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The Best of Both Worlds Archives

2013 MLS Beer-view: Chivas USA

By Jerry Jimenez / Black Army 1850 and American Beer Vigilantes

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. Somehow that seemed like the best way to start this. OK, I should be original. Change, change, and more change. Whether it has come in abundance, or it has lacked, change has become a constant with this club. After the club fired Robin Frasier his sophomore season as head coach, Chivas USA finds itself on its eighth head coach in its eighth season, putting José Luis Sánchez Solá in the driver’s seat and twenty-seven players riding as passengers. No one is really sure if Sánchez Solá has some sort of map, but all of the faithful goat fans pray he isn’t using Google maps. That “short-cut” may lead him to crash this car into a wall and achieve a repeat of the 2012 season. (Don’t Drink and Drive)

The trip begins enthusiastically and hopeful with an undefeated preseason. Returning players, Miller Bolaños scored an impressive six goals in eight preseason games while Jose Correa scored five. Newcomers to the team, Eric Avila and Giovani Casillas also looked impressive during their time on the field. The Goats finished their preseason with a total of six wins and two ties. Not bad for a new group of kids attempting to mesh as a unit.

With an average age of twenty-four, Chivas USA has been thrown into the fountain of youth and completely refurbished with a few veterans and many newcomers to the league. Players like Joaquin Velazquez and Walter Vilchez will have to show the young ones that age is nothing but a number. Our captain, Dan Kennedy, has his work cut out for him once again and lets not forget about Juan Agudelo. I truly believe this team is one that knows it has something to prove. It has a whole lot to prove and it is set out to do just that. This definitely feels like a “make it or break it” year for the Goats. Only one thing is for sure, this season will be way more fun to watch than the last.

Beer Selection: Aztec Brewing Co. “Aztec Sacrifice” Red IPA (San Diego, CA)

A little Red for the Red and White! Comparing this beer to Chivas USA just seemed appropriate. I understand that most MLS fans don’t like my team. Yes, it feels like you haters want to “sacrifice” us to the soccer gods and rebrand, rebuild, relocate, blah, blah, and blah. I get it! It’s not easy being a Chivas USA supporter and only beer helps. You have to understand that, just like the Aztec Empire, we are not going anywhere…Oh, wait. Maybe that was a bad example.

Lets try that again and let’s talk cerveza; starting with the label, which reminds us of how our owner treats its fans, a dagger through the heart. This beer pours out hazy amber and settles into a deep ruby amber. I have to say the head on this thing is the best I have seen from any style of beer, ever; nice medium beige color to it. On the nose, we get quite of bit of hops and fruity tones. Some obvious malty aromas mixed in as well. It has some rich toffee, caramel, and roasted barley notes that get a bit of help from a well balanced bitterness. I’m an “IPA guy” and this is not too bitter, but bitter enough. One that will please the most experienced of craft beer drinkers but won’t push away newbies. At 7.6% ABV, this beer will sneak up on you and sit you back down on the bench unless you pair it up with some sort of grub. This is definitely how red ales are done on the west coast. If you can’t find this beer in Los Angeles, you may find it has “relocated” to San Diego. Cheers!

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

2013 MLS Beer-view: FC Dallas

By Brian WachholzBig D Soccer Contributor

“This message approved by the Dallas Beer Guardians.”

Beer Selection: Rahr Brewing Co. "Iron Thistle" Scotch Ale (Fort Worth, TX)

FC Dallas steps into 2013 lean, mean, and ready to cause havoc, and what is the local beer that best exemplifies this season’s squad? Iron Thistle from Rahr & Sons, made in Fort Worth.  Both FCD and the brew have been steadily improving over the past several years.  The club has been majorly tweaked this offseason with some major player additions, some major player losses, but a strong existing core, maintaining positive locker room chemistry.  One of the major storylines during the Dallas offseason was the loss of Kevin Hartman as his contract expired with a club renewal.  New import, Raul Fernandez, along with club stalwarts Chris Seitz and Richard Sanchez combine for a goalkeeping pool ripe for competition.  Expect FCD to be strong between the sticks, no matter whose face you see.  The defensive backline is back to its 2010 strength; expect to see warrior hops from our towering centerbacks, defending at MVP caliber.  With above average strength, this FCD defense and Iron Thistle will be leaving people flat on their backs at the end of the night (ABV= 8%).

On the offensive front, you will see new signings Eric Hassli and Kenny Cooper alongside second-year hoopster Blas Perez.  These big forwards will give David Ferreira new outlets and options to score.  Like the aforementioned brew, FC Dallas’ stable of forwards will be the thorn in the side of your MLS defenders (especially Blas). 

Rahr Brewing recently medaled for the first time at the 2012 Great American Beer Festival for Iron Thistle ale after years of hard work.  The time has come for FC Dallas to get its due as well.  Expectations are high for a great year as we kick off into 2013!


 

 

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

2013 MLS Beer-view: San Jose Earthquakes

Editor's Note: The 2013 Major League Soccer season is underway! You've read your season predictions, team-by-team capsules, and all sorts of talk on the state of American soccer. Season eighteen is an important benchmark as it passes the seventeen that the last attempt at professional soccer, the North American Soccer League (version 1.0), in the U.S. survived for.

And while you might be celebrating your side's first victory or scratching your head over their first lost... there's one thing that's been missing from all these early MLS musings... beer.

By Robert Jonas / CenterLine Soccer and Quake, Rattle, and Goal!

The San Jose Earthquakes were the best team in the league last year — maybe not in November, when the chase was on for MLS Cup, but certainly from March to October. After a promising preseason, when an eclectic group of newcomers and returning players slowly meshed together into something greater than the sum of their parts, the Quakes started the regular season off strong. For 34 games they put out a consistently effective effort that didn’t stop after 90 minutes, but went well into stoppage time. These, after all, were the never-say-die “Goonies,” and they rode their success all the way to the 2012 Supporters’ Shield.

For 2013, with the recipe for making the team settled upon, the Earthquakes hope to continue winning awards and making an impact in MLS. Starting off the season without a few key ingredients — most notably the twin towers up top Steven Lenhart and Alan Gordon — head coach Frank Yallop will try to tease some of the same flavor of play from the rest of the roster for at least a few nervous weeks. Something might not smell quite right at Buck Shaw Stadium in March, but no doubt by the summer the fireworks will be back on display.

A hard working, blue collar bunch, the Earthquakes added sparkplug forward Mike Fucito in the preseason. Following his three-stop international tour of MLS teams in 2012, Fucito lands in San Jose with a chip on his shoulder and a tireless energy to perform. Paired up top with defending MLS MVP Chris Wondolowski, who also arrived in San Jose after a similarly anonymous start to his career, Fucito will have every opportunity to make Quakes fans join the choir in singing his praises.

Little else changes for the Earthquakes this season — why mess with a good thing? — except for the target opposing teams humiliated in 2012 have put on their backs. After the disappointment of crashing out in the first round of the playoffs to arch rivals and eventual champions LA Galaxy, these Quakes see only winning MLS Cup as their goal. Get healthy, stay healthy, and play motivated, and the club could be celebrating their third ever championship by December.

Beer Selection: Russian River Brewing Co. “Pliny the Elder” (Santa Rosa, CA)

Opening up a bottle of Pliny the Elder, an explosion of hoppy aroma bursts forth and fills the nose with a lusciousness that belies this double IPA’s smooth finish. Like a late match Goonies attack on an opposing defense, Pliny overwhelms the taste buds with a richness that lasts until the last drop. Quite intoxicating at a whopping 8.0% ABV, a couple rounds of Pliny will have you waking up the next morning with your head feeling like you just battled Steven Lenhart for 90 minutes. An award winner and arguably the best local brew in the Bay Area, Pliny the Elder is to beer what the Earthquakes are to MLS.

