EuroBeery 2012: Semi Final 1, Czech Republic v Italy

Semi Final 1, Czech Republic v Italy

One day, I'm going to be leafing through the travel offers in the weekend papers and I'm going to find my perfect holiday advert:


CHEAP! Have your stag do in Tallin! No need to pretend you're there for the culture! As much beer and chips as your pasty-white bellies can cope with! And more besides!

ROMANTIC! Ask the love of your life to marry you in Paris! Ignore the dogshit and the rabid taxi driver whilst you piss away the best part of a month's salary on a middling hotel and lukewarm cuisine!

DESERTED! Come to Prague or Rome this weekend, because all the well-stoked stags and dewy-eyed lovers have gone somewhere else! Enjoy the bars and beers without watching Neville from Solihull puke into a condom or Sarah from Surbiton choke on the ring buried in her chocolate mousse!

I've missed out on a Rome trip and never got around to seeing the finer parts of Pilsen or Prague. I'm going to have to do something about that. Meantime; it's semi-final time. How can I choose between these two?

It's easy.

Thinking about Czech beer makes me thing of pils. Czech pils makes me think of Matuška and several giddy afternoons in the Sheffield Tap. Give me a keg of it, I'd cuddle it; give me a swimming pool full of it, I'd drown peacefully with a shit-eating grin on my face.

But then thinking about pils, thinking about Italy... only leads to thinking about drinking Tipopils.

If it tastes handsome on an overcast Derbyshire evening, I dare not dream how it could taste somewhere like Ma Che Siete Venuti a Fà as Andrea Pirlo rounds a beached keeper to give the Gli Azzurri another victory.

For a pils that outshines a nation of pils, Italy are through to the final.

Result: Czech Republic 0 Italy 1


EuroBeery 2012: Quarter Final 4, England v Spain

Quarter Final 4: England v Spain

"Guinea Pigs and Cider".

Sometimes, the simplest question elicits an awkward answer.

I've been asking around as to what I'm missing in my Spanish beer knowledge. A fair few of you said cider. You scamps. I've had a few of them - all too-fleeting tasters - and certainly need to haul myself over Basque country to try some more.

The experimental Guinea Pig brews by Yria also seem to have a lot of love. I don't know whether this is because of their bleeding-edge style (wood-aged imperial IPA...) or the intrinsic quality of the beer. I'd like to find out, so if you make it over there and have space in your suitcase, feel free to visit one of these places and pick me up a bottle or two. I'll swap you for some home-made jam*. Or something**.

Somewhere there's a Spanish beer that's crafted as intricately as La Roja's midfield possession play. Meanwhile, all England need to progress is a beer that makes you do a Stuart Pearce.

Magic Rock Cannonball does that to me. No nonsense, back of the net, makes you want to shout "COME ON!!!"***.

Result: England 1 Spain 0

* jam may not actually be made at my home. Or anyone else's home. Unless someone lives in a jam factory.
** The phrase 'something' may be substituted for 'any old crap that I've been given and want to foist off'
*** Or, as Psycho clearly says, "'FUCKING COME ON!!!". But only if you're in the kind of company that appreciates course and vulgar goings on. Mentioning no names ****
**** Kristy McCready


EuroBeery 2012: Quarter Final 3, Italy v Sweden

Quarter Final 3: Italy v Sweden

Blame Paulo Rossi.

The 1982 World Cup was the first that I really appreciated. Back in 1978 I had vague memories of Argentina being stubborn, England not being in it and Scotland being shit apart from Gemmill transmogrifying into Cruyff for five glorious seconds. Four years later, the bad boy of Italian football took Brazil to the cleaners and I had a sudden hankering for an Italia tracky top.

Ever since then, Italy has suggested to me a sense of assured sophistication. With just a hint of menace. The ebullient coffee-shop owner who can hold a stare for an eternity. The willowy girl with the wild eyes who once made me zucchini frittata for breakfast. Plates of food that look so simple yet have depths of flavour that make you wonder.

And so it proves to be with beer.

