Celebrate the brilliance of German football, its speed, its attacking verve, its defensive steel, its hand-off of the by-the-numbers 21–passes-made-this-goal mathematical formulae of Barca et al and you can also re-calibrate your palate with this quintet of equally brilliant beers from the country that for me is making European championship football exciting again (and if they ever take rugby seriously then we should really be worrying).
Augustiner Lagerbier Hell, 5.2%
Take a plane to Munich at once and when you get there make your way to Augustiner Großgaststätte in the centre of town and tell them I sent you. Then order a Maß of their fabulously gorgeous Lagerbier Hell, a pale, sprightly, glinting creature that will immediately make you forget about all the orc-like creations that serve for lager back in the UK. Available from here.
Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Märzen, 4.8%
If you like smoked kippers, smoky bacon or even lapsang souchong, then this is the beer that should reside in your glass come May 25. It’s brewed in the Franconian town of Bamberg, and is a tradition for the area. Barley malt is smoked over a beechwood fire and the resulting Rauchbier is a raucous, rousing, tongue-tingling brute of a lager that is also curiously appetising and moreish. Available from here.
Hopfenstopfer Citra Ale, 5.1%
The majority of German brewers are a conservative lot (that’s as in brewing not politics) and would blanch at the idea of using assertive American hops in their beers. However, over at Häffner Brau in the southern German town of Bad Rappenau, head brewer Thomas Wachno is producing a group of beers under the Hopfenstopfer brand (as well as his regular ones). Citra Ale is a big hoppy beast with loads of the fabulously fragrant US hop Citra in the mix — there are hints of white grape and Parma violets on the palate, with a bracing bitter backbone. I’m afraid you’ll have to hop over to Bad Rappenau for this one, but the advantage is that you can also taste his other Hopfenstopfer beers.
Erdinger Urweisse, 4.9%
That’s Ur, as in the German word for original, rather than a response when asked a difficult question. Erdinger is the biggest wheat beer (or Weissbier) producer in the world and their bestseller is a decent and refreshing, bananas-and-cloves Weizen standard, but in 2008 they reached back into their archives and came up with this little beauty. You’d have to look online for it (the normal wheat beer is easily available in the supermarkets), but for my money it has an appetising richness, juicy sweetness and edge of the palate tartness that makes it a fabulous beer to enjoy by the crate. Available from here.
Schneider Aventinus, 8.2%
A celebration beer, no matter whom you support. First brewed in 1907 (with the brewery’s woman owner having a hand in the creation), this beautiful Weizenbock (a ramped up Weissbier) has a gorgeous, elegant scent of baked bananas and hint of allspice, while vanilla, bananas and hint of ginger make for a big mouthful. Contemplation rules as you watch the highlights and work out whether Frank Ribery should have made such a fuss when he was drenched with alcohol-free wheat beer. Available from here.
Sitting on the bench: Mahr’s Pils, Jever Pils, Dom Kolsch, Ayinger Celebrator, Andechser Doppelbock