Going Suds Up - The Best Beers, The Best Soccer
Planting the Seed of Soccer Across America: Danny Beerseed
By Kirsten Schlewitz / Senior West Coast Beer and Aston Villa Correspondent
Hey everyone! I’m back to bring you the best beers to pair with the best soccer matches of the weekend. Alas, I have picked a horrible weekend to return, as there are no truly great matchups coming up in the next few days. Sure, you can say Chelsea – Arsenal is a marquee event, but that would be giving waaaaaaay too much credit to Arsenal this season – they’re currently six points out of the Champions League qualification spots. Marseille – Montpellier had the potential to be great, but Montpellier’s time in the CL cost them, leaving them nine points behind Marseille and a chance in next year’s tournament. And speaking of the Frenchies, you might think Bordeaux – Paris Saint-Germain is the one to watch, considering Bordeaux are in fourth, but they’re only that high by virtue of having drawn eleven of their 20 matches, so don’t get excited about that game.
No, the game you want to be watching is Bayer Leverkusen – Frankfurt. First of all, the Bundesliga is fantastic, particularly when you don’t have a rooting interest. Second, while it’s been predictably easy for Bayern Munich this season, the other three Champions League positions are still up for grabs, despite the pundits forecasting that Dortmund would snatch the title, or at least second, with no trouble. Instead it’s Leverkusen in second and Frankfurt that are tied with Dortmund in third. What makes this even more interesting is that Frankfurt came up from 2. Bundesliga last season, where they came in second. How can you not cheer on this team, particularly when one of its nicknames is “moody diva”?
If you’re cheering on Frankfurt – and again, how can you not? – you best be drinking a doppelbock. The bock style originated in Einbeck, further north of Frankfurt, but the city certainly embraces this German beer. Bocks are best known for being sweet, due to the high concentration of malts in the brew, and doppelbocks have the added incentive of higher alcohol content. Possibly the best known doppelbock, Ayinger Celebrator, has a 6.7% ABV. This one is widely available in the states, and has the added charm – literally – of having a little goat attached to the neck of the bottle. Unlike many doppelbocks, it’s not overwhelmingly sweet. Instead, the maltiness of the beer is balanced by its finish, which has a rather dry, smoky taste.
Perhaps you’re trying to drink more locally? I gotcha. If so, plenty of breweries have a doppelbock on offer, and it may even be on sale, or available by the single for a discount, as it’s more an early winter beer than a late winter one – although I’ve been in plenty of bars recently that are still touting their bocks. Bells Brewery, from Michigan, makes the "Consecrator", common in the region and weighing in at a hefty 8% ABV. Great Divide, which is based in Colorado but fairly widely distributed, makes "Wolfgang". This one’s also at 8% and is fairly caramelly, but the brewers have managed to balance it out, allowing just enough of the bitter hop taste to come through at the end. If you want something different from your doppelbock, seek out Oregon’s Full Sail 25th Anniversary Pale Doppelbock. It’s heavy, at 9% ABV, but it offers more hops and some interesting tropical fruit notes.
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, and listed many of them onRatebeer. 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 Managing Editor of SB Nation's Aston Villa site, 7500 to Holte, the Italy Editor for SB Nation Soccer, and cover the Seattle Sounders on SBN Seattle (don't judge--I'm from Seattle!) Finally, I write for Two Footed Tackle when I find words worthy enough for the site. Want more? Follow me on Twitter!
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