There are few people with opinions on beer that I take seriously. Phil Lowry from is one of them. When he told me he'd found an Italian beer that I'd love, I believed him. Surfing Hop by Toccalmatto was sticky and bullish and caramel-covered bitter liqorice and... and.. just bloody amazing. Style and substance. Flair and awareness. Rossi's deft touch and Zoff's firm caress.

Sweden don't even get a look-in.

Result: Italy 1 Sweden 0

So Italy meet the Czechs in the first semi final. Find out who joins Germany tomorrow.


EuroBeery 2012: Quarter Final 2, Germany v Poland

Quarter Final 2: Germany v Poland

Zywiec Porter. 0-1.

And I now can't think of anything that the Poles have which the Germans can't better. Effortlessly.

So... anything German Dunkel. 1-1.

Jever and Andechs are both rested. The unfancied and under-rated Rothaus Pils Tannenzäpfle slots in the winner.

Result: Germany 2 Poland 1.


EuroBeery 2012: Quarter Final 1, Czech Republic v Denmark

Quarter Final 1: Czech Republic v Denmark

I don't want to turn this into tradition versus innovation.

Czech beer for me is defined by pils; pils for me is defined by the Czechs. You can dress it up any which way you want to; Urquell on tap, Bernard in bottles, who-knows-what in discount supermarkets and dive bars. I love the tradition; not the history, not the bragging rights. I love their pride in their style and their knowledge that no-one can honestly do it better. 

Danish beer for me is defined by undefinability. Almost single-handedly due to Mikkeller but also the likes of Evil Twin. Yes, at times it feels like I'm paying for the privilege of being a beta tester. Yes, I've had some Mikkellers that I found undrinkable. But when it works, when your senses tell you you're experiencing something special and you're still unsure as to why it works... that's magical beer. 

When tradition results in exemplary style with substance, it's difficult for me to ignore. When innovation results in rewards that could never be attained without undertaking commercial and reputational risk, it's hard for me not to applaud it.

1-1, then? Not quite.

For me, one of these countries has outstanding tradition *and* innovation. And so for both their glorious pilsners and adventurous breweries like Broumov and Matuška, the Czech Republic take the first semi-final slot.

Result: Czech Republic 3 Denmark 1


EuroBeery 2012: The Group Stage

There's been cheers and tears and beers and dancing in the streets of Donetsk. Now it gets seriously serious.

I have to sit down and work out pints - sorry, points - and goal difference etc. Except I don't, because I didn't get where I am in the analytical world today by working it all out manually. Oh no.

I search the internet for an easy solution.

Over at they just happen to have a handy fixtures / table compiler, which works as long as the dopey organic thing on the end of the keyboard can remember how to spell Engerland.

Here we go.

Quarter Final 1 will be Czech Republic v Denmark (old lager v new school?)

QF2 is Germany v Poland (don't mention the war etc)

QF3 sees Italy play Sweden (new waves of European brewing?)

QF4 pits England against Spain (don't mention the war again, although I probably will)

One side could be merely 270 minutes away (plus added time for feigned injury, slow substitutions and protracted protestations about a goal that was blatantly not over the line even with three officials watching but we don't really care because it's retribution for what happened to Lamps in 2010) from EuroBeery glory.

Game on!


EuroBeery 2012: England v Ukraine, Sweden v France

It's the end of the EuroBeery group stage tonight. Thankfully.

When I started out I knew I'd struggle with a few countries as, despite one too many Ratebeer get-togethers, I've not had too many beers from some Euro nations. It's made some match-ups unfair and others overtly one-sided. Never mind, eh. That's football.

So to assist matters tonight, I'm going to let the countries help fight it out through the medium of dance.

Group D: England v Ukraine

A confident England field the regionals for the first half. Fashion and fad are transient; class is permanent. Bitters by Adnams and Harveys are quintessentially English ales; on cask, they're world-class.

The Ukrainians can't muster a reply. They think it's all over.

They go all out with embroidery and flamboyant trousers:

England reply with mad bastards dancing with swords in a pub:

It's the rappers wot won it, Brian.

