Friday, September 30, 2011

Going Suds Up: The Best Soccer, The Best Beers

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

What’s up, y’all? Can anyone guess what we’re focusing on this week? That’s right, it’s the Merseyside Derby – long considered one of the most friendly derbies in soccer, one in which supporters in Everton jerseys sit side by side with fans wearing Liverpool kits. Still, I imagine it can’t be very fun for those whose, say, romantic relationships bridge that divide.

For those not caught up on Premier League football (and if you’re not, why, not? Haven’t you heard it’s the best league in the world?) Liverpool is currently sitting in fifth place, with ten points, while Everton are in eleventh, with seven. The Reds are having a bit of an up-and-down season, beating Arsenal at the Emirates before realizing that such a feat isn’t that impressive this season, losing 4-0 to Spurs a couple weeks ago, and most recently managed to beat Wolves 2-1, but were helped out by Mr. Own Goal. Everton, meanwhile, have managed to record two wins – and it’s not even December yet! Last week, though, they were beaten 2-0 by Manchester City’s reserves, with Roberto Mancini actually allowing Mario Balotelli to play. And don’t worry, everyone, because Rafa Benitez has assured us that this derby is going to be “fantastic.”

Considering the match is at 6:45am CT, if you’re going to be up and drinking, you might as well be drinking something delicious and strong. The three beers widely available from Chimay, one of the six Belgian trappist breweries, will do quite nicely. Be sure to use your trappist glass (I know you have one) for whichever of the following you choose to quaff on Saturday.

For Liverpool fans: Chimay Red

What a pretty pour -and part of the reason you need an appropriate glass. This one is mahogany with a thick beige head. Another reason you need the right glass, of course, is so the aromas come through. Rouge smells of brown sugar, oranges, toasted caramel, and some red fruits. A true Belgian brew, you can taste the yeast, but this one is also peppery and  tastes of those red fruits. This is an absolutely perfectly balanced beer – which is likely more than can be said for a squad heavy on midfielders.

For Everton fans: Chimay Blue

Toffees fans, just because they are, well, Toffees fans, get the strongest beer on the list, weighing in at 9%. And because I feel more sympathy for Everton fans, they also get the best beer. Ok, ok, it’s really because they’re blue. This is a dark brownish-gold Belgian, with a thin cappuccino head. It smells like fig, caramel, candy sugar, cherries and yeast, which may sound odd but is actually captivating. Unsurprisingly, there’s a lot of candy sugar in the taste, as well as roses, plums, molasses, and nutty malt. Sip this one as you ponder how Everton will get through the season without any strikers.

For neutrals, crazy enough to wake up for this match: Chimay White

Match not as thrilling as Rafa promised? This beer will at least give you something to think about. It’s complex, not nearly as easy to enjoy as the first two. It pours a golden orange with barely any head, but lots of rising bubbles – which are at least something to watch, right? Bread and yeast are the primary smells, but there are raisins in there too. Can’t really taste the raisins though, with more of a bitter hop coming through the breadiness.  

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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