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

2013 MLS Beer-view: Los Angeles Galaxy

Editor's Note: The 2013 Major League Soccer season is underway! You've read your season predictions, team-by-team capsules, and all sorts of talk on the state of American soccer. Season eighteen is an important benchmark as it passes the seventeen that the last attempt at professional soccer, the North American Soccer League (version 1.0), in the U.S. survived for.

And while you might be celebrating your side's first victory or scratching your head over their first lost... there's one thing that's been missing from all these early MLS musings... beer.

 

By Ryan Rosenblatt / Stars and Stripes FC

The LA Galaxy are back, and this time as two-time defending MLS Cup champions, but this isn't the same team you remember lifting the trophy back in December. David Beckham bid adieu and Landon Donovan's search for inner peace took him to Cambodia, while the team has yet to make a major signing (that's coming in July, bet on it).

So where does that leave LA? Still pretty damn good.

Omar Gonzalez, A.J. DeLaGarza, Todd Dunivant and Sean Franklin give LA the best back line in MLS and they're joined by new goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini. Put those five behind Juninho and Marcelo Sarvas and the Galaxy will be just fine, plus that Robbie Keane fellow and Mike Magee are still around, while Donovan will be back in April and a summer signing will come.

Beer Selection: Angel City Brewery "Angeleno" IPA (Los Angeles, CA)

A new brewery just opened in downtown LA, Angel City Brewery, and they have an interesting IPA. The Angeleno IPA tastes like your run of the mill IPA, but it has something just a little different. Read the menu and you find out it's a grapefruit hop flavor -- a little bit of a change from an otherwise tried and true recipe for success, just like the Galaxy.

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

2013 MLS Beer-view: Columbus Crew

Editor's Note: The 2013 Major League Soccer season is underway! You've read your season predictions, team-by-team capsules, and all sorts of talk on the state of American soccer. Season eighteen is an important benchmark as it passes the seventeen that the last attempt at professional soccer, the North American Soccer League (version 1.0), in the U.S. survived for.

And while you might be celebrating your side's first victory or scratching your head over their first lost... there's one thing that's been missing from all these early MLS musings... beer.

By Frankie Hejduk / FBM Spokeperson (and Columbus Crew Fan Ambassador and former USMNT defender)

With a good mix of veterans and youth, this Crew team has Columbus buzzing.  The spine of this team is second to none with Arietta (9 goals), Higuain (5 goals, 7 assists), O’Rourke, Viana, Marshall, Berti and Gruenebaum all returning with a full preseason in tow.  Defenses will be tested with speed and experience on the flanks by MLS ironman Eddie Gaven (9 goals) and the addition of ‘freaky fast’ Dominic Oduro. 

The backline of Wahl, Berti, Marshall and Williams all towering over 6’2”, brings experience and size in front of last year’s saves leader Andy Gruenebaum.  With service from free-kick maestro Higuain, set pieces will play a key role to this teams run at the MLS Cup.  

Add a bench full of eager, young guns (Speas, Trapp, Findley, Meram, Sanchez and Tchani) and the MASSIVE chants will be in full effect down in Crewville.

Beer Selection: Barley's Ale House Scottish Ale (Columbus, OH)

Strong, hard working (7% alc.), in your face beer that gets the job done

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

2013 MLS Beer-view: New York Red Bulls

Editor's Note: The 2013 Major League Soccer season is underway! You've read your season predictions, team-by-team capsules, and all sorts of talk on the state of American soccer. Season eighteen is an important benchmark as it passes the seventeen that the last attempt at professional soccer, the North American Soccer League (version 1.0), in the U.S. survived for.

And while you might be celebrating your side's first victory or scratching your head over their first lost... there's one thing that's been missing from all these early MLS musings... beer.

By Mark Fishkin /  Red Bulls season ticket holder since 1996, and the creator and co-host of the Seeing Red podcast (www.seeingredny.com). He also had WAY too much craft beer in Portland last weekend.

Hello Red Bulls fans.  If you’re reading this, just like me you’re back for another Don Quixote-like quest for New York hardware in 2013.  Of course, you know New York is zero for forever across all competitions, but there are quite a few reasons that this will be the year that the boys from Harrison, NJ make the right kind of noise.

Reason #1: Mike Petke
Much has been written about the 13th manager in the 18-year history of the club.  Mike is the most earnest manager the MetroBulls have had to date.  A legend among the fans, Petke is the embodiment of the franchise and all he was to do is win.  As the club’s Scandinavian dalliance fades in the rear-view, Mike’s focus on hard work, a stalwart defense, and creative freedom for the attacking players may just be the recipe for success.

Reason #2: New Blood
On a team with a revolving-door roster policy (see: Dwayne DeRosario, 2011), the players brought in this off-season should stick around for awhile.  Fabian Espindola provides the slashing, speedy runs that the club missed in 2012, and his 2 tallies at Jeld-Wen this past Sunday may make fans forget Kenny Cooper before too long.  Despite Jamison Olave’s tough night, the 6’3”Colombian is no attacking player’s idea of a good time.  Yes, he stood statue-like as Diego Valeri swept by him with a flourish on Sunday, but a solid pairing with Pearce or Holgersson should develop nicely.  Juninho provides New York with a threat to score on any free kick, sparing Red Bulls fans of bad dreams of Roy Miller spraying balls into the 20th row.

Reason #3: Believing in America
Much has been made of Salzburg’s disdain for the young American player in MLS since purchasing the club in 2006.  However, Red Bull Global Director of Soccer Gerard Houllier and RBNY Sporting Director Andy Roxburgh have made signing Americans a priority in 2013.  Dax McCarty, Brandon Barklage, Connor Lade all won new contracts this offseason. Add late arrival Eric Alexander to Luis Robles, a recovering Ryan Meara, and veteran Heath Pearce and you’ve got a core of American players that will help the club go places.

Reason #4: DPs
Thierry Henry has scored 31 goals in 63 regular season appearances for New York to date.  Guy’s the real deal, and despite is scowling and gesticulating, TH14 wants to win, badly.  Really, badly.  If Henry’s engaged & plugged in, the ball will be in the back of the net often in 2013.  Tim Cahill has yet to click in New York, but if the man from Oz can get his head on a few Juninho free kicks, RBNY is going to be unstoppable up front.  Then of course is the third DP that’s rumored to head to Harrison this summer.  Will it be Kaka?  Ronaldinho?  The great thing about Red Bulls is that no one is too expensive for the club’s Austrian overloads.

Beer Selection: Hearland Brewery "Empire Premium" Pilsner

As a nod to RBNY’s oldest supporters club, I’m going with the NYC-based Heartland Brewery’s EMPIRE PREMIUM.  A Pils, this light, golden brew has a hoppy, grassy finish, and it’s perfect for the PATH train from midtown Manhattan to Harrison’s Red Bull Arena.  Just remember to bag it up on the train!

 

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

2013 MLS Beer View: Montreal Impact

Editor's Note: The 2013 Major League Soccer season is underway! You've read your season predictions, team-by-team capsules, and all sorts of talk on the state of American soccer. Season eighteen is an important benchmark as it passes the seventeen that the last attempt at professional soccer, the North American Soccer League (version 1.0), in the U.S. survived for.

And while you might be celebrating your side's first victory or scratching your head over their first lost... there's one thing that's been missing from all these early MLS musings... beer.

Don't worry we've got you covered.

By Ludovick Martin / Montreal Impact fan

The Montreal Impact are not the new kid on the block anymore. After a satisfying season where the club still decided to part ways with coach Jesse Marsch, the team from Québec is looking to Swiss Marco Schällibaum to guide them in their second season. Once again the Italian contingent will be key for the Impact. If Marco DiVaio, Andrea Pisanu, Matteo Ferrari and Alessandro Nesta can stay healthy and produce accordingly, then they will fight for a playoff spot. Also, key will be the play of central midfielders Patrice Bernier and Felipe.

