Keener readers of this website will have noticed that we do some occasional work with German brewery Krombacher. The most recent deal we struck with the brewing aces was to write a piece on how beer and football can mutually benefit each other, using a World Cup football match as a case study with Krombacher Pils as the accompanying beer.
But there were a few hitches in this plan.
In order to conduct the experiment, Krombacher sent me a few big bottles of beer. But just before the tournament kicked off my family came for dinner and, looking for a load of beer to serve with the meal, I absentmindedly plonked the pils on the table.* Fortunately I found some Krombacher Dark luring in the shadows of my beer shelf, so hopefully our bosses will forgive this last minute substitution.
My next problem came in scheduling.
I’d planned to watch Germany in a knock-out game for my beer and football pleasures – to see if drinking a German beer had any additional impact on the occasion – but Joachim Low’s charges failed to make it out of their group so I opted for the high-stakes semi-final that didn’t involve England** instead: France vs Belgium.
The game was enthralling. The beer was good. And here are my notes on how the two may have benefited each other.
Sense of occasion
Before any big game the build up is important in order to get you properly in the mood for action. When watching live football this inevitably means a trip to the pub before kick-off, getting excited about the game over a few beers with friends. Alone on the sofa the beer becomes part of a different pre-match ritual: ‘warming up’ the telly and getting the sofa comfortable before opening the beer bottle to signify the official start of the event (no matter how long before kick-off you do this). With beer, the football anticipation levels become heightened.
It’s a known thing that aroma is one of the best memory triggers, so beer often smells of good times. Krombacher Dark has a definite German beer whiff to it which immediately transports me back to time spent in Munich and, as it’s a football night, the buzz of atmosphere surrounding Bayern Munich in Champions League mode. I am definitely ready for action.
Conduit for emotions
Unusually for me I noticed I held my glass throughout the majority of the game (rather than rest it on the table). I don’t think I usually do this, even during football matches, but the glass became something to cradle and grip during the tense moments (not that there were many) and acted as a cheering device during the high quality moments (not that there were many). All of these instances of drama and excitement were followed with a hearty swig.
Something else I noticed about my drinking habits during football: I’m generally a steady swigger rather than a regular sipper*** but during the football I went for long periods of time without a swig, engrossed in the action, then when I did drink, deep slugs of booze were taken on board.
This was all helped by using a weighty tankard with a handle and, if there’s one thing I’ve learned from World Cup drinking, it’s that drinking from such glasses during football is preferable to lighter tulip-shaped receptacles.
The alcohol effect
Finally, the most obvious enhancement that beer can have on watching football is down to the alcohol. A few bottles stretched out over a couple of hours is never going to have a profound effect, but alcohol is known to heighten senses and give any adrenalin an extra impetus. So as the drama unfolded the beer and football worked more in tandem with each other, making Mbappé’s flourishes of skill seem more exciting and, in turn, making the roar of the crowd sound like a call to drink more beer.
I’ve watched lots of ordinary football matches with dodgy beers in the past: the beer has always compensated for the lack of footballing quality while the sense of occasion has made the beer more tolerable. When the beer and football are both good the become the perfect team.
*Good quality German pilsners are a safe choice for visitors: they’re liked by most people and go with almost anything, working rather well with my roast chicken and potato salad
**I had to stick with lucky Scottish beers for England games
***When I used to drink Guinness it was easy to see how many swigs I had of each pint by the rings around the glass. Rarely more than ten.
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