Going Suds Up - The Best Soccer, The Best Beers
Planting the Seed of Soccer Across America: Danny Beerseed
By Kirsten Schlewitz / Senior West Coast Beer and Aston Villa Correspondent
Do you know what week it is? That’s right, it’s time for the Champions League to return. No matter which league your favorite soccer team is in, you can’t call yourself a fan of the sport unless you get excited about the world’s greatest tournament. If you’re a fan of soccer, you can get excited about almost any match, even if it’s just watching hungover students kick around a ball on a Saturday morning. But the Champions League is something special – the best sides in the world, doing battle to determine who will lift the trophy at Wembley in May.
In case you missed the group stages, here’s a quick catch up: Chelsea, Manchester City and Ajax are out. Celtic, Málaga, Shakhtar Donetsk and Galatasaray are in. In other words, the knock out round could be very, very interesting. The match ups this week are Celtic vs Juventus and Valencia vs Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday, and Shakhtar vs Dortmund and Real Madrid vs Manchester United on Wednesday. That’s right, we’ve got Zlatan Ibrahimovic on one day, Cristiano Ronaldo the next. This calls for some fantastic beer.
And what is, almost indisputably, the best beer in the world? Westvleteren 12. Westvleteren, one of the eight trappist beers in the world, is typically unavailable outside the monastery – unless you’re willing to pay hand over fist for an illegal delivery. But the Saint Sixtus abbey needs a new roof, and beer drinkers around the world are benefiting. Beer connoisseurs are able to purchase six packs of the world’s most coveted beer, and in exchange, the Abbey gets a new brick for the roof.
It’s probably too late to get yourself a six-pack – out here in Oregon, we had to put our name on a list for the ability to go back a week later and buy the beer – but if you’re lucky, one of your friends has a bottle they’ll be willing to share. If you don’t have your own, beg, borrow, or even steal to grab ahold of one. I don’t say this lightly. I went into my first Westvleteren fully expecting to be disappointed. Instead, I was pleased to discover this beer actually exceeded my expectations.
In a world of experimental beers, it’s sometimes difficult to describe a brew that is, in fact, a true model for its style. Westvleteren has been brewed since 1838. As such, it makes sense that Belgian-style beers would model themselves off a brand with nearly two hundred years of experience. But what’s unexpected is just how essentially…Belgian this beer is.
A quadrupel, which is what W12 is, is a bottle-conditioned beer that weighs in at 10% or greater. The Westvleteren 12 is, as the name suggests, closer to 12% ABV. But it’s not the kind of high-alcohol beer that leaves a burning sensation in your throat. Instead, it’s a pleasant warmer, more about the balance between malts and fruits than about knocking your socks off. The aroma is a pleasant mix of caramel and creamy orange, while the taste just improves on the smell, adding plenty of dark fruits and that hint of alcohol to the mix.
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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