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Beer Archives

The Open Bar – Pop Chart Lab’s “Breweries of Europe” Poster

Photo Credit: Pop Chart Labs

If you've got any space left on your walls at your home or office this new poster by Pop Chart Labs is a must have. From the creators of the “Breweries of the United States” comes an even more daunting task, identifying and locating a continent's worth of some of the world's famous breweries. Much like the U.S. version, the European map is not meant to be comprehensive, but is certainly meant to include the most well-known breweries of the European world.

From the description over at Pop Chart Lab:

“The world's most comprehensive mapping of the breweries and abbeys of the European continent, this print measures in at over seven square feet and features nearly 1,000 breweries, from craft to macro and everything in between.”

The photo above doesn't do the poster justice. Click through to view an interactive version of the poster for a much closer look.

Tags: Beer, The Open Bar

FBM In Action – My Dad’s First Match (Zach from Seattle)

 

The Free Beer Movement is an idea. The idea that of all the things that will help propel American soccer forward and into the mainstream consciousness of this nation; free beer is the answer.

There can be dollar hot dog night, ladies night, youth club afternoons, but maybe, just maybe it's simpler than that. Maybe it's just a bit sillier than that.

Maybe all it will take is for one person to extend the offer of a free beer or two or three to a friend, family member, or co-worker to take in a soccer match from the comforts of one's home, the familiar surroundings of your favorite bar, or the excitement of seeing it for real at the stadium.

“Build American soccer, one beer it a time.” That's our motto. Simple. Silly. Smart? Sure.

But the idea of the Free Beer Movement is only a strong as the people that believe it that idea. We've seen in the last year thousands of people visiting the website, hundreds of “fans” on Facebook, and hundred of other “followers” on Twitter. We've been covered by both local and national media alike. That's all well and good, but it's the people that make the Movement.

An idea is only a strong as the evidence that one has to support it.

The Free Beer Movement is a grassroots movement. The Free Beer Movement is you. We're only as strong as the people that subscribe to the idea that beer is the best way to lure Americans to the sport of soccer.

That's why we're asking you, the backbone of the Free Beer Movement, the people that are doing the work to “build American soccer, one beer at a time” to share your stories (and pictures) of the Movement in action.

You don't have to be a modern-day Hemingway with your words or have the photographer's eye of Ansel Adams to support the idea of the Free Beer Movement.

But without your stories and your photos as the supporting evidence that the Free Beer Movement is “what it will take” to push American soccer to the next level we're just a guy with a website and an a hope.

You've been to U.S. National Team qualifiers, lived and died by the Nats during the World Cup, you've crowded bars and parking lots across the nation to support your local Major League Soccer or other local teams, you've put a few extra beers in the fridge and invited friends over to catch a game. This is where the Free Beer Movement lives.The idea of the Free Beer Movement is in many of us whether you know it or are actively trying or not.

The stories, the places, the people are all incredible elements of the Free Beer Movement in action and we'd love to hear from you. And for your words or pictures we'd like to offer each and every person who submits something one of our Free Beer Movement stickers (just like the crest on the site). It's not much, but it's our way of saying “thank you” to the people that are making the Free Beer Movement apart of this great American soccer world.

If the Free Beer Movement is going to continue the phenomenal growth we seen in it's first year we need those faithful to the idea of it to help.

Please send an e-mail to [email protected](dot)com with your stories (no matter how long or short) and/or pictures of the Free Beer Movement in action.

We thank you all for your efforts no matter if you've brought one or one hundred people closer to soccer in America.

Contributed By Zach Slaton

My mom deserves a lot of credit for fostering my love of playing sports.  She ferried me around to every practice, camp, game, and tournament and cheered me on as I learned how to play baseball and basketball as a kid.  She’s a saint for doing it, especially considering my father was out commanding a submarine for six months of every year until I was eighteen.  She was a single mom in every sense of the word except income.

When it comes to watching live sports, my father deserves all of the credit.  My earliest memories of watching sports with my father were as a four or five year old when every Sunday evening in Westerly, Rhode Island was filled with football on the television and pizza for dinner.  That meal was almost exclusively reserved for Sunday nights, and the wonderful taste of pepperoni or combination pies will forever be tied to watching the NFL.

Around that same time in my life my father took me to my first live sporting event.  It was a Boston Red Sox game at Fenway Park, and for a little kid like me it was made all the more memorable because we took the train to and from Boston.  As fate would have it we would get to the city early, so my father took me to a science museum to kill time. That day, sometime in the year 1985, I was introduced to the novelty of a mouse and a color computer screen.  Thus, one might say my love for live sports and computers was born on that fateful day in Boston.  I have my father to thank for it.

Dad continued to stoke my love for live sports as we moved south due to his job, driving from Charleston, SC to Atlanta, GA to see an awful Atlanta Falcons team get beaten badly.  It didn’t matter; I loved every minute of it, as it was my first live NFL game. By the early 1990’s we’d move to Orlando, Florida and I got my first true hometown team via the Orlando Magic.  Dad would wait in line for hours when discounted tickets would go on sale at the navy base, but he’d always consult me ahead of time as to the priority of which opposing teams we’d like to see.  He and I would attend several Magic games a year, one Tampa Bay Buccaneers game, go to the 1992 Citrus Bowl to see his alma mater win, and even go to an Arena Football League game.  We’d leave Orlando in 1994 as my dad would be stationed in Bremerton, WA (across Puget Sound from Seattle), a place my parents have now lived for 18 years.  He’s been a Seahawks season ticket holder since 1999 and a Mariner’s quarter season ticket holder through last year, occasionally taking me with him or tossing me both of his tickets to any game he couldn’t attend.  My father has been integral to my love for live sports.

My father leads an unglamorous yet generous life. He volunteers at Rotary or Hospice when he’s not at work.  When not volunteering he’s working on his 40 year deferred gratification (his words) – the boat he and my mom finally purchased a few years ago.  He got his first new car when he was fifty-four years old, and he can’t understand why anyone would pay a premium to wear a piece of clothing with a logo on it. As he says, “You just paid someone for the privilege of advertising their product.”  The concept of buying a replica jersey is anathema to him, especially when it has commercial sponsors on it.  My father has always been in tune with “traditional American sports”, having played American football in high school and softball throughout a good bit of his adult life.  To say he’s a little suspicious of soccer’s rise in the American sports landscape is an understatement, and with his busy schedule he has little time to watch the multitude of domestic and overseas games now available to American fans.  He’s always resisted fads, and to him the sport’s rising popularity may just be another one that will eventually die out.

Nevertheless, the Sounders FC being in their fourth year in MLS and increasing capacity at their stadium to more than 38,000 attendees per match started to turn his skepticism.  As silly as it sounds I am also pretty sure the small success of my work appearing on Forbes.com confirmed some of the sport’s legitimacy to him.  At the beginning of the season I made a deal.  Give us – it really is “us” when it comes to a Sounders match – a chance.  “I will buy the ticket, and I’ll even buy the beer.  One match. If you don’t like it, you never have to go again. But give us one chance.” The Free Beer Movement mantra sealed the deal like it has for so many other sales jobs to American soccer skeptics.  I bought the tickets, dad blocked out his calendar on September 8th, and we then had six months to wait until embarking on the grand experiment of testing dad’s tolerance for soccer.

I came over to my parents’ house with my two daughters the night before the match and then commuted over to Seattle with my father the next day.  I eased him into the match day experience by appealing to his Seahawk game day traditions.  This meant grabbing lunch and a few beers at a downtown bar prior to the match, albeit with a bit of a soccer twist.  We left the house at 8:45, dropped off the girls with a friend, and piled onto a 9:45 AM ferry with other Sounders fans.  The number of rave green clad fans, colors the Sounders share with the Seattle Seahawks, made my dad feel a little bit more at home as this was a scene he was used to seeing prior to every Seahawks game.  Soon the ferry docked in Seattle, and we were off for the short hike to Fado, a local Irish pub that caters to Seattle’s soccer-inclined drinkers.  Warm enough to sit outside, my father and I followed yet another Free Beer Movement maxim (“Local Soccer, Local Beer”) and ordered a few Mac & Jack’s African Ambers.  A shot of Jameson, another African Amber, and a lunch later we were off with another 38,932 fans to Century Link Field.


Cheers to You!

As we got to the stadium we realized that we had been very lucky to get seats in a section that would remain seated during most of the game.  This helped my father enjoy the game day experience given he’s had a hip and knee replaced, and I suspect his experience would have not been nearly as positive if we had been in a standing section. My father surveyed the stadium as we found our seats. Being used to the packed houses at Seahawks games, he made a joke about the tarps that cover the third deck.  He also mentioned how subdued the crowd was during introductions and in the normal run of play, as he was used to the noisy din of football games that had made Century Link Field the home of the most opposition false start penalties in the NFL.  His adjustment to a very different crowd was taking place.

My father paid far more attention to the action on the pitch once the match got going.  Having last played soccer himself as an intramural sport while at UCLA in the mid-1960’s (think pre-Total Football), he was used to a kick-and-rush style of play. The tiki-taka, pass-and-buildup-through-midfield approach now commonly found throughout the modern game was very foreign to him.  Such an approach initially looked like a bunch of wasted movement to him that didn’t result in many attacks on the opposition goal, and the Sounders’ ineffectiveness for the first quarter of the game didn’t help convince my father of the strategy’s wisdom.  The Sounders were down 1-0 by the eighth minute, with my father turning to me and saying, “You can’t score a goal if you don’t put the ball in the opposition’s end of the field!”

Dad would get his wish when the Sounders finally broke through in the twenty-ninth minute.  Attacking our end of the field, they pushed forward and earned a free kick from a foul on Steve Zakuani.  Christian Tiffert lined up a perfect free kick that Eddie Johnson was able to head home.  Century Link Field exploded, my dad and I high-fived, but it felt like it was a lucky goal (later replays would show Johnson’s header was perfectly placed on the turf to bounce under the goal keeper’s arm).  The Sounders attack would build throughout the rest of the first half, with my father picking up on the fact that the Sounders were sending much of their attack down the right hand side of the field via Tiffert and Johnson.  He was picking up on the tactical aspect of the game very quickly and seemed to be enjoying himself.

