Group C in the World Cup of Beers drew as follows:
USA (Killian's Irish Red)
Belgium (Stella Artois)
Spain (Estrella Galicia)
Group C Results:
Bear in mind-- this competition is a *blind* taste test. The idea is to remove any possible way of my knowing in advance what I'm drinking, and what's competing with what in each group. To that end, Ami prepares the cups of beer for me to sample in such a way that I have no idea which four of the sixteen beers in the competition I'm tasting in each round. All I have to go by, aside from taste, is the color and the smell.
Group C was a real mystery to me at first. I could tell from the smell and taste that it included two of what I'm coming to think of as the "generic thin, light-yellow pilsner/lager beers." They all taste pretty similar, more or less-- a fact that I'm suspecting is contributing to the darker ales and beers doing better in this year's competition; they tend to stand out strongly against the bland competition.
Thus Killian's, with its darker, richer flavor (but lack of bitterness) easily swept this group. Killian's was one of three finalists for my "Official Beer of World Cup 2006," an admittedly far less comprehensive competition. It destroyed the competition in Group C, and now looks to be a strong contender for the championship.
Harp and Estrella Galicia simply faced the wrong competition in this (blindly drawn) Group. They came across as watered-down, thin American-ish beers. They even drew with one another in direct competition, neither proving notably superior to the other.
The second-place finisher was a true puzzle when I smelled and tasted it. Immediately I was sure I'd tasted it before, but for several minutes I couldn't place it. Then I decided, "It must be Peroni!" But yet it didn't taste quite as good as Peroni. But it had that distinctive smell and flavor....
And of course it ended up being Belgium's Stella Artois, which I am sure I've had in the past, but not recently enough to recall that particular flavor and smell. Stella Artois lost to Killian's but defeated Estrella Galicia head-to-head and then managed a draw with Harp.
This was a strong group and the two beers that failed to advance might well have done better against other competition. Could this have been the Beer Group of Death?? Of course, Group D looks to have some powerful competition in store, too-- we now know it will include Heineken and Peroni, anther finalist for the 2006 title!
GROUP C RESULTS: (Top two advance to the Quarterfinals)
USA (Killian's) 3 3 3 __ 9
Belgium (Stella Artois) 0 3 1 __ 4
Ireland (Harp) 1 0 1 __ 2
Spain (Estrella Galicia) 1 0 0 __ 1
Group C coming soon!