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Going Suds Up – The Best Beers, The Best Soccer

By Kirsten Schlewitz / Senior West Coast Beer and Soccer Correspondent

The Champiooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooons! That’s right, this Saturday brings the final of the Champions League, with Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund meeting at Wembley to decide who lifts the trophy. But considering you’ve landed on a soccer site, you almost certainly knew that already.

In fact, you most likely already know all you need to know about the Champions League final. In case you don’t, here’s a quick summary: Dortmund are the mighty underdogs. They’ve been called “hipster” so many times that they’ve gone mainstream, with hipsters now seeking  to replace them with another side boasting amazing support and brightly colored kits. Bayern, meanwhile, ran away with the Bundesliga. They took 91 points from a possible 102, losing just once (!) to Bayer Leverkusen back in October. Bayern scored 98 goals in the league while allowing just 18 past. This is, to put it mildly, an incredible side.

But, again, you know this. You come to Free Beer Movement for something even more important than soccer knowledge: to learn exactly which beers to drink while watching the game. So let’s delay no further.

Bayern fans

One of Bayern’s primary sponsors is Paulaner, one of the six breweries that supplies beer for Oktoberfest. Now, clearly it is not the time of year during which one can usually find Oktoberfest beers, but if you’re trying to raise a glass to FCB, you need to at least make an effort. The Paulaner Oktoberfest Bier is available in bottles and cans, so you might be able to find some at your local German bar. If not, go ahead and look for the Paulaner Original Münchner Hell, a classic Munich beer. This lager is a bit lighter than the Oktoberfest (4.9% ABV as opposed to 6% ABV), but you might want a session beer for this match, particularly if you’re getting to the bar early to grab a seat.

This Paulaner is technically classified as a “Munich Helles Lager,” which is simply a sub-category of a pale lager. These beers are similar to a traditional Czech Pils, with spicy hops, although they have a bit more malts than a pilsner. The Paulaner stays true to the style, with more biscuit and vanilla than hops in the aroma, with the same coming out in the taste. It’s got a subtle, dry hop finish and is perfect as a session beer.

BVB fans

Dortmund, as far as I can tell, does not have a beer manufacturer as one of their sponsors (but one of their first kit sponsors was a cigarette manufacturer, so if that’s your thing…). Like BVB, their homeland, North-Rhine-Westphalia, comes in second to Bavaria when it comes to contributions to Germany’s beer production and styles. But also like BVB, that doesn’t mean there’s not hope of finding something fantastic, of unearthing a diamond overshadowed by its shinier Southern counterparts.

Of course, one of the most common styles of the region is a Kölsch‎, most popular further south, in Cologne. Dortmund actually has its own beer style, known as “Dortmunder”, but it’s almost impossible to find in the U.S.  It is, however, fairly similar to a Pils. Veltins, which makes a great pilsner, also comes from the area, but we can’t have you drinking the beer that sponsors Schalke’s stadium, now, can we?

With that in mind, let’s hoist an Altbier in honor of BVB. Sure, the stuff is primarily brewed in Düsseldorf, but we don’t want yet another Pils – we must stand out from the Bayern fans. Altbiers are more or less the equivalent of an English Ale and the best do a great job of balancing sweet malts with spicy hops. It’s not very common to find a German altbier on tap, unless you’re in a German-style pub, but you’re in luck: Widmer, Victory and Two Brothers all produce decent versions of the style. But if you can manage to find Uerige Doppel Sticke, grab it – it’s possibly more like a barley wine, with lots of caramel malts, but it’s a great brew and weighs in at 8.5% ABV.

Neutrals

How can you be neutral during one of the biggest matches of the soccer season? Bite the bullet and choose a side. If need be, try both the recommended beers and then make your decision. But if anyone asks why you support one of the sides, be sure to say you’ve been a fan since you were wrapped in [B____]’s kit after the doctor pulled you from your mother’s womb.

About Kirsten

I may be a law student at Lewis and Clark, but soccer is my true love, with beer coming in a distant second. That's not to say I don't love beer–I've tasted over a thousand different brews, am a bit obsessed with my “33 Beers” notebooks, and love my Untappd app. Living in Portland, Oregon, I attend quite a few festivals and tastings, and am able to argue passionately about the merits of Cascade hops vs. Chinook.