Soon enough halftime was upon us.  Soccer is first about the play on the pitch, but a close second is its traditions.  The tradition of 100+-year-old clubs, traditions in club colors, traditions in the rivalries, and even tradition in match day rituals.  All of these traditions serve to build stronger bonds amongst the supporters and help make soccer unique in a sea of sports choices.  A simple tradition I maintain with a number of my match day friends is what we call “Tecate Halftime”.  One of those friends started this tradition during the club’s inaugural MLS season in 2009 when a vendor named “Taco Ma’s” sold Tecate.  After that first season they inexplicably replaced the beer with a rotating choice of American beers, yet continued to sell Mexican food.  Out of spite we still call it  “Tecate Halftime”.  With my dad in tow we hiked down the side of the stadium to meet up with my friends, get my father another free beer, and discuss the first half’s action.  First Sounders FC match, and he was immediately introduced to one of our longstanding traditions.

A quick fifteen-minute break for beer and friends saw us return to our seats just after the kickoff of the second half.  The crowd could feel a second goal was inevitable as the Sounders continued to poke and probe their way through the opposition defense.  If Nick Hornby was right in Fever Pitch that one of the best ways to generate a truly memorable soccer experience is to have one’s favorite team win after being behind earlier in the match, then it is doubly true when the winner comes just before the end of the match.  Such a result was in store for us when Eddie Johnson won the game for the Sounders off a header in the 89th minute from an absolutely beautiful Fredy Montero cross.  The stadium erupted, I did a happy dance, and when I spun around my father was on his feet to high five me again.  Looking me in the eye as he nodded, my father’s unspoken words were, “Now that was well deserved!”  His mild enjoyment throughout the match had finally boiled over, with excitement breaking through his normally reserved demeanor.  The Sounders would hold on for the 2-1 win, making my father’s first Sounders FC experience just like mine nearly three years earlier.

The rest of the day was uneventful.  There was the hike back to the ferry, one more beer at the dock for good measure, and an hour-long ferry ride home.  My father stood on the bow of the boat for that entire ride back to Bremerton, looking out over Puget Sound with a sense of contentment on his face.

I spent the rest of the weekend with my parents, with both of them being busy with other things much of Sunday.  After dinner on Sunday night I packed up my car, and got my daughters ready to head back to their mom’s for another week of school while I faced an hour-and-a-half drive back to Seattle.  My dad held me up for a minute and said,

“Hey, Zach, I had fun yesterday.  I could see us doing that again next season.”

He had gently expressed his thanks earlier in the weekend, but that was gratitude for paying for the ticket and beer.  This was more about the experience, and after taking me to so many sporting events earlier in life I felt I had begun to return the favor.

My father has always been supportive of my endeavors, including my more-than-two-year effort to write about this sport I’ve come to love so much.  That Saturday afternoon he was exposed to my writings’ inspirations.  We’ll go to another match again next year and share in the joy that is live soccer.  He will probably insist on paying for his own ticket, but I will continue to insist on picking up the beer.  It’s my way of saying thanks for inspiring a sporting life well lived.

About Zach

Zach Slaton is a freelance soccer writer that focuses on the statistical and analytics side of the game.  He currently writes for Forbes.com. His work has appeared in Howler Magazine, at the Tomkins Times, and he is a regular contributor at the Transfer Price Index.  He’s run his own blog, A Beautiful Numbers Game, for more than two years.  You can follow him on Twitter at @the_number_game.

Tags: Beer, FBM In Action, Major League Soccer

The Open Bar – The Growler Car Seat

No worries, America…. you're growler needs are now covered. Meet the “Growler On Board” aka the “Beverage Transportation Unit” capable of securing your most precious cargo…. your beer. The BTU can hold three standard growlers and even has the ability to be buckled in your front seat (barring any local laws about alcohol, open or closed, being in the reach of the driver). For $30 it seems like a pretty good investment for something a priceless as a quality craft beer from your local brew pub.

More Info:

The Beer Transport Unit (BTU) by Growler On Board is designed specifically with spill & damage free transportation in mind. No more worrying about having your growlers rolling around in your backseat, floor, or trunk! BTUs hold your growler and its contents in an upright position, eliminating the chance of them colliding or breaking. No more using cardboard boxes, baby seats, towels, or whatever else you find to secure your growlers for the drive home.
The BTU's are made of low density foam, giving it the insulation properties similar to a can koozie.  Delivering your growler to your destination at cold & ready to drink (within reason). Talk about brewery fresh!

Features:
•Holds standard 1/2 gallon growlers, as well as 2L swing top style growlers with handles.
•Made of low density foam making it light enough to carry with filled growlers, and retain insulation qualities similar to a can cozy.
•Place on floor, trunk or seat. For extra peace of mind secure with seatbelt, although we have found it not to be necessary.
•1.4″ holes in the bottom of each cavity make for convenient drying of growlers when properly washed & rinsed.

Tags: Beer, The Open Bar

A Brew For You… And You… And You…

Our USMNT – Jamaica Game Day Beer Recommendation(s)

Editor's Note: We're making our contributing debut over at the new SB Nation U.S. soccer blog, Stars and Stripes FC with this same piece. Check 'em out as they've got other great stuff than just FBM contributing.

If you asked the FBM what to drink following last Friday's loss to Jamaica, we would've said…. “everything…. drink all the beers” because that seemed like a sensible solution to that unmitigated disaster.

With a few sobering (literally) days between our second clash with the Caribbean nation we've come to a couple of conclusions:

1) Red Stripe…. never again. Sorry, but you're on the no-fly list like Costa Rica's “Imperial”. You beat us in CONCACAF qualifying and you're out. Note, of course, by limiting the list to North and Central America we only have to eliminate crappy light lagers from consumption and not have to deal with the hard truths of cutting of, say, Germany, since 2002.

2) Speaking of Germany, though, we're going need a break. Jurgen Klinsmann's tactics have been baffling enough and until he rights the ship (and/or dumps Jose Torres) we're not touching his native country's delicious beers. And that's saying a lot since Oktoberfest is right around the corner. Luckily there's plenty of awesome American craft breweries doing the style right… something we'll address in this space during next month's qualifiers.

Our Game Day Beer Recommendation:

Photo Credit: “Columbus Crave” Magazine

Columbus Brewing Co. “Summer Teeth” Keller Bier

Even though this beer is only available for those making the trek to Columbus, Ohio for the match, there's a lot of symbolism in this brew for USMNT fans. A light blonde, rare German-style who's contents (or tactics) are all over the place? The outlook is hazy, but a significant departure from the blunter approach of other styles. Sound a little like JK?

Actually we're describing a keller bier. Kellers are a rare style of German bier; light blonde in color with an alcohol content that's varies quite a bit (often because of the maturing of the beer which happens in un-bunged kegs and in deep vaults) for a style, from 4% to 7%. While the beer itself appears quite cloudy, most would agree that keller biers are a refreshing change of pace from the hop bombs of the pale ale and IPA styles of beer or the fruitiness of many other summer beers.

Columbus' version is even award-winning capturing the bronze medal at the 2010 Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Colorado. Third place… where have we heard a German finishing third before?

If the United States is going to survive this round of World Cup qualifying and the Hexagonal Klinsmann's boys are going to have to find their “summer teeth” again and get “nasty” as the coach called for earlier in the year. The same team that dispatched Italy (although that was more in the early spring than summer) and Mexico, showed glimmers of promise against Brazil and throttled Scotland.

Time to dig deep and show those teeth.

Extra Time Beer:

Columbus is also the stomping grounds of former USMNT defender (and future FBM Spokeperson) Frankie Hejduk. Hejduk, who featured for the Nats from 1996 to 2009 including two World Cups (he suffered a ACL injury before the 2006 tournament), won the 2008 Major League Soccer Cup with the Crew and is now the club's “brand ambassador”.

Photo Credit: ColumbusCrew.com

Frankie's favorite beer is Guinness and so if you're in any corner of America and almost any bar if it's good enough for Hejduk it should be good enough for the rest of us.

Tags: A Brew For You, Beer, USMNT

Through The Drinking Glass – One Barrel Brewing Company

1BBC “Storefront” (Photo Credit: FBM)

There are over 2,000 craft breweries and craft brew pubs in the United States according to the latest numbers from the Brewers Association. Each year that number grows by leaps and bounds as new brewers and breweries share their wealth of knowledge and delicious innovations with the public. We're starting this new series, “Through the Drinking Glass”, to profile brewers and breweries across the country. On our many FBM road trips we're always hunting down new places to enjoy a great beer and, if they'll give us the time, talk up the owners and brew masters that are leading the craft beer revolution in America.

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One Barrel Brewing Company (Madison, Wisconsin)  opened in June of 2012. Owner and head brewer Peter Gentry was an awarding winning home brewer before he decided to open the area's first nano-brewery. Gentry is also  an avid fan of soccer… which is nice.

1BBC owner and brewmaster Peter Gentry (Photo Credit: CRAIG SCHREINER, Wisconsin State Journal)

Free Beer Movement: When did you get the itch to start brewing?

Peter Gentry: Maybe eight years ago I bought a home brew kit for Father's Day, something to do with my dad. We brewed there for a year doing abstract brew then when I went to all-grain I moved it to my house and have been brewing ever since. There have been years when I've brewed a hundred batches and there have been years that I've brewed ten batches. But I won a few awards along the way and I kind of felt like this (opening a brewery) was something I could do so I researched it a lot and decided that this was the niche I was going for; the nano-brewery idea. I think that it's up-and-coming and that's why I'm here now.

FBM: Where did the name of the brewery come from?

PG: It morphed. We were originally going to call it Monona Brewing Company, but people got confused because there's a city here (named after the lake that's near Madison) that's called Monona and we're, obviously, not located in that city. I got together with the brain trust and everyone agreed to change it. So the Monona Brewing logo is actually in the shape of the barrel you see now and it morphed because it fit and I was brewing one barrel at a time.

FBM: What's the philosophy and thinking behind brewing one barrel at a time?

PG: Money is the main thing. (laughs) First it was ten )barrels), then it was seven, then it was three. Then I decided this (one barrel) was the model I wanted to follow. Part of that is because I want to showcase how easy brewing can be; how small scale it can be.  That's why I have my brewery set up the way it is; so you can see. Any “Joe Shmoe” can come in and see it's just three big ass kettles. With trial and error you can figure it out. The idea is to make it (brewing) approachable. Small batches. Experimental batches. So people can come in and have varieties and see the simplicity in which that variety can be made.

FBM: What's the importance of making craft beer? And having people consume craft beer?

