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The Best of Both Worlds - 2014 FBM Beer-view: Portland Timbers FC

With Major League Soccer and the rest of American soccer kicking off in just over a week we've curated an impressive list of players, personalities, broadcasters, front office folk, and fans to have them tell us (and you) about their upcoming 2014 season.

And, of course, pair their hopes and dreams for this season with a tasty local brew.

That's not just a preview... it's a "beer-view".

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By Michael Orr / Stump Town Footy

Team: Portland Timbers

Coach: Caleb Porter

Is he the right man for the job?

Absolutely. Porter did a remarkable job turning the terrible Timbers of 2012 into the Western Conference’s top team in 2013. Having spent last season implementing his system in Portland, Porter now gets to refine his team with an eye toward an elusive trophy in 2014.

Player(s) to watch?

Gaston Fernandez – The 30-year-old Argentine forward was one of two big South American moves for Portland in the offseason. If his preseason exploits have any bearing on his performance in the season ahead, La Gata should fit right into Porter’s offensive plans and might even enhance the already potent attack.

Maximiliano Urruti – Urruti moved to Portland in a trade from Toronto FC late last season. Though he only played in five games, starting four under Porter, Urruti is expected to jump into a starting role as the team’s striker. Only 23 (his birthday is February 22), the Argentine is a pacey, relentless attacker who will benefit the chance to combine with the likes of Fernandez, Diego Valeri and Darlington Nagbe for a full season.

Photo Credit: Brewtographer

Predictions for 2014?

The Timbers will not lose as few as they did last season (5!) but could end up with a better point total. That will in part be down to whether or not Portland can turn the league’s highest number of draws (15) into several more wins. The line-up enhancements, including Fernandez and Norberto Paparatto, to another year in Porter’s system should produce an even more complete product on the field.

With Champions League, Open Cup and regular season games giving the Timbers around forty games in 2014, Porter will need depth even more than he did in his first MLS season. Adding experienced professionals like Jorge Villafana and Steve Zakuani should give the Timbers plenty of firepower and resilience all season long.

Local Beer Pairing:

Last season we went with Amnesia Brewing’s Copacetic IPA, representing hopes for forgetting 2012 and a new order in 2013. This year we’re going with Base Camp Brewing’s In-Tents India Pale Lager. Base Camp is a fairly new Portland brewery and its In-Tents IPL has a nice play on words and a nice, fresh take on a lager.

As the Timbers can no longer sneak up on anyone and with the added challenge of a first ever trip to the CONCACAF Champions League, Portlanders can expect an intense season across multiple competitions.

Meanwhile, Caleb Porter is by far the most intense coach in the league.

Tags: Beer, Major League Soccer, The Best of Both Worlds

The Best of Both Worlds - 2014 FBM Beer-view: Toronto FC

With Major League Soccer and the rest of American soccer kicking off in just over a week we've curated an impressive list of players, personalities, broadcasters, front office folk, and fans to have them tell us (and you) about their upcoming 2014 season.

And, of course, pair their hopes and dreams for this season with a tasty local brew.

That's not just a preview... it's a "beer-view".

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By Duane Rollins / Canadian Soccer News

Team: Toronto FC

Coach: Ryan Nelsen

Is he the right man for the job?

Maybe? He's certainly the man Tim Leiweke seems to want in spite of reservations by many. The main concern is that he is tactically naive and, making things worse, has no one of experience on the assistants bench either.

The alternative view is he played at a high level recently and, as such, commands the respect of the high price DPs brought in

Player(s) to watch?

The 45 DPs (approximately) signed this year.

To be serious, while most outside eyes will be on Jermain Defoe, Michael Bradley, Julio Cesar and even Dwayne De Rosario a lot of local fans are as interested in a couple young Canadians in Jonathan Osorio and Doneil Henry.

Osorio was the 2013 rookie that was most criminally overlooked in the Rookie of the Year voting (no, really -- he had the highest pass completion rate, most key passes and five goals last year. It wasn't his fault the team sucked...) and a big year is expected by him in 2014.

Henry wasn't a rookie of the year candidate in 2013 because he's been in the league since he was 17. Insanely, he is the longest serving member of TFC at just 20 years old. He's also fresh off a training stint with West Ham United that was said to have gone well and he's added about 15-lbs of muscle in the off-season. Henry is Nelsen's pet project and if TFC is to make a serious jump forward it will need to have Henry also take his game to the next level.

Predictions for 2014?

The playoffs are an absolute minimum requirement.

The instinct is to dismiss TFC because, well, it's TFC but this isn't the same management team that created the comical mess of the last seven years.

Toronto will host a playoff game in 2014. MLS Cup playoff are too much of a crapshoot to make predictions beyond that.

Local Beer Pairing:

Mill Street Brewery "Tankhouse" Pale Ale

The hardy American Pale Ale was most popular about 5-years ago, but remains a staple of a small but loyal group of fans.

Is it poised to finally break through to the mainstream? Well, Mill Street brewery has been getting good press of late.....

Tags: Beer, Major League Soccer, The Best of Both Worlds

The Best of Both Worlds - 2014 FBM Beer-view: FC Dallas

With Major League Soccer and the rest of American soccer kicking off in just over a week we've curated an impressive list of players, personalities, broadcasters, front office folk, and fans to have them tell us (and you) about their upcoming 2014 season.

And, of course, pair their hopes and dreams for this season with a tasty local brew.

That's not just a preview... it's a "beer-view".

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By Jonathan Virnig 

Team:  FC Dallas

Coach: Oscar Pareja

Is he the right man for the job? 

Hell yes he’s the right man for the job!  Papi has come home!  He’s brought a much needed change of pace & coaching philosophy to the squad (mind you, this is just based on observations made during the first day of training camp, during the afternoon session).  Oscar is actually out there on the pitch, going through drills with the guys, jogging with them during cool downs.  Oscar made a point of coming over and saying hi to all of us supporters that first day, thanking us for coming out and saying that he was looking forward to the start of the season…..most importantly, that he was HAPPY to be back with FC Dallas. 

Player(s) to watch?

-Mauro Diaz.  Mauro did not make his (league) debut until August 3rd at Seattle.  He scored in his first start vs. Portland.  And he was nominated for goal of the year, scoring on a beautiful volley at home vs. Vancouver in front of the Beer Garden.  Three goals on 11 shots, with two assists in ten appearances.  If you were to ask the FCD faithful who they’re expecting the most out of this season, I’d be willing to bet that Diaz would be the answer for most. 

-Blas Perez.  11 goals in 25 appearances for Super Raton in 2013…..here’s hoping Oscar will be able to utilize Blas’s skillset & height better than Hyndman.  Blas was FCD’s leading scorer the past two seasons; I expect this to continue for the 2014 season. 

-Ryan Hollingshead.  FCD selected Ryan in the second round of the 2013 SuperDraft.  Ryan was unsure whether or not he was going to play professionally, as a result he didn’t sign with FCD until 12/9/13.  Beer-fueled scuttlebutt has it that Ryan is held in high regard by a certain Western Conference coach who resembles a Dark Crystal Muppet…..and if he’s interested, you know this kid has some serious potential.  

* Written before the acquisition of Andres “Manga” Escobar on loan and the acquisition of Hendry Thomas from Colorado for allocation money.  Of course those two should be on the list as well.

Photo Credit: Lakewood Brewing Co. 

Predictions for 2014? 

Any postseason berth would be a success given the past two disappointing seasons.  IF the damned injury bug stays the F away, this squad has the talent to go DEEP into the postseason.  How deep? In my opinion, at least to the conference semis.