Beer Selection: Brassire Dieu du Ciel "Solstice d'hiver" Barley Wine (Montreal, Quebec, Canada)

With all the Italians in and around this club you don't really think beer when you think about the Impact, you think finely aged red wine. So why not go for a compromise and taste a barley wine. I would suggest the Solstice d'hiver (winter solstice in English) brewed by Dieu du Ciel. Just like the Impact this beer will wake you up with its strong taste and make you forget about our long, snowy and cold winters.

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

2013 MLS Beer-view: New England Revolution

Editor's Note: The 2013 Major League Soccer season is underway! You've read your season predictions, team-by-team capsules, and all sorts of talk on the state of American soccer. Season eighteen is an important benchmark as it passes the seventeen that the last attempt at professional soccer, the North American Soccer League (version 1.0), in the U.S. survived for.

And while you might be celebrating your side's first victory or scratching your head over their first lost... there's one thing that's been missing from all these early MLS musings... beer.

Don't worry we've got you covered.

By Andy Przystanski / Chapter President, American Outlaws: Adams (MA)

A fairly active offseason has given New Englanders reason to be cautiously optimistic.  Recent acquisitions Andrew Farrell and Donnie Smith, as well as homegrown product Scott Caldwell all put in very promising shifts during the preseason.  Revs fans will also keep an eye on the young Diego Fagundez, who is poised for a breakout year (in terms of goals and possibly dermatologically speaking—he is still in high school, after all).

Saer Sene, Jerry “Springer” Bengston, Juan Toja, Lee Nguyen, and Stephen McCarthy are other standouts on a surprising talented squad.  Since Benny Feilhaber’s departure early in the offseason, Lee Nguyen has become the team’s marquee player.  Arguably the most skillful, technically gifted member of the squad, the Revs will need him to have a great year if it hopes to make it into the postseason.

Heading into his sophomore year as head coach, Jay Heaps will hope to emulate the success his peers Ben Olsen and Jason Kreis had in their second years.

Beer Selection: Cambridge Brewing Co. "The Audacity of Hops" Double IPA (Cambridge, MA)

“This year will be different.”  Being a New England fan is about keeping the faith in the face of hard times.  Even without a big name signing or a soccer-specific stadium in sight, Revs supporters have the audacity to dream big.

The Audacity of Hops is an audaciously hopped Belgian Double IPA with an ABV of 9% and 70 IBUs.  A meld of the quintessentially American flavors of a west coast IPA and the spicy complexities of a Belgian, the beer is a marriage of New and Old World tastes.  Pair with a sharp, aged cheddar from Vermont.

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

2013 MLS Beer-view: Philadelphia Union

Editor's Note: The 2013 Major League Soccer season is underway! You've read your season predictions, team-by-team capsules, and all sorts of talk on the state of American soccer. Season eighteen is an important benchmark as it passes the seventeen that the last attempt at professional soccer, the North American Soccer League (version 1.0), in the U.S. survived for.

And while you might be celebrating your side's first victory or scratching your head over their first lost... there's one thing that's been missing from all these early MLS musings... beer.

Don't worry we've got you covered.

By Richard McGovern / Philly Sports Live & Vuvuzela: The World Soccer Show

Like most expansion teams, the Philadelphia Union spent their first couple of years looking for an identity.  Now in entering their fourth season in MLS they seem to have found it under head coach John Hackworth.  The Union are young, the youngest team in the league for the second straight year, with an average age of 22, predominantly American, with Hackworth stocking the squad with former US Youth Internationals and new addition Conor Casey, a man Honduran mothers tell their children scary stories about to get them to behave, and they increasingly reflect the blue collar nature of the city.  Casey is joined by fellow new addition Jeff Parke, one of the best players Philadelphia has produced.  The pride of Downingtown, PA and a star at Drexel University, the US International will replace departed captain Carlos Valdes.  All-time team leading scorer Sebastian Le Toux will be suiting up for the blue and gold as well, after a year- long odyssey that took him from Birmingham to Vancouver to Harrison, and finally back to the banks of the Delaware.

With Freddy Adu sidelined with a terminal case of arrested development and salary inflation, the keys to the Union offense will pass to 2012 all-star Michael Farfan.  A dynamic attacking talent who can strike as beautiful a cross as any midfielder in MLS, the U will go as far as he can take them.   Another key player to watch will be third year goalie Zac MacMath.  The former Maryland standout enters his second season as the undisputed starter in net, and will need a strong performance to get the Union back into playoff contention.

Beer Selection:  Victory Brewing Co. "Mad King's" Weiss (Downingtown, PA)

Like the Union, who used to be ruled over by a mad king, this Bavarian-style hefe is a mix of disparate flavors with an unexpected finish.  One of the lesser known Victory beers outside of the Philadelphia area, as it is rarely bottled, Mad King Weiss plays with several different malt flavors, and a prominent clove presence, but has an almost pilsner like bite at the top.  Very refreshing and a good post-game beer to celebrate a Union win.

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

2013 MLS Beer-view: Houston Dynamo

Editor's Note: The 2013 Major League Soccer season is underway! You've read your season predictions, team-by-team capsules, and all sorts of talk on the state of American soccer. Season eighteen is an important benchmark as it passes the seventeen that the last attempt at professional soccer, the North American Soccer League (version 1.0), in the U.S. survived for.

And while you might be celebrating your side's first victory or scratching your head over their first lost... there's one thing that's been missing from all these early MLS musings... beer.

Don't worry we've got you covered.

By Andrew Schueneman / Houston Dynamo fan and Texian Army supporters group member

2013 started off with another three points in BBVA Compass Stadium, the Houston Dynamo look to repeat again as Eastern Conference champs and make another trip to the MLS Cup. It won't be an easy run, as they take on Santos Laguna in the knock-out rounds of the 2012-2013 CONCACAF Champions League and start the group stage of the 2013-2014 Champions League later this year.

Personnel-wise, Houston lost Andre Hainault, Colin Clark, and the rarely-seen Josue Soto. Despite that, recent additions of Omar Cummings, Eric Brunner, Jason Johnson, Andrew Driver, the return of Mike Chabala, and homegrown Bryan Salazar, bolster the squad. Englishman Giles Barnes and Honduran Oscar Boniek Garcia both had a full off-season with the club after arriving in the summer, and look to build upon impressive performances. Both Calen Carr and Omar Cummings start the season injured, however, Cummings is slated to return by the summer and Carr hopes to be back in time for the post season. Dynamo legend Brian Ching will play his last season as a player-coach, looking to make the transition to assistant coach next year as smooth as possible.

With the slight weaknesses from 2012 addressed, and depth for Champions league added, the 2013 Houston Dynamo look yet again to be an MLS Cup finalist.

Beer Selection: Karback Brewing Co. "Hellfighter" Bourbon Barrel Porter (Houston, TX)

My beer pairing for the 2013 Dynamo squad is Karbach's Bourbon Barrel Hellfighter. Despite being a limited-release, this 10.8% American Porter still is a favorite to many in Houston, just like the Dynamo.

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

2013 FBM Beer-view: D.C. United

Editor's Note: The 2013 Major League Soccer season is underway! You've read your season predictions, team-by-team capsules, and all sorts of talk on the state of American soccer. Season eighteen is an important benchmark as it passes the seventeen that the last attempt at professional soccer, the North American Soccer League (version 1.0), in the U.S. survived for.

And while you might be celebrating your side's first victory or scratching your head over their first lost... there's one thing that's been missing from all these early MLS musings... beer.

Don't worry we've got you covered.

By Justin CoughlanThe Screaming Eagles

With new faces both new and veteran, D.C. United begins the 2013 MLS Season in a position unfamiliar in recent history. Returning to the playoffs last season after a five year absence and one uncalled red card away from hosting the MLS Cup, The Black and Red are amidst the list of teams to beat this year.

