Published August 05, 2011
Sure, it's unlikely that Ben Franklin ever really said “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy,” but that doesn’t make the sentiment any less true. Virtually anywhere you go in the world, even where they only have the non-alcoholic kind, you won't have a problem finding a cold one. So International Beer Day probably isn’t necessary, strictly speaking.
But it sure doesn’t hurt.
International Beer Day is the brainchild of Jesse Avshalomov and established by Avshalomov, Evan Hamilton, Aaron Araki, and Richard Hernandez. It’s billed as a “celebration of beer and the people who provide it.” There’s even an International Beer Day web site detailing the hundreds of events taking place at bars and restaurants worldwide.
Like most great holidays and celebrations, International Beer Day evolved naturally. The group of friends decided to celebrate the day on August 5 and managed to convince their local pub to celebrate it with them. They posted a small web site to thank the beer industry for bringing this nectar of the gods to all and got back to drinking.
But it didn’t quite turn out that way. The internet tends to spread great ideas, and celebrating beer is never a bad one. Drinkers from England and even South America picked up on it, hosting their own celebrations. The last few years has seen the event grow even more, with International Beer Day T-shirts to go along with the festivities. So break out your best pint glasses and pick up a bottle or six to celebrate alongside fellow beer-aficionados all over the world.
Here are a couple of brews from a few countries with grand beer making traditions, and a others where International Beer Day is just starting to matter to the brave brewers starting new traditions themselves.
Cuvee des Jacobins Rouge – Belgium has about as proud a brewing tradition as it gets, and it’s on display in this unique bottle. It’s a Flander’s Red Ale, which typically features an incredibly distinctive fruity and sour flavor courtesy of the special yeast strains used in the mix. Typical of the breed, Jacobins Rouge is long barrel aged and is impressively complex, with a nice malty richness on top of sharp tart and tangy fruit and even a little balsamic vinegar. The light body makes it an impressively refreshing hot weather beer and the low alcohol content means it’s very sessionable. A few bottles of this won’t put anyone on the floor – perfect for a memorable International Beer Day.
Hitachino Nest Red Rice – Japan isn’t exactly known for beer in general, let along its attempts at Belgian Strong Pale Ales, but Hitachino Nest is all sorts of tasty and manages to pay homage to the style while introducing some flavors that make it unique to Japan’s Kiuchi Brewery. The Owl on the label doesn’t do much to hint at the gorgeous rose-colored brew inside, not to mention the aggressively floral aroma as it hits the glass. It’s a supremely gulpable beer, with a perfect balance between a nice bready flavor and hoppy bitterness, all against a backdrop of what can only be described as toasty rice. The beer weighs in at a hefty 7 percent ABV and feels incredibly light too, doing Japan’s ninja tradition proud as it stealthily knocks drinkers out.
Bluebird Bitter – England is nearly the home base for International Beer Day, with celebrations popping up all over the country. And with beers like this, who can blame them for wanting to pay tribute to the brewers of the world? This classic bitter is bottle-conditioned, allowing fermentation to continue in the bottle and create natural carbonation, not to mention a longer shelf-life for the beer. It’s a classic technique that serves it well. This is a traditional English bitter, meaning it doesn’t feature the over the top hops of many modern bitters and IPAs. Instead, it offers up a well-balanced bite, but not at the expense of drinkability. Herbs and spice are predominant, with a comforting bready sweetness from the malt. It’s a bottle that conjures up images of dimly lit English pubs where fires crackle and roasted meats and fish & chips are easy to come by.
Efes Pilsener – Believe it or not, Turkey is celebrating International Beer Day in a big way this year and is building an impressive roster of brewers. One of the most popular, and tasty, Turkish beers is Efes Pilsener. It’s a straightforward interpretation of a classic German pils, though a little Middle Eastern spice managed to sneak its way into the mix. It smells slightly grassy, with a floral undertone and a weird, almost butter-like nose. It looks almost watery, but appearances can be deceiving. It’s definitely light-bodied, but the almost gingery spice and lemony undercurrent create plenty of flavor. Not as good as many German made pilseners, but definitely an intriguing taste of what Turkish brewers are up to. And everyone can likely agree that more beer in more corners of the world would be a good thing.