Local Beer Pairing:

With the ever expanding craft brewing scene in the DFW Meteroplex, this is tougher than I thought it’d be.  I have actually changed my selection many times while writing this.  "The Temptress" from Lakewood Brewing Company.  She’s an imperial milk stout who’s liable to surprise you if you’re not paying attention (much like I expect FCD to do to opponents this season). 

At 9.1% this beauty packs a punch….great for celebrations or commiserations. 

She’s easy to fall in love with, like FCD.  She’s yet to disappoint, unless you count the scarcity of her alter ego, The Bourbon Barrel Temptress.  Light carbonation & great flavor makes this EASY to drink.

Tags: Beer, Major League Soccer, The Best of Both Worlds

The Best of Both Worlds - 2014 FBM Beer-view: Impact de Montreal

With Major League Soccer and the rest of American soccer kicking off in just over a week we've curated an impressive list of players, personalities, broadcasters, front office folk, and fans to have them tell us (and you) about their upcoming 2014 season.

And, of course, pair their hopes and dreams for this season with a tasty local brew.

That's not just a preview... it's a "beer-view".

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By Ludovick Martin

Team: Impact de Montréal

Coach: Frank Klopas

Is he the right man for the job?

Go figure... Klopas is the third coach in three years for the MLS version of the Impact. If you go back to the second division days he's the sixth coach since Nick DeSantis resigned from the post in 2008 to concentrate on his sporting director job. So much for stability...

Player(s) to watch:

For Marco DiVaio 2014 is probably his swan song, He'll want to leave a good impression. Hernan Bernardello, Montreal's second designated player, was really good last August before getting hurt. He's a big key to Montreal's success this year.

Patrice Bernier, the local hero, played injured for most of the later part of 2013. The fact that he was not in the best of shape is one if the reasons why the Impact struggled so much at the end of the year.

Felipe, the small Brazilian, was magical two years ago. Last season he was not as impressive, even if he had more goals and more assists. He could be the key to Montreal's attack in 2014.

Predictions for 2014?

Montreal had a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde kind of season in 2013. With a new head coach on board, it's kind of hard to know what to expect. But with other eastern teams looking like they upgraded their squad it's not easy to be confident about Montreal's chances. Especially when you consider that they added only one player outside of the Superdraft in the off-season.

Local Beer Pairing:

Moralité (morality in English), brewed by Dieu du Ciel. Why? First there's the fact that it's an American pale ale. Just like the Impact, its roots are European (that's the pale ale part) but there's an American twist to it. It fits because, with a new American coach, the Impact are definitely looking back to the U.S. to establish its identity.

Also, since it's an American pale ale, you can expect the beer to be pretty hoppy (it's named Moralité in part because of its immoral quantity of hop in the recipe). Which means it will have a strong aftertaste, just like the Impact 2013 season (although in the beer it's actually a good thing).

Tags: Beer, Major League Soccer, The Best of Both Worlds

The Best of Both Worlds - 2014 FBM Beer-view: Real Salt Lake

With Major League Soccer and the rest of American soccer kicking off in just over a week we've curated an impressive list of players, personalities, broadcasters, front office folk, and fans to have them tell us (and you) about their upcoming 2014 season.

And, of course, pair their hopes and dreams for this season with a tasty local brew.

That's not just a preview... it's a "beer-view".

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By Brian Dunseth / The Original Winger

Team: Real Salt Lake

Coach: Jeff Cassar

Is he the right man for the job?

Obviously there are some big shoes to fill in Salt Lake City after the departure of Jason Kreis, but one thing that people forget is the fact that Cassar was Kreis’ first hire when he first took over at RSL.  Cassar knows the players, the system and the philosophy within the club, so concern about the players taking to him right away shouldn’t be an issue.  The biggest issue facing Cassar is managing the group over the course of a season as the head man in charge, the line-up choices and in-game substitutions / tactical adjustments.

Player(s) to watch?

The Usual Suspects – Beckerman, Rimando, Saborio, Morales and Gil

Photo Credit: Utah Beer

Predictions for 2014?

Fighting for the top spot in the Western Conference against Portland & LA

Local Beer Pairing: 

Thinking my personal #DrinkWithDunny beer ‘Snap Down Header’ by Wasatch Beers x Squatters (coming soon) is the logical choice!!! Perfect for tail gaiting as well as in game drinking while interacting with me on Twitter during broadcasts.

Tags: Beer, Major League Soccer, The Best of Both Worlds

The Best of Both Worlds - 2014 Beer-view: Sporting KC

With Major League Soccer and the rest of American soccer kicking off in just over a week we've curated an impressive list of players, personalities, broadcasters, front office folk, and fans to have them tell us (and you) about their upcoming 2014 season.

And, of course, pair their hopes and dreams for this season with a tasty local brew.

That's not just a preview... it's a "beer-view".

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By: Scott Hollister

Team: Sporting Kansas City

Coach: Peter Vermes

Is he the right man for the job?

Oh, absolutely. An MLS Cup title last season, plus Eastern Conference and U.S. Open Cup crowns the year before that proves as much. With apologies to guys like Bruce Arena and Dominic Kinnear, who won’t be seeing unemployment lines anytime soon, Vermes may have more job security than any other manager in the league heading into the 2014 season.

Player(s) to watch?

Goalkeepers Eric Kronberg and Andy Gruenebaum will be the most closely watched players as Sporting KC defends its MLS Cup title as the team looks to fill the shoes of now-retired team captain Jimmy Nielsen (who is managing Oklahoma City Energy FC, Sporting KC’s USL Pro affiliate). Kronberg has been a loyal soldier since being drafted by Kansas City in 2006 and appears to have the upper hand in the race for the starting job, but Gruenebaum, a Kansas City native who the team acquired from Columbus Crew in the off-season, will also get his shot. There should be plenty of playing time for both considering Sporting’s duties in both the CONCACAF Champions League and the U.S. Open Cup, in addition to MLS play.

Whoever is in goal will have the luxury of playing behind the league’s stingiest defense. The re-signing of right back Chance Myers in late January means that entire back line — left back Seth Sinovic and center backs Matt Besler and Aurellen Collin — returns to anchor Sporting’s defense in 2014.

Despite last season’s successes, Sporting KC struggled to develop a consistent scoring threat up top. Will designated player Claudio Bieler fulfill the promise he showed early last season in 2014? How about Dom Dwyer? Will wing players like C.J. Sapong and Soony Saad become consistent threats? With a busy schedule ahead of them all of them are likely to get plenty of chances to impress.

Photo Credit: By The Pint

Predictions for 2014?

You can’t be the champ unless you beat the champ, so until further notice, Sporting KC is your preseason MLS Cup favorite. It won’t be easy — the East figures to be rugged again with improved sides in New York, Chicago, Houston, New England and obviously Toronto, and the West should be loaded with LA, Portland, Seattle and Real Salt Lake — but Sporting returns almost the exact same side that won last year’s title. With another year of experience under their belts it’s their championship to lose.

Local Beer Pairing:

Kansas City is lucky to have Boulevard Brewing Co. in its own backyard. One of the most prolific and creative craft brewers in the country, Boulevard and Sporting KC have followed similar paths to success. You can’t go wrong with any of their offerings, but the most appropriate pairing with the local 11 has to be Boulevard’s Long Strange Tripel, a hearty and potent (9.2% ABV) Belgian tripel that is a part of their Smokestack Series of special brews. Considering the team’s own long, strange trek from league afterthought playing in a minor-league baseball stadium to model franchise playing in the finest soccer-specific stadium in the country and collecting trophies for fun (get it? You know, LONG STRANGE TRIPEL and long, strange … oh, never mind), the fit between beer and team couldn’t be more perfect. #GoSporting

Tags: Beer, Major League Soccer, The Best of Both Worlds

2014 FBM Super “Draft”

Hello and welcome to the 2014 Free Beer Movement Super “Draft” in sunny (it’s always sunny here, right?) Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

I'm Mr. Boh, your host for this great event.