In the offseason, D.C. United has bolstered a roster captained by Chris Pontius and Dwayne De Rosario with the acquisition of young international players like Brazilian Rafael and Indonesian Alam Syamsir on loan. This year also sees Michael Seaton joining an elite squad of players cultivated from the D.C. United Homegrown Player System (HPS). He becomes a member of the First Team with other HPS alumni Conor Shanosky, Ethan White and Bill Hamid. Rounding out the young roster are established veteran players new to D.C., but not new to MLS, John Thorrington and Carlos Ruiz.

Beer Selection: Three Stars Brewery Brewing Co. "The Urban Farmhouse” (Washington, D.C.)

When I think about a D.C. United match at RFK, I think of the best tailgate in the MLS. With so many flavors in the shared dishes, a beer should be chosen that complements every flavor on my plate. In preparation for 90+ minutes of singing, jumping, cheering and celebrating, there is nothing like beer with a kick of spice. This Peppercorn Saison pairs exceptionally well with anything grilled and should happily be in anyone’s growler.

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

Making the Case - Why Local Matters

This is a case of beer. We are making an argument or case about something. See the connection?

On Friday, Toronto FC announced a major sponsorship deal with beer giant Budweiser for the upcoming Major League Soccer season. The five-year deal will give Budweiser and its sub-brands Bud Light, Stella Artois, Alexander Keith's and Michelob Ultra pouring rights at BMO Field, plus many promotional events in and around the stadium including tailgates and a new Budweiser "King Club" beer garden.

This is a disturbing move for North American soccer, which despite a league-wide sponsorship agreement with Budweiser, has been surprisingly open to the craft beer revolution going on in North America. In recent years, clubs such as the Colorado Rapids and FC Dallas have entered into deals with Coors and Budweiser respectively.

Meanwhile teams like Portland Timbers, Seattle Sounders, and Sporting KC grow closer to local craft beer brands to increase the mantra of "local soccer, local beer".

That's the natural extension of the Free Beer Movement way. Go local. Go local soccer. Go local beer. Go local economies. If you're making the decision to support live, local North American soccer you ought to be making the same commitment to local businesses. The more dollars we can keep in our communities the more we sustain them. 

If you work in the front office of a North American soccer team that chooses this approach then you've decided that authenticity is a central tenent of your organization. That community, the people that live and work in the town, are your most important assest and they need to be embraced and their wants and needs respect.

As soccer pushes closer to the mainstream of our sports scene the siren song of "major sponsorship agreements" has and will continue to tempt the front offices of clubs around MLS. Obviously the league has already attracted dozens of major partners that pump millions of dollars into the game, but now the individual clubs are attracting interest from big-time sponsors as well; the ones that make the game-day decisions: the "party zones" fans will occupy before the matches, the "meet-the-player" events they'll attend in-between games, and, lastly, and most importantly, the beer they'll drink inside the stadium.

The biggest question of all is whether or not this deal is for the benefit of Toronto FC or any other North American soccer club in the long-term. Certainly TFC's partnership injects a much-needed marketing boost for a team with slouching ticket sales. Since their founding in 2006, this Canadian side has never made the playoffs. In season's past the TFC faithful have weathered this disappointing storm, but cracks are showing. Last season their average attendance dropped to 18,681 from 20,267 in 2011. On television, seat backs have been more and more common as Toronto slumped to dead last in the league.

If you worked in the front office of a team like Toronto FC would you look a marketing gift horse like Budweiser in the mouth? Would you choose the long-term "potential" revenue growth of building authenticity with your fanbase or the fast-track, short-term cash grab (especially as a team like TFC is hemorrhaging dollars at the gate)?

It's a tough call.

Consider the pieces of the TFC-Bud deal:

- Budweiser will launch a commemorative Toronto FC-branded Budweiser aluminum bottle at LCBO locations (Liquor Control Board of Ontario... where you HAVE to buy your booze) in the Greater Toronto Area beginning February 25 (An aside: If you're a TFC fan there's definitely some novelty in drinking a beer with your team's crest on it. But if you're NOT a TFC fan... what's the incentive to buy the TFC-branded four pack instead of, say, a plain, 30 pack? Surely there are few people who, in walking into their local LCBO, will spy the TFC Bud and exclaim "Oh my! We have a local soccer team? I never knew!")

- Having Budweiser "host a pre-game celebration at BMO Field with the Budweiser Big Rig (a mobile bar), live music and great giveaways"

- Fans will "enjoy food and beverages at the new Budweiser King Club at the North End of BMO Field"

- "For those watching at select bars across the GTA, Budweiser will extend the excitement with TFC prizing and giveaways for fans"

- Budweiser has committed to donating over US$350,000 to Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment’s (owners of TFC) Team Up Foundation, which funds charities that support children through sport.

The irony of Budweiser's approach is all of this is a Free Beer Movement wet dream. Each one of the elements of Budweiser's approach to marketing soccer through beer is the cornerstone of the FBM Philosophy.

With one, very large exception. Where's the authenticity? Where's the local connection? Why does this stink of a big, glossy PR campaign without a soul? This deal has all the style with none of the substance.

This isn't the direction we want for North American soccer. Given that MLS and the accompanying lower-division soccer pyramid is young we've got a unique opportunity. Given the intense amount of passion associated with soccer and for one's club we've got a unique opportunity. Given the relative small size of soccer and it's "nitch" corner of the sport-scape we've got a unique opportunity.

A unique opportunity to shape North American soccer in the proper way.  The local way.

North American soccer is in the unique position of being built while our culture, as a whole, is at a crossroads, where one path leads towards the "big box" approach: bigger, louder, inflexible, more santized OR the "local" approach: community-based, responsive, innovative, risk-taking, more subtle... kind of like how most would describe soccer as well.

Instead of locking itself in with Budweiser because they throw a good party with bad beer TFC should be looking to partner with craft breweries (and other local businesses) like Steam Whistle, Bellwoods Brewery, Junction Craft Brewing, Kesington Brewing Company, Great Lakes Brewing Company, Amsterdam Brewing Company, or Mill Street Brew Pub (thanks to several people on Twitter for the Toronto craft beer recommendations). The point is that there are over a dozen of craft brewers in the Toronto area that Reds fans most likely have an authentic connection to (and make a decent brew) and could partner in some capacity with their local team.

Yeah, none of these breweries could park a mobile "big rig" bar in the BMO Field parking lot or produce branded TFC aluminum bottles, but they certainly would communicate the idea that local and quality is a paramount focus for the here, now, and future of Toronto's soccer scene. That's something, especially in dire times for TFC's fan base, that they'd like to hear.

Ultimately that's what North American soccer should be about. A fan bleeds his or her local colors and they damn well should be able to drink a local beer in their stadium.

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

The Best of Both Worlds - Seattle Breweries Release a Pair of Supporters Beers

Editor's Note: We'll have more on these newly released supporter's beers in the future (and hopefully some samples), but here's some information to whet your whistle.

Press Release:

Gorilla Football Collective (GFC), an official supporters group of the Seattle Sounders FC, has partnered with Big Al Brewing and Dick’s Brewing Company to bring two distinct, craft beers to the 2013 soccer season. GFC, a 501c3 with a charitable emphasis, enjoys giving back to the community through its “CIVic Ticket” program, community service projects and fundraising events. Proceeds from both beers will benefit Gorilla FC Charities.

Big Al Brewing created for Gorilla FC Civ’s White IPA which is made using American Two Row, Malted Wheat, Unmalted Wheat, Oats,  and given bitterness and aroma with Nugget and Cascade hops. This beer was designed with balance, flavor, and drinkability in mind. A refreshing wheat beer, with a unique Belgian character, balanced by an assertive bitterness and bright hop aroma and flavor and comes in at 6.0% ABV.  Alejandro Brown President/Head Brewer of Big Al Brewing had this to say about the project "We are proud to partner with Gorilla FC who share our passion for Seattle Sounders FC and our commitment to community. We look forward to raising many pints of Civ's White IPA and funds for local charities while supporting our beloved Sounders with this remarkable organization!"

