Top Beer & Rugby Nations – Updated

Posted on September 21, 2015


Rugby World cup 201513-050228

Now with some time before the next game starts I thought I would analyse the strength of “GOOD” beer in countries that are participating in the 2015 Rugby World Cup. This post has “NOTHING” to do with actual data analytics and is purely a ridiculous opinion piece based on multiple countries that I have never had any of their beers nor do I think they are good Rugby playing nations.

Some background on this is that this tournament has only been played for 28 years, it started in 1987 in the inaugural year and switches between locations every 4 years.

Countries that have held the event

(1987 – Australia/NZ, 1991 – England, 1995 – South Africa, 1999 – Wales/UK, 2003 – Australia, 2007 – France, 2011 – New Zealand, 2015 – England).

The Countries that have won the cup;

  • New Zealand (2) – 1987, 2011
  • Australia (2) – 1991, 1999
  • South Africa (2) – 1995, 2007
  • England (1) – 2003


How this work is I will rank the country based on the strength of their ‘GOOD’ beer that includes craft/pho craft beers. Due to traveling to the majority of these countries I can form a fairly strong opinion without having to look at results from rating apps or rating websites.

1. USA

This needs no real explanation by any reader of this blog. Based on the growth of ‘Craft Breweries’ and unique beer entities within the new world country in the last 40 years, we can explicitly call the US the (NEW Zealand) of good beer nations.

US breweries have exploded to such an extent that is now the big brewers who are buying up the smaller well distributed beers. I was recently in San Diego where the scene has exploded with 63 new breweries in the last 3 years, for a small city with 110+ beer venues in the region. This is only an example of the extraordinary growth the nation has gone through in the last 10-15 years especially.

Top Beer Cities:

Seattle/Portland, San Diego, Asheville, San Francisco.. its actually hard to not find great bars in most cities with beers from all over the US. On the East Coast you will find West Coast, and then vice-versa.

World Cup Hopes ?

– unfortunately they are grouped in a very tough pool with South Africa and Japan.. they will be going home after round 1!

2. Canada

Oh Canada! a country I have spent a lot of time in, and love dearly. I haven’t been back in the last 12 months but have been told of the explosion of breweries in Vancouver, Vancouver Island and also in provinces like Alberta. When i lived there I spent a lot of time in Seattle/Buffalo and Portland drinking beer, as I was opinionated to only like American beers. The West Coast IPA style is something many brewers in BC nail, and the ability to easily buy craft beer in restaurants and cafes is another change I had noticed.

Bars like St Augustine’s & Alibi Room in Vancouver, and Barhop Bar, Bar Volo in Toronto help to spread the love of good beer whether local or foreign.

World Cup Hopes ?

Sorry Canada but after you have just been hammered by Ireland, I think France will also get past you. Going Home after round 1.

3. England

I spent a few weeks in London last year for a work project and was expecting to be hit with ‘cask conditioned’ boring 4% beers. I did find all the pubs in the area I was staying were basically tied houses with large mainstream lagers. I then found Craft Beer Co which definitely helped to introduce me to great new innovative breweries. There is an area in London called the Bermondsey Mile that is filled with unique and small breweries. This was my favorite part of my time in London.

World Cup Hopes?

In a pool with Wales & Australia. Though unconvincing in Game #1, I think England could make it to the final. But pressure to win the event could be too much on the home country. Unless the Video Match Referee helps them again.

4. New Zealand

In Australia we are lucky enough to be a 2 hour flight ‘Across the ditch’ as we call it. The beers we get in Australia now are consistently good and unique styles. We know the Americans have loved NZ beers for a while now, but we get a good supply in bottles mainly. But the epicenter of beer is largely in Wellington. The beer in NZ has definitely helped the competition here in Australia with local brewers using that same initiative.

Top Breweries

Liberty Brewing, Panhead Brewery, Yeastie Boys, Garage Project

World Cup Hopes?

They are the tourny favorites, and with that pressure comes great inability to close the deal. If Richie can stay onside I think they are a good chance.

5. Australia

In 2011 I had been back in Australia about a year from living overseas for years. The beer scene was incredibly sad with very little in the way of new, or quality brewers. Australia got bundled out in the world cup to a better NZ team, and rightly so. Today the beer scene is dramatically better and quite innovative. One beer colleague from the UK commented a year ago that he thought Australia had the most diversity in bars for beer styles from local producers. Brewers in Australia now are experimenting with whisky and wine barrels, and creating diverse and unique beers. As one of the biggest critics of Aussie beer, I have been more and more impressed.

World Cup Hopes?

Beating England is one of our cup goals, but high chance of late round finish. I’d be happy making final. Winning would be dream come true.. but never give up on those dreams.

What about These Countries?

It was pointed out by my ‘Learn-ed’ friend Tom (A Study in Beer) as to why the following countries were not included in the list. My list was based on the propensity to get nice/craft/pho-craft easily in the country, and/or export products.

  1. Italy – almost made the list, as I agree this country is producing unique beer styles from Wine Producing regions. In my time in Italy it was majority all bottled generic beer, as the country is predominantly a Wine country. Exports of their beer are smaller, unique styles that often only found in boutique stores. I do know they have some unique bars that are world class,but their Rugby is more known than their ‘Craft’ beer side. There were 5 beers in the LCBO website listings under the generic lager category.
  2. Japan – as a pulse check I reviewed the Ontario Liquor Board website who are the largest liquor buyer in the world next to Costco. Outside of Asahi, there were not 20 Japanese made beers that would invadlidate my position. Sake, yes, 32 Sakes. Off the top of my head I can only name ‘Baird’ as an export beer of significance. I haven’t encountered other names in beer bars, or liquor stores. I should probably take a visit to Japan to investigate this further though!
  3. Scotland – I was there 3 years ago and struggled to find beers that were unique. Outside of Brewdog export I haven’t had beers from Scotland that I have enjoyed. Innis & Gunn beer from barrels are some I like.

World Cup Hopes ?

Japan made world headlines knocking off South Africa in one of the greatest David & Goliath rugby games ever. That will be as much as these countries will get. Japan will hopefully make it to Round 2. Italy and Scotland will both struggle to make it out of first rounds.