Today we present the nation’s best young talent alongside beers from their college towns (or as close as possible). Meticulous research went along with each pairing. Some are spot on combining a beer style, its flavors, or ingridients with the qualities of each player drafted by their Major League Soccer side. Others are a bit of a stretch, but we hope that you'll follow our logic.

Most importantly we want to leave you with a deeper knowledge of these new kids entering our American league AND perhaps learn about a few new breweries/ beers to check out

This is the third annual FBM Super “Draft” and we’re pleased to have you along.

1. Philadelphia Union – GK: Andre Blake (Connecticut)

Paired with New England Brewing Company’s “Ghandi-Bot” Double India Pale Ale (New Haven, CT)

The Zac MacMath-era came to a close in Philly when the Union traded up for Blake and took the first goalkeeper ever as the first pick of the first round. First.

Scouts rated this Jamaica-native and UConn graduate as a strong leader and called him “a great shot-stopper, bouncy”. Sounds like the same strong and hoppy qualities that make NEBC’s Double IPA one of the jewels of the East Coast take on a West Coast IPA. “Ghandi-Bot” is no Heady Topper or Hill Farmstead from neighboring Vermont just like Blake is no Donovan Ricketts (2013’s Major League Soccer Goalkeeper of the Year) yet either.

But if you can get your hands on it (unlike MacMath’s gloves last year… we kid… kinda) you won’t be disappointed.

2. D.C. United – Defender: Steve Birnbaum (California)

Paired with 21st Amendment Brewery’s "Sneak Attack" Saison (San Francisco, CA)

Birnbaum is hailed as "close to a complete player as you can get in a Draft" and "the most polished, MLS-ready player available for selection". High praise for the MAC Herman Trophy semi-finalist and NSCAA First Team All-American. D.C. United can use all the help it can get at the back since they gave up an Eastern Conference-worst 59 goals in 2013 (second only to ChivasUSA's 67 in MLS).

While Birnbaum's defensive credentials are unquestioned his 10 goals in 19 matches make him an threat on both sides of the ball. He's even been compared to the U.S national team's Geoff Cameron who is sneakily producing one of the best seasons for any American abroad with Stoke City.

"Sneak Attack" indeed.

3. Vancouver Whitecaps – Defender: Christian Dean (California)

Paired with Anchor Brewing Company's "Anchor Steam" California Common (San Francisco, CA)

Cal had a blockbuster 2013 Super "Draft" sending three players to MLS sides in the first round including Dean as the second in the top five. MLS clubs are definitely looking to shore up their last line of defensive with four of the five first picks of the draft as goalkeepers or defenders.

Dean isn't as highly touted as Brinbaum but that doesn't mean he doesn't have a lot to offer. While 21st Amendment gets heaps of praise Anchor quietly chugs along as one of the original craft breweries in the United States. There's little flashy about Dean or "Anchor Steam" but that doesn't mean their not both well-built and ready for the big leagues. Working alongside veteran Jay DeMerit will be a boon to young Dean's growth just like dozens of other craft brewers have learned from the survival and success of Anchor.

4. New England Revolution – Midfielder/Forward: Steve Neumann (Georgetown)

Paired with 3 Stars Brewing Company’s "The Movement" Pale Ale (Washington, D.C.)

Did you really think we were going to let a beer pass by called "the Movement" and not feature it here on FBM? Perhaps the thought never crossed your mind and we're just having this conversation with ourselves?

That seems the most likely.

We didn't just choose this pale ale brewed with Centennial and Cascade hops to scratch our own backs. Coaches at the MLS Combine said, "he's so smooth and efficient with his movement". 

So that totally justifies our choice. There!

5. Impact Montreal – Defender: Eric Miller (Creighton)

Paired with Lucky Bucket Brewing Company's "Heartland" Wheat Ale (La Vista, NE)

Apparently the American Outlaws and forgotten nuclear missle silos aren't the only good thing to have come out of Nebraska. Come to think of it there's lots of nice things about Nebraska.... we're sure....

Lucky Bucket is one of those other good things we eventually got around to thinking about when we put our good-things-about-Nebraska-thinking-hats on.

Miller is a "a really fit player; he can run forever" and "versatile". Good qualities in a player and a beer. LB's wheat beer, like a lot of solid wheat ales are sessionable (you can drink them forever) and great on a hot summer day, but also nice when the weather is crisp out ("versatile").

6. FC Dallas – Forward: Tesho Akindele (Colorado School of Mines)

Paired with Coors Brewing Company’s “Blue Moon” Belgian White Ale (Golden, CO)

FC Dallas talked Monday about how excited they were to try and get their hands on Akindele that they traded up to get him in the draft. 

CSM shares Golden, Colorado with the largest single brewery facility in the world, Coors home to "Blue Moon".

Coaches and scouts have some reservations about Akindele's workrate, but 22 goals last season and 76 in his career for the Division II Orediggers should say enough about that.

Blue Moon isn't without its critics as well. Say what you will about the merits of Blue Moon (and its "crafty" nature) it's a solid Belgian White that is a trade up for anyone starting a journey from macro-lagers toward full-bodied, full-flavored beers of the craft world. It's often called a good "gateway beer". FC Dallas is hoping that Tesho is a gateway to the playoffs they missed out on last season.

One player. One beer. Two with a whole lot to prove.

7. Vancouver Whitecaps – Midfielder: Andrew Lewis (Jamaica)

Paired with Red Stripe

It pains us to have to resort to stereotypes. We LOVE puns and stereotypes are just hurtful, but…. we’ve got no choice.

Lewis featured for both the U-17 and U-20 Jamaica national teams. He was called up to the full side in 2012 and is considered on of the Reggae Boyz most promising young players. 

Hooray Lewis!

8. Seattle Sounders – Defender: Damion Lowe (Hartford)

Paired with City Steam Brewing Company’s Black Silk Stout (Hartford, CT)

Lowe is the third of three Jamaicans taken in the first round of the Super "Draft". Last year Damion lead Hartford to a 0.84 Goals Against Average (the best in the school's history) and featured in a Reading United side (United Soccer League's Professional Development League) to a division-leading allowed just 12 goals in 14 matches.

Pretty stout if you ask us.

9. San Jose Earthquakes – Midfielder: JJ Koval (Stanford)

Paired with Palo Alto Brewing Company’s “Hoppy Ending” Pale Ale (Palo Alto, CA)

The California native hasn't had to go for from home to college ball to the pros and why should he have to for a beer either? 

Palo Alto's pale ale is traditional West Coast-style so Koval will feel right at home.

Koval's professional soccer journey certainly has a "hoppy ending".

10. Toronto FC – Defender: Nick Hagglund (Xavier)

Paired with Fifty West Brewing Company "Our Mom's Advice" Belgian Tripel (Cincinnati, OH)

We're you just as surprised as us that Toronto made a pick on "draft" day? We pretty much assumed their were just going to trot out Jermain Defoe and Michael Bradley and call it a day. 

They still have money left? Sheesh.

Hagglund is described as a "monster" to deal with. Sounds terrifying, but one coach said, "the most important thing for Hagglund to do is maybe develop an ego, which he's somehow managed to avoid despite his athletic gifts. "He needs to realize he belongs in MLS," one coach says. "I don't think he realizes how good he is."

Our Mom's Advice (never one to sugar coat anything)? Grow some balls... quick.