As for the soccer, I'm the cofounder of SB Nation's Aston Villa site, 7500 to Holte, as well as the editor of SB Nation Italy. Want more? Follow me on Twitter!

Tags: Beer, Champion League, Going Suds Up

Going Suds Up – The Best Beers, The Best Soccer

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

It’s not the Champions League final. It’s not even the most exciting match on tap this week. Yet the Europa League final means midweek soccer and the chance to drink beers in the afternoon, so there’s no reason to miss Wednesday’s game. Besides, there’s something strangely compelling about the match between Chelsea and Benfica.

First of all, it’s not every year that last season’s Champions League winners crash out of the group stages and wind up in the Europa League final. Most managers would’ve crawled into a corner to lick their injured pride, but Rafa Benitez outfitted Fernando Torres in a Zorro mask and went charging through Thursday nights. Something about his superhero costume perked Zorres right up, and the Blues cruised through courtesy of his goals – although, it must be said, Chelsea was quite generous about allowing their opponents back into every match.

Then there’s Benfica, who haven’t lifted a European trophy in 51 years. They last won the European Cup in 1962, with Bela Guttmann at the helm. But after beating Real Madrid, the Hungarian demanded a pay raise. When Benfica refused, Guttmann left, but not before cursing the club, claiming they’d never boast of European glory again. Interestingly enough, Benfica have made it to a European final six times since Guttmann’s pronouncement – will this seventh time finally see them break the curse?

Of course, we all know what’s most important about the Europa League final: the beer you choose to sip while watching. With the match taking place in Amsterdam, you might be tempted to grab a Heineken. Resist this urge. There’s really nothing that sets Heineken apart from Budweiser or Coors, except that it comes in a prettier bottle. You can do better.

For the best Dutch beer, you’ll need to find La Trappe, which has almost certainly been written about on this site before – but it’s pretty close to perfection, so I make no apologies. La Trappe used to be called Koningshoeven in the U.S., but the brewery realized absolutely no one outside of Holland could pronounce the beer, and made the smart decision to use La Trappe. Koningshoeven actually brews eight beers (try Isid’or if you get the chance) but usually the only one you can find in the States is the quadrupel.

Prior to sitting down to write this column, I had no idea that the “quad” style was modeled on the La Trappe Quad. It’s the prototype, and while other brewers can gussy theirs up with added fruits or oaked barrels, they’ve yet to make a simple quadrupel as flawless as this one. Be sure you pour it into your Trappist glass – come on, we’re all beer snobs here, and you know you’ve got one – and don’t be worried when there’s little or no head. Instead, take a big whiff. Mmmm…caramel apples. Sure, you can fancy up that description with “Belgian yeast” or “spiced dark fruits,” but really, it’s caramel apples.

Now, time to taste. Despite a 10% ABV, the alcohol in this quad isn’t at all overwhelming. The taste has some of that caramel you’ve been smelling, along with raisins and plums. It’s not too sweet though, ending on a slightly bitter note and leaving a bit of an alcohol burn behind.

About Kirsten

I may be a law student at Lewis and Clark, but soccer is my true love, with beer coming in a distant second. That's not to say I don't love beer–I've tasted over a thousand different brews, am a bit obsessed with my “33 Beers” notebooks, and love my Untappd app. Living in Portland, Oregon, I attend quite a few festivals and tastings, and am able to argue passionately about the merits of Cascade hops vs. Chinook.

As for the soccer, I'm the cofounder of SB Nation's Aston Villa site, 7500 to Holte, as well as the editor of SB Nation Italy. Want more? Follow me on Twitter!

Tags: Beer, Going Suds Up

Going Suds Up – The Best Beers, The Best Soccer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About Kirsten

I may be a law student at Lewis and Clark, but soccer is my true love, with beer coming in a distant second. That's not to say I don't love beer–I've tasted over a thousand different brews, am a bit obsessed with my “33 Beers” notebooks, and love my Untappd app. Living in Portland, Oregon, I attend quite a few festivals and tastings, and am able to argue passionately about the merits of Cascade hops vs. Chinook.

As for the soccer, I'm the cofounder of SB Nation's Aston Villa site, 7500 to Holte, as well as the editor of SB Nation Italy. Want more? Follow me on Twitter!

