Tuesday, August 31, 2010

An Interview with the Filmmakers of "Pelada"

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(Editor's Note: After its world-premiere at the South By Southwest Music and Film Festival "Pelada" is blowing up across the nation at variety of film festivals and movie theaters. Tonight the movie makes its Los Angeles premiere! Hollywood, baby! Follow the movie on Facebook, Twitter, or their website for locations and showing in your area.)


It's the morning after the world-premiere of their movie at the South By Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival in Austin, Texas. The stars and filmmakers of "Pelada" still have that glow about them that proud parents of a newborn and newlyweds carry on even after the big day has passed them by.


For three years they've traveled to twenty-five countries in search of pick-up soccer, played in dozens, if not hundreds of games, met and heard the stories of countless more people connected to the sport, and all along the way recorded this incredible journey to share it with others. And now after all of their hard work their film and their story will be seen by people all across the world.

And if that wasn't reward enough I'm really about to make their morning after.

"You guys saved my marriage," I say, greeting the four behind "Pelada"
Luke Boughen, Gwedolyn Oxenham, Rebekah Fergusson, and Ryan White.



The four of them chuckle. The ice is broken.



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I stumbled across "Pelada" almost two years ago when it was still called "The Soccer Project". The story of two former college soccer players chasing the game across the globe sounded fascinating, like something you always wished you could do, but never had the chance, or the courage to do.



Sitting in the make-shift theater SXSW constructs in the convention center there's not an open seat to be found. Except for the four in front of me; that's where Luke, Gwedolyn, Rebekah, and Ryan will sit. It feels weird to be sitting behind the people who actually made the movie. I mean, if you were at an art museum staring at a painting and then Picasso was standing next to you what do you do? Can I even get up to go to the bathroom during this thing or is that rude?



I don't go to the bathroom.



Gwedolyn and Luke are the focus of the movie. Rebekah and Ryan stay behind the camera. Both played soccer in college; Gwendolyn for Duke and Luke for Notre Dame. They're faced with the daunting truth that their soccer careers are coming to a screeching halt. They're at a sporting fork-in-the-road and neither of the paths say professional soccer.


Of course neither of the paths point to what they do next, but I guess that's what makes this movie so wonderful.

Not satisfied with transitioning into the "real-world" they pack their bags and travel the globe in search of pick-up soccer.

"Pelada" is the Brazilian word for pick-up. It literally means "naked" and one supposes that a ball, a couple of people, and a bag of tricks is probably the most naked form of soccer. In a sense both Luke and Gwendolyn are completely naked in this film as well. Not literally, of course, but figuratively, as they shamelessly try to enter as many pick-up games as they can on their journey. From beaches in Brazil to a prison in Bolivia. From slums in Argentina to forbidden co-ed games in Iran. From skyscraper rooftops in Japan to a former landfill in Kenya their travels take on the exotic and sometimes dangerous, but always return the comfortable setting that it is still all soccer.



So imagine my surprise when I got the chance to sit down with the four minds behind "Pelada". It's an oft used line when you meet famous people that you're stunned at how normal and approachable they are, but since I just watched an hour and a half of the four of them traveling the globe in a way that most can only dream of and speak so eloquently of the sport I so love and now we're sitting over coffee in the lobby of a hotel it's not that outrageous of a suggestion.

Despite their normal-ness their journey is anything but. For the viewer and the soccer fan it's one stunning shot and amazing story after another. The movie is like a fantastic soccer match in itself; end-to-end action leaving one extremely satisfied.

"Interesting situations bring out interesting stories and interesting characters," Fergusson says when I ask whether or not they purposely sought out the fascinating and, sometimes, dangerous storylines that are included in the film.

"We just wanted intense stories," Oxenham follows up.

So then it was almost unavoidable for the four of them to be involved in such places as violent barrios in Argentina, a Bolivian prison, and a co-ed game in Iran.

"That's where the good games were. In the Bolivian prison that's where the best players were in La Paz. They've got all the time in the world," Luke Boughen explains.