Result: England 3 Ukraine 0

Group D: Sweden v France

You can tell that Sweden don't really want to drag Närke Kaggen Stormaktsporter off the bench. It's been there a few years, has blazed brilliantly in the past though it is in danger of fading away in the near future. But it's an early lead and goals = points = prizes, Bruce.

Let's call that two goals. Let's suppose that all France have left in their bag of beer talent is Vieille Brune by Brasserie Thiriez. Let's say, because it's the best French beer I've had, it's worth two goals.

Who wins? There's only one way to find out.

Sweden go for something that reminds me of Chigley:

Whereas the French have synchronised epilepsy. In black and white:

Yay for Sweden.

Result: Sweden 3 France 2

England and Sweden go through to the knockouts. I'll sift and sort the beer-off fixtures tomorrow.


EuroBeery 2012: Italy v Ireland, Croatia v Spain

Round 3: Italy v Ireland

It has been said that great writers are able to assimilate unfamiliar topics and still produce professional, engaging, emotional prose.

Sod that for a game of marbles. It's a beautiful evening and I have 1001 better things to do tonight than pontificate about beer.

Italy take the lead through Verdi Imperial Stout and the Irish cry into their Diageo.

Result: Italy 1 Ireland 0

Round 3: Croatia v Spain

As I still haven't found a Croatian beer, it's left to the Spanish to field Moritz up front, round the back, on the sunlounger, by the pool, down the beach and in the plaza. You can't beat a six-pack. If any importers / distributors can let me know where I can buy a six-pack of Moritz - or ideally a slab of them - do let me know. This occasional summer is making me thirsty.

Result: Croatia 0 Spain 6

Italy top the group, Spain qualify too. More rollocks tomorrow.


EuroBeery 2012: Denmark v Germany, Portugal v Holland

Group B: Denmark v Germany

I'm hoping that somewhere in Krusa, on the Danish / German border, there's a bar. It's not somewhere that the workers at the nearby Arla mega-dairy frequent. Truckers on the E45 don't divert for it. It's a dim-lit, sparsely-customed bar. But it would have a couple of chiller shelves under the counter. The bored brunette working there would line up a few bottles for me on the bar. She'd then endlessly re-wash some glasses to keep her busy. I'd sit on a split-leather stool and try to work out if there really could be a winner when the beers from either side of the border meet head-to-head.

I'd spend forty-five minutes drinking Andechs beers. Vollbier that has an inner light about it, a pillowy head as soft as its palate. Maybe the Bergbock as well, with its malt depths and honeyed sweetness. Certainly the Spezial, as pale and crisp as a starched dress shirt. It'd be my idea of Hell.

An easy 0-3 lead for Germany. What can the Danish do?

Collaborate. Innovate. Think outside the six-yard box.

Evil Twin.

It's not just the fact that they are robust, ambitious and assertive beers. With names such as 'Christmas Eve at a New York City Hotel Room', 'Even More Jesus' and 'Monk Suffers Serious Sugar Rush On Barbados', I can't resist them.

In the battle of Hell versus Evil, it can only be a score draw.

Result: Denmark 3 Germany 3

Group B: Portugal v Netherlands

Cristiano Ronaldo has the silky skills. Bruno Alves has the physical presence. I've yet to find a Portugese beer that exhibits either.

La Trappe Quad, sipped slowly and decisively over ninety minutes. Job done.

Result: Portugal 0 Netherlands 1

And that's Group B wrapped up. The Dutch are out; Germany top the group and Denmark nab the second spot. There will be dancing in the streets of Krusa tonight.


EuroBeery 2012: Czech Republic v Poland, Greece v Russia

Group A: Czech Republic v Poland

I'm a stats kind of guy. And my stats show that Herold Cerny Lezák is a beer I rated higher than Zywiec Porter. So let's not overegg the pudding.

Result: Czech Republic 1 Poland 0

Group A: Greece v Russia

Let's start with Baltika 6. And end there.

