When from 14 June on 22 sweaty men are chasing a ball to the world’s amusement, one drink will be especially on the mind of the male and female football enthusiasts: Beer. We present the best lager beer alternatives to the products of global players such as Heineken (e.g. Eichhof, Calanda, Ittinger, Halengut) or Carlsberg (Feldschlösschen, Valaisanne, Hürlimann, Cardinal) from independent Swiss breweries.
Like in the world cup, not every team can participate but need to qualify first. For our tournament, this means a tough selection. With the Swiss beer scene populated by many locally rooted small and micro-breweries, the challenge to find the best Swiss lager beer is not easy at all. First, there’s more than 700 registered breweries that produce a couple of thousand beers. Second, it’s of no use to the Romands if a brewery in eastern Switzerland wins whose beers can only be bought at the brewery.Hence, to qualify, the beer needs to be available in more than one region of Switzerland. And because it’s the easiest to convince someone of good beer if it is somewhat familiar, we limited our search to bottom fermented beer styles such as German lager or pilsner. Furthermore, of each brewery only one beer was chosen. Further we wanted to cover as many Swiss regions as possible – a real service public.
The last limiting factor to the beer selection was the tournament modus – the tasting. Because untrained palates reduce their sensitivity over time, we limited the number of beers to twelve, served in three qualification sessions of four beers, with breaks in between the sessions. These criteria lead to the following beer list:
The lineup (in alphabetic order)
- Amboss Blond (ZH) – Amboss Zürich
- Appenzeller Quöllfrisch (AI) – Brauerei Locher
- Boxer Old (VD) – Doppelleu Boxder
- Einsiedler Lager (SZ) – Brauerei Rosengarten
- Falken Lager Hell (SH) – Brauerei Falken
- Felsenau Lager (BE) – Brauerei Felsenau
- Lägere Bräu Original (AG) – Lägere Bräu
- Öufi Solothurner (SO) – Öufi-Brauerei
- Stadtguet Blond (ZH) – Brauerei Stadtguet
- Trois Dames x Drinks Of The World P.i.l.s.n.e.r. (VD) – Brasserie Trois Dames
- Ueli-Bier Spezial (BS) – Brauerei Fischerstube
- White Frontier Petite (VS) – White Frontier Brewery
The tasting is done in three qualification rounds of four beers each with halftime breaks in between. The beers are tasted blind, actually even double blind. This means, the referees neither know what beers were selected nor which beer they are currently tasting. This should avoid any kind of prejudice. Each referee then rates the beer on a scale of one to five whereof an average score is calculated. It is also possible to make comments about the beer’s perception.
The top four beers of the qualifying are then re-rated in the final, so there’s only one winner.
Of course, you can drink beer anywhere. So, we could have done the tasting at someone’s home or at a fireplace in the forest. But that would be like a football world championship in Qatar. That’s why we chose “The Alehouse” on Universitätsstrasse in Zurich. Many thanks to our sponsor Jonathan for allowing us to host the tournament on his court and for his tireless efforts on the sidelines of the Swiss craft beer scene.
Beer sommeliers know what they are talking about and of course they should not be left out for such a blind tasting with evaluation. But they also have their quirks, so to speak Deformation Professionelle. For example, they will notice the smallest brewing error, which lead to a so-called “off-flavors”, which the normal beer drinker would just consider part of the beer’s flavor. If they find one, the game is over before it has even begun. That’s why a few “amateurs” are needed to balance out the situation. On the one hand, brewers who know their trade, and lastly people who have proven themselves above all as spectators, i.e. consumers. And among the latter, of course – after all, it should be a football beer – an ex-football pro should not be missing. The colourful jury is made up of the following participants:
- Philippe Bov Corbat – beerrater/Bierhunter (bov.ch)
- Christian Jauslin – Doemens Biersommelier, bierversuche.ch
- Christoph Kneuss – brewer (Aabachbier)
- Jan de Ruijter – brewer (El Caballero Brewing, BZW Bierzunft Wehntal)
- Marcel Alber – Doemens Biersommelier, bierversuche.ch
- Martin Halter – brewer (Sudwerk)
- Stephan Keller – ad interim manager FC Aarau, ex-professional football player and Swiss international, importer (indie-drinks.com)
- Thomas «TTT» Schneider – beerhunter
The four finalist and their champion
Winner «best Swiss lagerbeer»: Petite von White Frontier
Comments: fruity nose with slight citrus, fresh, including a refreshing sourness, chewy, some alpine herbs, maybe a bit too much carbonation
Second place: Ueli-Bier Spezial von Brauerei Fischerstube
Comments: good and balanced fruity aroma, some honey sweetness, backed by a decent bitterness, dry and even slightly astringent
Third place: Felsenau Lager von Brauerei Felsenau
Comments: Aroma of herbs and cereals, slight sweetness, pleasant on the palate, with a nice bitterness, some sulphur
Fourth place: Amboss Blond von Amboss Zürich
Comments: sweet nose with berries, in the mouth minerals and a hit of bitterness towards the end, slightly sulphuric and soapy
- White Frontier Petite
- Ueli-Bier Spezial
- Felsenau Lager
- Amboss Blond
- Stadtguet Blond
- Falken Lager
- Boxer Old
- Öufi Solothurner
- Appenzeller Quöllfrisch
- Einsiedler Lager
- Lägere Bräu Original
- Trois Dames x Drinks Of The World P.i.l.s.n.e.r.