Tags: Beer, Going Suds Up

Going Suds Up – The Best Soccer, The Best Beers

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

In the U.S., the soccer season has barely begun. But over in Europe, most countries are 6-8 weeks away from the end of the season – and the title race has more or less been decided in each of the big leagues. Of course, we all know that Bayern Munich grabbed the Bundesliga title last weekend. Barcelona, naturally, are running away from it in Spain, 13 points above Real Madrid. Manchester United are 12 above rivals City. France and Italy are closer, with Paris Saint-Germain 7 points above Marseille and Juventus leading Napoli by 9 points.

So barring any last-minute meltdowns, Europe’s top clubs are ready to receive their crowns. That means it’s time to look at the bottom, where all the action is. If you’re a fan of a club hovering close to the relegation zone, the end of the season is terrifying (I should know; I’m an Aston Villa supporter). But if your club is safe, it’s often rather fun to predict which sides are going down – and if you’re feeling really evil, cheer them on as they head to the lower leagues.

There are at least two serious relegation six-pointers this weekend: On Saturday, Pescara, who are dead last in Serie A, host Siena, who are out of the drop only because they have a better head-to-head against Palermo. Then on Monday, Celta Vigo visit Mallorca, with both sides sitting dead last in the La Liga table. And if you feel you just can’t let Sunday pass by without the tension that comes with trying to avoid the drop, head to Newcastle, where it’s possible that a win in the Tyne-Wear Derby could see the Toon push their rivals Sunderland down to the point of no return.

So what sort of beer do you drink while cheering on the possibility of making an entire fanbase break down in sobs? Well, if you’re watching the Derby, it should be Newcastle Brown Ale, of course. But that’s just too easy for this column, which is meant to expand your beer-drinking horizons and challenge your taste buds. With quite a few weeks left before the drops are decided, it’s probably best to go with something on the lower end of the ABV scale, lest a strong beer gets to your head and you start doing relegation sums incorrectly. And with spring finally upon us, a lighter, sessionable beer is a fine choice, perfect for enjoying the (hopefully) sunny days.

Now I know not all of you will be able to find beers from Full Sail Brewing, but I did check and they distribute in most states. If you’re one of the unfortunate ones, take what I said about the style, go out and be creative. The reason I’m recommending Full Sail is because they make a special point of doing session beers – they have a lager, a black lager and even a holiday red lager. The point they’re trying to make with the sessions is that a beer can be crisp and refreshing without being boring. Ok, the lager is fairly standard, with mild hops and medium sweetness. If you’re looking for something more interesting, go with the black. It’s actually a Schwarzbier, so it’s heavier on the chocolaty malts, but it also has enough citrus hops to make it light and balanced.

About Kirsten

I may be a law student at Lewis and Clark, but soccer is my true love, with beer coming in a distant second. That's not to say I don't love beer–I've tasted over a thousand different brews, am a bit obsessed with my “33 Beers” notebooks, and love my Untappd app. Living in Portland, Oregon, I attend quite a few festivals and tastings, and am able to argue passionately about the merits of Cascade hops vs. Chinook.

As for the soccer, I'm the cofounder of SB Nation's Aston Villa site, 7500 to Holte, as well as the editor of SB Nation Italy. Want more? Follow me on Twitter!

Tags: Beer, Going Suds Up

Going Suds Up – The Best Beers, The Best Soccer

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

It’s #RivalryWeek! Are you excited yet? Have you started hash-tagging every tweet?  Are you adding –Scum to the first syllable of your team’s rival city? And if you’re a Columbus supporter, do you just feel left out of this week’s action, or are you busy trying to figure out ways to mock San Jose?

Hey “Port-Scum” fans! While you're here in Seattle may I recommend some of our delicious local brews? I'll buy you one after the match!

Actually, the side that has it worst this week is the Vancouver Whitecaps. They’re already often left out of the Cascadia Cup rivalry, with Portland and Seattle much more interested in one another than the ‘Caps. Then they try to join in on Canada rivalries, and Montreal and Toronto just look down their noses. Take a rest, Vancouver – you’ve earned it.

I’ve spent the week thinking about rival beers and all I can think about is the big players: Budweiser vs Coors vs Miller. Heineken vs Stella Artois. Sapporo vs Asahi. And then I realized: it’s because craft beers don’t like to wage war on one another. Even here in Portland, which has more microbrews than I could visit in a year, the brewers tend to build one another up rather than insult and dismiss the competition. Every brewery is concerned about making the best beer possible rather than worrying about what the brewer down the block is adding to his hops and malts.

