So, we are now less than an hour from kick-off between Wales and Italy, keep coming back for updates throughout the afternoon and evening*.
*Please note, typing, spelling and grammar, as well as sense, may tail off as the day goes on.
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Wales v Italy (2.30pm kick-off)
So, first up is Wales v Italy. Representing Wales is Celt Experience's Goddess of the Spring. Described on the bottle as an unfiltered "farmhouse strawberry saison", it promises a strong start at 6% ABV.
In the second half, we will have Peroni Doppio Malto Gran Riserva, representing Italy. At 6.6%, it looks to have a bit more power, but can it topple the Welsh for the Azzuri?
Wales: Goddess of the Spring, by Celt Experience
We are off to a lively start as the opening surge sprays Goddess everywhere. I now stink of strawberry. Blogging will resume when cleaning is completed...
...Cleaning is completed and we are on with the tasting. The strength of the strawberry aroma carries into the flavour and this is quite a nice strawberry beer, though very much more strawberry than beer. It feels more like a carbonated drink than an ale, if I am honest. This could be quite worrying at 6%.
Still haven't seen Wales' opening try. Still stink of strawberry.
Wales have been dominant in the rugby, but what about the beer?
Well, I have to be honest and say that Goddess of the Spring isn't going to be for everyone. Having said that, I really enjoyed it, to the point where I had to remind myself it was alcoholic and needed treating with respect as a strong ale. It does taste much like fruity pop.
Do be careful of the surge, it is lively. I'd say this is a great treat, certainly not a regular or session ale, but very enjoyable.
Italy: Peroni Doppio Malto Gran Riserva
So, having been dominated in the first half by Wales, can Italy fare any better with the introduction of Peroni Doppio Malto Gran Riserva? Italy have suffered in this Six Nations, in my opinion because more established teams, such as Ireland, have stopped underestimating them. As someone who would choose an ale over a lager every time, let's see how Peroni gets on...
So, here we go, and first things first, the very smell of Peroni makes me hungry, because, to me, it's a restaurant lager. However, my first taste of Doppio Malto Gran Riserva is an eye opener. Even without any Italian language knowledge, I had expected something malty and wow, it delivers.
Italy may be floundering on the pitch, but not in the glass. This has the hallmarks of a lager that beer lovers will enjoy, and could well be a great transition drink. As someone who wants to help more lager drinkers move into ales, I applaud the beautiful malty flavour.
Well, Italy certainly gave it all in the second half and looked stronger on the pitch. In the glass, they were a surprise package and I would give them the win on points. The more I drank of Peroni Doppio Malto Gran Riserva, the more I liked it and I think any lager drinker wanting to step into the ale market will find a fantastic stepping stone with this malty offering.
Ireland v Scotland (5pm kick-off)
We are now gearing up for match 2, and it's an in-the-glass contest between Ireland and its traditional stalwart classic, Guinness Original XX, and a rule-breaking Scottish upstart, Brewdog's 5am Saint. I can't pretend we are not looking at two of my favourite beers here, so this should be good!
Ireland: Guinness Original
Here we go with a Celtic battle, starting with one of the best-known beers on the market...
...I'm one of those people who believe that a pint of Guinness tastes better the closer you are to St James' Gate, Dublin. I'm sure anyone with taste buds and experience of such things will agree.
Guinness' bottled products are another thing, however. Whether it's the Original porter, their West Indies Porter, or anything else, Guinness is as good sat on the sofa, watching the rugby, as it is propping up a bar overlooking the Liffey. I'm sure I don't need to say too much about Guinness - it's a classic. The bottled versions - this one is the Original XX, an older recipe - are definitely different to the pint you'll be pulled in a bar, perhaps lighter and sweeter, with a nice roast aroma and taste, but the quality and enjoyability is every bit the same level.
It would have been very easy to sum this up by saying that Guinness' brewers are as reliable as Johnny Sexton's right boot. Then he went and missed that straightforward 11th minute penalty.
