The most watched sporting event in the world arrives tomorrow with South Africa taking on Mexico’s national team to kick off the 2010 World Cup. 32 teams will vie for the Jules Rimet trophy as the best team in soccer but how do these countries stack up craft beer wise?
Of the top ten ranked soccer teams only Germany at number six and England at number eight boast a heritage of great beer that would put them into the Top 10 beer nations.
So here is my opinionated list of the Top Five Craft Beer Countries followed by their soccer rank and their chances to win this year’s cup:
U.S.A. – A bit of home country bias, but when you have great beer cities from Portland to New York and every spot in between it has to get the # 1 spot. Our collective beer history is spotty (but interesting, thanks to prohibition) but you can’t beat America for breadth of beer choice and re-making of established styles.
Soccer Rank: 14.
The U.S. should escape the group stage behind England and could easily pull out an upset in the elimination phase if they can find a reliable goal scorer before faltering in the quarterfinals.
Belgium – For me, an easy choice, where else has history, distinctive style and some of the most sought after beers in the entire world. And some of the greatest beer drinking cities anywhere.
Soccer Rank: 59
The Belgians are gearing up for 2012. They did not make the cut of 32 from the tough European bracket.
Germany – This might seem high for a country that seems less innovative now but this is the country that gave us kolsch, gose, maibock and Oktoberfest. That goes a long way in my book.
Soccer Rank: 6
Without Michael Ballack and underwhelming goalkeeping choices, I have them leaving the tournament around the same time as the US, in the quarterfinals.
Canada – Another country you could argue is ranked too high. And above England no less! Every list needs controversy right? Canada is here because of a great scene in Victoria and Vancouver as well as trendy hotspots in Montreal.
Soccer Rank: 63
Like Belgium, Canada is sitting at home and plotting for 2012. They will need to really up their game to make it then.
Italy – Whereas Germany makes the list because of its past, Italy is here because of its bright present and possibly brighter future. If the beer scene can add more brewers, then their unique take and ingredients could really become a hot trend.
Soccer Rank: 5
Italy’s team is in flux. A mixture of cup winning veterans bolstered by the younger generation. Will they gel in time? Not enough to win for me but enough for the semi-finals.
So who is my pick for the championship? I believe it will be England vs. Spain in the final with Spain edging out Rooney and company. And to celebrate? Pick up a big bottle of Estrella Damm Inedit. A fizzy and delightful wit bier that you can either shake up and spray around at your World Cup final party or better yet, find a nice glass and toast another World Cup champion.
Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.