I could go off on some deep tangent about how MLS is still a young league and this means the sides should promote and encourage one another rather than engaging in petty rivalries. But don’t worry – that’s not my plan. I like #RivalryWeek. One of the best parts of sports is being able to get fired up about the opposition – letting all reason and sense take a backseat, and coming up with some great one-liners (by the way, that reference about the –Scum? Not a good one-liner. Get better, soccer fans). Don’t get me wrong – I’m not advocating going out and taking a swing at a visitor wearing the opposing team’s colors. But having some good trash talk at the ready is essential to fandom.

Unfortunately, that sort of rivalry doesn’t transfer very well to choosing a beer. We need cities like Austin and San Diego to get clubs if we really want to launch a collaboration rivalry week between beer and MLS. So instead, leave the rivalry in the stadium and try to embrace the concept I talked about above: that there’s not really a competition in craft brewing, but instead a place for anyone that wants to join in. Some breweries focus on West-Coast IPAs. Some try to bring a Germanic flavor to the States. Others want to make the best Belgian Ale in their neighborhood. And we all get to benefit.

This weekend try and embrace your rival's beers because as much as you're going to hate their colors there's no good reason to deny their delicious brews. So are you a Fire supporter headed to Kansas City? Stop by Boulevard Brewing before you cross over from Missouri, and give one of their wheats a try. A Revs fan heading to Philadelphia? Turns out that’s one of the best beer cities in the US. Victory Brewing’s less than 30 miles from PPL Park. You’ve also got Philadelphia Brewing, currently offering a beer called “Fleur de Lehigh”, which includes ginger, lemon grass, and rhubarb. Please, go try this for me.

And, of course, how can we leave #RivarlyWeek without touching on Portland visiting Seattle? One of the most hotly contested rivalries in MLS also features two cities filled with fantastic beer. As a Sounders fan living in Portland, I know that of which I speak. Timbers supporters, avoid Pyramid and make your way to Elysian (if they’ll let you in!) There’s a branch right across from CenturyLink Field, and they offer some of the best beers in town. If there’s anything available featuring chili and chocolate, get your hands on that. If not, Avatar Jasmine, which is always on tap, is one of the best IPAs I’ve ever tasted.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a Sounders sticker to scrape off my car, before anyone decides it’s funny to cover it with a Timbers one (again).

About Kirsten

I may be a law student at Lewis and Clark, but soccer is my true love, with beer coming in a distant second. That's not to say I don't love beer–I've tasted over a thousand different brews, am a bit obsessed with my “33 Beers” notebooks, and love my Untappd app. Living in Portland, Oregon, I attend quite a few festivals and tastings, and am able to argue passionately about the merits of Cascade hops vs. Chinook.

As for the soccer, I'm the cofounder of SB Nation's Aston Villa site, 7500 to Holte, as well as the editor of SB Nation Italy. Want more? Follow me on Twitter!

Tags: Beer, Going Suds Up, Major League Soccer

Going Suds Up: The Best Beers, The Best Soccer

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

In the weeks since I’ve been back from my way-too-long hiatus, we’ve covered FA Cup action, the Bundesliga, and the Champions League. So now it’s time to travel to the place where my heart lies. That’s right, this week we’re visiting Italy, but not for the typical reasons you’d expect.

If you’re like the typical mass-media commentators, you still believe Italy is the home of catenaccio, that super defensive system that, for most people, means a sluggish and dull match. But that’s not the Italy of the current times. After 24 weeks, Serie A sides have scored 652 goals, while letting in…exactly the same number. The highest goal difference is -29. This is not a league that prides itself on bolting the door. If anything, for many teams, the defense might be described as “chaotic” or even “spastic.”

Photo Credit: Oregon State

Right now, the side that most exemplifies “chaotic” is AS Roma. The giallorossi have had an extremely strange season. They have the joint-most goals scored in the league, at 50, but they’re also second in most goals conceded. Such a record is a result of being coached by Zdenek Zeman for the first half of the season. The Czech is fantastic at creating attacking sides, but seems to forget that defense is essential when forging a team that can compete in Europe. As a result, he was shown the door two weeks ago, replaced by assistant coach Aurelio Andreazzoli. Roma, without a win in six Serie A games, have now dropped into ninth place.

