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My first one of our beer groups, Jon and Dan have set off on a strong start, so I’m hoping to follow with a look at Group D!
Uruguay – The main beers in Uruguay are brands such as Pilsen, Patricia and Nortena. These account for a whopping 90% of the beer market in the country! The other 10% is made up mainly of brands such ad Stella, Bud, and Bramah etc. There is of course, nothing wrong with these beers, but where is the craft beer and microbreweries you ask? It seems in Uruguay, much like surrounding countries AnhauserBusch InBev own and control almost all of the major breweries creating a monopoly. The company actually tries to prohibit craft beer in their owned pubs, and offer incentives to not sell local brewed beer. This is of course, awful! Uruguay does have some smaller craft breweries trying to break through. On this note, I don’t think Uruguay has much hope of making it past the group stage.
Costa Rica – There is only one major beer player in Costa Rica, and that is Florida Ice & Farm Co. Now they don’t do just beer, since the 90’s they started to diversify and now do (deep breath) beer, wine, liquors, flavored alcoholic drinks, as well as bottled water, fruit juices, nectar, teas, carbonated drinks, energy drinks, milk and its byproducts, beans, preserves, tomato sauce and bakery products. Back to beer! The most popular beers throughout Costa Rica are Imperial, Imperial Silver, and Imperial Light, all are a slightly lighter version of the previous. There is then Pilsen, a stronger darker beer than Imperial., which also has lighter variations. Then finally Bavaria, and its variations. These are all highly commended beers, winning strong their categories in previous Monde Selection competition in Belgium. With such a strong line of beers, I think Costa Rica is a strong competitor to progress out of this group.
England – Good ole England. There has been much hope for beer over the years, and mush failure too. With a fight between Pubco’s, CAMRA, the emergence of Microbrewers all over, and now heavy movement in the craft brewing scene. Beer In England at the moment is at a high. There is an abundance of beers, enough to never get bored. The major Pubco’s all produce good, easy drinking although maybe not exciting beer. I’m talking about the big boys such a Greene King, Marstons, and Fullers etc. Even they have started to see people likeness for ‘Craft Beer’ with Greene King changing their branding for a number of beers and marketing them as craft beer. We could write paragraphs and paragraphs of beer in England. Every pub you enter will have at least 2-3 real ales on. May have a number more, and it’s always nice to see some lagers other than the usual ones, such as Kozel, Estrella and such. England’s beer always look promising, and you’d expect them to shoot out of this group. But sometimes they’re just a disappointment, and you get something awful.
Italy – When you think of Italy, you think wine, however beer is popular too, mainly pale type lagers. Beer in Italy is traditionally a great accompaniment to pizza, and it will come at no surprise that Peroni is one of the oldest and most widespread breweries in Italy. However since the 90’s beer has made it out of pizzerias and is being more widely consumed. Now, Peroni is actually owned by SABMiller, which is HQ’ed in London, and owns breweries worldwide. Microbrewers have taken off since the turn of the millennium too. They are reported to of become very popular due to the high quality of the products. Maybe due to skills being transferred from wine making to beer making? They have a good reputation of good beer, and a growing scene of local beer that is produced in excellent quality. I think Italy will easily progress out of this group, and continue to get better.