Ryan White suggests that "Gwendolyn always kind of wanted to up the ante a bit more" when it came to looking for compelling story lines and quality pick-up matches. At one point in the film Oxenham is not content watching Luke play pick up in Iran with a group of men. Head scarf and all she joins in, but it spotted by some policemen which leads to a nervous part of the film where the crew may have its equipment confiscated by Iranian government authorities.

"It was like the chicken and the egg. Did the adrenaline or the game come first?" White asks out loud.

The truly difficult parts were not if the four could find enough stories to fill their moving, but which ones would make the final product.

"At the end of the day it's still like a piece of art to translate the experience to something that people can digest," says Fergusson. "It was really hard. The four of us collaborating and arguing and debating."

In the end the filmmakers' goal was to make a movie that both soccer fans and non-soccer fans could both appreciate.

Oxenham says, "It was always important doe us to not have it be a soccer movie just use soccer as a vehicle to tell these other stories."

"I think we know, for the most part, that we'll have the soccer crowd. I think the most rewarding comments are going to come from people who don't like soccer." White adds.

"Pelada" is movie that satisfies multiple angles.

At its very core White says their movie was simply about "a trip around the world."

And Fergusson delves deeper into their mission, "To be able to show the world that Americans play and to bring it (the movie) back and show the U.S. this deep passion that exists outside in all these countries."

But in the end the movie is going to most satisfy those people who love the game as deeply as the filmmakers do.

When it was suggested that their movie may have saved my marriage I wasn't just looking for an ice breaker, but hinting that one of "Pelada's" most enduring messages might be that it helps explain the sport's attraction for millions upon millions of people across the globe to those who might never "get it".

For someone who's love of soccer is often viewed as an oddity or mystery to my friends and family the power of persuasion that "Pelada" has could be summed up when my wife said to me, "I may never get everything about soccer, the offsides rule, but tonight I get you a little bit more."

"I had a conversation with a guy whose wife came with him to the screening and she's like 'I don't get it, I don't like soccer, I never go to his games, but now I get it. I understand now more of what it's all about and why he loves it.'" Oxenham tells me.

"We've had a few people come up to us and say that I didn't want to go to this movie; I was dragged here by brother, father, someone and I'm so glad that I did."

Much like surfers have "Endless Summer" to show others just what makes them tick inside, now, perhaps, American soccer fans have "Pelada" to communicate and, hopefully, pass on their passion and dedication to others near and dear in their lives.

A suggestion that White finds, simply, "cool".

Read PART 2 of our interview with the "Pelada" crew where they talk about the global appeal of, what else, beer.


(From l to r): Luke Boughen, Ryan White, Gwendolyn Oxenham, and Rebekah Fergusson


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"Pelada" and Beer: Inseparable

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(Editor's Note: You didn't think that we could go one article without mentioning beer, did you? We decided to split our interview into two parts and so here's the article from our conversions about what the "Pelada" filmmakers learned about soccer and beer... something we're very interested in. Read our synopsis of "Pelada" and the regular part of our interview with the filmmakers here.)

There's a scene in the stunning soccer movie "Pelada" where a group of seriously past-their-prime Brazilian men are resting after a brutally poor match they've just played in. The whole game the old men scream and yell at each other about poor touches and scuffed shots oblivious to the fact that they were probably making the exact same mistakes moments earlier.

But it's after the game and that no longer matters. The first and second halves are in the past and they're onto what is referred to as "the third half". Surround by dozens of empty, half-empty, and soon-to-be empty beers they revel in stories of their past greatness and of the beauty of soccer in general. This is the sport stripped to its core; what's left is the game's fans and, not surprisingly, beer.

For long-time fans, and probably new fans to soccer, it's hardly a shock as to how ingrained beer is in the sport's culture. It's one of the reasons for the foundation and growth of the Free Beer Movement. Soccer and beer; the two are inseparable.

"There are things that you can count on. We were always sharing beers after a game," says Gwendolyn Oxenham, one of the "Pelada" filmmakers.

The stars of "Pelada" readily acknowledged the fact that they easily could have made a whole movie about the tie-in between beer and soccer.

"Every game that's what you do at the end is that people just start drinking and eating a lot," Oxenham continues.

Whether post-match in Brazil or pubs in England or in the streets of Austria during Euro 2008 or the living room of Luke Boughen's old soccer teammate from Germany, beer creeps into "Pelada" almost as much as the game itself.

