with fine perky breasts
When all the other flavour has gone there is just a hint at the back of the mouth lingering like a diamond in the rough
More like the lighter Kiwi beers I’d buy here
Cloudy and hoppy with a hint of caramel
Hoppy! I can’t even begin to think of the hangover you would get from this
Hoppy goodness – tasty lager for a summer’s day
This beer came a very creditable third overall, and this seems like as good a place as any to take a drinks' break.