11. New England Revolution – Forward: Patrick Mullins (Maryland)

Paired with Stillwater Artisanal Ales "Stateside" Saison (Baltimore, MD)

Mullins led the Terrapins to the NCAA College Cup championship final wih 19 goals and eight assists in the regular season, followed by five goals and two assists in the postseason … lead his team in goals, assists, points, shots and shots on goal, and finished his career in College Park with 47 goals and 25 assists over four years. In 2012 he was the MAC Herman Trophy winner for the nation's best male college player.

Stillwater was named Maryland's best craft brewery by Thrillist so it makes sense that they're paired with the state's best soccer player as well. With the departure of Juan Agudelo to Utrecht in the Netherlands the Revs are going to need a striker ready to make an immediate impact on the field. 

Agudelo couldn't wait to bail on New England and MLS, but Mullins is ready to make his impact stateside where Agudelo wasn't willing to.

12. Colorado Rapids – Midfielder: Marlon Hairston (Louisville)

Paired with Against the Grain's "Citra Ass Down" India Pale Ale (Louisville, KY)

You've probably caught on by now that we've been cribbing quite liberally from MLSSoccer.com's coverage of their SuperDraft. Why not? They were there and we weren't.

One of the coaches at the combine said, "With his (Hairston's) skill on the ball, he can create a yard of space for himself to shoot or pass the ball, but can also glide by defenders."

For no reason other than its cool-ass name we went with AtG's "Citra Ass Down". We've heard great things about the L-ville brewery, but have yet to check it out ourselves yet. RateBeer seems to like it just fine giving it a 94.

We'd like to think that when Marlon reads this column.. because OF COURSE HE DOES... he'll "glide" past one of those defenders and exclaim "Citra Ass Down!".

It'd be a pretty cool story.

13. Chicago Fire – Defender: Marco Franco (UC Irvine)

Paired with The Bruery’s "Mischief" Belgian-Style Golden Strong Ale (Placentia, CA)

"Has no major weakness. Good and solid in all areas."

The Bruery in the OC has been cranking out amazing Belgian-inspired beers since 2008. How good?

We're really not sure if the above sentence is describing Franco or The Bruery. 

That a compliment to both as Franco is poised to make a big splash in MLS and if you haven't tried anything from The Bruery; get your hands on some right away.

14. Columbus Crew – Defender: Ben Sweat (South Florida)

Paired with Cigar City Brewing’s “Guava Grove” Farmhouse Ale (Tampa, FL)

You don’t know how bad we wanted Ben to come from the University of Kansas (or at least that the Crew got this pick position for Sporting KC) so we could choose Tallgrass Brewing Company’s “Buffalo Sweat” Stout, but alas…. We’re stuck with Florida and it’s a relative craft beer desert.

Luckily Sweat played for South Florida in Tampa, which happens to be the home of Cigar City Brewing, one of Florida’s, and craft beer’s, brightest stars. No Bull.

New Crew coach Gregg Berhalter described Sweat as a "quality guy for years to come" and the same could be said for Cigar City and their future on the craft beer scene.

15. Philadelphia Union – Midfielder: Pedro Ribeiro (Coastal Carolina)

Paired with Westbrook Brewing Company’s "Mexican Cake" Imperial Stout (Mount Pleasant, SC)

Just a hour and a half’s drive down coastal South Carolina from Conway is the Palmetto State’s finest craft brewery.

Brazil (Ribeiro's home country) > Mexico (cake) < MURICA. 'Nuff said. It's just a damn good beer.

16. Houston Dynamo – Defender: A.J. Cochran (Wisconsin)

Paired with New Glarus Brewing Company’s “Spotted Cow” Naturally Cloudy Farmhouse Ale (New Glarus, WI)

Yes! Wisconsin! For three years we’ve waited for a draft pick out FBM’s home state of Wisco and today’s the day. While we now settled in the Lone Star State we’re always drooling over the amazing craft beers that the Dairy State and the surrounding Midwest crank out.

A.J.’s signing with the Houston Dynamo is pretty symbolic of the WI to TX connection we’ve got here at FBM HQ in Austin.

If you’re a Wisconsin native then our pick for Mr. Cochran won’t come as a surprise.

17. Portland Timbers – Forward: Schillo Tshuma (Maryland)

Paired with Franklin's Brewery (Hyattsville, MD)

We admit it. We went straight to Baltimore instead of hanging around in College Park to look for breweries. It was easiest. But we're back!

And we're at a restaurant, brewery, AND general store. We bet you could even lasso your horse to the front of the place if you like.

The Timbers hope that Tshuma is multi-faceted as his college town brewery is.

18. Real Salt Lake – Defender: Ryan Neil (California)

Paired with 21st Amendment Brewery’s “Bitter American” Session Pale Ale (San Francisco, CA)

When you’re the third defensive back to be drafted in the first round from the same school you’ve got to be doing something right. The same could be said of our third pairing with 21st Amendment.

Certainly there’s going to be some razing between Cal’s three defenders, but hopefully Neil isn’t too bitter about going later in the draft that second and third picks Birnbaum and Dean.

19. Colorado Rapids – Defender: Grant Van De Casteele (Norte Dame)

Paired with Brasseire Rochefort (Rochefort, Belgium)

We’re cheating a little bit here, but South Bend’s only craft brewery Four Horsemen (named in honor of the famed backfield from Notre Dame’s 1924 football team) closed in early 2013 so we’re going to go big or go home.

Located inside of Abbaye Notre-Dame de Saint-Remy is Rochefort Brewery, one of nine (now ten) Trappist breweries in the world, makers of Rochefort 6, 8, and 10.

Van De Casteele probably won't become as world-class as Rochefort, but it's the end of the article and who really cares?

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Tags: Beer, Major League Soccer, satire, The Best of Both Worlds

A Brew for You… And You…. And You (USMNT vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina)

Gold Cup champeeeeeee-ooooooonnnnsssss!

OK. I got that out of the way. Since then end of the Gold Cup  (which we one and Mexico didn't, by-the-way) there hasn't been a United States match to write about and gloat in.

Photo Credit: CraftBeerSocial.com
Photo Credit: FatCatKC.blogspot.com

What's done is done and now we, as U.S. fans, turn our eyes back toward World Cup Qualifying; with just this mid-August international friendly standing in the way. Thankfully it's not some mindless cash-grab game against Mexico (see you soon!) and a real European test after snacking on all those poor CONCACAF nations over the last month.

But seriously… didn't it feel good to go out and stop around a bit? When the last time we're seen the USMNT just go out and smash some opponents? Like 8-0 against Barbados in 2008?

Bosnia, though. Well. Bosnia AND Herzegovina actually. See they had to double up for the match because the Nats are on such a roll. They'll be good. FIFA (not that you can believe anything from them) say they're ranked 13th in the world so this is a real test. We're 19th and ahead of Mexico which is kind of like beating your little brother in a race for a spot in line for a roller coaster ride then realizing you're still behind all the older kids.

Lots of new faces in the U.S. camp: Icelandic Kevin Bacon Aron Jonhannnnnnsssssoon (pitman Jesse Bignami better count those letters carefully), John Anthony Brooks, Bobby Wood, Cody Cropper, and Tim Ream. Some will see time. Some we thought were dead. Most are just in for a good look in camp.

All will face the "Dragons" (Zmajevi) of Bosnia and Herzgovina. And we've got a pair of taking-down-the-dragon-knight-in-shining-armor beer recommendations, both variations on the stout style, for you this USMNT game day.

First, Middle Ages Brewing Company of Syracuse, New York and their "Dragon Slayer" Russian Imperial Stout. Described by the brewery as "strong, chocolatety and aggressively hopped with finest English hops." Yum.