(Editor's Note: Oh… and they've got USMNT bossman Michael Bradley roaming the midfield as well)

But while Roma are looking to reverse their fortunes, this probably won’t be the week their luck will change. On Saturday, Juventus, fresh off a 3-0 Champions League victory at Celtic, visit Rome. The Old Lady are still holding steady at the top of Serie A. Despite a shaky January, Juve have won their last two league matches, extending their lead to five points over Napoli. Oh, and they’ve only conceded 16 goals this entire season.

Despite Roma’s propensity for scoring goals, this is still going to be a challenge for the hosts. That’s why I’ve picked a beer that is, well, predictive of their state on Saturday: Dead Guy, by Rogue Ales. It’s a Maibock and probably the best of Rogue’s commonly available beers (what’s undisputable is that its label is the best of the bunch). Dead Guy pours a cloudy, peachy orange with a medium head and some lace. It smells primarily of brown sugar, with a bit of citrus. The taste is a biscuity-sweetness that finishes with just the right amount of bitter hop.

And if that’s just not enough for you, track down a bottle of Double Dead Guy. The standard brew weighs in at 6.6% ABV, but this one packs a 9.5% punch. It’s a bit redder in color, but the most significant change is the alcohol level. The taste and faint alcohol burn is definitely apparent in this one, but if that’s what you’re after, chase it down. That, or pick it up if you’re a Roma fan and need to drink away your pain.

About Kirsten

I may be a law student at Lewis and Clark, but soccer is my true love, with beer coming in a distant second. That's not to say I don't love beer–I've tasted over a thousand different brews, am a bit obsessed with my “33 Beers” notebooks, and love my Untappd app. Living in Portland, Oregon, I attend quite a few festivals and tastings, and am able to argue passionately about the merits of Cascade hops vs. Chinook.

As for the soccer, I'm the cofounder of SB Nation's Aston Villa site, 7500 to Holte, as well as the editor of SB Nation Italy. Want more? Follow me on Twitter!

Tags: Beer, Going Suds Up

Going Suds Up – The Best Soccer, The Best Beers

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

Finally.

Do you know what week it is? That’s right, it’s time for the Champions League to return. No matter which league your favorite soccer team is in, you can’t call yourself a fan of the sport unless you get excited about the world’s greatest tournament. If you’re a fan of soccer, you can get excited about almost any match, even if it’s just watching hungover students kick around a ball on a Saturday morning. But the Champions League is something special – the best sides in the world, doing battle to determine who will lift the trophy at Wembley in May.

In case you missed the group stages, here’s a quick catch up: Chelsea, Manchester City and Ajax are out. Celtic, Málaga, Shakhtar Donetsk and Galatasaray are in. In other words, the knock out round could be very, very interesting. The match ups this week are Celtic vs Juventus and Valencia vs Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday, and Shakhtar vs Dortmund and Real Madrid vs Manchester United on Wednesday. That’s right, we’ve got Zlatan Ibrahimovic on one day, Cristiano Ronaldo the next. This calls for some fantastic beer.

And what is, almost indisputably, the best beer in the world? Westvleteren 12. Westvleteren, one of the eight trappist beers in the world, is typically unavailable outside the monastery – unless you’re willing to pay hand over fist for an illegal delivery. But the Saint Sixtus abbey needs a new roof, and beer drinkers around the world are benefiting. Beer connoisseurs are able to purchase six packs of the world’s most coveted beer, and in exchange, the Abbey gets a new brick for the roof.

It’s probably too late to get yourself a six-pack – out here in Oregon, we had to put our name on a list for the ability to go back a week later and buy the beer – but if you’re lucky, one of your friends has a bottle they’ll be willing to share. If you don’t have your own, beg, borrow, or even steal to grab ahold of one. I don’t say this lightly. I went into my first Westvleteren fully expecting to be disappointed. Instead, I was pleased to discover this beer actually exceeded my expectations. 


In a world of experimental beers, it’s sometimes difficult to describe a brew that is, in fact, a true model for its style. Westvleteren has been brewed since 1838. As such, it makes sense that Belgian-style beers would model themselves off a brand with nearly two hundred years of experience. But what’s unexpected is just how essentially…Belgian this beer is.