Dick’s Brewing Company is also working with GFC and they have produced the Dick’s Au GFC. The Dick’s Au GFC is a Golden Ale brewed with American Two Row, Malted Wheat, and Magnum hops. The Au GFC is dry hopped with 3 distinct varieties; Saaz, Mt. Hood and Tettnanger. The first sip brings refreshing crispness with a slightly sweet malty aftertaste. The dry hop adds a nice floral and herbal backbone to the beer making it a great session beer with a 5.5% ABV. Julie Young, Owner and Dave Pendleton, Head Brewer of Dick’s Brewing Company said, “We are very excited working with GFC as we are huge football fans! We love supporting GFC’s charity activities and are happy we can do that through our beer.” Dick’s Au GFC is a play on the periodic table symbol Au for Gold and when being ordered go ahead and ask your bartender for an,  A-U GFC!

Big Al’s Civ’s White IPA and Dick’s Au GFC will have a special release at four GFC partner bar locations on March 2nd, 2013 for Sounders first kick: Fado Irish Pub in Pioneer Square, Auto Battery Bar and The Summit Public House on Capitol Hill, and Naked City Brewery & Taphouse in Greenwood. Starting March 3rd you will be able to find these two beers around the Puget Sound area. Soccer is a cause for drinking, now you can drink for a cause with Big Al and Dick’s and GFC! The beers are available now at the two breweries.

On March 15, 2013, from 4:30 to 9 p.m., a release party for both beers will be held at Golazo Headquarters 714 E Pike, Seattle WA 98122. Meet the brewers, enjoy Big Al’s Civ’s White IPA and Dick’s Au GFC while listening to a live DJ. Media and public are welcome!  Proceeds from the event will benefit Gorilla FC Charities.

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

The Six-Pack: Unsacred Brewing Co and Nick Rimando’s Wit

How do you know that craft beer and American soccer are kindred spirits? When breweries start naming them after players. Meet Unsacred Brewing, a new craft brewery in Salt Lake City, Utah. Just last month the opened their doors with a quartet of brews including a wit beer named after Real Salt Lake's goalkeeper Nick Rimando.

FBM spoke with David Cole one of Unsacred's co-owners about their new brewery's mission, their beers, and, of course, Rimando's Wit.

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FBM: Tell us about Unsacred Brewing. Where did the name come from? What's your experience in craft beer brewing? There definitely seems to be a "statement" being made about church and state and Utah beer laws, can you explain what you're trying to do? How does Unsacred fit into the Utah craft beer scene?

You bet it is a statement!  We are trying to be as offensive as possible, in a playful way, until Utah legalizes real, full strength beer on draft.  We hate that Utah law prevents the sale of beers true to style on draft just because they exceed 4.0% ABV.  We are lifetime full strength beer drinkers who “grew up” outside of the constraints of Utah’s laws, and as the owners and brewers of Unsacred we wish to remain somewhat anonymous considering what a shameful act we believe this to be.  However, we acknowledge that our foray into 3.2% beer goes against everything that we initially set out to accomplish in the brewing industry.  Utah regulations prevent the selling of full strength beers in grocery stores or on tap, and have forced us to set aside our principals and succumb to Utah’s antiquated laws as a necessary evil.  The day the law changes will be the day this Unsacred act stops. 

FBM: What beers and styles are you brewing? Tells us a little about each.

Priesthood Pale Ale is a traditional pale ale with a nice spicy hop profile.  The Vision Lager is a light, sessionable, American-style lager with a clean, crisp, pilsner malt finish, and Unfaithful IPA is a hoppy India pale ale. 

Unsacred Brewing's starting line up. From left to right: Vision Lager, Rimando's Wit, Priesthood Pale, and Unfaithful IPA

FBM: Why name a beer after Nick Rimando? Why the wit style? Are you worried that you didn't do the RSL keeper justice since the beer can only be 3.2% ABV?

We have always been fans of Nick Rimando and he is a fan of Wit-style brews, we know that because he loves a beer from Epic Brewing, their Exponential Wit Beer.  Most locations in Utah require 4.0%  ABV so we hope to have it in the stadium he plays in someday soon so all his fans can drink it and watch him making those saves. 

"You OK?"    "No... get me a Rimando's Wit."

FBM: You're obviously soccer fans by choosing to name a beer after Rimando. What is it about soccer and craft beer that makes them seem like such a good pairing?

Soccer fans are some of the most fanatic in the world, and the same could be said about craft beer fans as well!  Who wouldn’t love watching their favorite soccer team with a delicious craft brew in their hand?!

FBM: Any plans to name other, future beers after RSL players or coaches? Or any other soccer-themed beers? Maybe a Jason Kreis Kolsch?

If Jason is down for it we would do it.  We would need his permission, as we have with Nick, but wouldn’t that be cool?  Or how about Beckerman Bock?

FBM: Have you tried to make contact with RSL or Rimando at all? If so, what was their/his response? RSL's Twitter account expressed interest in getting Rimando's Wit on tap at Rio Tinto. Would that be in the works?

We contacted Nick Rimando prior to the naming of the brew and he was on board and excited about having the Wit named after him.  We are hoping to have the Wit on tap at Rio Tinto for the upcoming season!

Tags: Beer, brewery, Six-Pack Interview Series, The Best of Both Worlds, Through The Drinking Glass

A Brew For You… And You…. And You….

Editor's Note: We're continuing our contributions over at the SB Nation U.S. soccer blog, Stars and Stripes FC with this same piece. Check 'em out as they've got other great stuff than just FBM contributing.

Our USMNT - Honduras Game Day Beer Recommendations

Today the United States men’s national team travels down to steamy San Pedro Sula, Honduras for the first match of their Hexagonal round of World Cup Qualifying.

For anyone that’s ever been to San Pedro Sula or Honduras… it’s quite the place. I lived there for a while and experienced life, love, and libations.
Wait? What was I even talking about?

Oh yeah… libations.

If you’re ever in Honduras chances are it will be on the beautiful Bay Islands. Roatan, Utila, or less likely, La Guanaja. Wherever you are in Honduras you’ll find three beers: Barena, Port Royal, or Imperial (not the Imperial from Costa Rica that’s wildly available in the U.S.). Each one is a relatively light beer. Barena a Bud or Coruna knock-off; Port Royal similar to Heinekin right down to the green bottle; and Imperial is a bit darker like a Negra Modelo. Each one delightful on a white sandy beach in front of clear, blue water far away for the throat-clogging pollution surroundings of Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano.

But you probably didn’t come here to read about a bunch of tropical beers that are hard to find here. You want your good ol’ American craft beer fix for this afternoon’s game.
If it’s a lighter lager fare you’re looking for on par with today’s USMNT location then we’ve got a few well-crafted pilsner lagers to sip on during the afternoon.  Plus, they’re not too heavy on the ABV for you to get back to your desk after that “doctor’s appointment” you had.

The light lager has typically been a category of beer that craft brewers have left well alone to the domain of the macro-brewers. Times are changing though. In order to bridge the “craft gap” 

between macro drinkers and those who love their double-triple-IPA-cherry-barrel-aged-stouts (note: not a real style... yet) craft brewers are now using their talents to take on this typically tame beer style.

Our game day recommendations for best craft pilsners:

New Belgium Brewing Co. “Shift” Pale Lager (Fort Collins, CO)

Victory Brewing Co. “Prima Pils” (Downington, PA)

Lagunitas Brewing Co. “Pils” (Petaluma, CA)

Oskar Blues Brewing Co. “Mama’s Little Yella Pils” (Longmont, CO)

Each of these is sure to be a “refreshing” change of pace from any macro-pilsners or crazy craft concoctions you might normally imbibe. And leave you somewhat ready for getting back to the desk or not falling asleep at the dinner table tonight.


