To keep up to date with all of our beer related activities follow us on Twitter @Pubcask
It is now time to review the final group. Here are the contenders.
Algeria – The main brewery in Algeria is called Algad. They produce beers with interesting names such as Power Beer and Lalla Princesse. However when I researched these beers they were little more than a slight variation of light lager. Reading some reviews online these lagers appear to just be mass-produced weak lagers with little flavour. The other seemingly big beer player in Algeria is Tango Brewery which was bought by Heineken in 2008. They produce more traditional beer names such as Biere Blonde and Samba however these beers are much the same. A poor choice of lagers. Algeria have no chance of qualifying.
Belgium – One of the favourites. For once they have a good football team to go alongside their abundance of quality beers. There are obviously so many to mention so I will go through some of my favourites. The first brewery I am going to talk about is De Halve Mann in Brugge. I visited this wonderfully little brewery a few years ago and I have been impressed ever since. Their Brugse Zot is one of the best blonde beers around and the same goes for their dubbel. In my opinion their Straffe Hendrik tripel is definitely their best beer. At 9%, it is strong and rich and is everything you could ever want from a beer. Other breweries that are worth a mention are Leffe, St Bernardus and Delirium. It is also worth pointing out that the everyday lager which is usually bland and weak in other countries is in fact of a very high standard in Belgium. The beer in question is Jupiler which is the biggest selling beer in Belgium. It is a very good pale lager and at 5.2% is stronger than your average and full of flavour. Jupiler sponsors the national football team and like Croatia have beer cans with football players on. Belgium will easily qualify and have a good chance of going all the way.
Russia – It’s not all about vodka you now. In fact Russia has the fourth largest beer market in the world. The biggest brewery in Russia is Baltika who produce over 10 different varieties of beer with over 38% of the market share. Baltika, which is based in St Petersburg, is supposedly the biggest brewery in Europe and is the same size as the Vatican. Their beers include a Baltic 6 Porter and 9 Krepkoe which is a strong lager. The interesting thing about Russia is that they classify beers by their colour rather than the fermentation process – such as light or dark. There is a growing microbrewery scene across the major cities and the future for beer in Russia is promising. The European powerhouse should progress to the knockout stages.
South Korea – The South Korean beer market is dominated by Hite-Jinro and Oriental Brewery (OB). These are both similar beers and you will find one of these in most restaurants and bars. Up until 2011 there were strict tax laws against smaller brewers supplying beer to bars not in their ownership. Since those laws have been relaxed the microbrewery scene has been growing and is now offering an alternative to the big two. One of these microbreweries is called Oktoberfest, situated in Gangnam which was made famous by Psy. Another interesting fact is that Dogil Mauel which is a German Village is home to Koreans who spent years as migrant workers in Germany and wanted to bring that life back to their country of birth. The village is a big tourist attraction which has German style house and even has their own version of Oktoberfest. South Korea have a growing microbrewing scene but will struggle to progress with Belgium and Russia in their group.