Result: Greece 0 Russia 1

And that gives us the first group results of EuroBeery2012. Czech Republic win through with a 100% record, Poland are runners-up. Russia limp in third and Greece are left to prop up the group and knacker the Euro.

More tomorrow.


Eurobeery 2012: Ukraine v France, Sweden v England

Group D: Ukraine v France

Somewhere in France there's a certain brasserie. They make a Belgianesque blonde and serve kidneys in a juniper jus. It makes you wonder if the next town will have similar to offer. It makes you despair that there aren't more places in England that carry off brewpub beer and quality food with such... je ne sais quoi.

Somewhere in the Ukraine, there may be such a place that equals La Brasserie Historique de l’Abbaye du Cateau. But I've never been, so I don't know.

Result: Ukraine 0 France 1

Group D: Sweden v England

At the time of writing, England have yet to beat the Swedes in a football tournament. So, how can I make this a fair match-up?

By picking two breweries that both produce a range of styles and letting them go head to head over five of them? Why not?

It's Nils Oscar versus Thornbridge.

God Lager v Steelmaker (helles): Both have the Tettnanger twang but the cleaner malt finish of God Lager just pips in at the post. 1 -0

India Ale v Jaipur (IPA): Let's pretend that the two centre-forwards behind one of Thornbridge's finest creations weren't actually Italian and Scottish, shall we... 1-1

Kalasöl v Kill Your Darlings (Vienna): One of the first Nils Oscar beers I ever tried and the one I'd gladly keep a case of. Whereas Thornbridge go for the hop-twist finish, Kalasöl is comfy with its maltyness. One of those drinks that sits so well with a whole range of dishes that I'd love to see it in 75cl bottles as a table beer. 2-1

Brown Ale v Ashford (brown). The latter sneaks it, thanks to a finish which lifts the caramel-led flavour into some place interesting. 2-2

There's time added on. One last push from both sides, calling for strength and depth at this late stage.

Imperial Stout v St Petersburg (imperial stout). Nils' offering is a classy act. The scraping of just-burned toast. Soft chocolate drops. Coffee forgotten, now cold and mellow. It's hard to see how it could be beat. Has St Petersburg got maybe a touch more autumnal berry, a smoother roast, a hint of tobacco smoke? Yes, yes and yes.

Result: Sweden 2 England 3

More tomorrow


EuroBeery 2012: Italy v Croatia, Spain v Ireland

Can I take a day off?

Group C: Italy v Croatia

It takes so little for Italy to win that they get through courtesy of that 66ml bottle of lager they sell in Aldi.

Result: Italy 1 Croatia 0

Group C: Spain v Ireland

I once had a Basque cider that was shit-kickingly good and makes me want to go to one of those cider festivals around Gipuzkoa. In fact, I really fancy a long week in that neck of the woods; catch some football at Real Unión, get over to the Guggenheim in Bilbao. And drink more of that cider. And get me some properly long long long roasted pigbits.

Result: Spain 1 Ireland 0

More tomorrow. Apparently.


EuroBeery 2012: Denmark v Portugal, Netherlands v Germany

Group B: Denmark v Portugal

After being taken to the cleaners by Germany, Portugal need to pull something out of the bag if they're going to stand any chance in this group. Sadly, their bag is emptier than a ticker's notebook at a Greene King beer festival. They'd like to field one of the feistier Sagres family members but no-one knows where they've got to.

Meanwhile, Denmark are keeping their big guns smothered. Carslberg Elephant sets off down the right wing with a trumpety-trump and takes the crowd by storm. Probably...

Result: Denmark 1 Portugal 0

Group B: Netherlands v Germany

1974, Munich, World Cup Final. Netherlands v Germany. Total Football v total pragmatism.

Germany could not match the first-minute artisanship of Cruyff. Rather than break his legs, they simply marked him out of the game.

Maybe it was a match for the Netherlands to lose rather than Germany to win. Maybe Total Football was thrillingly imperfect. Maybe the deft style of possessional passing football pioneered by Cruyff at Barcelona during his time as manager there is the ultimate expression of Total Football.

