We're at the end of the first week of the 2016 UEFA European Championship (Euro2016) which is taking place in France until the 10th July. Over the coming weeks, I will be attempting to drink a beer from each of the twenty-four competing nations and writing up my experiences.
The countries drawn in Group A of Euro2016 are the host nation France, Romania, Switzerland and Albania. Due to the lack of an export market for Albanian beer, I am calling up a beer from Greece as a suitable replacement. Jackie Charlton was famous for selecting players to play for the Republic of Ireland on the grounds that they had an Irish grandparent - I'm almost certain that there must be at least one Albanian out their with a Greek granny!
As France were the first team to kick a ball, I decided to toast the hosts by cracking open a bottle of Wendelinius Blonde by Brasserie Meteor, a brewery north of Strasbourg which is recorded as France's oldest historic brewery still in production. I purchased my beer from online beer merchant Beers of Europe for £1.99
Wendelinus Blonde is a Belgian style pale ale that packs a punch at 6.8% ABV. Despite being classified as a blonde beers, it pours darkest than I expected - almost a dark amber colour. The beer has a mid-carbonate it still manages to pour with a tall foamy head that sticks around, leaving a light lacing in the glass. There are notes of lemon, black pepper, nutmeg and sweet banana on the nose, most of these flavours carry on into the taste. Initially sweet to taste, banana and peach are evident but it doesn't take long for the spice and citrus to cut through to leave a light bitter hop finish. Having spent a short time in Brussels and Leuven before Christmas, I managed to drink a reasonable amount of Belgian pale ale and can honestly say that Brasserie Meteor's attempt at recreating this style of beer is very nice indeed.
I wanted to avoid the usual suspects when it came to choosing my French beer and am happy to report that I'm pretty chuffed with my selection. I look forward to drinking Wendelinus Blonde again in the future.
Keep an eye on the rest of my challenge and feel free to share your own beers of Euro2016 on Twitter using the hashtag #beersofeuro2016