Friday, October 21, 2011

Going Suds Up: The Best Soccer, The Best Beers

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

Sometimes soccer just provides an excuse to drink – and drink a lot. Like MLS this weekend. Is there a point to the final matches? New York Red Bulls’ win over Philadelphia Union on Thursday night meant they clinched the final playoff position, leaving no real purpose for watching the games. Except for the love of the sport and your team, of course. And for drinking! That’s why we’re headed into barley wine territory this weekend. Our focus: what to drink when the game is just a background to indulging in some quite fine, quite strong beers.

First, we’ll jump to ESPN’s soccer game of the week. It just might prove that someone was drinking heavily when the schedule was decided.

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Swansea: Saturday, 6:30am CT on ESPN2

Really, ESPN? Are you trying to make sure the viewing numbers for soccer are so minimal that you shouldn’t be showing the sport at all? Because really…who wants to wake up for two low-table teams? Wolves haven’t picked up a point in their last five matches. Their last came against Aston Villa, a team that prides itself on playing for a draw. Swansea at least can be entertaining  (and god help the team that concedes a penalty and sees Scott Sinclair stepping to the spot) but a purposeful awakening seems a bit much if you’re not a Swans supporter.

Lost Abbey The Angel’s Share: Sorry dudes if I’ve included this one before, but my high-tech tracking system (ok, so it’s me remembering to include the beers I’ve written about in a spreadsheet) says I have not. And Angel’s Share is the crème de la crème of barleywines. Sure, maybe you don’t think you should start off the day drunk off a 12.5%ABV beer, but I say that just gives you an excuse for a quality noon nap. Like most barley wines, it pours deep brown with a thin head and no lace. Alcohol is heavy in the aroma along with chocolate and raisin. The taste is bourbon, brandy, raisin, chocolate, vanilla with an intense warming ability. Yum.

Inter Milan v Chievo Verona: Sunday, 4pm CT on Fox Soccer (delay)

It’s clear Fox Soccer made a non-negotiable schedule of matches, or else they’d never show this, even on replay. If you’re an Inter fan, you’ll need strong booze to get you through the match, but if not, perhaps it will help you feel giggly rather than wanting to smash your head against something hard. The nerazzurri are quite dreadful thus far this season, above the relegation zone only because they’ve managed to score more goals than Bologna. The [redacted] Flying Donkeys, on the other hand, bring a big bus on all their travels, and park it just in front of goal. If this game ain’t beer-inducing enough for you, watch a replay of the Juventus-Chievo match. That’ll have you running for the alcohol.

Dogfish Head Immort Ale: A widely available barley wine – for those of you lucky enough to live in areas where Dogfish Head distributes, anyway. And use your Dogfish Head glass, of course. Pours peachy amber with plenty of beige clings. Aromas are of yeast, smoke, and evergreens, so it should get you in the Christmas spirit.  Lingering smoke taste after toasted malts and bread. The only drawback is that the palate is slightly syrupy, but at 11%ABV, this one will leave you feeling giddy, no matter how crap the game is.

For you crazies – Manchester United v Manchester City: Sunday, 7am CT on Fox Soccer

Let’s face it, if you root for one of these teams, your Sunday as the potential to be quite disheartening. Both teams remain unbeaten, with City drawing away at Fulham, and United drawing last week to Liverpool and before that, to Stoke. Both remain untouchable at home, however, although the Red Devils at least allow opponents to score before demolishing them (but hope lies with the next team to play at the Etihad – if Stephen Warnock can do it, so can you!).  Anyway, it’ll only be fun for neutrals, so bring out the…

Lagunitas Brown Shugga: mmmm, such a tasty winter ale, and at 9.84% ABV (no, I have no idea how they get it so exact, either) it will keep you warm even if your team leaves you in the cold. It even pours a pretty red brown with a white head—like Santa Claus. Smells of lots of brown sugar with a bit of citrus hop, and tastes like a perfect winter brew, with lots of sugary spiciness and alcohol.

 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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Nick said…

You forgot to mention the first leg of the NASL Finals between NSC Minnesota Stars and the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. This game will be accompanied by a pre-game tailgate with beer provided by local craft brewers extrordinaire: Surly. The Furious is the best of their yearly lineup – a Full Figured Red with Scottish Malt and an IPA's dosage of Hops. Surly's Double-IPA is their best, but it's only available from Decemeber until March.

If you're in the Twin Cities area this weekend, come check it out. You can try to get some free tickets from the Vikings, Wild, and Twins by emailing [email protected]

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