This is Guinness, not your draught Guinness, but an older recipe, but it is quality through and through. Can the punk brewers match them in the second half?
Scotland: 5am Saint, by Brewdog
Moving on to beer #4, we have Brewdog's 5am Saint, one of my favourite beers. I love a red beer and this is a great example of Brewdog's work. Let's get ready for kick-off...
...This smells ridiculously fruity - just what you want for 6pm on a Saturday evening. The colour is amber, going on "proper red". But enough, you want to know what it tastes like.
Let's dial back to 2.30pm and Goddess of the Spring, our Welsh beer. Whereas that tasted like a sparkling strawberry drink, 5am Saint tastes fruity, but also like an ale. Nice. Balanced. Ireland might have a battle on their hands in this second half...
Well, that all got a bit feisty on the pitch, didn't it?
Off the pitch and into the glass, this is a really close call. Both beers are something I could happily sit and drink all day. Both have a little bit of something special and if forced to choose between the two as the only beer I could drink for the rest of my life, there would be no bad decision.
I can only call this one a draw and use the hour between now and the final kick-off to remove the spelks from my arse from sitting on the fence.
France v England (8pm kick-off)
The final match of the RBS 6 Nations, and indeed the #6NationsOfBeer, is almost upon us.
Lining up for France is a huge brand, Kronenbourg 1664, while England is represented by Wylam Brewery and its Jakehead IPA.
France: Kronenbourg 1664
I would find it very easy to get a bit sniffy about a lager, but I'm set to keep an open mind.
It's been a while since I had Kronenbourg 1664, but I do know I'm not in for a surprise, such as the one Peroni Doppio Malto Gran Riserva gave me, which is a shame.
Ok, I will keep this short, because I appreciate it is a matter of taste, not quality. I didn't finish this. Not because it was a 660ml bottle. Simply put, I don't have a taste for lagers any more, I frankly don't find them particularly interesting or enjoyable. This was one of those drinks where, had I persevered and finished it, it would really have only been for the sake of finishing it. Sorry Kronenbourg. Sorry France.
Just to be clear, this isn't anything to do with a bias towards England, either. Despite having been born in England, my rugby allegiances are Irish (due to marriage and a lack of rugby interest in my earlier years).
England: Jakehead IPA, by Wylam Brewery
The final beer of the #6NationsOfBeer is Jakehead IPA.
In stark contrast to my dislike of lagers, I would place IPAs up there with my strong likes, when it comes to ale. Have I saved the best for last? We will see, as this is a new beer for me.
As the bottle says, this is "proper beer". It smells amazing, with a fruity, hoppy nose. It tastes almost as good as it smells. It's unfined (hasn't had the cloudiness taken out), so might look a little funny to the English eye, but the parts of the beer often taken out to create a clear liquid are often some of the good bits, so I don't mind.
I'm not saying this is the best beer ever, but it's very good if you don't mind a bit of lingering sharpness. In contrast to the Kronenbourg, there is a lot that is interesting about Jakehead IPA and it's proving a very enjoyable final beer of the day.
It may not be full-time on the pitch, but there is no point in drawing this one out, as the final pairing has a clear "winner", to my taste, and that's Jakehead IPA, for all the reasons outlined above.
Overall, there have been some lovely beers this afternoon and evening, with Jakehead IPA, Guinness Original XX and 5am Saint unsurprising highlights. Peroni Doppio Malto Gran Riserva was the surprise package, something of a discovery for me, because I had been expecting a posh lager at best, but its maltiness was a joy and I'll be drinking that one again.
I'll leave Kronenbourg for those who have a taste for lager, and I will return to Goddess of the Spring on occasion, for something a bit different. But I'll be careful when opening it.
Enjoy the end of the match!
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I’m 44, I don’t (always) have a beard (partly because when I try it is patchy, has gaps, with ginger and grey bits) and don’t take a clipboard to the pub. So, I’m not the stereotypical real ale fan of old, in the style that I was always told to look out for...read more