Maybe the Dutch should have just knobbled Franz Beckenbauer.

And, here in EuroBeery 2012, history is repeating. De Molen scores from the kick-off as no-one can get close to Hemel & Hel. But then Germany close the play down; Augustiner take care of business with Maximator and Edelstoff.

There's a feeling that whatever the Dutch could conjure up with De Molen, the Germans would just move up another dopplebock and grind out the victory.

Result: Netherlands 1 Germany 2


EuroBeery 2012: Greece v Czech Republic, Poland v Russia

It's the second round of group matches for Scoop's EuroBeery 2012. Will I manage to find anything original to say having expended most of my meagre knowledge during the first round?

Group A: Greece v Czech Republic

The centre-forward who's a relative newcomer, has an easy-going style and is adored by his countrymen. The attacking midfielder who has a revered family name, a history of victories and a connoisseur's touch.

Youth is outmuscled by experience. Mythos may play well on its home turf, but Budvar scores all around the world. Budvar Yeast shaves the post; a nearly-but-not-quite kind of beer. Budvar Dark clips the bar. Budvar Half and Half  flies over the top higher than a Roberto Baggio penalty.

Result: Greece 0 Czech Republic 2 (... I can never have only one Budvar so the goal has to be worth double).

Group A: Poland v Russia

The other group match was a lager saga; this is a battle of the Baltic Porters. Thick-set defenders with hands the size of shovels and thighs the size of bison. Smothering strength. A hint of complexity.

Baltika is good but at the end of the day it seems only to emulate greatness. Zywiec exemplifies it.

Result: Poland 2 Russia 1 (not that I feel Zywiec is twice as good as Baltika but I can't award 1.36 of a goal).

More tomorrow.


EuroBeery 2012: France v England, Ukraine v Sweden

EuroBeery 2012. It's all about this.

Group D: France v England

A clash that resonates through the centuries. Because even if it's only synchronised crochet, beating the French at something is a hundred times sweeter than victory over any other nation.

But, objectivity is key. Let's play up and play the game. I've had the pleasure of discovering bières at delightful brasseries that have redefined my understanding of French beer.

True. But let's cut the horseshit. Even Derbyshire could field their first eleven and beat the Frenchies. So let's leave it to the likes of Thornbridge, Buxton, Whim and Raw to stuff seven into the sac d'oignon. Specifically: Jaipur, Chiron, Wild Boar, Axe Edge, Armadillo, Black Christmas and Grey Ghost. France don't even get out of their penalty area.

Result: France 0 England 7

Group D: Ukraine v Sweden.

In the good/bad old days, I made a record of every beer I drank. As a fully anally-retentive scooper who thought nothing of forming a firm opinion about a beer after sniffing two ounces of it, such records often made it as far as the internet  or, at the very least, into a beer-stained notebook.

I know I've had a Ukrainian porter. I can see notes made about Ukrainian porters at tastings I attended. Or maybe I went to the loo and twenty tick-mad Ratebeerians burst the bottle? Maybe I wasn't listening and thought it was Polish? Maybe it was just one of those porters that is as ubiquitous in Central / Eastern Europe as brown twiggy beer is in England?

Whatever. With no positive proof of Ukrainian imbibation, Sweden need do little to secure the tie. They let Nils Oscar Rokporter muscle its way into the box and remind the baying crowd of what a robust porter tastes like.

Result: Ukraine 0 Sweden 1

Back to Group A tomorrow.


EuroBeery 2012: Spain v Italy, Ireland v Croatia

The continuing substitution of beer for football in a Euro 2012 stylee. Because beer's far more important than football. Right?

Group C: Spain v Italy

Think. David Villa. Andoni Zubizarreta. Filippo Inzaghi. Dino Zoff. Beyond the best of the best; players who took the science and art of football and melded it into something sublime.

Do either nation have beers that reach the same level of perfection?