PG: They say that 'variety is the spice of life and people are finding that out more and more. Our society is tied down with the need to make more money and drive bigger cars. We're trying to push away from that. To have some variety, to have these experiential expenditures. People are willing to try different chocolates, different friends, different beers things like that. That's why I think this whole thing has boomed here.

We're trying to expose people to the simplicity of making and the simplicity of drinking it.

 Brew kettles for all the world to see. (Photo Credit: FBM)

FBM: What are the future plans for 1BBC?

PG: For styles of beer anything and everything. We're thinking about doing any number of things. People are throwing ideas at us. We're thinking about trying to do a gluten-free beer, stein beers where we throw hot rocks in there, chai tea beers. We've got a hibiscus beer on tap right now; we'd like to do something like that. 

In terms of future plans I always intended to open a second one of these depending how the model works out. It seems to be working pretty well. Taking my knowledge from opening this one and opening a west side one. 

FBM: Tell us your soccer story.

PG: I've played soccer since I was about five. I was pretty good in high school and invited to walk on at Wisconsin, but that cut me after a day so I wasn't that good apparently. I've been playing the men's league in town for years. I sorted retired and started this so I really haven't played in a year or so.

But we do want to kind of make this a soccer place. We watched the Euro Finals here before it was even open. All my friends play soccer. We've got a lot of 56ers players (the local NPSL team) that come in here. That's something we're really going to push.

I wasn't going to get a TV in here except for the (Green Bay) Packer and soccer games!

FBM: Soccer and beer. What is the magic of putting those two thing together?

PG: We'll you get a little bit drunker. (laughs). You're able to cheer a little bit louder. I've been to three World Cups now and it's just a part of it. You go to Berlin, Germany and order a beer and you get to experience their culture. I've had Estrella beer and that holds a special place in my heart because when we were in France for the World Cup we went down to Barcelona and drank many, many of those. 

It brings people together. It's a community. You bring a lot of people into one place for a shared goal.

It brings different cultures together. You don't even have to speak the same language if you get drunk enough. 

House brews from 1BBC. (Photo Credit: FBM)

Check out One Barrel Brewing Company in Madison, Wisconsin and tell 'em the Free Beer Movement sent ya.

Tags: Beer, brewery, Through The Drinking Glass

The Open Bar – A Handful of IPAs We’ve Had and You Should Too

Today is #IPADay, a social media driven craft beer holiday intended for beer drinkers to try out the style, embibe a few old favorites, or go out on a limb and try a new India Pale Ale they've never had. It's a celebration of the most popular style of craft beer in the United States and a day to revel in the incredible growth of craft beer in America.

Not everyone is crazy about IPAs. For many the taste is too hoppy, too bold, too bitter, but IPA Day is that day to give them another shot. It's probably less likely that you don't like IPAs and more likely you just haven't found the perfect IPA for you.

Here are a handful of India Pale Ales that we've hand in our FBM lives that we really feel like you should have too. This isn't meant to be a definitive list of “the best” IPA or a list of IPAs that will appeal to everyone… just good old fashion fun and appreciation of the style. There are most certainly loads of great ones we've had this year that didn't make this list as well.

As always we'd love to hear back from the FBM community as to what your personal favorite IPAs are. Leave 'em in the comments section.

Bell's Brewing “Two Hearted” IPA

Location: Comstock, Michigan

ABV: 7%

Hops: Centennial

They say: “Bell's Two Hearted Ale is defined by its intense hop aroma and malt balance. Hopped exclusively with the Centennial hop varietal from the Pacific Northwest, massive additions in the kettle and again in the fermenter lend their characteristic grapefruit and pine resin aromas. A significant malt body balances this hop presence; together with the signature fruity aromas of Bell's house yeast, this leads to a remarkably drinkable American-style India Pale Ale.”

Russian River Brewing Company “Pilny the Elder” Double IPA

Location: Santa Rosa, California

ABV: 8%

Hops: Amarillo, Centennial, CTZ, and Simcoe hops

They say: “Pliny the Elder is brewed with Amarillo, Centennial, CTZ, and Simcoe hops. It is well-balanced with malt, hops, and alcohol, slightly bitter with a fresh hop aroma of floral, citrus

, and pine. Best enjoyed FRESH! That is why we make it in such limited supply. Actual bottling date is printed on each bottle!

Where did we come up with this name? Back in the year 2000, our friend, Vic Kralj, who owns the Bistro in Hayward, California, decided to have his first ever Double IPA festival. Vic invited 10 breweries, 6 of whom (including us) had to brew something special for him since we had nothing that would fall under this style category. Vinnie had made a Double IPA at Blind Pig in 1994, but was not brewing one at Russian River Brewing at the time. He had an idea for the recipe, but not a name. After much research in beer books, brainstorming, and deliberation, we came up with “Pliny the Elder”. Pliny, the man, lived in the first century- 23 to 79 A.D. According to our brewing references, he and his contemporaries either created the botanical name or at least wrote about Lupus Salictarius, or hops, currently known as Humulus Lupulus. That was a very early reference to an important part of any Double IPA! Pliny the beer has now become one of our flagship brews!

Pliny the Elder was immortalized by his nephew, Pliny the Younger, who wrote about his uncle succumbing to ash and smoke during the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D. while rescuing people. Cheers to the scholar, historian, officer, writer, and Roman Naturalist- Pliny the Elder!”

Three Floyds Brewing Company “Apocolyse Cow” IPA

Location: Munster, Indiana

ABV: 11%

Hops:

They say: “This complex double India pale ale has an intense citrus and floral hop aroma balanced by a velvety malt body which has been augmented with lactose milk sugar. With this different take on an IPA we have brewed an ale that is both pleasing to drink and, once again, “not normal.”

Austin Beer Works “Fire Eagle” American IPA

Location: Austin, Texas

ABV: 6.4%

Hops: Summit, Columbus, Centennial, Amarillo

They say: “Flavor swoops in (cue EAGLE SCREAM), grabs you by the face and flies you through the hop rainbow. At the peak of the ride it swoops back to earth and gently drops you back on your bar stool where you are refreshed, excited and ready to ride again. It’s hoppy, bold and American.”

Bear Republic Brewing Company “Hop Rod” Rye IPA

Location: Hearldsburg, California

ABV: 8%

Hops:

They say: “A high gravity IPA brewed with 18% rye malt. Hop Rod Rye has a floral hop aroma and subtle caramel notes with a slightly earthy and spicy rye character.”

Stone Brewing Company “Sublimely Self-Rightious” Black IPA

Location: Escondido, California

ABV: 8.7%

Hops: Chinook, Simcoe & Amarillo

They say: “We're brewers whose substantial mettle and idiomatic approach to brewing allows us to consistently create works of art such as this justifiably self-righteous ale. Its bitterness hits our sweet spot. Its blackness lightens our hearts. Its liquid dichotomy pulls it all together in this sublimely sacrosanct ale. Yes, we damn well know our stuff here at Stone, and it would be irresponsible of us not to acknowledge how remarkable this heavenly creation of ours is. Thus the name we are compelled to give it — Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale — serves as a reminder of just how good we are, in both liquid and verbal form.

We're certainly not perfect. Too often, we allow our modesty to get the best of us as we're simply not inclined towards senseless braggadocio. When you're good, you're good. And when you do something great, the least you can do is acknowledge it. Others benefit from knowing. In this case, we find that we are compelled to point out how amazing this ale is that we rightly call the Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale.

First brewed in 2007 as the Stone 11th Anniversary Ale, this ale was an instant hit. With us. Other folks with great taste loved it too, but we were focused on how much we liked it, and we felt it was truly sublime. That euphoria didn't last long though, as it was soon replaced with the grim reality that when we sold out of it there wouldn't be any more. For us. And that was simply unacceptable. So, we are now blessing ourselves, and you the enlightened, with this ale. Thusly, you may now revel in your own self-righteousness as you see fit with this glorious example of ours. You are genuinely welcome, as it is our pleasure.”

Victory Brewing Company “Yakima Glory” Black IPA

Location: Downington, Pennsylvania

ABV: 8.7%

Hops: Yakima

They say: “The tenacious grip of big, juicy hop aroma and character slides smoothly into rich, dark malts. This heavyweight battle between fresh, Yakima Valley hops and dark, roasted malts is resolved harmoniously as the flavors merge to deliver complex satisfaction with a warming edge. Bask in the “glory”­ of the bright and brassy hops!”

Deschutes Brewing Company “Red Chair” NWPA

Location: Bend, Oregon

ABV: 6.2%

Hops: Cascade, Cenntenial

They say: “The citrus punch of a big IPA, minus the one-dimensional hop sledgehammer. Seven select European and domestic malts round out the edges for a complex, copper-colored brew. Like its namesake ski lift, it’s an insider’s ride to fresh thrills.”

Six Point Brewing Company “Resin” Double IPA

Location: Brooklyn, New York

ABV: 9.1%

Hops:

They say: “A beer that celebrates the extraction of hop resin for a concentrated yet balanced brew.”

Dogfish Head Craft Brewery “60 Minute” IPA

Location: Milton, Deleware

ABV: 6%

Hops:

They say: “60 Minute IPA is continuously hopped — more than 60 hop additions over a 60-minute boil. (Getting a vibe of where the name came from?)

60 Minute is brewed with a slew of great Northwest hops. A powerful but balanced East Coast IPA with a lot of citrusy hop character, it's the session beer for hardcore enthusiasts!”

Surly Brewing Company “Furious” IPA

Location: Brooklyn Center, Minnestoa

ABV: 6.5%

Hops: Warrior, Ahtanum, Simcoe, Amarillo

They say: “A tempest on the tongue, or a moment of pure hop bliss? Brewed with a dazzling blend of American hops and Scottish malt, this crimson-hued ale delivers waves of citrus, pine and caramel-toffee. For those who favor flavor, Furious has the hop-fire your taste buds have been screeching for.”

Tags: Beer, The Open Bar

DrinkWear – The Futbol Artists Network

The don't call it “the Beautiful Game” for nothing. Soccer is art. A great Lionel Messi goal or a stunnig David Beckham free kick is a thing of beauty.

These small moments in soccer can create life-long fans of the sport (with the help of a beer or two, perhaps?) and the memories of such sporting excellence can hang in our memories like fine art in a gallery.

This is the premise behind the new “Futbol Artist Network” that launched this past weekend. Their idea is to highlight and express soccer through artistic expression.

