The Russia 2018 World Cup is finally underway! And seeing as today is National Beer Day – and beer and football go together like Marmite and cheese (we’ll fight anyone on this) – we thought we’d have our very own World Cup of Beers to celebrate. We’re taking a look at every nation and offering up what we think are one of the best brews to sample during their games.

World Cup of Beers – National Beer Day

We’ve tried to give a mix of styles and flavours, and we’ve also attempted to stick to beers that are available to buy in the UK too. But honestly, trying to find an Iranian IPA in Waitrose isn’t the easiest undertaking, so there will be some you can’t get hold of. Sorry. But without haste, here’s a beer for every country at the World Cup!

Group A

Egypt: Stella – Lager, 4.5%
Russia: Salden’S Violet Twins – Double IPA, 8.2%
Saudi Arabia: Bario Classic – Non-alcoholic, 0.0%
Uruguay: Davok American IPA – IPA, 6.3%

Ok, we’ll level with you – Group A’s beers are hard to find in the UK. The craft beer scene has reached South America, and Uruguay’s Davok Brewery does, believe it or not, have a good reputation. But their brews are virtually impossible to get hold of here in the UK, while Egypt’s biggest beer, Stella, is drinkable but not memorable. Saudi Arabia has strict alcohol laws which means you’re just looking at non-alcoholic stuff. But while the Russians might not stand much chance of winning the World Cup itself, we’d back them to get out of Group A in a World Cup of Beers. Anything from Salden’S brewery is worth a try!

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Group B

Iran: Istak Pomegranate – Non-alcoholic, 0.0%
Morocco: Casablanca – Pale Ale, 5.0%
Portugal: Sagres – Lager, 5.1%
Spain: La Pirata Sansa – Amber Ale, 6.0%

Like Saudi Arabia, Iran’s alcohol laws mean your options are essentially non-existent, with fruit flavoured malt brews the closest you’ll get to a crisp lager – Istak being the country’s biggest. Given its costal and in Northern Africa, you can get a decent enough beer in Morocco with Casablanca our pick. The craft scene isn’t too strong in Portugal but we’d be more than happy to sit with a Sagres during the tournament, and it is widely available in the UK. But it’s Spain who have Group B locked down with some excellent breweries popping up in the last few years. We’d recommend anything from Barcelona’s La Pirata.

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Group C

Australia: Little Creatures – Pale Ale, 5.2%
Denmark: Mikkeller Astley’s Northern Hop – Red Lager, 4.7%
France: Thiriez Blonde d’Esquelbecq – Blonde, 6.5%
Peru: Cusqueña – Lager, 5.0%

One of the strongest groups in our World Cup of Beers, let’s start with Denmark. The Scandinavians are going through a real golden age of brewing at the moment with their creations widely available in the UK – and Denmark’s Mikkeller Brewery is right at the forefront of the revolution. Australia also has some big hitters and we’ve gone for Little Creatures as our weapon of choice. France naturally has a plethora of options but we like anything from experimental brewery, Thiriez, while Peru also has a perfectly acceptable lager in Cusqueña.

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Group D

Argentina: Quilmes – Lager, 4.9%
Croatia: Zmajska Pivovara – Pale Ale, 5.3%
Iceland: Einstök Arctic Ale – Pale Ale, 5.6%
Nigeria: Guinness Foreign Extra – Stout, 7.5%

An easier group to pick beers for than we thought possible, Argentina probably has the weakest entry with Quilmes – it’s fine but hardly inspiring. But footballing dark horses Croatia is where things get interesting. There’s been some excellent microbreweries opening up recently and Zmajska Pivovara (The Dragon Brewery) is the best of them. Iceland have an obvious choice in the crisp Einstök Arctic Ale – which you can find in a load of decent pubs and also Waitrose – and there also happens to be a Guinness brewery in Nigeria. Result.

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Group E

Brazil: Amazon Beer Forest Pilsen – Pils, 4.1%
Costa Rica: Cerveza Imperial – Lager, 4.6%
Serbia: Dogma Hoptopod – IPA, 6.5%
Switzerland: Felsenau Bärni – Dunkel Lager, 5.2%

Costa Rica’s Cerveza Imperial can’t be found in the UK, but to be honest it’s not much of a loss. Brazil has a few beers available in the UK but the best craft is undoubtedly Amazon Beer, and we like their Forest Pilsen. Like Croatia, Serbia has a few microbreweries and if you can find anything by Belgrade’s Dogma Brewery you’ll be onto a winner. Switzerland’s Felsenau Bärni is a cracking Dunkel-style lager if you can find it online too.

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Group F

Germany: Augustiner Helles – Lager, 5.2%
South Korea: Hite Pale – Lager, 4.3%
Mexico: Negra Modelo – Lager, 5.4%
Sweden: Pistonhead Flat Tire – Dry-Hopped Lager, 5.2%

Another strong group for taste and availability, current World Cup holders Germany are also world leaders when it comes to brewing. There’s loads of options out there but we always keep coming back to Augustiner Helles, which can be found in basically any German pub in the UK. Mexico’s light beers are perfect for summer drinking and Negra Modelo beats a Corona any day. While like Denmark, the Swedish brewing scene is thriving – Pistonhead is widely available and tastes great too. South Korea do have some interesting brews but Hite is the only thing you’re likely to find easily.

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Group G

England: Beavertown Neck Oil – Session IPA, 4.3%
Belgium: Duvel Tripel Hop Citra – Blond, 9.5%
Panama: Balboa – Lager, 4.8%
Tunisia: Celtia – Lager, 5.0%

Though Panama’s and Tunisia’s entries most definitely had to be Googled, Group G does feature a battle of two beer heavyweights, England and Belgium. We know it’ll cause controversy but we’ve opted for Beavertown’s Neck Oil to represent England – mainly as they’re going to have a new microbrewery at Spurs’ new White Hart Lane. Plus, Neck Oil is a lovely, lovely drop. For Belgium, we had to go for something stronger and bolder, and we’ve picked Duvel’s Tripel Hop Citra – a nice twist on Duvel’s classic Blond.

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Group H

Columbia: Club Colombia Dorada – Pils, 4.7%
Japan: Hitachino Nest White Ale – Witbier, 5.5%
Poland: Perla Export – Lager, 5.6%
Senegal: 33 Export – Lager, 4.8%

While Columbia’s Club Columbia Dorada is a great take on a pils, it is only available on one specialist website as far as we could tell. But Poland’s Perla Export is a nice Eastern European lager and you can probably find it fairly easy. But it’s Japan who have our final group won with Kiuchi Brewery the seventh largest beer producer in the world – and it’s not just mass-produced watery malt either. We’d recommend any of their rice beers but Hitachino Nest White Ale will always be our go-to. Senegal? Don’t even worry about it…

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If you don’t know the difference between your Bock and your Saison, to help the average Joe navigate their way through this brave new hoppy world, we’ve put together a definitive guide to styles of beers.

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