Friday, April 29, 2011

Going Suds Up: The Best Soccer, The Best Beers

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

With the trophies practically passed out in three of the four big European leagues – let’s just pass the crowns Manchester United, Barcelona, and AC Milan right now,  although Borussia Dortmund might need another week – it’s more about the battle for the last Champions League position in each league. And so, the games you should pay attention to over this long soccer weekend:

Premier League

Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur (Saturday, 11:30 AM CT, FSC)

Chelsea were on the brink of crashing out of the Champions League positions, but seven wins from eight matches have pushed them into second, with delusions of titles still stuck in their heads. Spurs, meanwhile, the most laughably inconsistent team to grace the Premier League this year, are four points back from Manchester City.

Manchester United v Arsenal (Sunday, 8 AM CT, FSC)

Arsenal were a title contender. Now they’re not even safe in the Champions League. Granted, it’s unlikely that Spurs and Manchester City will both manage to catch the Gunners, but it could very well happen, considering Arsenal have won just once in their last seven matches.

Six Pack for England: Anderson Valley Boont ESB (Boonville, CA)

Might as well pick up a six-pack of an ESB, a typical English-style beer, to watch the Premier League matches this weekend. Anderson Valley is widely available and, for goodness sakes, if you see Summer Solstice pick that up instead. Otherwise try this one. It pours golden with a thin head, leaving plenty of lace on the sides. Aromas are mostly caramel, but with a slight peppery note. Yummy butterscotch taste with a bit of spice, but a warning: this one finishes fairly bitter, unlike many ESBs that seem to think the “bitter” part of their name need not be acknowledged.


Bayern Munich v Schalke 04 (Saturday, 11:30 AM CT, ESPN3)

Schalke may have made it to the semi-finals of the current Champions League tournament, but they did so at the expense of their league form, currently sitting tenth in the Bundesliga. Bayern Munich have fared a bit better, insofar as “bit better” means that last year’s champions are in the running for the final Champions League position.  A win this weekend could move them into the third spot, but with Hannover facing Borussia Monchengladbach, it’s unlikely.  

Six Pack for Germany: Great Divide Hoss Rye Lager (Denver, CO)

Confession – I picked this beer because it was on my shelf. But it’s available in six packs, it’s relatively low in alcohol content, and it’s a märzen, so hey, Germany!  And it’s a pretty beer  and the Germans play pretty football, so why not? It pours golden amber with plenty of clings, and an overwhelming candy sugar aroma. Tastes of caramel, rye, and, surprisingly enough, cherry.

Serie A

Lazio v Juventus (Monday, 1:30 PM CT, FSC)

No, I don’t know why this match is on Monday, either. I’ve given up trying to figure out what the Italians are thinking. What I do know is this that Lazio has to win this match if they want to give themselves any breathing room in fourth place in Serie A. Udinese, one point behind, will have already played Fiorentina on Sunday, which will almost certainly be a draw. Juventus are out of Champions League contention after last weekend, when Catania came from behind to earn a draw, but they certainly won’t make life easy for Lazio – and the Old Lady shouldn’t, considering having to watch Lazio play in Champions League qualification would require me to drink at least an entire six pack per match.

Six Pack for Italy: New Belgium Ranger IPA (Fort Collins, CO)

What, you thought this was going to be an Italian-style beer? Oh no, if you’re going to take a late lunch to watch Lazio beat up on Alessandro Matri and his gorgeous eyelashes, you best be drinking something beyond Peroni, something along the lines of say, 6.5% ABV. This is one of the best IPAs to ever grace a six pack, although I might be biased – I’m partial to floral hops rather than citrus ones.  You can smell the Cascade hops in this one before you even raise the glass. The taste is both floral and piney, with a perfect amount of bitter citrus to finish it off.

La Liga

Seriously? I’m so sick of hearing about any Spanish club. Go grab the strongest beer you can find and drink it until there are no more news reports on Jose Mourinho, Pep Guardiola, fixing, or diving.

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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ReporterAndrew said…

Ranger and Hoss on same list. Excellent work.

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