Trevor Slavick is the founder and curator of FAN. His idea is to create a place for artist to demonstrate their love for the football through limited edition prints and apparel. Additionally, current and former players with artistic tendencies will also contribute to the Network, lending some awesome star-power to the idea.

“Each artist has created a football inspired design which will be printed onto various pieces of apparel and sold one at a time on our website for 10 days only.  If you like the design, you must buy it within those 10 days or it’s gone forever,” said Slavick.

“With these limited edition prints we’re positioned to gain a stronghold in the fine arts world and fill a gap lacking in well-known, quality, football art,” he continued.

In most cases, artists from the Network have collaborated with current and former players to create their artwork.  The first artist being featured is a little more unique as he happens to be a world-class player as well.   FC Dallas and USA National Team player Brek Shea, has painted his own design titled “No Shelter.”   The Futbol Artist Network will be selling this design on apparel, but also will be selling 100 Signed and Numbered Limited Edition Prints of Brek’s painting. 

“Even in no gravity situations, there will still be pressure,” says Brek Shea when describing his artwork.   “I think the Futbol Artist Network is a great program for people like me. I can fuse my two passions together with my job on the field and my hobby of painting. Soccer is very pressure filled and serious while painting is my relaxing hobby and artistic outlet.”

The Futbol Artist Network has several other players on board excited to be working with their artists from around the world.

Retired USA Men’s National Team Player and Former Ajax midfielder John O’Brien is a part of the Futbol Artist Network and has collaborated with a US based artist on a design coming out in September.

“Football is many things and at times it is definitely not Art,” says O’Brien.  “It can be mundane, plain, insane and entertainment without style.  But the times we long for in football are the times when creativity and know how mix and form a special shared experience, much like art.  I think it is only natural that the Futbol Artist Network wants to tap into this synergy.   In my eyes this creative project can add to the world's game and most importantly, our experiences of it.”

The artists seem to enjoy the creative project as well and working with players adds a new element to their creativity.  Don, a well-known street artist in London, has collaborated with Kyle Martino, an ex USA National Team Player and current soccer commentator for NBC Sports during the London Olympics.   Don has created a half stenciled, half painted piece inspired by Martino’s vision, that will be painted on canvas as well as commissioned onto a wall in London during the games. 

“This project's been a lot of fun,” said Don.  “There's a long history of sport being represented in art. Every boy in the UK grew up playing football in the playground and taking the sport onto the street was commonplace. Kyle understands the connection between sport and art and sport and the streets, which makes it a natural extension to associate sport, the street and art!”

With about a week to go before Shea's work is “relegated”, and a new artist is featured, there's precious little time to get your hands on this professional athlete's unique work.

The Free Beer Movement is proud to be a supporter of this cool new project and the Futbol Artist Network asked us to pair up a beer for their debut piece by artist Brek Shea.

We present, “Wild Hare” Pale Ale by Spotzel Brewing Company's Shiner.

Texas born-and-bred like Shea this hoppy pale ale our beer is a homophonic tribute to both Shea's rabbit-like speed and un-kept mane.

For each of FAN's artistic releases we'll be coming back with another art and beer pairing.

In the meantime, follow Futbol Artist Network on Twitter and at 500 “follows” they'll be giving away one of Shea's works.

Tags: Beer, DrinkWear, Major League Soccer

2012 Free Beer Movement Major League Soccer All-Star Beer Team

The Major League Soccer All-Stars take on Chelsea tonight at 7:30pm CT from Philadelphia (TV: ESPN, ESPN Deportes, and ESPN3.com). The assembled eleven on the field will fight for American soccer's honor against the current Champions League champions (that's redundant…).

But what about the beer!? Said either a massive chorus of people or the tiny voice in our heads.

“Hey, you, you're going in… my belly!”

About halfway through 2012 American soccer fans chose their best representatives to face Europe's best. A mix of veterans, young stars, and fan favorites.

Veterans, young stars, and fan favorites… that's our 2012 Free Beer Movement All-Beer Team, too.

We've done our best Ben Olson impression and selected a squad of the best beers we've had in 2012.

There are, of course, dozens more beers in the wonderful world of American craft brewing that probably deserve to be on this list, but this is most certainly subjective list of our current palate and craft beer halfway through 2012. Additionally, our tasting is restricted to the beers we've been able to get in our distribution area (Texas) and where we've travelled this year (Midwest). An all-time list would probably look much different.

If there's beers you'd recommended to sit on the bench (for us to “select” later on), please don't hesitate to leave 'em in the comments section.

 

GK- Founder's Brewing Company “Kentucky Breakfast” Stout (Grand Rapids, MI)

A rare treat for the brewing world that more people should know about. This beer is stout in goal and on your taste buds. Player Pairing: Chivas USA's Dan Kennedy.

Left Back – Deschutes Brewing Company “Hop in the Dark” Cascadian Dark Ale (Bend, OR)

A great beer from a veteran brewery. This brewery has been around for a long-time and finally getting some great recognition for it's solid play day-in-and-day-out. A perfect representation of the great work coming out of the “Cascadia” region of the country. Player Pairing: San Jose Earthquakes' Ramiro Corrales.

Centerback – Nebraska Brewing Company “Melange A Trois” Belgian Style Ale (Omaha, NE)

From America's heartland is a relative newcomer to craft beer and the national stage. International flavor on an American team. Think of Nebraska Brewing Co. as a MLS-er making his first ASG appearance after a bang-up half-season. Player Pairing: Sporing KC's Aurelien Collin

“Off to the beer store. I'll be right back… well, center back, actually.”

Centerback – Bell's Brewery “Oberon” Summer Wheat Ale (Comstock, MI)

Light, but not to be taken lightly this beer is action packed with flavor and is an effective beer for all your summer drinking needs. Has had success on both the national and international beer scene. A truly inspiration tale of a small-town beer making it on the world's stage. Player Pairing: Vancouver Whitecaps' Jay DeMerit

Right Back – Victory Brewing Company “Baltic Thunder” Baltic Porter (Downington, PA)

Since the MLS All-Star Game is in Philly we had to include a local craft brewery for the fans. When put into the starting line up it'll be sure to get a huge ovation from the local crowd. Player Pairing: Philadelphia Union's Michael Farfan (Yes, he usually plays mid, but whatever)

“Eurotrash”

Left Mid – Southern Tier Brewing Company “Eurotrash Pilz” Pilsner (Lakewood, NY)

There are better beers that come from this team (“Creme Brulee” stout comes to mind), but this European player still is one of the most recognizable of Southern Tier's players and gets the fans' vote despite a mediocre season. This pilsner can serve up a lot and occasionally come up with a little bit of magic on your palate. Player Pairing: Los Angeles Galaxy's David Beckham

Holding Mid – Russian River Brewing Company “Pliny the Elder” Double IPA (Santa Rosa, CA)

A wily veteran of the all-star beer squad, “Pliny the Elder” brings loads of experience to the team. Chosen year after year as one of the nation's best beers Pliny has been (bottle) capped both domestically and abroad for its brewing prowess. A double IPA that is going to break up any tasting it partakes in. Once in possession of your taste buds it's the perfect beer to finish strong pushing forward. Certainly takes over any match it plays in. Player Pairing: Real Salt Lake's Kyle Beckerman

Attacking Mid – Dogfish Craft Brewery/ Victory Brewing Company/ Stone Brewing Company “Saison du BUFF” Herbed Saison (Milton, DE/ Downington, PA/ Escondido, CA)

Like Barcelona's tika-tacka triangle touches, this beer comes in threes. A collaboration brew from three of the best know craft breweries in the United States; there is real star power controlling this team's midfield. Always moving forward and playing off each other… it's been quite the season for this saison. Another all-star beer selection from the fans bodes well for this attacking mid. Player Pairing: Los Angeles Galaxy's Landon Donovan

“It'd be awesome if one of these mics was a beer instead.” Photo Credit: D.C. United

Right Mid – Unibroue “La Fin du Monde” Tripel-Style Golden Ale (Chambly, Quebec, Canada)

Much like the MLS All-Star team there's a token Canadian on the field, but, really he's no token. He plays on the out, making cutting inside runs. Smooth and silky elegance to keep possession yet spicy enough to get a winner. Player Pairing: D.C. United's Dwyane DeRosario

Forward – Tallgrass Brewing Company “Oasis” Double ESB (Manhattan, KS)

A great beer from a brewery far from the media limelight (but doing good things) of the rest of the mainstream beer world comes our target forward of the 4-4-2. A local hit for a lower-profile team that struggles on the national stage. A full pint, loads of hops, and 7.2% ABV in this canned craft beer makes him a heavy hitter. Probably only good for one, but it'll be worth it. Player Pairing: San Jose Earthquakes' Chris Wondolowski

Forward – Alaskan Brewing Company “Raspberry Wheat” (Juneau, AK)

Like PB&J, sugar and spice or leather and lace our other beer up top is the complete opposite of his strike partner. Light and quick this wheat beer will breeze past you. If you think this beer, with a hint of fruit taste, is just fluff then don't be surprised when you're picking the ball out of the back of net or asking the bartender for another bottle. Player Pairing: D.C. United's Chris Pontius

If there's beers you'd recommended to sit on the bench (for us to “select” later on), please don't hesitate to leave 'em in the comments section.

Tags: Beer, Major League Soccer

Soccer Marketing 101: Inside Boulevard Brewing’s Partnership with Sporting KC (INTERVIEW)

On the eve of the 2012 Major League Soccer season, to the delight of craft beer and American soccer fans in Kansas City, Boulevard Brewing Company and Sporting KC announced the launch of their marketing partnership, “Hometown Team, Hometown Beer”. Boulevard, the nation's tenth largest craft brewery, would now be served in one of the United State's best soccer-specific stadium and a host of co-branded opportunities would soon roll out between the two.

Last week, we stopped in at Boulevard Brewing to chat with their Director of Marketing, Jeremy Rogonese, who explained the evolution of the marketing partnership from its earliest days, what sort of initiatives Sporting and Boulevard have done and plan on doing, the similarities between soccer fans and craft beer lovers, and the coolness that are keg backpacks.

Free Beer Movement: Talk about your first experience with American soccer.

Jeremy Rogonese: My first experience was, actually, a friend inviting me to a game. Years ago when the Wizards were playing at Arrowhead. I was blown away then and the fervor hadn’t even reached its pitch that it is now. It was a great experience and a learned a little about the game and gained an appreciation.