Ryan White, another member of the "Pelada" crew laments the fact that they missed out on many opportunities to further investigate the connections between beer and soccer.

"I think if we'd hadn't been making a movie we would've been drunker a lot more," he says. "We probably didn't drink as much as we should have."

The sense of community that both soccer and drinking create that makes them so intertwined argues Rebekah Fergusson, the fourth member of "Pelada".

"It's those communal activities where you end up, like that one field in Brazil, in a zillion chairs around these teeny-tiny tables with beers being poured. It's just pouring."

Then it's not surprising that when you combine the world's oldest drink and the world's most popular sport you create at an atmosphere that almost no one can refuse to pass up. Certainly the filmmakers, despite their work responsibilities, found plenty of time to devote to drink.

And in a movie that examines the global appeal of not just soccer, but soccer in its most pure , simple, and prettiest form as pick-up, it's reassuring to know that beer has its rightful place alongside.

Support the Movement. Get the Free Beer Movement T-Shirt. Only from Objectivo.com

Monday, August 30, 2010

Manchester United Dumps Ugly Girlfriend Only to Hook Up With Another Woof-er

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Last January, super club Manchester United began their search to sign a new beer sponsorship after their deal with Budweiser and parent company, InBev, was set to expire this season.

This week, the Red Devils announced they had partnered with Thailand brewers Singha to becoming the official beer of Manchester United. This follows news from earlier this month that Singha also signed on as the beer sponsor of United's EPL rivals, Chelsea. United's deal is worth a reported, $14-million over three years.

As we commented on Twitter the switch from United's previous beer sponsor, Budweiser, to Singha, is roughly the equivalent of dumping one ugly girlfriend for another. Both are mass market, bland tasting brews that are an insult not only one's taste buds, but an affront to the tastes of your local fan base.

Your friends were busy congratulating you for dumping the baggage and now are slapping themselves on the forehead as you bring home the next paper bag job (which is funny in an unintended way as most bad beer is also drank out of a paper bag).

Uhh.... question.
What ever happened to the local brews?
With the increasing globalization going on in global soccer it wasn't surprising to hear that yet another super club went outside it's borders to land a major sponsorship deal. With massive player salaries on the books and tough economic times selling out to the highest bidder made the most sense (even not in tough money times this is true). United recently signed a new shirt sponsorship deal with Aon Corp. worth nearly $125 million over four years making it the largest in soccer history and eclipsing their next largest deal by a factor of four (Bayern Munich and T-Mobile).

No one is going to fault Manchester United or any other club for seeking top dollar deals. They are a business after all. The problem is when these business calculations run in the opposite direction of common sense from several different perspectives.

United and other European clubs are looking towards the Asian continent as one of the last footballing fan frontiers (nice alliteration, huh?) along with the United States. By tapping (ha.. punny!) Singha Beer as a major sponsor they create one more powerful connection with one of the largest sets of fan bases in the world. In India alone the number of United "fans" out-numbers local United Kingdom fans by 6-to-1. The logic goes that if you want to capture the Asian soccer fan you need to make sponsorship in-roads into products they have a connection to.

Enter beer. Asia is fast growing market for many goods and beer is one more sign of a growing affluent continent. As the middle-class grows in nations like China, beer purchase and consumption is seen as a major harbinger of financial success.

The problem is when the European clubs' marketing departments treat Asian as one homogeneous group. Simply signing a multi-year contract with one Asian company doesn't make the in-roads that one might think. Moves to recruit foreign beer makers smacks of a lack of understanding as to how the world works.

The equation has to be more complicated that this:

Club's want of Asian market + sponsorship by beer drank in one specific nation = Converted Asian market

Signha doesn't have an iron grip on the Asian beer market. In fact, it hardly has a grip on the Thai beer market as it yo-yos between Thailand's number one and number two beer with Change (ironically the shirt sponsor of fellow EPL club, Everton).

Certainly Thailand is a valuable growth market for the Red Devils, but at the expense of South Korea, Japan, China, et al? These nations are all fiercely nationalistic and growing as producers of domestic beers. Do they really want to see Manchester United have such tunnel vision when it comes to hooking up with one Asian beer company?

