Friday, April 15, 2011

Going Suds Up: The Best Soccer, The Best Beer

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

This week, it’s time to move away from the thrilling and slightly scary realm of Turkish football and back into the safety zone – not the zone keeping teams away from the relegation zone, but the nice easy place in which we can watch matches in English without straining too much.  And, of course, the matches to watch this week are the derbies (when aren’t they, really? Oh yes, when Aston Villa and Birmingham City play one another).  On Saturday, Manchesters City and United meet in the FA Cup semi-final, and just a few hours later, at 3pm CST, Real Madrid and Barcelona face off in the second El Clásico of the season, with two more to come. In keeping with the derby theme, we’re putting beer against beer this week, and you’ll have to judge the winners for yourselves.

Manchester City v Manchester United (11am CT, Fox Soccer Channel)

Portland, the city that often plays second fiddle to Seattle, offers up the setting for this first battle of the beers. Amnesia is the little upstart company that could, sitting off one of the main streets in what essentially looks like a garden shed. Deschutes, meanwhile, sits squarely in the tony Pearl District, lord of the Brewery Blocks. Ok, so this analogy doesn’t really work. But try the beers for yourself, anyway.

Copacetic  is not a typical west coast IPA—it’s not a hop bomb, it doesn’t overpower you with a bitter grapefruit finish that just lasts and lasts. This one’s aroma is much spicier, with a bit of caramel to balance. The taste does have some citrus, but it’s balanced by the hops, with the final taste nice and peppery.

Inversion is one of those beers you can probably get at any decent grocery store at any place in the country. They probably even make knockoffs to sell at half the price. There’s nothing over the top about it—it’s simply a consistently well-brewed IPA. Although this one certainly does have the citrus flavors expected from this style, they’re balanced by plenty of malts, making it taste all caramely before the grapefruit finish.

Real Madrid v Barcelona (3pm CT, ESPN3 and ESPN Deportes)

It’s not an inner city derby, so rather than give you two beers from the same city, I give you two beers from arguably two of the best brewers in California, two that are often going up against one another in a race for supremacy. Careful, though…either one of these is likely to leave a sour taste in your mouth.

Consecration. What better beer to offer to the team lead by the man that anointed himself the Special One? Love him, hate him, love to hate him, but like this sour ale, Jose Mourinho is a great balance of tart and sweet, as well as carbonation and smoothness. Ok, maybe Mou’s not carbonated, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the media believed he could stick his finger in a glass of still water and turn it sparkling. This delicious beer tastes tart, of red fruits and currants with a hint of oak.

Well, of course Barcelona gets the beer with love right in the title. Ever notice how people who attempt to criticize Barca become stigmatized, forced to live on the edges of society? You must love the Catalan club and if you don’t, you better at least love Leo Messi. I imagine Messi smells just like this beer, of sun-ripened raspberries and lazy summer days. I will not extend this comparison any further, however. Messi is a footballing god and he must be treated as such, not made the subject of any tawdry analogies. This sour ale is, well, sour, tasting mostly of raspberries with a bit of rose petals thrown in. Yeah, it sounds weird, but I promise, this one’s both soothing and exciting. 

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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"Anyone who tells me soccer is boring, I'm going to punch them in the face."
– Former Dallas Burn (aka FC Dallas) coach Dave Dir

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