FBM: How did the marketing partnership come about?

JR: The re-brand came and even before then we had been approached by OnGoal (Sporting KC’s ownership group). We have known a number of members of the ownership group that were big fans of the brewery and big fans or supporting local businesses. They started meeting with us early saying “we want you to be a part of the experience. We know how important being local is and having that connection.”

We’ve had a great on-going discussion with them. They re-branded with Sporting KC and just took off from there. It was an amazing experience to be in Kansas City, to be in marketing, and to see what was happening with the organization at the time.

There was a period of time when LIVESTRONG was built and we were touring the stadium, we were talking about sponsorships, but it wasn’t going to work out at the time. Because of the size of our brewery and the amount of sponsorship dollars they were able to generate it just wasn’t really in the cards for us to be a partner from the very beginning.

I credit them for coming back to us with new ideas, a new approach, and a new way of think about how our relationship could benefit each other. They would have our beers available at their stadium, but that we also could work together on a true marketing partnership to try and share the message of both our brands and how we can align.

It became “hometown team, hometown beer” and that was a brand new thing for us. That was a new thing for us; we had never had the ability to use the “marks” (team’s logos, etc) of a professional team in Kansas City or to really partner with them to try and win new fans.

FBM: What does the partnership between Boulevard and Sporting KC look like?

JR: One of the biggest things is taking the experience of the fans (away games or for fans who can’t attend the home games because of ticket availability) at the watch parties. We have many bar partners in town. Setting up programs where fans can be set with the Sporting experience.  Not only in Kansas City, but Lawrence and other places to build a regional brand.

Use media like our outdoor boards to co-brand. It states the “hometown beer, hometown team” message. To use the affinity that both of us have to create that image so that new consumers of the sport that see these Kansas City brands working together sends a pretty strong members.

We kicked off the partnership by putting inserts for tickets into our sample twelve packs and our core brand twelve packs and distributed them regionally at the beginning of the season. People who were drinking our beer who might not have been soccer fans were given the opportunity to find out more.

We’ve done seasonal releases of beers at LIVESTRONG Park (most recently Zon, Boulevard's Belgian-style wtitbier) a. We’ve held them in the member’s club after the games and feature them on the taps there.

FBM: What have you noticed about the crossover between soccer fans and craft beer fans?

JR: We certainly have similar demographics. Their fans are avid craft beer drinkers. We want to remind them that we’re local partners.

I was surprised that it (the cross over between craft beer and American soccer) was here. I saw soccer as an emerging sport from an outside perspective. Having grown up in the Midwest  from an older generation that didn’t grow up with soccer; it was seen family-driven and youth centered with soccer field being built all over the city so I knew the sport was growing.

I always knew there was going to be the young, hip, urban demographic that was going to be touched. I didn’t know to the extent that they would be as big of fans as they are now. The make up a lot of the Cauldron. There’s a lot of local business that have season tickets and they’re the type that have a lot of 21-29 year-old group that are the primary beer-drinking audience.

That group from the beginning said they wanted Boulevard Beer at the stadium. They wanted us on the jersey.

The tenacity and their vocal support of the team and of us rose to the top. It made it apparent to both of us (Sporting and Boulevard) that we need each other. Because their fans wanted us and we want to be wherever the fans are enjoying Kansas City. Sporting has become a very important part of our Kansas City sporting traditions.

FBM: What are these keg backpacks we've heard about?

JR: Years ago we supplied the Royals with backpacks for vending in the stadium. There were some problems early on. It was obvious they worked because the fans really loved them. They would always talk about them and write in how much they enjoyed them. It’s just such a unique thing to see someone walk up to you and pour you a draft beer off their back.

We tasked our Draft Quality Manager Neil Witte with redeveloping a newer system, identifying the right methodologies, and we had to buy some special sized kegs.

They’ve gotten great response from the fans. They’re easy to operate and pour from vendor standpoint. We've used them at LIVESTRONG Park throughout the stadium, the member's club, and the Cauldron tailgates.

Tags: Beer, Major League Soccer, Soccer Marketing 101, The Best of Both Worlds

Beer of the Month Club (June 2012)

Surprisingly “working” at the Free Beer Movement involves quite a bit of beer drinking. We're constantly on the look out for new beers (and a few old favorites). It's a bit of a quest now. With each visit to our neighborhood beer store, breweries, and brew pubs (and quite a few on our travels) we're constantly seeking out a beers that have never touched our lips.

We do it all for your, loyal FBMers. So that everytime you're looking to offer that next free beer to that newbie (or join up with a few soccer friends) you can reach into the FBM vault o' beers and offer something unique from the craft beer world.

Since the beginning of all this madness in 2009 we've tried over 1,000 DIFFERENT beers and posted them to our Facebook and Twitter accounts. (Editor's Note: We've have an untapped account, but feel overwhelmed at the idea of going back and logging every beer we've had in the last three years.) So many that it feels like the best get lost in the near-daily upload of a beer picture here and there.

We've decided to a couple (maybe more if you're lucky!) beers a month from our craft brew quest and feature them on the FBM website. Each month we'll chose five of our favorites. Hopefully most you'll be able to get in your area, but we can't promise.

As always if you've had some amazing beers yourself then please share them in the comments section. The more we can expose each other to quality craft beer the stronger the FBM (and American soccer) will be.

Cheers!

June 2012

Brewery: Green Flash Brewing Co.

Name: “Palete Wrecker”

Style: American Double/ Imperial IPA

ABV: 9.5%

Place: San Diego, California

Ratings/Reviews: 92 at Beer Advocate, 99 at Rate Beer

Website

Brewery: Sprecher Brewing Co.

Name: N/A

Style: Mai Bock

ABV: 6.0%

Place: Greendale, Wisconsin

Rating/Reviews: 85 at Beer Advocate, 75 at Rate Beer

Website

Brewery: Brooklyn Brewery

Name: Summer Ale

Style: English Pale Ale

ABV: 5.0%

Place: Brooklyn, New York

Ratings/Reviews: 82 at Beer Advocate, 46 (!) at Rate Beer

Website

Breweries (Collboration Beer): Bear Republic Brewing Co, Stone Brewing Co., and Fat Head's

Style: Texas Brown Ale

ABV: 7.1 %

Place: Escondido, California 

Ratings/Reviews: 85 at Beer Advocate

Website

Tags: Beer, Beer of the Month Club

Local Beer, Local Soccer – Futbol from the Land of Dragons and Mermaids: Poland

 

By Marek Kurylko

Don’t let the mystical title fool you, despite dragons and mermaids being symbols of the two cities we visited, a special kind of magic has been in full effect in Poland since June 8th when the European Championships kicked off in Warsaw. It was evident from that first match, when Poland drew 1-1 with Greece and 100,000+ people crammed into the Polish capital’s Fan Zone that the next 24 days were going to be special for both the country and its international visitors. Full disclosure – before going any further, I’ll tell you that I’m of 100% Polish descent (1st generation American) and that I spent a majority of my childhood summers visiting my family who reside there. If any of that results in a bias, I apologize. It should also be noted that, while I understand this Euro tournament is being co-hosted by Ukraine, my focus will be on the experiences that my girlfriend and I had while visiting Krakow and Warsaw in Poland.

This trip has been in the planning stages for me since 2007 when the UEFA Executive Committee named Poland and Ukraine as the third successful joint bid for the European Championship. For the five years leading up to the kick-off of the tournament, it’s been a roller coaster of positive and negative events; ranging from host city selection to criticism of sufficient infrastructure to the lottery process to obtain tickets for matches but the time had finally come, we were heading to Poland to see the best European teams battle it out on the pitch. In a perfect world, we would have stayed for an extended period of time but unfortunately work schedules limited our trip to eight days. Even so, we were firm determined on making the most of our adventure.

Flying out of Newark Liberty Airport on the evening of the 14th, we made our way to Warsaw (via Brussels) and had a fairly low-key day first day of enjoying the local fare, catching up with my family (with whom we were staying in Warsaw) and of course, watching the second matches of Group D on the television. With a good night's rest under our belts, the international appeal of “the beautiful game” became immediately visible on the morning of the 16th. Boarding our train from Warsaw to Krakow, we met a family of four in our train cabin who were noticeably tired. Sitting down next to a slightly older gentleman named Victor, he asked where we were from as he’d heard me speaking in both Polish and English. I explained that we were from the US, but that all of my family was from Poland at which time he let me know that the group was from Malta. For those of you not familiar with Malta (I’ll admit that I wasn’t an expert,) a quick snapshot of the country can be found here. As our three hour ride began, the train rolled off and the dialogue began. Topics ranged from the economy (shocker,) politics (another shocker,) education, New York City housing prices, Maltese history and a slew of others but the one which we discussed the most was the cultural environment of Poland and the country’s growth since the fall of communism. Victor and his family were very complimentary of Warsaw, its integration of history and modernism in addition to the country’s overall ability to feel so welcoming to so many guests. It should be noted that this was still the case even after Victor’s brother needed stitches since he was hit in the head with a glass by a disgruntled fan while rooting for the Spanish team at an Italian restaurant. Whether this was more reflective of the otherwise positive environment of Poland or the worldwide understanding of certain soccer fans being “over-passionate,” I’m not sure but it was comforting to know that this kind of behavior didn’t tarnish the overall brand of the country in the eyes of its Maltese guests.

The 16th was a very important night for the Poles as they were in full control of their destiny. Win their match versus the Czech Republic and they were into the Quarterfinals, at least as the runner-up of Group A. Upon arriving in Krakow we unpacked, took care of some formalities and headed over to the Fan Zone, an open and slightly muddy grass field often used for larger masses, such as those held by Pope John Paul II.

The criticism that many had was true, the environment was very sponsor heavy but, at least in my opinion, that’s understandable as they were paying for the overhead associated with maintaining the area for almost a month’s time. In an effort to organize the crowds looking to purchase food and beverage in the zone, administrators instituted a ticket system for all purchases (besides souvenirs.) All food tickets were sold at 1 zloty (the local currency) per ticket and beer tickets, which could only be used to purchase Carlsberg beers, were sold at 7 zloty per ticket. As a point of reference, at the time of the trip the exchange rate was $1 for 3.30 zloty. With about two hours to go until match time, the Fan Zone’s population began to grow exponentially.