A quadrupel, which is what W12 is, is a bottle-conditioned beer that weighs in at 10% or greater. The Westvleteren 12 is, as the name suggests, closer to 12% ABV. But it’s not the kind of high-alcohol beer that leaves a burning sensation in your throat. Instead, it’s a pleasant warmer, more about the balance between malts and fruits than about knocking your socks off. The aroma is a pleasant mix of caramel and creamy orange, while the taste just improves on the smell, adding plenty of dark fruits and that hint of alcohol to the mix.

About Kirsten

I may be a law student at Lewis and Clark, but soccer is my true love, with beer coming in a distant second. That's not to say I don't love beer–I've tasted over a thousand different brews, and listed many of them onRatebeer. Living in Portland, Oregon, I attend quite a few festivals and tastings, and am able to argue passionately about the merits of Cascade hops vs. Chinook.

As for the soccer, I'm the Managing Editor of SB Nation's Aston Villa site, 7500 to Holte, the Italy Editor for SB Nation Soccer, and cover the Seattle Sounders on SBN Seattle (don't judge–I'm from Seattle!) Finally, I write for Two Footed Tackle when I find words worthy enough for the site. Want more? Follow me on Twitter!

Tags: Beer, Going Suds Up

Going Suds Up – The Best Beers, The Best Soccer

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

Look. I tried to think of something great to have you guys watching this weekend. Something exciting, something different, something to make you look oh-so-hip in front of your soccer friends. You know, those dudes and dudettes that are always throwing out strange names of garbled consonants, while you nod and try to move the conversation toward the battle between the Manchesters? Alas, my friends, it is not to be – I scoured the “big” European Leagues looking for a decent derby, or even a meeting of top teams, and it just isn’t happening. On a side note, I really have to start diving deep into other leagues.

So this week, what you’re stuck with is FA Cup action. And, lucky for you, that’s what’s going to be widely available in the U.S., at least on Fox Soccer. The League Cup will showcase League 2 side Bradford City against still-new-in-the-Premier-League side Swansea, so now the question is, will we be so lucky with England’s bigger domestic cup? Probably not, as most clubs tend to field stronger sides in this tournament.

Still, there’s potential for a few upsets this weekend. We can take it as a given that Championship side Millwall will beat Aston Villa. But what Oldham Athletic, from League One, hosting Liverpool on Sunday? There’s no guarantee that Wigan’s visit to Macclesfield Town, a Conference side, will result in a win. And considering the result in Norwich City’s last Premier League match, it’s quite possible that non-League Luton Town could prevail.

On to the most important question: what to drink when you’re cheering on the underdog? If you’ve got an alliance to a Premier League side and you want, say, Chelsea to beat League One Brentford, then go ahead and drink that Budweiser. But for those of us backing a classic Cup-set, we need to get back to the roots of soccer. We need to feel the dirt on our bare feet and put in a crunching challenge on a hapless forward. It’s time to listen to the terraces – full of standing, crushed together, sweaty bodies – join together and sing our name. We need to drink…Budvar.

Budvar, or to call it by its proper name, Budweiser Budvar (Czechvar), is the ideal Pilsner. The essence of Pilsner. If Plato wrote about beer, American Budweiser would be his shadow on the cave wall, and Budvar would be what the prisoners drink when set free. Of course, the best way for you to drink this brew is to hop a flight to the Czech Republic and spend a delightful week moving from bar to bar, but as far as I can tell, Budvar is available, in bottles at least, in the United States.

Still, there’s only so much raving that can be done about a standard Pilsner. It’s what a Pils should be: crisp, a bit yeasty, and with a hoppy finish. Those used to drinking the States’ version of Budweiser will be surprised at just how much taste can be found in the original. The smell is a bit malty, but the taste is rather spicy, even a bit grassy. The bitter finish doesn’t overwhelm like some IPAs, but definitely reminds you that there are hops contained in that bottle.

Get back to your roots this week. Find ties with a lower league side (make them up if you must) and then cheer them on while sipping Budvar. You’ll no longer need to be embarrassed in front of your hipster friends.

