It took me a while to work out the tasting of these four beers, so while I was at it, I decided on the overall winner...
But that'll come later on.
First of all, we have the semi finals to get through, so let's see who'll be making up the final later on tonight.
SF 1 - Ireland v England: This was always gonna be a tough one. On the one hand, Ireland's Carraig Dubh is a thoroughly enjoyable, complex, flavoursome and rich porter. It succeeded in an area where very few have done the job for me. That, and the fact that I genuinely just love the flavour and aroma I get from the beer, is the reason Ireland have come so far in the competition. On the other hand, however, is England's London Pride. While the complexity and intensity does not quite match that of the porter (at least not anymore), my enjoyment of it's layered malt, fruit and hop flavours has not diminished a bit. It's incredibly satisfying and refreshing, with a drinkability that I find hard to match.
Clearly, both beers have winning points, but I suppose the best test is as follows; if I was to go shopping for beer, which of these two would I pick up? Around 7 or 8 times out of 10, I'd go for London Pride. It's consistent, reliable, and I never question buying a bottle. As such, England go through.
SF 2 - Germany v France: I'm only realising now that these two matchups are rather similar. There's the new, exciting beer that I tried and that really impressed me in the form of the French 3 Monts, and there's an old favourite, a beer that I buy almost automatically when I shop for beer. The thing is, there's a significant difference between my opinions of Paulaner and London Pride. Both are my favourite beers in their respective styles, both managed to really impress me and stand head an shoulders above their peers. But in the past 6-8 months, my tastes have changed considerably. I no linger look for Hefes and Wits the way I used to. Instead, I look to explore Belgian, English or American ales, even including porters and stouts. Often, this leads to me finding a style that I had not known existed before, like a Bière de Garde, represented wonderfully by the great 3 Monts. This beer is satisfying to no end. I've said it before but I'll say it again - it just feels so nourishing. This beer tastes like it's made on a farm, for farmers to drink. And it's surprisingly drinkable and refreshing for it's alcohol content, yet the body never feels too light. Brilliant beer...
And there we have it. England will play France to find out which nation in Euro 2012 has my favourite beer. Oh the excitement!