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Going Suds Up – The Best Beers, The Best Soccer

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

In the world of modern football, certain matches are labeled “derbies” and played with as much – often even more – venom as those that involve cross-town rivals. There are different types of these fake derbies. Some take the form of a regional rivalry, such as the Revierderby between Schalke and Dortmund, or the Derby du Rhône, between ASSE and Lyon. Then there are the derbies between clubs that traditionally lead the league, including the Derby della Italia featuring Juventus and Inter Milan, or everyone’s favorite match, when Barcelona and Real Madrid play out El Clasico.

But even in the post-globalization era, in which we’re all watching the same match at the same time and making the same pithy comments on Twitter, there’s something more compelling about an intra-city derby. Sure, you can mock your friends long-distance when, for example, LA Galaxy and DC United meet. It’s likely that Manchester United and Chelsea supporters wind up working in the same office, even outside of England. Yet spending a weekend treating your neighbor, who came over just yesterday to share a six-pack, like he’s your greatest enemy…well, that’s the magic of a real derby.

This weekend brings a couple good derby matches. The first, on Saturday, is El Derbi Madrileño. Atlético Madrid are just three points back of rivals Real. Sure, it doesn’t really matter which side gets second and which gets third, but the point here is pride, people. And if Atlético get those three points in a derby, so much the better.

Then on Sunday, we have the Derby della Mole, played between Torino and Juventus. Sadly, this match is very near meaningless: if Juve win and Napoli lose, Juventus will clinch the scudetto. Torino, fresh out of Serie B, are simply happy to be almost safe from relegation. But if il granata manage to delay the victory parades through Turin, Torino will have to consider their season a success.

This weekend’s derbies call for a different sort of direction than I had you take during #RivalryWeek, when you were encouraged to find beer from the opposing city and give it a taste. Intra-city derbies should be all about the strong ales, as a touch of tipsiness is essential when thinking up the clever one-liners necessary to sink the opposition.

Belgian beers are often the best to choose when seeking this particular style. They might be a bit expensive, but since they taste great and you’ll drink less of them, it’s worth paying a little extra. Standard Belgians come in dubbels, tripels and quadrupels. The quads usually weigh in around 10%, but the best ones manage not to overpower the palate with heavy alcohol tastes. One of the bests is a Rochefort 10, a trappist beer that’s fairly easy to track down. The Rochefort has a fantastic aroma of dark fruits, mostly plum and raisin. The taste balances the fruits with chocolate and caramel malts, but with a slightly bitter finish, it manages not to be too sweet.

If you’re looking to buy a six-pack you can share with your non-enemy neighbors, give New Belgium Brewing Co.'s Trippel (Fort Collins, CO) a try. Often New Belgium standards are a bit boring, but, as could be assumed from the name of the brewery, they’ve managed to create a solid tripel. There’s nothing flashy about this one, but it stays true to the style, with candy-sugar aromas and plenty of caramel malts in the taste. It’s spiced with coriander, which keeps the sweetness from being overpowering.
Finally, if you love derbies as much as I do, be sure to check out two of the most heated, coming up in the next couple weeks. In Istanbul, expect to pay a high premium if you need to purchase a flare around May 11, when Fenerbahçe hosts Galatasaray. Just a few days later, on May 17, Belgrade batters down the hatches as Partizan and Red Star meet in a match that could very well determine which side will grab the title.

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, am a bit obsessed with my “33 Beers” notebooks, and love my Untappd app. 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 cofounder of SB Nation's Aston Villa site, 7500 to Holte, as well as the editor of SB Nation Italy. Want more? Follow me on Twitter!

Tags: Beer, Going Suds Up

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