Often with world-class football, when an unstoppable midfield meets an immovable defence the results are rarely attractive. For the beers, it's more a case of neither side finding the space nor aptitude to stick it to the others. A gruelling first half sees Mahou and Moretti slug it out goal-less; stolid lager is only stolid lager at the end of the day, Brian.

Fresh legs threaten upsets in the second, though. Barca's Moritz shows a yard of pace over the other flabby lagers and sinks the bladder into the onion bag. It's still looking all rather stalematey, mind, until Italy wake up and remember where they left their flair. Pushing del Borgo and Baladin straight up the middle, they craft a brace and edge the lead. Spain make a late surge through with a Fortiverd brew collaboration between Cervesas Marina and UK's Steel City, 'The Grim North', but it inches achingly just wide.

Result: Spain 2 Italy 3

Group C: Ireland v Croatia

It's Estonia v Scotland 1998 at Tallinn's Kadrioru Stadium all over again. Only this time it's the Croats who forget to turn up. Now that isn't really their fault, I've never been to Croatia and never sought out a Croatian beer. Not even one advertised (in hopefully poor translation) as having a 'thick purple red' colour and the 'specific scent and taste of wheat malt'.

So it's looking like an Irish victory by default. But the referee refuses to blow the whistle for Guinness take the honours. Thankfully, Porterhouse comes to the rescue and, for Wrasslers Stout in particular, it's the narrowest of wins.

Result: Ireland 1 Croatia 0

I get the feeling that Croatia are going to be the whipping boys of this group. Whoops.

More tomorrow.


Euro 2012: The Beery Version

I'm watching as much of Euro 2012 as I can. I could claim it's for professional purposes now I'm employed in the football industry, as long as I analyse the brand exposure and rotation time of the digital advertising boards. 

So, here's a simple premise: what if the competition involved beers of the Euro nations pitted against each other? Through the groups, leading up to a beer-off final on the first of July? Which country has strength in depth, natural flair, proven heritage, emergent talent?

With a heap of caveats (basically, it's down to what beers I've tried and whatever beery prejudices I hold), let's get EuroBeer 2012 kicked off.

Group A: Poland v Greece

An ugly matchup for the opening game. My Greek beer knowledge starts and ends with taking the piss out of Mythos. Which, let's face it, can't afford to have the piss taken out of its slight profile lest there be nowt left in the bottle. Poland at least has a solid foundation of Baltic Porters; I have vague memories of Lodzkie's being fairly robust and fonder ones of Zywiec being a great beer at Beer Exposed a few years back. 

Somewhat dour. Certainly nothing as exciting as Jan "The Clown" Tomaszews used to be.

Result: Poland 1 Greece 0.

Group A: Russia v Czech Republic

Before I've even thought too much about this, Russia nick an early goal with a blindsided in-swinger. Baltika Porter ticks my boxes in a similar way to Poland's Zywiec. And then they almost go and do it again; Baltika No 7 is plain and unprepossessing but just lacks that killer edge. Off the post, out for a goal kick. And that's when the Czechs run up field, open their legs and show you their class. 

Pilsner Urquell proves to be an unexpected equaliser. Budvar and Herold play the same Route One approach and give the Czechs a clear lead. And then Matuška comes on towards the end and nabs a hat-trick; Černá Raketa 17° (Black Rocket), Raptor IPA and Speciální Světlé 13°. Even Lev Yashin couldn't have kept the Czechs out.

Result: Russia 1 Czech Republic 6

Group B: Netherlands v Denmark

What a juicy tie this proves to be. It comes down to those at the front and centre of contemporary brewing: De Molen and Mikkeller. The might of Menno Oliver and his stoic yet surprising beers that surge from midfield. The flight of Mikkel Borg Bjergsø and his continent-hopping collaborations often whipping in from the wings.

The substitutes can't get a look in, even though there's plenty of talent on the bench. Truth is, as they've brewed together their Mikkel & Menno Weizenbock means they can't be separated. You can't even fit a bottle label between them.