Drones of Polish fans were rapidly funneling into enclosed area and with about an a hour to go, when they started to get rowdy, we headed to the center of the Old Town, <Insert Photo 5> a hotbed of bars and restaurants where everyone was holed up, ready to watch the match. We ended up grabbing a table at a restaurant called Sioux where everyone had one thing on their mind: the match. In the states, most restaurants would be adamant about making the most of you sitting at a dinner table for two hours, maximizing the number of drinks, appetizers and entrees ordered or at least making you feel guilty until you ordered more. That was certainly not the case; the servers at the restaurant were the furthest from pushy. They realized that you were going to be there for the next two hours and made their priority to make sure your glasses and plates were full but at your pace. The third matches of the group stage were even more interesting than their two predecessors as both matches were being played simultaneously. At half-time of the Poland vs. Czech Republic match, you could hear people cheering as Greece had scored on Russia in the extra time of the first half. Immediately, everyone started talking about what it would mean if the score of that match held and Poland won their match. Not only would Poland make it out of the Group stage, they would actually win their Group. The first 71 minutes of the Poland vs. Czech match were laden with missed opportunities for both teams until, in the 72nd minute, the Czech Republic scored and temporarily broke every Polish fan’s heart. Despite a myriad of substitutions, Poland wasn’t able to come back in the match and as such Czech Republic won the Group and Greece moved on as the runner up.

As we left the restaurant and headed into the main square of the Old Town we entered a grocery store to buy some drinks to take back to the hotel room. While waiting in line at the store, fans lamented about wasted opportunities but it didn’t take long for someone to find a silver lining as one of the fans said, “Well at least the Russians didn’t make it either.” Old feelings die hard. As we left the store, more Poles had made their way to the streets, coming back from the Fan Zone and leaving the bars. Surprisingly, the cloud of disappointment that had hit in the 72nd minute of the match had already been lifted and the Polish fans began to sing and dance in the streets, holding their scarves high above their heads. They realized that even if their team was not going to advance, that Poland was finally getting recognized by the world with the positive attention it had long deserved.

We spent the next few days in Krakow, exploring its rich history by day and watching the remaining Group matches by night. With the Dutch and English teams residing in Krakow, it was a given that their fans would be supporting their teams all over town. Some fans set up shop in outdoor cafes, others took to exploring the town by tour cars while loudly humming the White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army”, but however they showed their support, they were always friendly and willing to take a photo with you.

 

With my girlfriend having spent time studying in Holland, she had a vested interest in the Netherlands team so we made a conscious effort to find a place with good energy and good beer to enjoy the match outside of the Fan Zone. Ironically enough, that place ended up being the English Football Club. Yes, you read that correctly. Two Americans, supporting Holland, in an English-supporter bar in Poland – I couldn’t make this up if I wanted to. Initially it didn’t sound like it would have been a good environment, but it ended up being great. We were able to watch the Netherlands versus. Portugal match on a huge screen and even make friends with locals (who were huge Chelsea fans and frequented this bar during the Premiere League season) and also a soccer fan from India who lives in Czech Republic but was visiting his Polish girlfriend. It's interactions like this that make me look forward to a time when the US will embrace soccer more than once every four years, and everyone can engage in this sort of uniting dialogue, anywhere and everywhere throughout the world.

After a few more days in Krakow we headed back to Warsaw, unfortunately this time without any Maltese with which to pass the time… or air conditioning; luckily there was beer to keep us cold. Our main event was upon us, with the Group stages over we knew who we’d be seeing at the Quarterfinals match in Warsaw, Portugal vs. Czech Republic.

As was seen during many matches, it seemed like rain was as necessary for a match as the pitch, players and ball. The night before the match there were very intense thunderstorms and the weather report for match day did not look much better. Luckily for the players and fans, the National Stadium in Warsaw was built with a retractable roof for just such occasions. As we moved closer to the stadium throughout match day, the weather got progressively better and the sun came out just as we arrived on the local tram.

Right away you could see that, even with Poland out of the tournament, its fans were still going to show their nationalism at the match. In the sea of red and white shirts and jackets, it was hard to distinguish between Polish fans and Czech fans. While there was a respectable number of Portuguese fans in attendance, Czech’s proximity to Poland certainly made it easier for fans to travel to the match and support their team. Moreso surprising was that a majority of the Polish fan base at the match was rooting for the very team which knocked them out of the tournament. Every few minutes after a round of Czeska chants, the Polska chant would break out and the stadium would erupt with the passion of the local fans.

Contrary to the positive energy coming from the Poles and Czechs, while everyone already speculated it throughout the tournament, almost everyone really does hate Ronaldo. While the fans did not chant Lionel Messi’s name at him like the Danes did during their match against Portugal, the Poles and Czechs made it a point to whistle every second which Ronaldo had possession of the ball. Even with that kind of disdain for Ronaldo, he made it a point to show the crowd that all of the venom in the world wasn’t going to stop him as he drove in the only goal of the match at the 79th minute. As the match wrapped up, it was hard not to appreciate the quality of play from both teams and particular strategies, even if many of them did not work as effectively as planned. The Portuguese cheered, the Czechs left disappointed and the Poles took to the streets with more scarves, flags and Polska chants. Walking from the stadium back to the center of town on that warm Warsaw night, everyone couldn’t help but remain excited as there were still six more matches until a champion was crowned and the spotlight, which had shined for 24 days onto Poland and Ukraine, was extinguished.

About Marek

Marek is a Regional Representative for www.newjerseycraftbeer.com, Cicerone.org Certified Beer Server, New York Red Bulls season ticket holder, fan of FC Barcelona and the US Men’s National Team. Follow him on Twitter

Tags: Beer, Local Soccer Local Beer

Local Beer, Local Soccer – Charlotte, North Carolina

Street Soccer USA/ Soccer 945 (Photo Credit: James Willamor)

By Jay Landskroener

Being in a major financial hub diverts a lot of the attention away from the other scenes around this wonderful city. Charlotte is the birthplace of the Homeless USA Cup (now called the Street Soccer USA Cup), home base for numerous Youth and Adult soccer leagues and academies, various colleges and universities, as well as a USL PRO team, the Charlotte Eagles. Since the mid 2000’s there have been a number of soccer specific bars opening in certain neighborhoods all around town.

Queen City Outlaws at Courtyard Hooligans

In 2009 Charlotte got what might be considered one of the best soccer bars east of the Mississippi, a pub that opened up specifically for the niche of soccer, aptly named “Courtyard Hooligans” located in Uptown Charlotte. During the ensuing World Cup, Hooligans was the place to be in summer 2010. Since then, every week soccer fans come out of the woodwork for Premier League, La Liga, Champions League, MLS, International matches and everything in between.  On top of soccer this pub has a great collection of local and regional beers, and it is within the top 30 of Guinness sales on the east coast.

The American Outlaws chapter in Charlotte, the Queen City Outlaws has been active in helping the community of soccer grow locally. Support of the United States Soccer team’s games throughout the city can be watched while fans sing songs and shout chants for their national teams. During the 2011 Gold Cup, though USA did not play in Charlotte, the group stage games that took place here were the third most attended group stage matches of the tournament.

On a different realm of the sport, Soccer 945 is the organization that helps homeless people in bad times to correct their lives through the world of soccer. The group has done work with other organizations to help the cause and continue the growth of sport in the city, such as having regional and national futsal tournaments with other cities homeless teams. The biggest thing that this organization has done was to form what is known as the Homeless USA Cup to help the homeless of all areas of the globe to better their lives through the world of soccer. A great cause through a great sport.

With the colleges and the universities here the local pickup games and adult leagues are forever growing. Most notably though, UNC-Charlotte made it to the finals of the 2011 NCAA College Cup and put on arguably one of the best finals in all of domestic soccer against a very good University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill team, losing 1-0.

Locally, the adult leagues keep thriving with open competitions year in, year out. One key talking point of adult soccer leagues here is an annual soccer tournament known as the Soccer World Cup, in which 20 national teams comprised of local players compete to be the champions. An amazing community event and great atmosphere to watch every summer also gives a warm sense of enlightenment knowing that this event helps the Charlotte World Soccer Foundation hand out a charity check to an organization helping children in need.

Not just playing or observing the sport, but a lot of the local fans here contribute to the consumption of great local brews. Companies such as Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, NoDa Brewing, Bird Song Brewing, Ass Clown, and Four Friends Brewery have all appeared in the last five years to compensate for the largest city in the state to compete with the other great brews in North Carolina. The Foothills and Blue Ridge areas have set the bar for breweries in North Carolina though with companies like Highland, Big Boss, Duck Rabbit, and Catawba Valley taking a stronghold on the regional beer scene. 

One of the best parts of the beer and soccer scene here is a sense of camaraderie with all fans throughout the town. Being a transient city, there are fans of all teams and all nationalities here that band together for the love of the game. And that’s how we live our soccer and beer drinking lives: for the love of the game.

About Jay

Jay Landskroener writes for Rattle the Frame as well as hosts the podcast on rattletheframe.com. Also a contributor for kyck.com pertaining to MLS. American Outlaws Chapter President of the Queen City Outlaws. You can follow Jay on Twitter.

Tags: Beer, Local Soccer Local Beer

The Best of Both Worlds – Beer Penalty Kicks at Euro 2012

When soccer and beer collide… that's the best of both worlds. This space reserved for any intersection of the suds and the sport whether business, beer and soccer events, or random humor.

Our BFF Jimmy Conrad is in Poland and the Ukraine covering the Euro 2012 tournament for Kick TV. He's been taking in team trainings, games, the general merriment of the fans, and plenty of shenanigans over the last couple of weeks. He even got a speeding ticket!

But by far the coolest thing we've seen thus far is the above video where Croatian fans faced off some Italians fans (unfortunately in Mario Balotelli “blackface”) in beer PKs. From the footage beer PKs seem simple:

1) Make a goal out of empty beer cans

2) Choose your keeper

3) Choose your shooters

4) Open a new can of beer

5) Attempt to put said can of beer past the opposing keeper

6) Everyone gets covered in beer (and there may or may not be a goal in there as well)

We're thinking that this is the NEXT BIG THING. If “BASEketball” could work then why not beer PKs?

Perhaps bonus points to the goalie for catching the can and drinking the remaining beer?

Tags: Beer, The Best of Both Worlds

MLS Road Trip – A Quick Stop (Davis, CA)


50 days, 10,000 miles, and over a dozen Major League Soccer cites. Evan Ream is on a quest to document American soccer this summer. Follow along at “MLS Road Trip” and stop by the Free Beer Movement where each Friday will get an executive summary of Ream's last week, plus a quick look at one beer from wherever he happens to be.

