The drinking starts now!
So said Kaiser Wilhelm II, the last German Emperor. Wilhelm clearly did not find himself a lager-loving lady and he by no means conquered the world. Instead, he managed to goad his Austrian neighbours into provoking a fight which quickly descended into war on a global scale.* Followed by several decades of conflict on the European continent. Smart move, Willy.
Almost a century later, I sense a missed opportunity. Maybe if I’d been born in a different time and place (read: Germany, early 1900s), I could have singlehandedly prevented war in Europe. Probably not, but you never know. Because I am most definitely a woman who loves beer.
In doing so, however, I would have likely put my future self and many of my friends out of a job. As the standard narrative goes, the devastation of Europe during two World Wars led its leaders to turn to integration to make a future conflict on the continent “unthinkable and materially impossible”. After numerous twists and turns, the European Union came into being and I started my working life in the EU bubble in Brussels (two consequences of equal importance I’m sure you will agree).
I recently left my job working for the UK Parliament’s office in Brussels in order to become an EU civil servant. An actual Eurocrat. My leaving gift from my former colleagues? A beer from (almost) every EU country. They know me well. After setting myself the challenge of filling in the gaps and acquiring beers from the few countries which were missing, I am now the proud owner of at least one beer for each of the 28 Member States of the Union.
Now I need to drink them.
My plan? Drink each one in turn and review the beer in a blogpost, accompanied by some fun facts, personal tales and parliamentary trivia about the Member State in question. I am sure you are as excited about this prospect as I am. Drinking order? By date of accession to the EU. Because yes, I am that much of an EU politics geek.
Enjoy the trip! I certainly will. And as we say here in the EU: Cheers! Santé! Наздраве! Prost! Živjeli! Nazdravlje! Skål! Na zdravi! Proost! Terviseks! Kippis! ΥΓΕΙΑ! Egészségedre! Sláinte! Salute! Prosit! Na zdravje! I sveikatą! Na zdrowie! Saúde! Noroc! Na zdravie! Salud! Skål! Iechyd da! Evviva!
* Disclaimer: not the most accurate and/or comprehensive account of the onset of WWI, but you get the gist.