‘Get in the Hole’, or, as they say in France, ‘Entrez dans le trou’. The Ryder Cup begins this Friday on the outskirts of Paris and you will almost certainly want to get the beers in as you settle down to watch it. Few sports lend themselves better to drinking beer than golf – its leisurely pace allows everyone watching ample opportunity to get to the fridge and back without missing any of the ‘action’. And the Ryder Cup is an excellent excuse to become more familiar with some of the best beers currently being brewed on both sides of the Pond.
Back in the 1979, when America first played both the Europeans and the Brits in the Ryder Cup, American brewing found itself in a bunker of despair with only half-a-dozen brewers numbing the nation’s palates with tasteless liquid tumbleweed. But then something rather important happened. Tax on US air travel was cut. It became affordable to get to Europe for Americans who, bereft of decent domestic beer, encountered the flavoursome ales and characterful lagers of Belgium, Germany, the UK and beyond.
This kickstarted a craft brewing revolution in the more epicurean, open-minded pockets of America and, buoyed by the legalisation of home-brewing and brewpubs, both of which had been banned as part of a hangover from Prohibition, the late 1980s saw a boom in brewing – predominantly on the West Coast.
Today, America is now home to more than 6,000 breweries and its influence on the thriving craft beer scenes in the UK and Europe is acutely evident – with a number of new world European brewers now replicating American interpretations of their own traditional beer styles.
Beer is in the thirsty throes of a Golden Age here too. From Bristol to Belfast and Copenhagen to Catalonia, European craft brewing has become a continent-wide phenomenon with new brewers pursuing new flavours, forging new styles, taking techniques from distillers and winemakers, and melding art, science and history in their mash tuns.
So, here are eight beers – four from Europe and four from America – to enjoy during the Ryder Cup. But remember, don’t drink and drive, Don’t even putt…
12th of Never Pale Ale – Lagunitas Brewing Company
Brewed using a mixture of old school and New World hops, and a bit of English flaked wheat too, this tropically hoppy pale ale combines all the flavours and lovely bitterness of an American-style IPA with a light-bodied easy-supping beer. A gimme with some quality snacks. tesco.com, £1.50 (4 for £6)
Easy Jack IPA – Firestone Walker
From one of America’s most admired ale-makers comes this excellent, session-friendly IPA created using the iconic Union System synonymous with 19th century brewers in Burton. A fruity, finely balanced and smooth citrusy IPA dry-hopped with varieties from America, Europe and New Zealand. beerhawk.co.uk £2.99
Black Chocolate Stout – Brooklyn Brewery
One for the final day as the tension mounts, this awesome Imperial Stout is a beautifully balanced dark beer from a brewery that breathed life back into the Big Apple craft beer scene. Deep, rich, luxurious and layered in coffee and chocolate notes – it’s wonderful with a whisky on the side. beerhawk.co.uk, £4.49
Sofie – Goose Island Brewing
Goose Island is best known for its IPA but it seduces craft beer connoisseurs with its ‘Sour Sisters’, a series of food-friendly, Belgian-style wild fruit ales, each with a female name, each matured in different kind of barrels. This saison-style beer is a superb stepping stone into the world of tart, funky beers. Dry hopped with Amarillo hops and then matured in Cabernet wine barrels with orange peel and a bit of Brettanomyces (yeast strain), Sofie wears its tartness very gently and is deliciously dry. beerhawk.co.uk, £3.99
24/7 Roosters (England)
Way back in the early 90s, when craft beer wasn’t really a thing and Tiger Woods hadn’t even turned professional, the Yorkshire-based Roosters was hailing acutely aromatic New World hops long before it was fashionable to do so. Thankfully, they’re still doing it in style; a trio of American hops and one from New Zealand combine with an easy elbow-bending approach synonymous with English ales. roosters.co.uk, £2.40
‘I Don’t Have a Red Shrimp’, Mikkeller (Denmark)
After a decade of dreaming up remarkable recipes and brewing them with other breweries, Mikkel Borg Bjergsø – the Danish doyenne of the craft brewing scene – has released a range of core beers that, much to the joy of British beer geeks, are now readily available all year round. While renowned for beers packed with colossal character, this well-balanced piney Pilsner plays a more deft and delicate game. Crisp, fruity and zesty. beerhawk.com, £3.39
D’Etre Passion Fruit, Boundary Brewing (Northern Ireland)
Having studied theology in America and witnessed the thriving scene over there, Matthew Dick returned to his native Belfast and, in 2015, began brewing some beautiful brave beers – inspired by both America and the French and the Belgians. What’s more, it’s a co-operative craft brewer which means that, unlike crowd-source funded breweries, investors actually own a stake in the company. This fruity, funky farmhouse ale comes with a tart tropical twist – and works well out of a white wine glass. honestbrew.co.uk, £2.49
Ceriux Rubia, Cervecera Artesana (Spain)
A golden craft ale from Spain’s Rioja region that combines both the grape and the grain. After being brewed and matured for more than a month, Tempranillo grape musts are added for a second fermentation to create a golden ale that drops down easier than a match-winning putt from a European player. thepipstop.co.uk, £2.99
The Thinking Drinkers are award-winning drinks experts and comedians. They are taking their new, critically-acclaimed show, Thinking Drinkers’ Pub Crawl, to theatres around the UK. Five free drinks for the discerning imbiber included with every ticket. For details, visit thinkingdrinkers.com