Finally, here it is. The moment of truth. The post we've all been waiting for and that many of us thought would never come.
Alas, chronic laziness and terminal distraction are no match for beer lust, so here we stand, at the final match of my mission to find my favourite beer from any of the countries competing in UEFA's Euro 2012. Indeed, we may question the legitimacy of that particular competition (I think they may have stolen the whole 'Euro 2012' idea from me, replacing beer with actual footballing nations) but my own competition is just and true.
Whatever, here goes.
ENGLAND - LONDON PRIDE: Very fresh hop aroma from this, if not a little subdued and all but drowned out by malt - something avid readers will know I actually appreciate. Speaking of the malt, it's nutty, toffee chocolate malt that dominates the first nose, with a nice hint of spice kicking in as time ticks by. The taste is even better - fully flavoured and wonderfully layered for such a light and easy-going beer. Soft, warm toffee and biscuit malt notes, a fruity underlayer and a nice bitter slap at the end. I have to say, this needs to be enjoyed at room temperature (or just below) for maximum effect.
FRANCE - 3 MONTS: This lovely stuff pours a very clear gold with a big fluffy white head that dissipates fairly soon. Carbonation is pretty active, too, although that may have something to do with the etched 'D' in my Duvel glass. On the nose, the first thing I'm picking up is a champagne yeast, followed by a grassy hop aroma with hints of citrus zest, herbs and spice. Very light and fresh smelling, something that really surprised me the first time round. Malt kicks in on the tongue, with slightly sweet bread and caramel flavours bowing out to nice grainy wheat and barley flavours. It's refreshing and fairly easy-going, and a great beer to drink in the sun, all of which defies the 8.5% ABV. However, that alcohol does make an appearance in the syrupy finish that provides a touch of heat.
As is befitting of a final, this is a tough one to call. Originally, I thought the price point and supermarket accessibility of London Pride would give it a slight advantage, but on this final tasting, I find it hard to downplay the already understated beauty of 3 Monts.
As such, I see no other alternative to a France win, and without a handball in sight.
I WENT THERE.