Next up is New Holland Brewing Company of Holland, Michigan and their "Dragon's Milk" Bourbon Barrel Stout. Described as a "stout with roasty malt character intermingled with deep vanilla tones, all dancing in an oak bath." Taking the work of the "Slayer" and adding a bunch more boozy flavor to it.

Today's effort is going to take just that. A good performance and then kicking it up a notch. Eleven in-a-row, looking at twelve before resuming our quest for qualifying for Brazil. A win is another feather in coach Jurgen Klinsmann's cap. A loss one more lesson learned in Europe. A draw… sure why not?

The real test comes when we travel to Costa Rica and host Mexico in September. Everything else is just prep work.

Hopefully you're taking a "bisnass lunch to watch this one. What are you drinking today?

Tags: Beer, The Best of Both Worlds, USMNT

Local Soccer, Local Beer - Drinking and Divisions in Bosnia

Asim Ferhatovic Hase Stadium. Want to order a beer here? We've got you covered.

By Kirsten Schlewitz / Senior West Coast Beer Correspondent

If you’re taking the trouble to make a trip to Bosnia and Herzegovina, chances are you’re not doing it to quench your thirst for delicious, unusual, artisan craft beer. Bosnia is many things –ridiculously beautiful, insanely complicated, mysteriously captivating – but it is not an untapped outpost for those seeking the next great thing in beer. If you’re drinking beer in Bosnia, you’re almost certainly going to be presented with a choice of lager or lager. At a few bars, you’ll find dark beer on offer, but don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s a porter or a stout. It’ll be more like a dark lager, but give it a try, as it’s usually better than the pale stuff.

If you’re in Sarajevo, the majority of beer you’ll find will be Sarajevsko, from the brewery on one of the hills just above the old town. This Pivara has been in existence since 1864 but, although you may find its dark beer in a few places around town, it’s most likely you’ll be drinking the lager. It’s actually not bad, especially considering the price – usually around $1.20.

But if you travel around the country and keep your eyes reasonably open, you’ll notice something interesting. Along the way, you’ll cross an invisible line, and the green Sarajevsko umbrellas will vanish. In their place will be the white and red of Karlovačko or the golden yellow of Lav. If it’s Karlovačko, you’re in one of the Croatian areas of Bosnia. But if the beer on offer is Lav, you’ve come into the Republika Srpska, where the majority of the Serbian population lives.

The beer umbrellas are the best indicators of the ethnic divides that still permeate Bosnia today, nearly twenty years after the end of the destructive wars of the 1990s. And while it may seem strange to talk about ethnicity and politics in a post devoted to beer and soccer, they all tie together. You see, if you leave behind the land of Sarajevsko, you’re unlikely to find anyone supporting the Bosnia National Team – they’ll all be sporting Croatia kits or cheering on Serbia as they lose horribly to Colombia. When you consider the purpose of this website, bringing people together through soccer and beer, it’s sobering to realize that in BiH, these are two of most visible indicators of social divisions.

In Sarajevo, though, the population is almost entirely Bosniak, meaning that the majority of its people will be supporting the national team when they face the USMNT on Wednesday. Anyone lucky enough to be in the city will have their fill of places to drink before, during, and after the match. When I was there for Bosnia’s last World Cup qualifying match, people wearing blue and yellow – often the flag itself—filled the streets of Sarajevo, and the match was shown in every café and pub. The Bosniaks are justifiably proud of their national team, which is on the verge of qualifying for its first-ever World Cup, and aren’t shy about showing it.

The city and country may not be known for its beer specifically, but its café culture is hard to beat. Throw in a match and it’s pretty much heaven.

In the summertime, almost everyone sits outside, shaded under the aforementioned giant umbrellas. The cafes run together, sometimes making it difficult to decipher which tables belong to which menu, but it matters little as most offer the same ambience and service. The crisp lagers are actually pretty perfect for a hot summer day, but at some point, you’re going to need a pick-me-up. And what Bosnia lacks in beer skills it more than makes up for in coffee skills. The coffee is strong and dark, often being served Turkish-style in a copper pot with a tiny cup to pour into. For an authentically Bosnian experience, sip slowly, making your tiny cup last an hour or so, and keep a cigarette in one hand as you’re doing so.

I’m not sure how many Americans made the trip to see the USMNT in Sarajevo. But whoever did made a fantastic decision. The beer is cheap, the football is great, and they’ll almost all make at least one lifelong friend. But a little tip for those actually in Bosnia: if you bypass the beer and try the rakija, sip it and go slowly. Don’t be overconfident! These people will beat you at drinking their liquor (I think it’s something in the Balkan blood). And if it’s homemade rakjia, take care that you don’t find yourself sleeping in the middle of a cobblestone street, missing a shoe and wrapped in a Bosnian flag. You’ve been warned.

Some handy Bosnian football watching phrases:

Hello/goodbye: Cao

Thank you: Hvala

Gdje je WC?: Where is the bathroom (pronounced vey-say, more or less)

Izvolite?: This is your cue to respond with your drink order…

Two beers, please: Dvije pive, molim Vas

One dark beer: Jedno tamno pivo

Go on!: Hajde!

Learn to shoot!: Nauči da šutiraš!

He was born offside: Rodjen je u ofsajdu

Look at that blind man!: Vidi ovog slijepca!

About Kirsten

I may be a law student at Lewis and Clark, but soccer is my true love, with beer coming in a distant second. That's not to say I don't love beer--I've tasted over a thousand different brews, am a bit obsessed with my "33 Beers" notebooks, and love my Untappd app. Living in Portland, Oregon, I attend quite a few festivals and tastings, and am able to argue passionately about the merits of Cascade hops vs. Chinook.

As for the soccer, I'm the cofounder of SB Nation's Aston Villa site, 7500 to Holte, as well as the editor of SB Nation Italy. Want more? Follow me on Twitter!

Tags: Beer, Local Soccer Local Beer, USMNT

FBM in Action - Stegman’s Old Boys FC 3rd Annual Free Beer Night (August 17th)

It's an event as old as the Free Beer Movement itself. On Saturday, August 17th the Minneapolis amateur soccer club, Stegman's Old Boys FC will host their third annual "Free Beer Night".

The SOBs, as they're cleverly called, are not your run-of-the-mill suburban soccer club. The idea behind the formation of Stegman's was that the founders wanted not just play soccer, but to be a part of building American soccer. The founders Dan Hoedeman, Jon Bisswurm, and Nick Sindt were looking for something that was "more than a group of guys who just show up on game day."

Hoedeman explains, "We wanted to build soccer club that was an actual club. So we set about finding the right group of guys, the right mix of events and soccer, and building a group that people would want to be a part of for more than ninty minutes a week"

So the Stegman's Old Boys were born with a mission not unlike Barcelona's "Més que un club" (More than a club).

The name "Stegman's Old Boys" was a tribute to an coach from Dan and Jon's youth and a play on the Euro-style naming without going overboard. They would save the "going overboard" for other parts of the team.

"We have some bold ideas on how a club, even an amateur or recreational one, should be structured and operate, Hoedeman said. "Plus, we wanted to make this as much fun as possible and that meant taking a lot of what we do to a whole new level for a team like ours; writing self-aggrandizing match recaps, working on some awesome local sponsorships, and hosting events like our own pre-season tournament and Free Beer Night – a charity fund-raising event.

Since the club's founding in 2010 they've hosted a "Free Beer Night" to not only spread the word about their fledging team, but for a good cause.

The event is the SOBs' biggest of the year.

