Friday, February 11, 2011

Going Suds Up: The Best Beers, The Best Soccer

By Kirsten Schlewitz / Senior West Coast Beer and Aston Villa Correspondent

Last week, the mood was all about friendlies. But now that the international break has passed, it’s time to get back to what soccer’s really about: intense, bitter rivalries. The sort of match that will leave a sour taste in your mouth. Well, to be fair, there’s only one of those matches, but it’s a big one. Manchester United host cross-town rivals Manchester City at Old Trafford. Oh, and it’s an early one as well, with the teams facing off at 6:45am CT on Saturday.

Last week, the previously undefeated United experienced a shock loss at Molineux at the head of Wolves striker Kevin Doyle, who put the home side up 2-1 in the 40th minute. Astonishingly enough, United didn’t managed to mount a comeback, but such is their record that they remain firmly in first, four points ahead of Arsenal (and we all know how they failed last weekend) and five against Manchester City. City, after an embarrassing draw against relegation-battlers Birmingham City midweek, saved face by beating West Bromwich Albion 3-0 and thus sending the Baggies manager, Roberto Di Matteo, out the door. Of course, that was all due to the hat trick of Carlos Tevez, and if Roberto Mancini decides his star striker is still suffering from the attitude problem that kept him out of the Argentina friendly, United may be looking at an easy win.

But what you guys are really here for is the beer. And, as already alluded to, we’re going sour this weekend. Bonus: research has shown that women are evolutionarily predisposed to like sours. It’s something to do with the way women were the gatherers and gave the sweetest berries to their young, learning to tolerate the sour themselves. Far-fetched, perhaps, but most women do love sours. So if you’re trying to impress a lady on Monday, set out one of these bottles. If you are a lady, well, drink up. And if you’re just sour on the idea of Valentine’s Day, clearly these are perfect for you.

Best for impressing: Port Brewing Co. Lost Abbey "Cable Car" American Wild Ale (San Marcos, CA). The crème de la crème of sours. Difficult to find, unless you’re at the Lost Abbey tasting room or one of the Toronado locations. But the harder it is to find, the more impressive it is, and the sweeter it will taste when your team wins at the weekend. Get out your stemware for this one. It pours a hazy gold with a thick foamy head. The flavors are an incredible blend of citrus, oak, and peach, with the perfect balance between sweetness and sour.

Your next best bet: Palm Breweries "Rodenbach Grand Cru" (Roeselare, Belgium). This one should be available at almost all specialty bottle stores, although it might be a little pricy. Belgium is where wild ales originated and this one takes the style a bit further into the sour persuasion—and does it wonderfully. Again, get out your tulip glass, because this one’s definitely worth showing off. It pours red-black with an off-white head, plenty of lacing and the perfect amount of bubbles. The aroma is of tart blueberries and cherries with a bit of vanilla and brown sugar. The taste is primarily of sour cherries, but overall the balance is right on this one as well, the beer walking a fine line between sour and sweet.

There you are, gents and dames. Enjoy the derby, enjoy the plethora of soccer available this weekend, and enjoy the day of love—even if you’re celebrating it with a sour.

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, and listed many of them on Ratebeer. 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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