(Editor's Note: Ironically, the American Bud is the official beer of the FA Cup and even attempted a marketing stunt where former professionals joined a lower-league team, Wembley FC, but were promptly dumped out of the the tournament in a preliminary qualifying game)

About Kirsten

I may be a law student at Lewis and Clark, but soccer is my true love, with beer coming in a distant second. That's not to say I don't love beer–I've tasted over a thousand different brews, and listed many of them onRatebeer. Living in Portland, Oregon, I attend quite a few festivals and tastings, and am able to argue passionately about the merits of Cascade hops vs. Chinook.

As for the soccer, I'm the Managing Editor of SB Nation's Aston Villa site, 7500 to Holte, the Italy Editor for SB Nation Soccer, and cover the Seattle Sounders on SBN Seattle (don't judge–I'm from Seattle!) Finally, I write for Two Footed Tackle when I find words worthy enough for the site. Want more? Follow me on Twitter!

Tags: Beer, Going Suds Up

Going Suds Up – The Best Beers, The Best Soccer

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

Hey everyone! I’m back to bring you the best beers to pair with the best soccer matches of the weekend. Alas, I have picked a horrible weekend to return, as there are no truly great matchups coming up in the next few days. Sure, you can say Chelsea – Arsenal is a marquee event, but that would be giving waaaaaaay too much credit to Arsenal this season – they’re currently six points out of the Champions League qualification spots. Marseille – Montpellier had the potential to be great, but Montpellier’s time in the CL cost them, leaving them nine points behind Marseille and a chance in next year’s tournament. And speaking of the Frenchies, you might think Bordeaux – Paris Saint-Germain is the one to watch, considering Bordeaux are in fourth, but they’re only that high by virtue of having drawn eleven of their 20 matches, so don’t get excited about that game.

No, the game you want to be watching is Bayer Leverkusen – Frankfurt. First of all, the Bundesliga is fantastic, particularly when you don’t have a rooting interest. Second, while it’s been predictably easy for Bayern Munich this season, the other three Champions League positions are still up for grabs, despite the pundits forecasting that Dortmund would snatch the title, or at least second, with no trouble. Instead it’s Leverkusen in second and Frankfurt that are tied with Dortmund in third. What makes this even more interesting is that Frankfurt came up from 2. Bundesliga last season, where they came in second. How can you not cheer on this team, particularly when one of its nicknames is “moody diva”?

If you’re cheering on Frankfurt – and again, how can you not? – you best be drinking a doppelbock. The bock style originated in Einbeck, further north of Frankfurt, but the city certainly embraces this German beer. Bocks are best known for being sweet, due to the high concentration of malts in the brew, and doppelbocks have the added incentive of higher alcohol content. Possibly the best known doppelbock, Ayinger Celebrator, has a 6.7% ABV. This one is widely available in the states, and has the added charm – literally – of having a little goat attached to the neck of the bottle. Unlike many doppelbocks, it’s not overwhelmingly sweet. Instead, the maltiness of the beer is balanced by its finish, which has a rather dry, smoky taste.

Perhaps you’re trying to drink more locally? I gotcha. If so, plenty of breweries have a doppelbock on offer, and it may even be on sale, or available by the single for a discount, as it’s more an early winter beer than a late winter one – although I’ve been in plenty of bars recently that are still touting their bocks. Bells Brewery, from Michigan, makes the Consecrator”, common in the region and weighing in at a hefty 8% ABV. Great Divide, which is based in Colorado but fairly widely distributed, makes “Wolfgang”. This one’s also at 8% and is fairly caramelly, but the brewers have managed to balance it out, allowing just enough of the bitter hop taste to come through at the end. If you want something different from your doppelbock, seek out Oregon’s Full Sail 25th Anniversary Pale Doppelbock. It’s heavy, at 9% ABV, but it offers more hops and some interesting tropical fruit notes.

About Kirsten

I may be a law student at Lewis and Clark, but soccer is my true love, with beer coming in a distant second. That's not to say I don't love beer–I've tasted over a thousand different brews, and listed many of them onRatebeer. Living in Portland, Oregon, I attend quite a few festivals and tastings, and am able to argue passionately about the merits of Cascade hops vs. Chinook.

As for the soccer, I'm the Managing Editor of SB Nation's Aston Villa site, 7500 to Holte, the Italy Editor for SB Nation Soccer, and cover the Seattle Sounders on SBN Seattle (don't judge–I'm from Seattle!) Finally, I write for Two Footed Tackle when I find words worthy enough for the site. Want more? Follow me on Twitter!

Tags: Beer, Going Suds Up