Austin Beer for the World Cup
Let your favorite local brew determine who you’ll bet on to win
By Eric Puga,
1:27PM, Wed. Jun. 13, 2018
It’s only hours before the start of the 2018 World Cup in Russia, and you’ve probably noticed the lack of quadrennial soccer hype that seems to buzz the American public like 17 shots of Malört at Ye Olde Towne Barfhouse.
That’s because the throw pillows on the U.S. men’s national soccer team are terrible soccer louts having failed to inspire themselves with enough American grit to win the points required for an invite to the planet’s biggest party. They were chopped at the knees by the team ranked 99th in the world (Trinidad & Tobago), when a simple draw versus a squad with less athletic acumen than a downtown mixologist would've been the only thing needed to rally around The Nats like a bunch of insane nationalists.
Alas, here we are. And so are the Americans. But that doesn’t mean we have to sit around all summer and pout about it. Most of you will go with your 1/18th roots and choose Curaçao to hold your undying patriotism. (It’s not even a country, it’s a blue drink. And they aren’t in the Cup even though at #86, they’re ranked higher in the world than juggernauts Trinidad & Tobago.) Others will root for their favorite international club players who own entire archipelagos in the South Pacific and do fancy shit with the ball. But for those of us in need of a more specific metric with which to paint faces and wave flags from parts unknown, why not let your favorite of these 32 local beers decide which team gets your undying, month-long allegiance?
The Favorites to Win
ABGB – Industry Pils | Germany: You appreciate machine-like efficiency, consistency, and execution in your lagers. Why shouldn’t you feel that way about your soccer squad as well? ABGB’s legendary status as big-shot award winners on the brightest of stages at GABF mirrors Die Mannschaft’s excellence at the World Cup finals, including winning it all last time in Rio 2014.
Live Oak – Hefeweizen | Spain: Much like Live Oak’s iconic and world-class hefeweizen, this old-ass squad is still out there roasting fools on the pitch after all these years with their perfect tiki-taka zestiness and deft touch. This legendary beer represents your appreciation of a legendary squad.
Pinthouse Pizza – Electric Jellyfish IPA | Brazil: Sure, you’re a frontrunner with arrogant disdain for the longball because it is boring and lame and decidedly too English, but you counter your joga bonito attitude with pints of aesthetic rhythm running through your carnival veins like Gisele Bündchen. Like the beer, it’s an easy team to enjoy: juicy, deft, bombastic, and easily the most decorated of brands.
Jester King – Le Petit Prince Farmhouse Ale | France: You want your team to be light and vibrant while also recognizing work rate as artwork, as is this delightfully flavorful 2.8% table beer. Every World Cup, Les Blues matches Jester King’s obstinate train of hype that follows them like an overbearing helicopter beer nerd, but these teams also put in 1000% of the work necessary to make it all look as easy and fun as saying Paul Pogba.
Austin Beerworks – Pearl Snap Pilsner | Argentina: Soccer’s favorite son is Lionel Messi and Austin’s favorite beer is Pearl Snap (based very scientifically on the number of people we see standing in the 15 items or fewer line at HEB with the beer in hand). But as fate has cruelly insisted, neither Messi or Pearl Snap have won on the biggest stage despite their conspicuous capabilities. Each time you drink a Pearl Snap during the Cup, an Angel di Maria will send a perfect cross.
Celis Brewery – Celis White | Belgium: This 2018 squad is the tail end of Belgium’s golden generation and its last chance at glory from a ridiculously talented group. But you, romantic Celis White fan, love a good comeback story. Like the revival of Pierre’s internationally acclaimed witbier, both of these Belgians are sassy upstarts with a nice tangy flair – but everything will have to work out perfectly.
The Contenders Who Will Challenge
(512) Brewing – Pecan Porter | Colombia: You are a fan of the local staples, specifically this iconic brew from (512). Similarly, it seems like Los Cafeteros is a required element of every World Cup and always primed to set the world alight with their skill, talent, and inevitable run to the finals ... until they flop out. Still, a new keg of Pecan Porter is tapped every negative 19 seconds in an Austin bar, ready to hurtle you to certain nightlife immortality with an elite attack of rich chocolate malts, nuanced coffee notes, and James Rodriguez. Just enjoy the ride as far as it will take you this year, and forever after.
Southern Heights – Where’s My Flannel Pub Ale | England: This is England’s most reserved – yet perhaps most congruent – squad in ages, and WMF reflects that subtle charm in a 4.9%, sessionable, extra special bitter. Truly, most fans of the Three Lions already realize that they will have to keep it light and bitter after their inevitable quarter final exit by penalties.
Last Stand – SMaSH Citra IPA | Portugal: This is the tale of two breakthrough smash hits from 2016: the debut of Last Stand’s Single Malt and Single Hop IPA and Portugal with their first European Championship. Like your beer, you prefer single-star driven entities with the palpable megastars showcased here being Citra hops and Cristiano Ronaldo. Also, Ronaldo is one of those dudes previously mentioned who could buy an entire country with 35 seconds of his salary.
Zilker Brewing Company – Coffee Milk Stout | Uruguay: So, you wanna to root for a ruthless squad who is supremely overlooked as a powerhouse from one Cup to the next? That’s Uruguay for you. Likewise, Zilker’s Coffee Milk Stout is all about that brooding yet nimble delivery like the elite tandem of Edison Cavani and Luis Suarez. Your favorite beer might lead you to the low-key pick that could win the whole dang thing.