What are you drinking for today’s USMNT game?

 

Tags: A Brew For You, Beer, The Best of Both Worlds, USMNT, World Cup

The Best of Both Worlds - 2013 FBM Super “Draft”

We've gone back and reviewed every pick from the first round of the Major League Soccer SuperDraft and picked drinks/beers from the players' college/home town to fill in for them. We'll call them our own "draft" picks". All for fun, folks. Warning... many terrible beer puns ahead. Enjoy!

"Hello, everyone! Welcome to Indianapolis and welcome to the 2013 Major League Soccer Super "Draft"! My name is Sun King and I am the official representative of Indy's own, Sun King Brewing Co. I'll be your host for today's festivities.

We've got some of the nation's best "on tap" for "drafting" this afternoon. Each pick has EXCLUSIVE scouting profiles from Free Beer Movement experts.

Just in case anyone was worried about FBM's lack of presence at this year's Super "Draft"... we were definitely there.

 

 

Alright. Let's tap these drafts!"

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1. New England Revolution (acquired in trade with TFC) -- Andrew Farrell, D, Louisville (Generation Adidas)

Paired with Blue Grass Brewing Co. "Dark Star" Porter (Louisville, KY)

BBC hails this beer as "rich and robust" and the Revs can only hope that Farrell's contributions are equally "robust". Coach Jay Heaps will need contributions from Farrell quickly if New England is going to have a look at playoffs or get shut out for another season.

2. Chivas USA -- Carlos Alvarez, M, UConn

Paired with Half Full Brewing Co. "Bright" Ale (Stamford, CT)

If you're a Chivas USA fan it's easy to be pessimistic, but if you're still around after all these years of failure and mis-management chances are you're a "glass half-full" kind of person. Coach Chelis is hoping Alvarez's attacking mindset will "brighten" this team's fortunes for seasons to come.

3. Toronto FC (acquired in trade with Timbers) -- Kyle Bekker, M, Boston College

Paired with Samuel Adams "Dark Depths" Baltic IPA (Boston, MA)

Sam Adams brewery is just down the way from Bekker's Boston College so hopefully kids there are crushing affordable craft beer from Jim Koch instead of Natty Light. TFC is certainly looking up at the rest of the Eastern Conference from the dark depths and with a new coach and a irritable, but still passionate fanbase this Canadian native son will have a lot of responsibility thrust upon him. Sink or swim?

4. Vancouver Whitecaps (acquired in trade with Toronto FC via Revolution) -- Kekuta Manneh, F, Lake Travis High School (Generation Adidas)

Paired with Austin Beer Works "Fire Eagle" IPA

We could really show off our beer knowledge chops and pick a beer from Manneh's home country of Gambia, but then we'd miss a chance to feature a beer from FBM HQ's home city, Austin. ABW describes drinking a "Fire Eagle" like this: "Flavor swoops in (cue EAGLE SCREAM), grabs you by the face and flies you through the hop rainbow. At the peak of the ride it swoops back to earth and gently drops you back on your bar stool where you are refreshed, excited and ready to ride again." Having seen Kekuta skip through opposing defenses live.... it's a similar experience.

"This is going to be a tough call. Another beer over here first."

5. Whitecaps (acquired in trade with Union) -- Erik Hurtado, F, Santa Clara

Paired with Heritage Brewing Co. "Menage a Singe" Black IPA (San Jose, CA)

Hurtado is built for speed and will add another body to the Whitecaps growing forward corps. Will one more front man make it a threes-a-crowd?

6. Colorado Rapids -- Deshorn Brown, F, Central Florida (Generation Adidas)

Paired with Orlando Brewing Co. Blonde Ale (Orlando, FL)

We had to look up where Central Florida was and it killed us that we couldn't use Tampa's Cigar City Brewing Co. UCF is in Orlando and the craft beer scene is sparse. Also, apparently there's no Disney branded beer which seems like a terrible idea to anyone except the desperate craft beer enthusiast dad stuck in line for the tea cup ride for the fifth time. Turns out there are a few places in the Magic Kingdom that you can get a decent, local beer. OBC being one of them. That's the best you're going to get from us on this one.

7. FC Dallas -- Walker Zimmerman, D, Furman (Generation Adidas)

Paired with Blue Ridge Brewing Co. "Rainbow Trout" ESB (Greenville, SC)

Zimmerman hails from Clint Dempsey's alma matter and so it was only fitting that we went with the fish-themed ESB from Greenville's only brewpub. Word is that FC Dallas got one of the best defenders in the draft. Quite a catch.

8. Montreal Impact -- Blake Smith, M, New Mexico

Paired with Marble Brewery Red Ale (Albuquerque, NM)

Another Austin Aztex alum cracks into the first round of the MLS draft. A friend sent us a six pack of Marble's Red Ale and it was delightful (Thanks Zach!). The red had a surprisingly pleasant hop impact.

9. Columbus -- F Ryan Finley, Notre Dame

Paired with Four Horsemen Brewing Co. "Hop Rush" IPA (South Bend, IN)

Last season Finley was second in the nation with 21 goals last year and had 56 in his career. The Crew hopes a similar goal rush will propel them into the playoffs this season.

We know... it's not the "amber" like we said. 

10. Seattle Sounders (acquired in trade with Toronto FC via Vancouver) -- F Eriq Zavaleta, Indiana (Generation Adidas)

Paired with Upland Brewing Co. "Rad Red" Amber Ale (Bloomington, IN)

All-Big Ten. His 18 goals tied him for third in the country. Assisted on the sole goal to give Indiana their eight NCAA title. All-College Cup team. Soccer America MVP first time. Just a sophomore. The Sounders got a pretty "rad" player. Yup we went there.

11. Colorado (acquired in trade with Chicago) -- M Dillon Powers, Notre Dame

Paired with Four Horsemen Brewing Co. Irish Stout (South Bend, IN)

For the Austin Aztex (three players from a USL PDL team.. how about that?) Powers was stout in the center of the pitch. Fueling the high powered attack of coach Paul Daglish (yup... that Daglish family) while also tracking back to break up opponents attacks. A solid player in the Michael Bradley mold.

12. Real Salt Lake -- John Stertzer, Maryland

Paired with Flying Dog Brewing Co. "Raging Bitch" Belgian IPA (Frederick, MD)

With RSL's possession style tactics they're going to need another box-to-box midfielder much like Will Johnson. Stertzer will be "flying" for this side.

13. Houston Dynamo (acquired in trade with Portland via NY) -- Jason Johnson, Virginia Commonwealth (Generation Adidas)

Paired with Hardywood Park Craft Brewery "Hardywood Hoplar" Imperial IPA (Richmond, VA)

This spring seasonal (just in time for MLS kickoff!) is a dry-hopped Imperial IPA conditioned on Virginia Tulip Poplar Wood and has been described as big-boodied and hop-forward. About the same description could apply towards this Dynamo who will pair with Will Bruin. Wonder what we should pair that beer with?

14. Sporting Kansas City -- Mikey Lopez, M, North Carolina (Generation Adidas)

Paired with Carolina Brewery "Sky Blue" Golden Ale (Chapel Hill, NC)

The sky's the limit for this diminutive midfielder. The former Tar Heel and Generation Adidas player is "golden" with the ball at his feet.

15. San Jose Earthquakes -- Tommy Muller, D, Georgetown

Paired with D.C. Brau "The Public" Pale Ale (Washington, DC)

Muller was solid at the back for the Georgetown Hoyas holding the line for 10 shutouts and propelling them to the 2012 NCAA Final (a 1-0 loss to Indiana). San Jose's supporters ("the public") will hope the skill, experience and depth of the Earthquakes' defenders (with the likes of Steven Beitashour, Ramiro Corrales, Victor Bernardez plus newly acquired vets Ty Harden and Dan Gargan) will rub off on Muller.