"We do it for two primary reasons. One, we like to play in front of a lot of people who are clearly enjoying themselves and this isn’t something you typically find at your run-of-the-mill amateur/rec soccer match. Hoedeman said. "Secondly, part of being a “proper” club means becoming part of your community and in our few years of existence the best way to do this was to raise money for charitable causes.

Last year the SOBs raised over $800 Socket and this will target their efforts toward "The Sanneh Foundation", a charity started by former United States men's national team member and Twin Cities resident Tony Sanneh. For "Free Beer Night" Stegman's will face the Minnesota Thunder Legends featuring none other than Sannah himself and other Minnesota-based former professionals.

Using the Free Beer Movement is the easist part of the "building soccer" equation for Sindt and his club.

"We see the Free Beer Movement as a comrade in arms - after all, we are offering free beer to get people out to watch the (amateur) soccer - plus it’s the best way to get friends, family, neighbors, and random work acquaintances out to support us, a team that most wouldn’t really care about until after they meet us and see what we like to do. Getting these people all to come out for a match with the promise of free beer then drives the amount of charitable good that can do as a club."

Summitt Brewing Company, the state's oldest and largest craft brewery, took notice of the SOBs and decided to donate the beer for the fans and participants of "Free Beer Night".

"We have a great sponsor in Summit Brewing who have been hugely supportive as we build this event, and it is because they get the soccer community and want to do something good in their backyard," Hoedeman said.

Summit Brewing even created a video to help spread the word about "Free Beer Night" with SOB co-founder Sindt:

 
Additionally, Stegman's has invited the local professional team's (Minnesota United FC) supporters group, the Dark Clouds, to join them. It's a little of "you support us and we'll support you".

Creating your own amateur soccer club is also about supporting local professional soccer, too. The "Free Beer Night" continues after the SOBs match when Minnesota United FC faces the Tampa Bay Rowdies in a North American Soccer League match.

Stegman's Old Boys, their three teams and 70-plus members, are the architects of American soccer and they, too, are doing it one beer at a time.

 

Tags: Beer, FBM In Action

A Brew for You…  And You… And You…. (USMNT vs. Panama - Gold Cup Final)

The Gold Cup Final. The Grand Finale. The Big Enchilada. OK... maybe not that last one... Mexico is out after all. (sad face)

The United States men's national team finds itself at the cusp of its fifth CONCACAF Gold Cup Final with only high-flying Panama standing in the way. Today's game will decide whether the consistent U.S. attack (partnered with a sometimes shaky backline) can breakdown the stiff defense of Los Canaleros and successfully hold off their offense led by FC Dallas' Blas Perez.

It comes down to this... as well as the U.S. is playing right now its success will be defined by whether or not they take this trophy home this afternoon. Win and the praise and accolades will continue to roll in and our World Cup qualifying confidence is buoyed heading back into the qualifiers. Lose and we tumble back into the darkness of the post-Honduras loss navel gazing.

Even though the USMNT is without Jurgen Klinsmann on the sidelines (and he SHOULD be with the American Outlaws on the endline!) this U.S. side knows the game plan and exactly what's expected of them.

We've got a little Gold Cup Final special for beer recommendations today. A trio of brews for you to hunt down if you're in Chicago or ever visiting... each with a soccer twist.

(Side Note: The brewery/restaurant chain Rock Bottom used to make a "Chicago" Golden Ale... how perfect of a beer rec would be!??!)

* Meet Finch's Beer Company's "Facist Pig" Red Ale - So maybe calling the CONCACAF disciplinary committee "facist" is a bit over the top, but it shouldn't take away from the fact that their decision to suspend Klinsmann for the final wasn't deeply flawed.

Celebrate the USMNT win over stupidity and Panama (note... two separate things) with this canned craft beer. If you can't find the "pig" try their IPA and/or stout; both highly rated.

* Meet Revolution Brewing Co. "Anti-Hero" IPA - Klinsmann's revolution is finally playing out to great success. Ten wins in a row and the U.S. game play is flowing like...err... wine. The engine for this revolution is not only Das Coach's tactics, but American soccer's anti-hero Landon Donovan. The role of "savior" he never wanted, but none-the-less had thrust upon him. Donovan will, of course, be the difference maker today.

* Meet Half Acre Beer Company "Daisy Cutter" Pale Ale - Jurgen's tactics have traded out the set-piece bombing squad (along with with the quick counter-attack) of the Bob Bradley era for the on-the-floor possession-based defend-and-distribute. If the pitch was full of daisies JK would have this Nats side mow them all down with their passes to get the ball in the back of the net. Will Klinsmann's daisy cutter tactics have the USMNT's Gold Cup hopes coming up roses?

What are you drinking for today's game?

 

Tags: A Brew For You, Beer, USMNT

A Brew for You… And You… And You…. (USMNT vs. Honduras - Gold Cup)

Win or go home. Thems the breaks in the elimination rounds of the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Gone are the comforts of the group stage where a slip up could be made up. As the United States men's national team saw (at least until Eddie Johnson walked on the field) on Sunday against El Salvador that success is perilous and advancement not always guaranteed.

Despite the early and dominating advantage the game was only at 2-1 and El Salvador gaining confidence. Of course we know that the match ended extremely lopsided and we're sitting her today staring down Honduras for a place in the Finals against either Panama or Mexico.

In a flick of a switch the USMNT went from on the back heel to the front foot and slammed the Salvadoreans. This tournament has shown that this Nats side has the ability to just "drop the hammer".

Belize got the hammer. Cuba, despite a little early resistance, got the hammer. Costa Rica held firm until Landon Donovan dropped the hammer and a brilliant pass to Brek Shea. And, just last Sunday, El Salvador felt the hammer blow as well.

Twenty-two goals in their last five matches. In their record-setting nine match win streak the national team has scored 31 total goals.

Hammer time.

As the U.S. faces Honduras tonight, an opponent that was stingy in Salt Lake City during World Cup qualifying (and also beat us on their home turf) the question is whether the hammer will continue to fall against on opponents. Will it be a series of blows or one perfect strike? Will we finally see Gold Cup revenge against Mexico where we've been the victim of crush losses in the last two finals?

Tonight we recommend a local beer that, you guessed it, drops the hammer. Meet Peticolas Brewing Company's "Velvet Hammer" Imperial Red Ale. Malty, sweet, yet balanced with good hop character. Soft and heavy at the same time. This multidimensional beer is a great representation of the many ways the U.S. has come to dominate this Gold Cup tournament.

There is no one route to success for the U.S. today and that's is the key to their success so far this summer as well. Stu's soft creativity and Wondo(w)lowski's (or more recently EJ's) heavy headers have led the way as the U.S. hammers away at another chance for Gold Cup glory.

What are you drinking for tonight's match?

Tags: A Brew For You, Beer, USMNT

A Beer for You… And You… And You… (USMNT vs. Costa Rica)

The United States men's national team is looking awfully golden right now in the 2013 edition of the Gold Cup. They've easily dispatched Belize and Cuba, but tonight will face a much sterner test in Costa Rica. With a place in the quarterfinals in Baltimore already assured this game is about topping the group and bragging rights.

Costa Rica... THAT Costa Rica. Those Ticos that couldn't handle juuuuuust a tinsy-winsey bit of snow in Denver a few moths ago during World Cup qualifying.

Unless U.S. Soccer rented a snow machine the forecast is going to be much different than that frozen night at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in March. Side note.... why DIDN'T U.S. Soccer rent a snow machine?!!?!?

Hartford is going to be hot! And that's going to be more familiar for the Costa Ricans, but unfortunately for our Central American counterparts... the Nats are hotter than ever.

