Friday, October 14, 2011

Going Suds Up: The Best Beers, The Best Soccer

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

It’s October! And do you know what October means (besides bundling up in scarves and boots)? It means all things pumpkin, including…pumpkin beers!

Drink Up:
Smuttynose

Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale: One of the standards of pumpkin ales, and particularly easy to find if you’re east of the Mississippi. Not so much a standout as just a solid pumpkin – one that can be drank as a session ale if you’re so inclined, particularly as it’s just a 5% ABV. This one isn’t so much “pumpkin” as it is “pumpkin pie spice,” so if you’re the type that appreciates plenty of clove in your beer, race on down for a six-pack or two.

Pair It With…

Italian Serie A – Lazio v Roma (Sunday, 1:30PM CT, FSC)
Stock up and play your own derby drinking game! Every time the announcer mentions Francesco Totti out with injury? Take a drink. Roma’s new American owners? Three drinks. And if anyone happens to mention that Lazio miss Fernando Muslera in goal, chung – and grab another while chugging again, all while replaying Paraguay’s last minute goal against Uruguay on Tuesday.

Drink Up:

Post Road Pumpkin, Brooklyn Brewery: A pleasant surprise from a brewery I rarely get to sample, Brooklyn’s pumpkin offering actually tasted, like, well, pumpkin. Aromas of cinnamon and clove in this one, but the actual taste was pumpkin, as well as a bit of vanilla, and, of course, the spices.

Pair It With…

Major League Soccer – Portland Timbers v Houston Dynamo (Friday, 9:30PM CT, MLS Direct Kick)
No clever analogies here – just an MLS match that you should be watching. If Houston beat Portland, and DC United fail to win against Chicago, the Dynamo…won’t clinch a spot. But then again, it’ll make it much harder for the Timbers to reach the playoffs so nya nya nya nya. Figuring out anything else about the MLS playoff standings makes my head hurt, so let’s move on to other beers.

Drink Up:

Night Owl, Elysian Brewing: Surprisingly, not the best pumpkin ale you’ll find from Elysian, who sponsors a pumpkin beer fest every year in Seattle. Their best is Dark O’the Moon, but good luck finding that outside King County. Night Owl is quite delicious, however, and if you live in an area fortunate enough to have Elysian available, pick up a bottle. Aromas common to a pumpkin pie–cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. The ginger comes through in the taste and the pumpkin lingers and the end.

Pair It With…

Bundesliga – Werder Bremen v Borussia Dortmund (Friday, 1:30PM CT, GolTV)
Werder Bremen, sitting second in Germany, host last year’s darlings, Dortmund, who have slipped down to sixth place. The title holders have won their last two league matches, but lost to Marseille 3-0 in the Champions League, while Bremen get the pleasure of solely focusing on the domestic league. With 29 goals already scored between the two teams, you’ll be able to enjoy the match, rather than fuss over why your best friend can’t score you a bottle of Dark O’the Moon.

Drink Up:

TREAT Imperial Chocolate Pumpkin Porter, Midnight Sun Brewing: If you live in a region where you’re unable to buy Midnight Sun, well, go curl up in a ball and cry until winter warmer season. Otherwise, what’s stopping you? Go buy this, my favorite of pumpkin beers. A plethora of smells, including bittersweet chocolate, cinnamon, clove, yeast, caramel and squash. Palate is smooth and taste is superb. Pumpkin pie spices are present but don’t overwhelm. A bit of earthiness, vegetable, and caramel enhance the flavor, but the definite treat of this one is its velvety chocolate ending.

Pair It With…

English Premier League – Manchester City v Aston Villa (Saturday, 8:30AM CT, FSC)

Not so much because this promises to be the most enthralling match in the Premier League this week, but more because Liverpool – Manchester United is on at an inappropriate hour, and yours truly needs an almost-8%ABV to get through this match. The unbeaten – yet really, unchallenged – Villa travel to Manchester for the first time this season, hoping to be the first English side to score at whatever City are calling their football stadium these days. Or, knowing the Alex McLeish style, simply packing ten men behind the ball and crossing their fingers they can hold on for a point. Yeah, gonna need booze to get through this one.

 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 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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