The battle between brands on your bar this February and March looks set to be as fierce as the action on the pitch, as major beer labels clamour to be associated with the Six Nations.
What better way to rank the big players in the market than a beer tasting?
So we paired a major brand to each of the six teams not necessarily ones brewed in the country with which they are associated, not necessarily beers acclaimed by other tasting panels in the past, just an approximation of what rugby fans are likely to be ordering.
Next, we gathered from The Publican's office a cross section of pub-goers.
Traditional ale drinkers, lager fans, stout devotees, even those who only occasionally choose beer, were drawn from The Publican's editorial and commercial teams, and Publican Live.
Before anyone cries "fix", the event was conducted as a blind tasting, with unmarked glasses used and none of the participants told what they were sampling. The beers "played" each other in the order they will in the real tournament. So, tasters were asked to say which they preferred out of Ireland v Italy then England v Wales, and so on. In each 'fixture', the winning beer was the one with the most votes.
With two points awarded for a win, and one for a draw, the results were totted up to produce the overall table.
England¹s favourite IPA came top, with comments such as "smooth flavour, hops balanced by caramel" proving common.
Also popular was Brains SA Gold. Tasters commented: "Nice smoothness to this beer" and "nothing bland about this one".
England and Wales finished level on points, so prepare to concentrate.
According to the official scoring of the Six Nations, "if two or more teams finish the Championship with the same number points, the winner is decided on match-points difference (subtracting match-points 'against' from match-points 'for' in all Championship matches)". England had 16 votes for and nine against, giving them a points difference of seven. Wales had 14 votes for and nine against, giving them the lesser points difference of five.
Finishing in third place was Peroni, an Italian beer whose premium cues have contributed to its success lately. Faring creditably, but finishing lower in the table were Ireland (Guinness), Scotland (Deuchars IPA) and France (Kronenbourg).
All these brands are widely available. Which will win in your pub during the Six Nations?