What should you drink for tonight's match against the weather whiners? We're going to play another round of "six degrees of beer separation".

Hartford is in Connecticut. Connecticut is nicknamed the "Nutmeg State". In nearby Boston Harpoon Brewing Company brews a "Winter Warmer" with heavy hints of nutmeg. But it's most certainly not winter and to be honest the beer itself it pretty terrible.

Buuuut.... since it IS a hot summer day in New England we're recommended a great beer for tailgatin', porch sittin', and soccer watchin'.

Meet Harpoon's UFO White. Refreshing, summer-y, and sessionable. Have one again and again. Just like the USMNT is going to beat Costa Rica again and again. Sun or snow... it doesn't matter. In this wheat beer fruit or no fruit... it doesn't matter.

So grab yourself a nice, light, yet full-bodied, wit beer (Harpoon or otherwise) and watch the U.S. whip the Costa Ricans.

What are drinking for tonight's match?

Tags: A Brew For You, Beer, USMNT

The Best of Both Worlds - Meeting Nick Rimando and Rimando’s Wit

So far the "FBM World Tour" has taken us on stops to Denver, Seattle, Salt Lake City, Portland, and back to Salt Lake City. Beyond the great games (all USMNT wins!) we've also experienced the unique and delicious beer cultures of each of these cities.

A few months back we reported on the making of a tribute beer for U.S. national team and Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando by a local brewery, Unsacred Brewing. We reached out to them and spoke with one of their co-owners, David Cole, about the collaboation between their brewery and Rimando, a noted craft beer enthusiast. 

When we first passed through SLC we weren't able to get our hands on the brew, but a second take in the city by the salt lake would do the trick. First off, we'd like to thank Real Salt Lake's Vice President of Broadcasting & Communications Trey Fitz-Gerald. It was going to relatively easy to snag a bottle in a store or grab some on tap at Rio Tinto Stadium, but Trey not only saved us a bottle in his office he arranged a brief meet-and-greet with Rimando. We waited patiently for Nick to do post-game interviews after leading the Nats to a 4-1 win over Cuba in their Gold Cup match.

Rimando chatted with us for a bit. We got to explain the Free Beer Movement idea and he talked about his love of craft beer (he's fond of Epic Brewing Company here in SLC) and graciously autographed our bottle. We were able to "scarf" him as well. There are, obviously, several team and supporter-specific beers, but Rimando has the honor of being the first, and still only, player with his own commercial beer... something we told him he should brag to his teammates about more.

Thanks against to Trey at RSL and, of course, Nick for taking the time for FBM. A real cool moment in our organization's history.

 

Tags: Beer, FBM In Action, Major League Soccer, The Best of Both Worlds, USMNT

A Brew for You and You and You… (USMNT vs. Cuba)

It's mid-afternoon madness! Perhaps not "mad", but more likely "delightful" if you're sitting at one of 87 American Outlaws chapter bars and they happen to have nice patio (like FBM HQ's Austin.... Cuatros!). Even if you're trapped indoors there's nothing like a little afternoon soccer delight to make anyone's day.

Two straight games with a touchdown (Darn missed extra points! You'd think we'd be good at them...) is bolstering U.S. men's national team fans that today's game against Cuba could be equally as high scoring. The USMNT is on a six game unbeaten run (it's second longest ever). The last time the Nats rattled off so many wins in a row they were on their way to a Benny Feilhaber wonder-strike win over Mexico in the 2007 Gold Cup.

With such a early kickoff we're pressed for time with our beer recommendation. We're up against Cuba, the tiny Communist island off the coast of Florida, and so if there's anything that can combat a bunch of Commies coming ashore (think Red Dawn by sea) it's the competing economic theory of capitalism. Every man or woman, and their beers, for him or herself!

Buy American. Not just a red, white, and blue can, but honest-to-God, local beer. The beer brewed by the some of the hardest working people in the country. You want one of the greatest examples of democracy, capitalism, entrepreneurial spirit, and the "American Dream" then spend a day with a craft brewer.

Tampa, Florida? Cigar City.

Grand Rapids, Michigan? Founders.

Missoula, Montana? Big Sky.

San Antonio, Texas? Freetail.

Any City, USA? Your local craft brewer.

You get the picture. Craft beer is exploding all across this country and never at any point in the history of this great nation has excellent, local beer been available to the masses.

Chances are there's a good local craft beer available at your watering hole. And if you're a stay-at-home couch surfer you've got a gluttony of choices at your grocery store, liquor store, or government-approved distributor (regulations! America, too!).

Today you're Rambo. Fighting Communism. One beer at a time.

Go local. Go America.

Tags: A Brew For You, Beer

A Brew for You and You and You…. (USMNT vs. Belize)

If you've been following the run-up to the United States national team opening game against Belize tonight you may have stumbled across this quote:

“I call on our national team to not only beat the United States but to humiliate the United States.”
That gem came from Ruperto Vicente president of the Football Federation of Belize' speaking to a local newspaper in Portland.

BWHAHAHAHAHHAHA. (Deep breath) AHAHHAHAHAHA!

Perhaps this gentlemen has been imbibing a bit too much on all the fine beers that Rose City has to offer, but you've. got. to. be. kidding. me.

Last Friday's warm up match against Guatemala, like we called it, was an impressive "victory at sea". We destroyed a team that has actually been competitive in CONCACAF before and now Belize thinks they are going to come into one of the best soccer cities and stadiums in the country and "humiliate" us?

We say that sounds "un-Belize-able."

AMIRITE?

(crickets)

Moving past fake outrage and to what you all came here for... our beer of the match recommendation.

Portland calls itself "Soccer City USA", but the beer's not half bad either.

Duh.

Portland's beer scene offers so many choices. It has more breweries per capita than any other city in the country. Additionally, it's the epic center of the India Pale Ale (and it's bigger brother the double or imperial IPA) and "hop bomb" beers.

So many good choices and we're going to go against convention just a bit here.

Instead of hoppy we're going to pick another style that Portland is making a name for itself.

 Photo Credit: 99Pours.com

Meet Cascade Brewing Company and their "Vlad the Imp Aler" sour. The quality and craft of their beers is inversely proportional to their website's.

Not that we like to be a party pooper (OK we do), but we're a little more "sour" on Belize's chances against this well-stocked USMNT.

In fact the real Vlad the Impaler might watch this game and say "whoa guys... calm down a bit."

The beer. Yes. the beer. Cascade's "Vlad" is low on hops (6 IBUs) and big on alcohol (10.3%). It's most definitely for sipping and sharing, not slamming. And, of course, it's sour. Really sour.

Cascade describes the beer as such: "This strong north-west sour is a blend of strong blonde quads and tripels aged in oak and Bourbon barrels, then further blended with spiced blondes and left to condition for an additional five months."

That's beer with a lot of variety, loads of flavor, and aged well.

This Gold Cup squad could be described similarly.

What are you drinking tonight?

Tags: A Brew For You, Beer, USMNT

A Brew For You and You and You… (USMNT vs. Guatemala)

The Gold Cup is back! Well... not quite. The run-up to the Gold Cup is back!

There. That's more like it.

Tonight's match from Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego is, hopefully, a prologue to a victorious Gold Cup campaign. Coach Jurgen Klinsmann said, despite not being in the upcoming tournament, he expects a "tricky" test from Guatemala.

What sort of things can one take away from a one-off warm up international friendly? Certainly Guatemala's side is going to be similar to what the USMNT will see from the other Central American and Caribbean sides, Belize, Cuba, and Costa Rica, the face in the group play.

More important is the return of Landon Donovan to the national team fold. Will he play his way into Klinsmann's heart and starting XI when World Cup qualifiers return in September?