Previous Entries

1. An Introduction

2. A Quick Stop in Davis, CA (today)

By Evan Ream

Greetings from the small town bicycle capital of the world: Davis, California. Before moving to Oregon, I lived in Davis for 15 years, enjoying the bike paths, great schools and of course, the soccer. Davis is unique to the United States in that soccer is the most popular sport here. In Davis there are over 2,000 youth soccer players out of a population of just over 60,000. Jalil Anibaba of the Chicago Fire (we are meeting up with him later on the trip for a story) is the most famous youth alum in this part of the country.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to go to one of the coolest places in Davis: The Davis Beer Shoppe. The Davis Beer Shoppe has a large assortment of rare and exotic beers that will make any beer connoisseur happy. After missing all the Euro 2012 games during the day due to traveling, it was nice to sit down at a barrel and enjoy a cold one while taking in the highlights from the games on the TV. Speaking of which:

Meet Ruhstaller Beers “Captain California” Black IPA (Sacramento, CA).

I don't usually drink a lot of dark beers, nor IPA's due to the heaviness and bitterness commonly found in both. I was looking for a local beer to drink and since the Shoppe was all out of Sudwerks, the most popular Davis beer, I decided to go with a Sacramento beer. I was pleasantly surprised at the beer the owner recommended for me. This beer is a lot smoother and less bitter than most other black IPA's, though it isn't as flavorful. I would recommend this as an alternative to anyone who prefers light beers over dark, though if you prefer dark beers, you might be better off trying something more flavorful.

We are stopping in Davis just for a few hours before we leave for Los Angeles, and by LA I mean my brother's apartment in Huntington Beach for our first action on MLS Road Trip. Before we leave though, we are going to be doing a few things which brings me to the first weekly edition of: What's on tap? What's on tap (pun intended) will be the Free Beer Movement's weekly guide to what MLS Road Trip is doing each week.

What's on tap?:

Friday 6/15 – Today is mostly going to be a driving day, but before we head off, we are going to hit up the Euro 2012 games at a bar. Soccer is really easy to find at bars in Davis, but for the best viewing experience we recommend the Davis Graduate. The Grad, for short, is a bar just outside of UC Davis campus that shows nearly every sporting event possible; if you want them to show it, they will. During the 2010 World Cup, the bar gained instant recognition after a video of USA fans reacting to Landon Donovan's late goal against Algeria from different parts of the country was compiled and put on Youtube. I can actually be seen in this video wearing a Clint Dempsey jersey, USA bandana and generally looking like a hobo. For as loud as the video showcased us, it was 10 times louder actually being there.

Saturday 6/16 – Saturday will finally be our first game of the trip and my first time as a credentialed member of the media. We will be at the Home Depot Center to watch Chivas USA take on Real Salt Lake at 7:30 p.m. PST. Angel Mendoza, the president of the Black Army 1850 (profiled by FBM here) , has graciously invited us to their tailgate. Shortly after their tailgate, but before the game, there will be a “town hall meeting” where the Black Army is going to meet with team co-owner Antonio Cue. Apparently there will be some team-related announcements at this meeting.

Sunday 6/17 – We will be attending the LA Galaxy vs. Portland Timbers game at 4:00 p.m. PST. Half of the people in my party will be sitting in the Angel City Brigade (profiled by FBM here), while the other half will be sitting in the visiting Timber's Army (profiled by FBM here) section. We will get both fan perspectives and deliver them to you.

Wednesday 6/20 – As our only day in Seattle on MLS Road Trip, we are going to try to pack in as much stuff as possible in this day. First, we are going to hit up the Public Market in Seattle and see if we can possibly try our hand at catching fish that are thrown at us (one can hope). After this, we will head over to Golazo Energy HQ, where we will talk to Jorge Perea in the marketing department as well as play some pick-up on their amazing indoor field. Finally, we will take in the Seattle Sounders FC vs. Sporting KC game at 7:00 p.m. PST. I believe we will be going to the Gorilla FC (profiled by FBM here) pregame and sit (stand) with them during the game.

Thanks for checking in this week.

To follow the “MLS Roadtrip” get daily updates on our website or follow me on twitter.

Tags: Beer, MLS Road Trip

In This Team, Their History Is Beer-Fueled

The Bohemians are a first-year United Soccer League Professional Developmental League team from Baltimore. Their partnership with their local brewery, National Bohemian, and iconic, Maryland-centric jerseys made a big splash across the American soccer Inter-Web-Blogo-sphere. Free Beer Movement got in touch with them and a few months later our first club-sponsored “Free Beer Movement Night” was born. On June 16th, alongside “Throwback Night” (where the Bohemains will honor their American soccer history by wearing NASL-era Baltimore Bays jerseys), the Bohemians will play in front of fans fueled by $2 beers (OK, so not “free”, but close!

Beer has a lot of deep, local roots and the Bohemians are trying to tap (yep… pun intended) into that and build American soccer in Baltimore. You can follow the journey of the Baltimore Bohemians with their series on “The Classical”.

By Joe TirabassiDirector of Marketing & Media Relations, Baltimore Bohemians

To have something that you can call your own, something that is so indelibly ingrained in that fabric of your being that no one else can claim it – that's something special. In Baltimore, amongst elongated O's, a predilection for blue crabs and the work of David Simon (“The Wire”), we have an alcoholic beverage known simply as “Natty Boh.”

It was a major coup for us to get National Bohemian on board with the team. Nothing says “Baltimore” like Boh – it's omnipresent here. There's a giant, neon Mr. Boh that sits atop the old brewery, welcoming you to the east side. It's the only beer that should be served with our state's chosen crustacean.

There's the dog collars, tattoos, t-shirts and hats that Baltimoreans proudly display Mr. Boh. Whatever it is about the one-eyed man staring back at us that has this effect on Baltimoreans, outsiders won't really ever “get” it. It's a pretty unassuming beer that is drastically underpriced, so what's there to get so excited about? Well, frankly, it's ours.

It's the beer your father and his father drank. Ice cold, it's a revelation. And it's only sold here – you're never going to see someone in LA gripping a Boh at the beach.

I guess in a way, that's why we started this team – we want something we can call our own. We're not D.C. We're not Philly. We're not Barcelona and we're not Manchester.

We're Baltimore, and we're proud of it. A Bohemian is someone who operates outside of convention – someone who doesn't follow the norm. Someone who attempts to break the mold. We are Bohemians, and we're proud of that too.

If you're anywhere near “Charm City” on June 16th make your way up to Bel Air for FBM's “Thowback Night”. Get your tickets from the Bohemiams' website.

Tags: Beer, FBM In Action, The Best of Both Worlds

The 2012 European Championship “Beer-view” – Group D

The every-four-year extravaganza known as the European Championship (or “Euros” for short) is about to roll. The 2012 edition is co-hosted by Poland and Ukraine and features the top 16 teams (in four groups) from the continent in fierce competition for the Cup that Spain currently holds. You can read all about the squads on any number of websites and magazines, but where else can you get a team-by-team “beer-view of the “Euros”?

The answer…. only on the Free Beer Movement.

We'll preview the continental competition in four parts, one for each group. The beer we chose might be the most popular in that country, have the coolest name, or have the most interesting back-story. It may or may not be the best tasting, though, so be warned beer-snobs. Either way it some how represents that country for your drinking enjoyment.

The tournament kicks off on Friday, June 8th and continues through July 1st. All of the games will be televised by ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPN3.com so check your local listings.

Cheers!

The Groups

Group A

Group B

Group C

Group D

Group D

France – Kronenbourg Brewery “1664”

In the land of wine and head butts this beer is king. Behind “1664”, a pale lager Kronenbourg dominates 40% of the beer market in France, much like France should dominate this group. With England in shambles, Ukraine in only by virtue of co-hosting the tournament, and Sweden providing probably no more than a speed bump the expectations for Frances are high.

Particularly after the shambolic performance during the 2010 World Cup that saw France crash out and burn in controversy. The player fued revolts in South Africa led to a clean house and fresh start for Laurent Blanc who has assembled an impressive squad that could have an outside, dark horse chance of hoisting the trophy this nation won in 2000. Gaël Clichy (Manchester City), Patrice Evra (Manchester United), Florent Malouda (Chelsea), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Samir Nasri (Manchester City), and Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich) lead a team long on experience and short on age. A new generation of French dominance could be beginning.

England – Stonehenge “Pigswill”

By Kristen Schlewitz / @7500_Kirsten

How could I resist recommending Stonehenge Pigswill as the beer to correspond to the England national team? Every time a major tournament rolls around, the world — the world meaning England, of course — seems to think that England are the cream of the crop. Apparently the fact that they haven't won, well, anything since 1966 doesn't mean diddly squat. England are still a major footballing power.

The problem with that is that they really are pigswill. Like this beer, they might look nice on first glance. But then the head vanishes and the sweet aroma turns sticky. When Roy Hodgson announced his squad, many supporters were actually excited. There were some different faces in there. The Three Lions might have been moving on from their past, where Fabio Capello left them mired in the mud. But then the clouds came rolling in and the injuries started to pile up. Now we've got to wonder if England will even make it out of Group D, or if they'll be undone by Sweden — or worse, Ukraine. Swill, indeed.

Of course, if you want something decent to drink, grab yourself a Fuller's London Pride. Creamy and caramelly, it's worth drinking. And when you're done, just let the glass fall to the floor. It'll symbolize the broken English players and the shattered dreams of a nation.

Ukraine – Lvivske “1715” Pilsner

This Ukrainian beer trace its roots to a monastic beer of 1715 when Andriy Shevchenko made his professional debut. The Ukrainian captain will lead his national team (FIFA ranked, number 52) who are only here by the grace of being co-hosts of the tournament. The “Yellow and Blues” should expect to be spectators with the rest of their countrymen soon enough.

“1715” is the lower ABV (4%) version of Lvivsk's “Premium” brand (4.7%) so it sounds like Ukraine's Budweiser and Bud Select. Another Euro pilsner served in a green bottle doesn't increase the chances that it is better than either of the Buds (at that's a low bar to miss).