"Kid has a good head on his shoulders," said one MLS scout.

16. Toronto FC (acquired in trade with Sounders FC) -- Emery Welshman, F, Oregon State

Paired with Oregon Trail Brewery Brown Ale (Corvallis, OR)

Toronto FC's journey since their introduction to MLS in 2006 has been like a series of failed journeys across the American West (why would a Canadian team travel across the U.S..... shhh.... the logic isn't important). Dysentery, sunken covered wagons, shooting too much food that you can't carry it all back to the wagon... you name it Toronto FC has suffered it. Will this late-round pick fix any of that? He's got athleticism, but sounds like other parts of the game need working on. Hey.... athleticism was definitely needed to survive that long journey from Independence, MO.

17. D.C. United -- Taylor Kemp, D, Maryland

Paired with Flying Dog Brewery "Under Dog" Atlantic Lager (Frederick, MD)

Kemp's travels from Maryland to D.C. will be short, but his journey to break into the starting XI won't be so easy. 

18. Montreal (acquired in trade with Houston) -- Fernando Monge, M, UCLA

Paired with Golden Road Brewing Co. "Golden Road" Hefeweizen (Los Angeles, CA)

If Montreal can find the right position for him on the pitch the athletic Monge will have a golden road to MLS.

19. LA Galaxy -- Charlie Rugg, F, Boston College

Paired with Harpoon Brewing Co. "Harpoon" IPA (Boston, MA)

Even though Rugg went to BC with TFC's number three pick Bekker we wanted to make sure we tipped the cap to one of Boston's other famous craft breweries, Harpoon. Harpoon's IPA started out as a seasonal when the brewers wanted to  bring the West Coast IPA to the East Coast and is now their flagship beer. Rugg is returning the favor; East to West now. Hopefully this target forward (Harpoon.. get it? Sigh....) can help overcome the loss of firepower on the front lines for the Galaxy.

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"And that concludes the first round of the FBM/MLS Super "Draft". It's been great having you all here in Indy, but after nineteen beers the world is starting to spin. Don't forget to support your club's newest picks by trying to find the delicious brew that we've paired them with. Of course all the other ones are darn fine as well so feel free to drink your way through the whole thing.

A big thanks to Jeremiah Oshan and his SB Nation MLS Draft re-cap for a little scouting help on the players. We owe you a beer (or nineteen!) Mr. Oshan.

We'll be back next year in.... uhhh.... wherever the NSCAA Convention is.... clearly the beer has gotten to me.

Good night!"

Tags: The Best of Both Worlds

Soccer Marketing 101: Inside Boulevard Brewing’s Partnership with Sporting KC (INTERVIEW)

On the eve of the 2012 Major League Soccer season, to the delight of craft beer and American soccer fans in Kansas City, Boulevard Brewing Company and Sporting KC announced the launch of their marketing partnership, "Hometown Team, Hometown Beer". Boulevard, the nation's tenth largest craft brewery, would now be served in one of the United State's best soccer-specific stadium and a host of co-branded opportunities would soon roll out between the two.

Last week, we stopped in at Boulevard Brewing to chat with their Director of Marketing, Jeremy Rogonese, who explained the evolution of the marketing partnership from its earliest days, what sort of initiatives Sporting and Boulevard have done and plan on doing, the similarities between soccer fans and craft beer lovers, and the coolness that are keg backpacks.

Free Beer Movement: Talk about your first experience with American soccer.

Jeremy Rogonese: My first experience was, actually, a friend inviting me to a game. Years ago when the Wizards were playing at Arrowhead. I was blown away then and the fervor hadn’t even reached its pitch that it is now. It was a great experience and a learned a little about the game and gained an appreciation.

FBM: How did the marketing partnership come about?

JR: The re-brand came and even before then we had been approached by OnGoal (Sporting KC’s ownership group). We have known a number of members of the ownership group that were big fans of the brewery and big fans or supporting local businesses. They started meeting with us early saying “we want you to be a part of the experience. We know how important being local is and having that connection.”

We’ve had a great on-going discussion with them. They re-branded with Sporting KC and just took off from there. It was an amazing experience to be in Kansas City, to be in marketing, and to see what was happening with the organization at the time.

There was a period of time when LIVESTRONG was built and we were touring the stadium, we were talking about sponsorships, but it wasn’t going to work out at the time. Because of the size of our brewery and the amount of sponsorship dollars they were able to generate it just wasn’t really in the cards for us to be a partner from the very beginning.

I credit them for coming back to us with new ideas, a new approach, and a new way of think about how our relationship could benefit each other. They would have our beers available at their stadium, but that we also could work together on a true marketing partnership to try and share the message of both our brands and how we can align.

It became “hometown team, hometown beer” and that was a brand new thing for us. That was a new thing for us; we had never had the ability to use the “marks” (team’s logos, etc) of a professional team in Kansas City or to really partner with them to try and win new fans.

FBM: What does the partnership between Boulevard and Sporting KC look like?

JR: One of the biggest things is taking the experience of the fans (away games or for fans who can’t attend the home games because of ticket availability) at the watch parties. We have many bar partners in town. Setting up programs where fans can be set with the Sporting experience.  Not only in Kansas City, but Lawrence and other places to build a regional brand.

Use media like our outdoor boards to co-brand. It states the “hometown beer, hometown team” message. To use the affinity that both of us have to create that image so that new consumers of the sport that see these Kansas City brands working together sends a pretty strong members.

We kicked off the partnership by putting inserts for tickets into our sample twelve packs and our core brand twelve packs and distributed them regionally at the beginning of the season. People who were drinking our beer who might not have been soccer fans were given the opportunity to find out more.

We’ve done seasonal releases of beers at LIVESTRONG Park (most recently Zon, Boulevard's Belgian-style wtitbier) a. We’ve held them in the member’s club after the games and feature them on the taps there.

FBM: What have you noticed about the crossover between soccer fans and craft beer fans?

JR: We certainly have similar demographics. Their fans are avid craft beer drinkers. We want to remind them that we’re local partners.

I was surprised that it (the cross over between craft beer and American soccer) was here. I saw soccer as an emerging sport from an outside perspective. Having grown up in the Midwest  from an older generation that didn’t grow up with soccer; it was seen family-driven and youth centered with soccer field being built all over the city so I knew the sport was growing.

I always knew there was going to be the young, hip, urban demographic that was going to be touched. I didn’t know to the extent that they would be as big of fans as they are now. The make up a lot of the Cauldron. There’s a lot of local business that have season tickets and they’re the type that have a lot of 21-29 year-old group that are the primary beer-drinking audience.

That group from the beginning said they wanted Boulevard Beer at the stadium. They wanted us on the jersey.

The tenacity and their vocal support of the team and of us rose to the top. It made it apparent to both of us (Sporting and Boulevard) that we need each other. Because their fans wanted us and we want to be wherever the fans are enjoying Kansas City. Sporting has become a very important part of our Kansas City sporting traditions.

FBM: What are these keg backpacks we've heard about?

JR: Years ago we supplied the Royals with backpacks for vending in the stadium. There were some problems early on. It was obvious they worked because the fans really loved them. They would always talk about them and write in how much they enjoyed them. It’s just such a unique thing to see someone walk up to you and pour you a draft beer off their back.

We tasked our Draft Quality Manager Neil Witte with redeveloping a newer system, identifying the right methodologies, and we had to buy some special sized kegs.

They’ve gotten great response from the fans. They’re easy to operate and pour from vendor standpoint. We've used them at LIVESTRONG Park throughout the stadium, the member's club, and the Cauldron tailgates.