As always the Gold Cup provides an exciting opportunity to see some of the future stars of the Nats. Josh Gatt is, again, questionable with an untimely injury, but other youngsters like Mix Diskerud and the return of Stu Holden should create plenty of excitement for U.S. fan.

This Gold Cup squad is about the future, but it is also about resurrection. Alongside Donovan and Holden is Oguchi Onyewu (gone so long I had to think hard about how to spell it name) in the "welcome back" column. None more surprising is the comeback of DaMarcus Beasley, named captain of this tournament team.

Our beer pick for tonight's game is going to be very straight forward. We're nothing if not consistent here at the Free Beer Movement (actually that's one word I would never use to describe us) and so we're doubling down (no, not the KFC sandwich) on the pick we made earlier this week in our interview with MLSSoccer.com.

Photo Credit: Brewed for Thought

Meet Ballast Point Brewing Company's "Victory at Sea" Imperial Porter. The San Diego brewery is probably best known for its "Sulpin" Double IPA (also highly recommended and now available in cans!), but don't overlook the incredible work on this porter. San Diego is one of the epic epicenters (epic-centers!?!?) of West Coast brewing (Portland and Seattle and Northern California included) and sports loads of great breweries including Karl Strauss, Green Flash, Mission, Pizza Port, AleSmith, and The Lost Abbey.

BP's "Victory" is just what you're going to want to get your hands on when setting down for this match in front of the TV. Especially since it's such a late match it's a heavy, yet smooth "night cap" to settling into a comfy spot on the couch.

And a "victory" is exactly what fans will want from this team playing by the sea in San Diego in order to get set for an important 2013 Gold Cup tournament.

What are you drinking tonight?

Tags: A Brew For You, Beer, USMNT

The Best of Both Worlds - The Story Behind West End Brewing Co.‘s “Soccer Club”

Editor's Note: When soccer and beer collide... that's the best of both worlds. This space reserved for any intersection of the suds and the sport whether business, beer and soccer events, or random humor.

The power of the Internet unleashed!

Just as people like to "Google" their names so does the Free Beer Movement. Every-once-in-a-while we trade the real bar for the search bar and see what's going on with FBM or "beer and soccer" on the web. A few days ago we went down the rabbit hole and discovered an old beer called "Soccer Club" on a website that allows you to purchase breweriana, or beer collectibles.

We shot (or purchased) first and decided to ask questions later.

"Soccer Club" was a pilsner brewed by West End Brewing Company from Utica, New York during the late 1970s. West End was founded in 1888. Legend has it that Utica Club was the first beer legally sold in the United States after the 21st Amendment was ratified in December 1933 (Source).

Today it is the third-oldest family-owned brewery in the United States behind Yuengling and August Schell Brewing Cos. The name "West End" may not ring a bell, but perhaps Matt Brewing Co. (the name is changed to in the 1980s) to reflect the breweries founder) does or their most popular "craft beer" line, Saranac. It is a well-know contract brewer as well producing Pete's Brewing Co., Brooklyn Brewery, and a line of Kirkland beers (for sale in Costco). It was the eight largest craft brewery by volume in the United States in 2012.

Despite the numerous cat videos and memes floating around the Internet these days information about this soccer-specific beer is scarce.

As far as we can tell "Soccer Club" was released in the 1970s before West End changed to Matt Brewing. Mostly likely it is just a re-packed version of it's popular "Utica Club" pilsner lager. We're going out on a limb here (but a sturdy one we think), but perhaps it was released to coincide with the popularity of the downstate New York Cosmos and their star-studded line up that included Brazilian Pelé, Italian Giorgio Chinaglia and the West German Franz Beckenbauer.

West End wasn't one to pass up on a gimmicky tie-in beer. In 1977 they were one of four contract brewers for "Billy Beer", the short-lived brew by then-President Jimmy Carter's brother, Billy Carter.

While soccer and beer was thought to be a relatively new phenomena (at least when it comes to brewery partnerships) the evidence now proves otherwise. West End's "Soccer Club" was the fore bearer for today's "Green and Gold", "No Equal", "The Tradition" and many more soccer-specific beers.

The only question is when some brewery is going to make that Free Beer Movement brew we've been begging for!

Tags: Beer, The Best of Both Worlds

Free Beer Match Day - USMNT vs. Honduras in Salt Lake City

Awesome event poster from Kick TV.

Free Beer Movement was back on the road to witness the United States men's national team's World Cup qualifier against Honduras in Salt Lake City. Before the match we were able to dabble in a bit of drinking and bust some beer myths about Utah beer.  The state's draft beer laws are antiquated (not allowing for greater that 4.0% ABV from the tap), but Utah bottled beers have no limits. While there are a few solid brews on the low ABV end the real good stuff is being bottled.

If you're ever in Salt Lake City we highly recommend the breweries of Epic and Uinta....two awesome breweries.

Enough about the beer. On to game day!

 

Riot Tinto Stadium.... the calm before the storm...

The Honduran support before the match was "sizable".

The U.S. supporters were equal to the task as well.

The "march to the match" is on!

U.S. fans reporting for duty.

"Proof Through The Night"....

American Outlaws getting loud.

#CheersToSoccer

Goal! Jozy!

Best tifo we saw in SLC.

Picked up a few RSL scarves from great supporters there.... along with the next edition of the U.S. Soccer "Anthem" scarves.

 

Tags: Beer, Free Beer Match Days, photography, USMNT

A Brew For You… And You… And You…. (USMNT vs. Honduras)

The American Outlaws' call of #WeWant9 is looking more and more likely as the United States national team faces a depleted Honduran side at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. Securing three points from this revenge match will pretty much book the Nats to Brazil as the rest of the "Hex" qualifying group slips into disarray.

Honduras is not the same side that the U.S. went up early on and then fell to the heat of San Pedro Sula. Through injury, suspension, and out-right abandonment of the team Los Catrachos may be without the services of six of their starters.

What are we recommending for this match? We stepped away from our local recommendation last time to play a little "six degrees of beer" game, but we're back to honor SLC's contribution to the craft beer world.

Before you making any snarky remarks about Utah and their beer.... check yourself. While the labyrinth of laws would make David Bowie's head spin getting a good brew in the "U" isn't impossible... it just means you just have to work a little bit harder for it.

Meet Epic Brewing Co. First off, this is Real Salt Lake and U.S. goalkeeper Nick Rimando's favorite brewery. And you trust him, right? Epic Brewing makes some of the state's finest craft beers (Unita Brewing Co. should also be on your "to-drink" list) and their "Elevation" series is impressive.

And why not? This USMNT on the last stop on their "elevation" part of the tour (Denver, Seattle, SLC) and what makes this series so interesting is that "tweeks" that the brewers work in every time they brew a new batch of one of the styles (which includes an IPA, stout, golden, and a pale ale) from this series.

Photo Credit: "Pops On Hops"

"Tweeks" is the name of the game for coach Jurgen Klinsmann who's constant meddling of the USMNT lineup has re-vitalized some careers (DMB) and re-invented others (Evans, Cameron, etc) and put the team on course for qualification.

Of all the "elevation" series to choose from we're picking the "825 State" Stout which Epic describes the range of it "from dry to sweet, creamy or bitter". The "flavors Epic explores within this stout are roast chocolate, toffee, mocha, coffee, burnt marshmallow and roasted nuts or combinations there-of."

If that's not a tinker's beer for JK we don't what is. And just like this stout (and here's to hoping for another "stout" defense") the tinkering has finally paid off.

What you drinking for tonight's match?

Tags: A Brew For You, American Outlaws, Beer, The Best of Both Worlds, USMNT

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