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Going Suds Up - The Best Soccer, The Best Beers

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

In the U.S., the soccer season has barely begun. But over in Europe, most countries are 6-8 weeks away from the end of the season – and the title race has more or less been decided in each of the big leagues. Of course, we all know that Bayern Munich grabbed the Bundesliga title last weekend. Barcelona, naturally, are running away from it in Spain, 13 points above Real Madrid. Manchester United are 12 above rivals City. France and Italy are closer, with Paris Saint-Germain 7 points above Marseille and Juventus leading Napoli by 9 points.

So barring any last-minute meltdowns, Europe’s top clubs are ready to receive their crowns. That means it’s time to look at the bottom, where all the action is. If you’re a fan of a club hovering close to the relegation zone, the end of the season is terrifying (I should know; I’m an Aston Villa supporter). But if your club is safe, it’s often rather fun to predict which sides are going down – and if you’re feeling really evil, cheer them on as they head to the lower leagues.

There are at least two serious relegation six-pointers this weekend: On Saturday, Pescara, who are dead last in Serie A, host Siena, who are out of the drop only because they have a better head-to-head against Palermo. Then on Monday, Celta Vigo visit Mallorca, with both sides sitting dead last in the La Liga table. And if you feel you just can’t let Sunday pass by without the tension that comes with trying to avoid the drop, head to Newcastle, where it’s possible that a win in the Tyne-Wear Derby could see the Toon push their rivals Sunderland down to the point of no return.

So what sort of beer do you drink while cheering on the possibility of making an entire fanbase break down in sobs? Well, if you’re watching the Derby, it should be Newcastle Brown Ale, of course. But that’s just too easy for this column, which is meant to expand your beer-drinking horizons and challenge your taste buds. With quite a few weeks left before the drops are decided, it’s probably best to go with something on the lower end of the ABV scale, lest a strong beer gets to your head and you start doing relegation sums incorrectly. And with spring finally upon us, a lighter, sessionable beer is a fine choice, perfect for enjoying the (hopefully) sunny days.

Now I know not all of you will be able to find beers from Full Sail Brewing, but I did check and they distribute in most states. If you’re one of the unfortunate ones, take what I said about the style, go out and be creative. The reason I’m recommending Full Sail is because they make a special point of doing session beers – they have a lager, a black lager and even a holiday red lager. The point they’re trying to make with the sessions is that a beer can be crisp and refreshing without being boring. Ok, the lager is fairly standard, with mild hops and medium sweetness. If you’re looking for something more interesting, go with the black. It’s actually a Schwarzbier, so it’s heavier on the chocolaty malts, but it also has enough citrus hops to make it light and balanced.

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!

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