Hops & Grain – Zoe Pale Lager | Croatia: Like your beer, you like your team to have flashes of brilliance, with an overall consistency similar to perennial world Cup troublemakers, Croatia. Though neither has yet to hoist any major hardware (Croatia finished third in the 1998 Cup), they both bring a great complexity to the pitch – Croatia with a talented midfield and frontline, and Zoe with its dry-hopped, floral, and citric intricacy. Zoe’s packaging is also as visually alluring and classic as Croatia’s checkerboard kits.
The Dark Horses Who Can Surprise
St. Elmo Brewing Company – Carl Kolsch | Egypt: You only drink one beer and that beer is, BY GOD, CARL FREAKIN’ KOLSCH. Egypt has one person on its entire national team and that is, BY ALLAH, MOHAMED FREAKIN’ SALAH. Both are really damn good. Perfect, actually. And both are the spark plugs that take their entire squads on a nice little run of success.
Oddwood – Pale Ales | Iceland: Yep, you’re the sentimental beer drinker looking for the feel-good story of the Cup. That is Iceland by a kazillion miles, playing in their first ever World Cup after dazzling the planet at the 2016 Euros (Oi, England!). Like your beer, you like a strong and biting squad full of nordic virility. And just wait until you witness their supporter section Viking clap, which is about 50 times more mesmerizing than any Sigur Rós ballad.
NXNW – Northern Light Helles | Denmark: You’re a deliberate, plodding, thoughtful drinker. You prefer an old world style, almost always a helles. You reflect fondly on the glory days (like that one year), and nothing in 2018 has made you happier than a classic lineup in new packaging. You are a Denmark fan.
Independence Brewing – Convict Hill Oatmeal Stout | Sweden: It’s a real bummer that Zlatan Ibrahimović has retired from international play, because a four pack of 8% ABV oatmeal stout is just the kind of beer that he would shotgun in the summer months. As it goes, he won’t be at the Cup and we are worse off as viewers because if it, but if you prefer deep, bold beers with a puncher’s attitude towards the rest of Europe (they had to knock out Cup perennials Netherlands and Italy to qualify!), then you’ll dig Sweden’s swagger nonetheless.
Real Ale – Lime Gose | Mexico: You like your soccer teams like you like your beer: salty and sour with a plucky way of working well together. Like Lime Gose, El Tri will hit you with indigestion after about 90 minutes of hard consumption, perfect for the most woe-is-me supporters on the planet. (Era penal).
Oasis – Metamodern Session IPA | Switzerland: It’s a really nice beer. It’s a really nice country. Everything here is just kind of, well, nice. That is all.
Skull Mechanix Brewing – Blackbird Dry Irish Stout | Serbia: Not only do you think you’ve unearthed a diamond-in-the-rough, you’ve think you’ve discovered the whole damn mine. Tell no one of your high-stakes $25 bet on 150/1 odds. You think everyone is sleeping on your golden intuition here. Play it cool, man. Play it cool.
Anything on the Lazarus Brewing tap list | Peru: Well, here’s a squad without any inkling of an identity, but damn, if they don’t surprise with some quality play at times. You enjoy watching things improve with experience even if it means that things get a little too interesting.
Blue Owl – Spirit Animal | Nigeria: You prefer a bit of style over substance from both your beer and your team, leading to the inevitable late-hour heartburn, but a refreshing ride nonetheless. Coincidentally, Nigeria’s wild-ass, high-concept World Cup kits kind of resemble the equally stunning artwork of Spirit Animals’ own markings.
Anything from Brewtorium | Poland: Bespoke design behind a veteran team is your forte, but you’re also looking for a low key surprise underdog team with strong leadership. Poland is as good a bet as any behind dynamo Bayern Munich striker and Poland captain, Robert Lewandowski.
Adelbert’s – Hibiscus Saison | Costa Rica: You don’t want to root for an obvious powerhouse, but you still want that first-rate, flowery, south-American-style playground bully that is refreshing and exciting and absorbable. There’s no chance here to hoist a trophy, but it’s a damn solid rooting interest.
The Tournament Spoilers
4th Tap – Sun Eater Rosemary Gruit | Australia: Both have their enthusiastic supporters and both are a fun little side adventure down the too-worn path of international superstar fandom, but neither of these are gonna get that W against the giants. It’s ironic, too, that this beer is hop-free.
Friends & Allies – Springdale White | Senegal: Kinda like a Belgium lite, without any of the history.
Uncle Billy’s Brewery – Lazy Day Lager | Morocco: You prefer a squad with some promising talent, but ultimately a side that hasn’t been relevant in a long time (and probably should be performing at a higher level given their historical and proximal roots).
Hi Sign Brewing – Christie American Blonde | Japan: You aren’t gonna really watch the matches, but you’ll go to the watch parties! Here, have Japan.
Circle Brewing Company – Blur Texas Hefeweizen | Iran: You want to like Spain. You really want to root for Spain. But you also don’t want to look like an asshole. Iran seems like just the kind of self-deprecation you are super into.
Thirsty Planet – Thirsty Goat Amber | South Korea: You like consistency and basically little else matters in your soccer or your beer.
Strange Land – Austinite Pilz | Saudi Arabia: The lowest rated minnow in the ‘18 cup, very little depth in a very strong field, and are undoubtedly adored by their wives and girlfriends but few others. It’s like watching and drinking somber trumpet music.
Idle Vine – Idle Mind Pale Ale | Tunisia: Basically eliminated before anything even began
Any Treaty Oak beer | Panama: Why are you here? You shouldn’t be here.
But I don’t drink | Russia: You are intolerable. Go back to the White House.