Sweden – Nils Oscar Brewery “God” Lager

Zlatan Ibrahimović is a “god” or at least the AC Milan man thinks himself one. He's got his own iPad app for goodness sakes! Ibra is going to have to play to near-god-like perfect if Sweden is going to escape this group. Some unfortunate results for England and they could be surprise advancers to the quarterfinals.

Nils Oscar Brewery is, like Denmark's Mikkeller, a craft beer producer emerging out of the historical, more drab beers of their country. Since opening in 1996 Nils Oscar has taken home several gold medals from the Stockholm Beer Festival and had positive reviews from beer critics across Europe.

P.S. “God” in Swedish actually translates to “good” in English, but whatever. Zlatan.. he's good, he's god… 

Tags: Beer, The Best of Both Worlds

The 2012 European Championship “Beer-view” – Group C

The every-four-year extravaganza known as the European Championship (or “Euros” for short) is about to roll. The 2012 edition is co-hosted by Poland and Ukraine and features the top 16 teams (in four groups) from the continent in fierce competition for the Cup that Spain currently holds. You can read all about the squads on any number of websites and magazines, but where else can you get a team-by-team “beer-view of the “Euros”?

The answer…. only on the Free Beer Movement.

We'll preview the continental competition in four parts, one for each group. The beer we chose might be the most popular in that country, have the coolest name, or have the most interesting back-story. It may or may not be the best tasting, though, so be warned beer-snobs. Either way it some how represents that country for your drinking enjoyment.

The tournament kicks off on Friday, June 8th and continues through July 1st. All of the games will be televised by ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPN3.com so check your local listings.

Cheers!

The Groups

Group A

Group B

Group C

Group D

Group C

Spain – Estrella Damm

We've talked about Estrella before and given Barcelona's immense influence on the Spanish national team it's not unexpected that the “Beer of Barca” becomes that of “La Furia Roja” as well. The verdicts on “Damm”, an adjunct lager, are not great so we highly recommend going for the upgraded witbier version of Estrella, “Inedit”.

All eyes will be on Spain as the defending European champions (and, of course, world champions) set their sights on back-to-back titles. With seven of the 23 players on the roster hailing from Barcelona (and five from La Liga rivals Real Madrid) their 2012 campaign will rest heavily on the Barcelona contributions. Barca players like Xavi, Iniesta, Pique, Fabregas and Madrid stalwarts Iker Casillas, Alvaro Arbeloa, and Sergio Ramos formed the core of the previous title winning sides and will be looked to carry that burden again. The loss of leading scorer David Villa (51 goals since his 2005 debut and add in the unpredictable Fernando Torres (Chelsea) and Spain could crash out before defending their title. The Germans, and the rest of the Cup contenders, hope so.

Italy – Moretti

By Kristen Schlewitz / @7500_Kirsten

One of the most popular beers in Italy has been scooped up by Heineken International. There's probably some sort of metaphor in this for the Italian side at Euro 2012. Hang on, it's coming to me…something about the Azzurri changing its style? Moving away from traditional Italian catenaccio and toward a more attacking method of play?

Hard as it is to believe, that's what the Italians are doing. But worry not — every announcer will still drone on and on about the defensive habits of the Italians, even as Spain, Croatia, and even Ireland freely frolic behind their back line. Cesare Prandelli is doing his best to plug the holes at the back, but you're not going to see the same old flawless azzurri. Instead, Italy have a masterful midfield, orchestrated by the magnificent Andrea Pirlo. There will be the antics of Mario Balotelli to look forward to, and when he inevitably gets suspended, the fun of Sebastian Giovinco. And if things get boring, you can play “Where's Waldo?” with Riccardo Montolivo, who regularly disappears during a match.

As for the beer, well, drinking Moretti will likely remind you why most visitors to Italy spend their money on wine. It's a typical pale ale, light and frothy. Nothing offensive, but it's better than either Peroni or Nastro Azzurro, which I'm convinced is hop and malt free. And if you take a drink every time the commentators mention defense, you'll have a buzz going in no time.

Ireland – Guinness “Half and Half”

We got stuck between going all in for Ireland's (and the world's) most popular stout and something a little more obscure. Guinness is the easy and straight-forward choice so we decided to add a twist. The “Half and Half” is a fellow Irish beer, Harp Irish Lager, topped off with a Guinness. Both are brewed by the Guinness Brewery and the combination makes it the most Irish drink this side of whiskey.

Whatever you do, do not call it a “Black and Tan” in Ireland.

The variation of the “Half and Half” would be a “Pint Special”, “Blacksmith”, or a “Light and Bitter”, where Smithwick's is poured over a Guinness.

Oh, you want to talk about the team now? OK… well after their crushing playoff elimination from 2010 World Cup qualifying. Another playoff win, this time against Estonia, saw the “Boys in Green” qualify for their first major tournament since 2002.

Led by defender Richard Dunne, goal keeper Shay Given, and forward Robbie Keane (MLS represent!), Ireland has their work cut out for them to advance out of the Euro group stages for the first time. 

Croatia – Ožujsko Pivo

If we told you that Croatia was ranked higher than fellow Euro sides Italy, Portugal, and France (not to mention Denmark, Russia, and Greece) would you believe us? If you Googled the FIFA World Rankings then probably. Indeed Croatia, sits at the number eight position in the roundly criticized global chart. Their June 14th match with Italy will certainly show if those rankings have any bit of truth to them. The “Fighting Picnic Table Cloths” as they are affectionately known as (Note: Probably not true) backed their way into the Euros needing a playoff win away in Turkey. The walked away, 3-0 winners, and entered in the tournament that the national federation had hopes to host with Hungary (but obviously Poland/Ukraine's bid won out).

The national team is sponsored by Ožujsko and given we're a little light on our knowledge of Croat beers we'll settle on this one. Although they lose major point due to the fact they make a lemon version of the beer as seen in this soccer/beer commercial. Their “Pivo”, a Pale Lager sans the fruit weighs in a 5% ABV and that reviews call “not that gross” and “wasn't undrinkable”. If those aren't ringing endorsements then we don't what is!

 

Tags: Beer, The Best of Both Worlds

Major League Soccer Road Trip – An Introduction

“Moreover, there remains only one single constant in the life of people particularly of men, and that is the soccer club and all the ties to it associated with being a fan. Marriages fail, relationships end, jobs disappear, anything can happen; only one real thread remains reliably through life: team loyalty.”

–          Roman Horak, University of Vienna

My name is Evan Ream, and I believe this to be true. Starting June 16, two friends and I will be going on an epic road trip to document soccer fandom in the United States and Canada. Our trip, the MLS Road Trip, will cover over 10,000 miles in 51 days with stops in 12 (possibly 13) different major cities, attending 14 (possibly 15) different games in order to document the amazing fans in North America.

During the trip, we will be updating our website every day with writing, pictures and video of the fans, plus food and general culture of each city we visit. Each Friday I will be writing a recap of our last week for The Free Beer Movement that will include an exclusive-to-The-FBM beer review. But I invite you to follow the trip on our website as well.

Just like in a soccer game, fan participation is paramount. We want your help, your input and your ideas. We are trying to paint the best picture possible of each fan base, something that we cannot do without a plethora of help from the fans in each city. Do you have an idea, suggestion or cool soccer tattoo (http://mlsroadtrip.com/fan-tattoo-gallery/) that you would like showcase? Do you know a crazy fan? Do you know a cool place that is crucial to your cities’ soccer culture? Please email me, tweet me or comment on the website or Facebook page.

This project is as much yours as it is ours. We want the website to be a place that shows what MLS is really about. We want Euro-snobs to look at the website and decide that maybe they want to come to a game in this country. We want to create more MLS fans. Help us.

And, as always, since this is the Free Beer Movement, here is a beer review from the town I live in: Ashland, Ore.

Meet: Ashland Amber. Brewed locally at the Caldera Brewing Company, Ashland Amber is distributed to 13 different states, England, Japan and Puerto Rico. Southern Oregon is known for its delicious local brews, and Ashland Amber is no exception. Nearly every bar in Ashland serves it, as it is the most popular of Caldera’s beers. This beer is so popular that most of the black and tans in Ashland are actually made with Ashland Amber instead of Bass Pale Ale, improving the taste in my opinion. If you are ever in Oregon (or Japan), do yourself a favor and order an Ashland Amber.

Tags: Beer, Major League Soccer, MLS Road Trip, Supporters Groups

“The Suds and Soccer Show” – Meet Saint Arnold Brewing and the New Houston Dynamo Stadium (Ep. 2)

 

 
In episode two of “The Suds and Soccer Show” Dan Wiersema of Free Beer Movement and Scott Metzger of Freetail Brewing Co. travel to Houston, Texas to check out the state's oldest and largest craft brewery, Saint Arnold.

Then it's off to BBVA Compass Stadium, new home of the Houston Dynamo. There Scott and Dan take it upon themselves to “upgrade” a few fans' beer experience.

Produced by Dead Bolt Productions (San Antonio, Texas).

Previous Episodes:

An Introduction to Craft Beer Styles for Soccer Fans (Episode 1)

Tags: Beer, Suds and Soccer Show

Bohemians Celebrate 45 Years of the Baltimore Bays on Throwback Night (Brought to you by FBM)

 

The Baltimore Bohemians will honor the 45th anniversary of the Baltimore Bays with “Throwback Night” on Saturday June 16 during their match against the Westchester Flames.

The Bohemians, one of the newest editions to the USL Premier Development League, will wear retro gold and red kits modeled after the Bays’ original uniforms. The club is offering $2 National Bohemian drafts for this special match. The Bays were owned by Jerold Hoffberger, president of the National Brewing Company – the same company that originally manufactured Baltimore’s beloved beer.

The match is being presented in conjunction with the Free Beer Movement, an organization that attempts to convert non-soccer fans to love the beautiful game, one beer at a time.

Baltimore native and former Bays defender Joe Speca will kick out the first ball. Speca was one of only three American-born players in the NPSL at its inception in 1967 and played two seasons with his hometown club in both the NPSL and NASL. In addition to starring for the Bays, Speca also spent time at Baltimore St. Gerard’s and Baltimore Pompei, with whom he reached the final of the U.S. Open Cup in 1957. Speca was also a member of the U.S. National Team, joining the team during the 1959 Pan-American Games and World Cup qualification matches in 1960, in addition to other friendly matches.

Tickets for the 7:00pm match are available at baltimorebohemians.com or by calling 443.980.BOHS.

Tags: Beer, FBM In Action, Free Beer Match Days, The Best of Both Worlds

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