Tags: Beer, Major League Soccer, Soccer Marketing 101, The Best of Both Worlds

The Best of Both Worlds - Beer Penalty Kicks at Euro 2012

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.

Our BFF Jimmy Conrad is in Poland and the Ukraine covering the Euro 2012 tournament for Kick TV. He's been taking in team trainings, games, the general merriment of the fans, and plenty of shenanigans over the last couple of weeks. He even got a speeding ticket!

But by far the coolest thing we've seen thus far is the above video where Croatian fans faced off some Italians fans (unfortunately in Mario Balotelli "blackface") in beer PKs. From the footage beer PKs seem simple:

1) Make a goal out of empty beer cans

2) Choose your keeper

3) Choose your shooters

4) Open a new can of beer

5) Attempt to put said can of beer past the opposing keeper

6) Everyone gets covered in beer (and there may or may not be a goal in there as well)

We're thinking that this is the NEXT BIG THING. If "BASEketball" could work then why not beer PKs?

Perhaps bonus points to the goalie for catching the can and drinking the remaining beer?

Tags: Beer, The Best of Both Worlds

In This Team, Their History Is Beer-Fueled

The Bohemians are a first-year United Soccer League Professional Developmental League team from Baltimore. Their partnership with their local brewery, National Bohemian, and iconic, Maryland-centric jerseys made a big splash across the American soccer Inter-Web-Blogo-sphere. Free Beer Movement got in touch with them and a few months later our first club-sponsored "Free Beer Movement Night" was born. On June 16th, alongside "Throwback Night" (where the Bohemains will honor their American soccer history by wearing NASL-era Baltimore Bays jerseys), the Bohemians will play in front of fans fueled by $2 beers (OK, so not "free", but close!

Beer has a lot of deep, local roots and the Bohemians are trying to tap (yep... pun intended) into that and build American soccer in Baltimore. You can follow the journey of the Baltimore Bohemians with their series on "The Classical".

By Joe TirabassiDirector of Marketing & Media Relations, Baltimore Bohemians

To have something that you can call your own, something that is so indelibly ingrained in that fabric of your being that no one else can claim it - that's something special. In Baltimore, amongst elongated O's, a predilection for blue crabs and the work of David Simon ("The Wire"), we have an alcoholic beverage known simply as "Natty Boh."

It was a major coup for us to get National Bohemian on board with the team. Nothing says "Baltimore" like Boh - it's omnipresent here. There's a giant, neon Mr. Boh that sits atop the old brewery, welcoming you to the east side. It's the only beer that should be served with our state's chosen crustacean.

There's the dog collars, tattoos, t-shirts and hats that Baltimoreans proudly display Mr. Boh. Whatever it is about the one-eyed man staring back at us that has this effect on Baltimoreans, outsiders won't really ever "get" it. It's a pretty unassuming beer that is drastically underpriced, so what's there to get so excited about? Well, frankly, it's ours.

It's the beer your father and his father drank. Ice cold, it's a revelation. And it's only sold here - you're never going to see someone in LA gripping a Boh at the beach.

I guess in a way, that's why we started this team - we want something we can call our own. We're not D.C. We're not Philly. We're not Barcelona and we're not Manchester.

We're Baltimore, and we're proud of it. A Bohemian is someone who operates outside of convention - someone who doesn't follow the norm. Someone who attempts to break the mold. We are Bohemians, and we're proud of that too.

If you're anywhere near "Charm City" on June 16th make your way up to Bel Air for FBM's "Thowback Night". Get your tickets from the Bohemiams' website.

Tags: Beer, FBM In Action, The Best of Both Worlds

The 2012 European Championship “Beer-view” - Group D

The every-four-year extravaganza known as the European Championship (or "Euros" for short) is about to roll. The 2012 edition is co-hosted by Poland and Ukraine and features the top 16 teams (in four groups) from the continent in fierce competition for the Cup that Spain currently holds. You can read all about the squads on any number of websites and magazines, but where else can you get a team-by-team "beer-view of the "Euros"?

The answer.... only on the Free Beer Movement.

We'll preview the continental competition in four parts, one for each group. The beer we chose might be the most popular in that country, have the coolest name, or have the most interesting back-story. It may or may not be the best tasting, though, so be warned beer-snobs. Either way it some how represents that country for your drinking enjoyment.

The tournament kicks off on Friday, June 8th and continues through July 1st. All of the games will be televised by ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPN3.com so check your local listings.

Cheers!

The Groups

Group A

Group B

Group C

Group D

Group D

France - Kronenbourg Brewery "1664"

In the land of wine and head butts this beer is king. Behind "1664", a pale lager Kronenbourg dominates 40% of the beer market in France, much like France should dominate this group. With England in shambles, Ukraine in only by virtue of co-hosting the tournament, and Sweden providing probably no more than a speed bump the expectations for Frances are high.

Particularly after the shambolic performance during the 2010 World Cup that saw France crash out and burn in controversy. The player fued revolts in South Africa led to a clean house and fresh start for Laurent Blanc who has assembled an impressive squad that could have an outside, dark horse chance of hoisting the trophy this nation won in 2000. Gaël Clichy (Manchester City), Patrice Evra (Manchester United), Florent Malouda (Chelsea), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Samir Nasri (Manchester City), and Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich) lead a team long on experience and short on age. A new generation of French dominance could be beginning.

England - Stonehenge "Pigswill"

By Kristen Schlewitz / @7500_Kirsten

How could I resist recommending Stonehenge Pigswill as the beer to correspond to the England national team? Every time a major tournament rolls around, the world -- the world meaning England, of course -- seems to think that England are the cream of the crop. Apparently the fact that they haven't won, well, anything since 1966 doesn't mean diddly squat. England are still a major footballing power.

The problem with that is that they really are pigswill. Like this beer, they might look nice on first glance. But then the head vanishes and the sweet aroma turns sticky. When Roy Hodgson announced his squad, many supporters were actually excited. There were some different faces in there. The Three Lions might have been moving on from their past, where Fabio Capello left them mired in the mud. But then the clouds came rolling in and the injuries started to pile up. Now we've got to wonder if England will even make it out of Group D, or if they'll be undone by Sweden -- or worse, Ukraine. Swill, indeed.

Of course, if you want something decent to drink, grab yourself a Fuller's London Pride. Creamy and caramelly, it's worth drinking. And when you're done, just let the glass fall to the floor. It'll symbolize the broken English players and the shattered dreams of a nation.

Ukraine - Lvivske "1715" Pilsner

This Ukrainian beer trace its roots to a monastic beer of 1715 when Andriy Shevchenko made his professional debut. The Ukrainian captain will lead his national team (FIFA ranked, number 52) who are only here by the grace of being co-hosts of the tournament. The "Yellow and Blues" should expect to be spectators with the rest of their countrymen soon enough.

"1715" is the lower ABV (4%) version of Lvivsk's "Premium" brand (4.7%) so it sounds like Ukraine's Budweiser and Bud Select. Another Euro pilsner served in a green bottle doesn't increase the chances that it is better than either of the Buds (at that's a low bar to miss).

Sweden - Nils Oscar Brewery "God" Lager

Zlatan Ibrahimović is a "god" or at least the AC Milan man thinks himself one. He's got his own iPad app for goodness sakes! Ibra is going to have to play to near-god-like perfect if Sweden is going to escape this group. Some unfortunate results for England and they could be surprise advancers to the quarterfinals.

Nils Oscar Brewery is, like Denmark's Mikkeller, a craft beer producer emerging out of the historical, more drab beers of their country. Since opening in 1996 Nils Oscar has taken home several gold medals from the Stockholm Beer Festival and had positive reviews from beer critics across Europe.

P.S. "God" in Swedish actually translates to "good" in English, but whatever. Zlatan.. he's good, he's god... 

Tags: Beer, The Best of Both Worlds

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