A Guide To | The Fine Brewskis of Europe

IPA hipsters, look away now

Beer is older than Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed and Kelly Slater put together. It has been brewed for around twelve thousand years, and features in the some of the earliest ever known written words, made by the Mesopotamian civilizations in what is modern day Iraq. Beer is also highly refreshing, tasty, encourages dancing and makes ugly and fat women (men) appear thin and sexy. Enjoyed in Europe as early as the the Neolithic period, from the 7th century beer was brewed and sold across Northern Europe by Christian monks. In 1516, William IV, Duke of Bavaria, adopted the Reinheitsgebot purity law, perhaps the oldest food regulation still in use.

N.B. Sure, these days it’s actually impossible to buy a pint of any of the beers listed below in a London pub, since the outbreak of IPA craft beer chic, but whatevs. Your so called caramel hops (actual taste: earwax), just like your burgers with a skewer thru served on a plank of wood, your pulled pork etc will soon be the No Fear t-shirts of public house catering.

(Adrien Toyon likes his lager just as he likes his men – tall, strong and pale. Photo: Pujol)

Becks (1873, Germany)

Crisp, pale. Ideal after a session in the North or Baltic Sea, reading SE’s German edition and doing some precision engineering. Becks is a pilsner consisting of two row spring barley from England, yeast, Rotenburger Rinne water and Hallertau hops from Germany. 8/10

Newcastle Brown (1927, England)

Bit of an acquired taste. If you want to annoy Geordies, call it ‘Newky Brown’. They hate that. It’s got a pretty cool logo but is neither refreshing like a lager or wholesome and creamy like a stout. Curiously quite big in America. 4/10

Heineken (1873, Netherlands)

The go-to premium lager of the world, a globalization success story. Made from malted barley, hops, and ‘Heineken A’ yeast. Perhaps a touch more hoppy than Stella, with a touch more nose and a softer after-burp. 8.5/10

Guinness (1759, Ireland)

Not the best out of a bottle. Made with roasted, unmalted barley, hops, brewer’s yeast and treated with isinglass finings (made from fishes’ air bladders). Curiously, Nigeria is the 3rd biggest national market after the UK and Ireland. Dark, powerful, apparently good for you, which is disputed. Part of the magic of Guinness is sinking bubbles(!) 7/10

1664 (1664, France)

The sexier, premium sister of Kronenbourg (watery), 1664 or ‘seize’as it’s known in the French Republic has slightly metallic notes. Made with Strisselspalt hop – a French aroma hop from Alsace. Refreshing, but let’s face it, it’s not Stella. 6.5 /10

Sagres (1940, Portugal)

Not as sugary as Superbock, with a rich, if perhaps cloudy yet dry palate. Still, if you’re drinking Sagres, it usually means you’re in Portugal, which is nice. 5/10

Stella Artois (1708, Belgium)

Made using barley, hops and also maize. Known in the UK as Stella ‘Act-a-twat’ or sometimes even ‘wife beater’, there is no clinical evidence to suggest why, but it makes some folk aggressive, usually when drunk draught. Some simply won’t drink it, for fear of turning into their obnoxious, sinister alter-ego. This aside, the winner on all over taste, performance and Stella-ness. Plus, Belgium has gotta be good at something. 9/10


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