Result: Netherlands 1 Denmark 1

Group B: Germany v Portugal

All rather embarrassing. The Germans let Sagres and Superbock warm up - literally - before watching them fall over themselves. The flying Friesian forward Jever beats the Portugese dribble and scores with mad abandon. By the caseload. The Andechs quins don't even need to get off their sunloungers. I mean, subs bench.

If this were a boxing match, the referee would have stopped it on compassionate grounds.

Result: Germany 24 Portugal 0

So, Harry, it's been a frantic start but it's a game of three halves. I'll be giving it 110% every day until I'm sick as a parrot. 


The Death Of A Beer Festival, Part Two

"All Real Ales Outside £1 a Pint".

The runt end of a too-long Bank Holiday. Outside, the beers are cool; the punters are colder. Three lads in over-optimistic shorts head inside. A few hardy wax jackets and pork pie hats stand fast by the bar. Flustered bunting scratches at slab-grey clouds.

They may run flat, but the beers are still full of flavour. Ascot Ales' Alligator has lost none of its Cascade bite. With bitter orange and soft malts, Old Slewfoot's Orange Blossom Special has a breakfast-tray tang that makes me think of warm duvets and weekend papers. Rather than drinking by the recycle bins in the mizzle.

It becomes difficult to read the screen of my phone as I type. A lazy exodus from beer garden to bar fireside begins. The lads in shorts begin bantering about warmer times. One of the old guard can't be tempted away from his Smoothflow by the offer of a cheaper pint. Someone's beer widow is confused as to how a pub can "run out" of latte.

Back outside, the bar area itself under cover, a knot of new arrivals drip onto the flagging and look warily at the bargains. I buy Barista by Summer Wine which fountains into a glass. I can almost smell the coffee in it from this side of the bar. But it's a bittersweet sight, a cask this full on the last day of a festival. I wonder why as I drain the pint slowly. I wonder more as I drain another four over the languorously overcast afternoon.

Sat on his usual stool by the back bar, Eddie says "It's madness!" I'm not sure whether he means the festival still running on the Tuesday or the Jubilee in general. My bus is due. I wobble off. Happy and glorious.



We happy few become part of a joyous crowd; the pomp and circumstance, the ritual and tradition, the feeling of togetherness. Of eating burnt food, dancing in the streets and singing with strangers.

Beer festivals. Don't you just love them?

Whilst Liz and Phil wander round getting rained on this loooong weekend, us sensible types will be down the pub for a beer or four. There's usually plenty of fests on over a Bank Holiday and Jubilee weekend  - let's make that Ju-Beer-Lee, shall we - is no exception.

I'll be trying to cram in visits to four fests that each offer something a little different.

When Roger and Penny Myring ran the Smithfield in Derby, their beer fests were legendary. Strong hoppy stuff was always the order of the day by the likes of Hopshackle, Dark Star and Brewdog (ah, remember the days when Brewdog brewed cask and Punk wasn't always fizzy?). Now they've moved a few streets over to Nottingham Road and The Peacock, I'm looking forward to seeing what they conjure up.

Up in North Derbyshire / South Yorkshire the Three Valleys fest stretches over ten pubs with a free minibus shuttle running between them on certain days. I'll probably make it as far as the Coach And Horses in Dronfield with their two-dozen beers - including Thornbridge's finest - and move no further. Well, maybe to the barbeque and back.

Some of London's best brewers are represented at the Organ Grinder fest in Nottingham. Stand- in manager Chris Sherratt has sourced brews by the likes of Brodies, Redemption and Botanist. There will be several Blue Monkey specials on the bar too.

And of course I'll be barfly at my almost-local, the General Havelock in Ilkeston, as they ramp up their usual 40-ish cask selection to around a hundred over the weekend. With bar, cellar and outdoor stillage all in action, there's plenty of beer and cider on offer including a few that don't often make it out of their home counties. And of course there will be lashings of the best that the contemporary English brewing scene has to offer from Magic Rock and Summer Wine, including up for four kegged beers by the latter. Food in the shape of a big pig on turning stick is also available.

Happy and glorious. I'm off to iron my drinking trousers. See you down the pub.