Ollie: Usually a follow-up article such as this would mention how incredibly popular its previous incarnation was, and how it inspired us at Box to Box Football to take on the same subject a second time. It is true in a sense: the beer review of the UEFA Euro 2016 quarter-finals conducted by Jed Woodcock and myself was incredibly popular… to us first and foremost, on account of getting incredibly drunk. Was it so popular with our girlfriends? That was less clear, but we are back regardless with another beer review!
We all know that football and beer go hand in hand, and what better excuse to try out a few new brews than during the two-legged encounter between our team Tottenham Hotspur and the Belgian club known as KAA Gent. In the Spurs corner, we have the hugely well-known Beavertown, a brewery who are based in Tottenham. And on the Gent side we have three different varieties of Gruut, sadly not named after the tree in Guardians of the Galaxy. The plan was to try the beers at home during the first leg, and then head to Wembley to watch the second leg. Best laid plans and all that…
Gruut Bruin vs. 8-Ball Rye IPA
Jed: The Gruut Bruin is a bright start to the night for the Belgians much like their hideously ugly fluorescent yellow kit. The 8% alcohol content for the Belgian beer is a surprisingly strong opening and I’m worried Gent might not be the walkover I assumed at the start of the game [Looking back now, I was so naive]. I read a review of the unconventionally brewed beer (without hops) saying it tasted like the charred sugar from the top of a crème brûlée but I can only say that it was just a really good tasting dark beer.
Harry Winks is probably our best midfielder in a really lacklustre start to the game, but it would be unfair to compare Beavertown’s 8-Ball Rye IPA to this Spurs performance. They say you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover, well you should probably judge a beer by it’s can/bottle on this account. The designs which emblazon the North London breweries cans are second-to-none and truly reflect the character of the drink within. The beer is advertised as big, bold and ballsy and unlike the Spurs showing tonight – it actually is. A really nice and distinctive beer but doesn’t quite beat the Gruut Bruin for me. It’s 2-0 to the Belgians for us (but still 0-0 in the football).
Round 1 Beer Score:
Gent 2-0 Spurs
Gruut Wit vs. Gamma Ray
Ollie: So the first half hasn’t been anything to write home about, but at least the beers have been good so far. After a strong opening pair, we are on to the best of Beavertown with Gamma Ray. You often see it on tap at pubs in London, and it didn’t disappoint here. Despite the second Gruut being good too, it’s Gamma Ray all the way for me. Jed has gone for the Belgians again, though, with the Wit beer winning out for him – but I’m sticking with the Gamma Ray. Sorry but on this occasion, I am not Gruut.
At least we’ve started the second half well, with Harry Kane hitting the post. Perhaps we’d finally gotten over our hangover from the Liverpool match last Saturday? But then Gent score through Perbet. Wow, what. Okay, this is not how things were supposed to go. Spurs then proceed to sub off Mousa Dembélé, one of our best players on the day (and in general). What’s that about, resting him for the Fulham game? Surely we need him if we’re going to get a win out of this… or at least an away goal. A win would be ideal; it’s just not as much fun ripping on friends who are Arsenal fans about the Bayern Munich result this week if Spurs can’t beat Gent. As if to rub in this point, the BT Sport commentator has taken to referring to the Gent goalscorer as a ‘seasoned striker‘. Don’t sugarcoat it, I realise that ‘seasoned‘ means either ‘really old‘ or ‘not very good‘.
Round 2 Beer Score:
Gent 1-1 Spurs
Gruut Blond vs. Neck Oil
Jed: I’m disappointed and regretful to admit that I predicted the score correctly, a 1-0 win to Gent. Even a 10-minute cameo from Christian Eriksen, who has been in good form recently, isn’t enough to save the day. The Gent players and fans go nuts at full-time, celebrating what is described as a ‘famous win’. Oh well, let them have their moment, we’ll easily overturn this result in the second leg – surely…
Good beers from both camps in the last round and the Belgians edge it again for me, even though I am in awe of the unique design of the Beavertown cans. Next to the table is the Gruut Blond and Beavertown Neck Oil. The Gruut Blond is a sweet golden beer and like Gent there is probably better Belgian out there but it does the job tonight. They don’t seem to be allowed to make bad beer in Belgium… but in spite of this Ollie goes for Beavertown again. The Neck Oil from Beavertown is the most aptly named beer of the night as nothing sounds better to wash down defeat as that. Not enough to sway this round as the Belgian’s complete a win of three from three for me.
Thankfully our entertainment for the night isn’t solely relying on the drab and lacklustre football on show and we watch John Wick with the remainder of the beer and some late-night Coco Pops. If only the Spurs players could be as ruthlessly efficient as Keanu Reeves on the attack.
My Most Valuable Beer (MVB) of the night has to go to Gruut Blond. Stick a Belgian beer into a can from Beavertown and you have the perfect match.
Round 3 Beer Score:
Gent 1-1 Spurs
Ollie: A week later Jed and I head to Wembley for the second leg. Brilliant atmosphere, and Spurs are really up for the occasion. No beers in the stadium sadly, so I’ll be brief (although we did neck a fair few en route to be fair). 10 minutes in and Spurs go a goal up through Christian Eriksen, perhaps this isn’t going to be so nerve-wracking? But somehow we then conceded from Gent’s first real chance, a Kane own goal pegging it back to 1-1. Not to worry though, still completely in control… oh wait, Dele Alli has gotten sent off. Fantastic. Two goals required and one man short. Well, everyone likes a challenge… right?
To be fair to Spurs they keep pressing and pressing, and eventually Victor Wanyama curls it in – this is it, we’re finally going to pull away? Well no, not quite… perhaps the players got a bit distracted with some odd refereeing decisions, and they lost their rhythm a bit. Loving the fan in the front row ‘politely’ asking the ref to “take a look at yourself“.
Lots of shots, lots of possession, but eventually Gent broke away and score an equaliser in the last 10 minutes with what might have been their first actual shot on target. Game over, European campaign over. As if that wasn’t worse enough, a few mates WhatsApp me as I’d appeared on the TV looking pretty pissed off (right). If you’re caught on camera you want to be celebrating the winning goal, even high-fiving a player… you don’t want to be the grumpy fan with the “I can’t believe we’re getting knocked out by Gent” face. Despite the result across the two legs, it’s been great fun, and hopefully Spurs will be sorting out this Wembley hoodoo in an FA Cup semi-final?
But back to the beer. Unlike the Euro 2016 binge, there wasn’t a single bad beer in the Gent vs. Tottenham competition. I suppose it’s always going to be good if it is Belgian, but Beavertown put up a hell of a fight, and my personal MVB choice goes to Gamma Ray. Here’s hoping that next time we beer review a Spurs game, they might come out on top at the final whistle. Ultimately though it was the unlikely lads from Gent who surprised us all to win in both the beer-off and on the football pitch.
Beer Score Aggregate:
Gent 4-2 Spurs
Football Score Aggregate:
Gent 3-2 Spurs
Thank you very much Drink of Fulham and Beers of Europe for helping us stock up for this, your help was much appreciated! If there are any other games this season that you want us to do a beer review for, then please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.