Do I have a problem with Singha as a beer? No, not really. Truth be told I've never had one. I'm sure it's just one of those country-specific lagers that are unremarkable, but at a certainly time and place; refreshing. BeerAdvocate users give it a "C" rating (although the "Bros" give it a "B," but that might be because of their fondness in pairing it with spicy Thai food).

What we do have a problem with is cynical marketing. Does Manchester or Chelsea or Everton for that matter really expect that it's fans will begin drinking these Thai beers? At all? According to news releases these are now going to be made available in their stadiums. Certainly the sales figures for those will be barn burning.

As soccer clubs around the world, but particularly the massive ones that are reaching out from Europe, attempt to become global brands it is important that they not forget the fans that helped build them brick by brick and blade of grass by blade of grass to become what they are today.

I can hardly imagine the lack of a rush of fans to line up for United's previous beer sponsor, Budweiser, either. The problem with clubs looking past their local beers is that they're hardly considering the fans that pack their stadiums each weekend in the money making equation.

When the budget makers at super clubs like Manchester United, Chelsea, or Real Madrid look at their revenue streams how much cash is being made between the walls of their houses of soccer worship in Manchester, London, or Madrid versus the advertising and merchandise flow from the rest of the world?

For these clubs the beer is just a small part of a bigger globalization equation where the average fan that walks out his or her front door and takes the train to the stadium is becoming less and less of a factor. There particular taste in beer, say nothing of other sponsorships, coaches, players, and other things are increasingly unimportant.

This is why you see ownership backlashes at United (against the Glazers), Liverpool (against Hicks and Gillette) and to a certainly extent worries with new cash flows at clubs like Chelsea (with Abramovich) and Manchester City (with the Dubai backers).

The beer is just sitting, cooling, a top an iceberg of problems for mega clubs.

The sensibly solution to this all is to ensure that both local traditions and global reach exist peacefully. Why not have a tiered sponsorship system that allows the local or even national brands the ability to get a piece of the United pie? Even though "Britain's biggest brewers (were) among those that received footballs branded with each of their own beer marques and Manchester United logos." it had to be believed that it was unrealistic that their bids would win out.

Think locally? Drink locally?
Not that sports in the U.S. are the shinning beacon for the rest of the world always, but often times they have succeed in mending local concerns with a larger approach. Take, for example, Seattle's "Brougham Bitter" a beer named for the Sounder's supporters group on tap at Qwest Field. Back in the FBM's home state of Wisconsin the Milwaukee Brewers ballpark, named Miller Park, has several competing beers on tap including two local favorites, Leinekugel's and Lakefront.

The world is becoming more and more inter-connected everyday, but it's important that massice clubs like Manchester United keep in mind the people that brought them to the point where a Thailand beer company would drop $14 million just so they could get their names on an electronic sign board and a few taps in the stadium.

Those people probably deserve a beer. And one that came from nearby.
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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Free Beer Feature: Newcastle Summer Ale

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The last days and weeks of summer are ticking down, but that's no reason to despair.

On the plus side, if you've watching the kids all summer, they're back to school and you get, maybe, just maybe a bit of your sanity back. If your a teacher like "Danny Beerseed"... well... now you know why he drinks so much.

Luckily the folks at Newcastle's PR agency, Formula, came to the rescue with their "Summer Ale".  This little bottle of therapy came into FBM HQ during one of those unbearably hot Texas afternoons and we put it on ice immediately so we could take it down to the one place in the world we wanted to be at that moment; poolside.

To maximize this brew's flavor definitely, definitely, get it as cold as possible. All the more refreshing on those "thick as pea soup" humid days.

If you're looking for that beer that going to go down easy on a late summer scorcher give Newcastle "Summer  Ale" a taste. Available at most beer outlets.




Support the Movement. Get the Free Beer Movement T-Shirt. Only from Objectivo.com

Friday, August 27, 2010

Going Suds Up: The Best Beers, The Best Soccer

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

I’m a bitter and jaded columnist today, dear readers, so if you’re looking to get a beer matchup for the Aston Villa-Everton game, well, you’ve come to the wrong place. When your MLS team gets trampled over in the CONCACAF Champions League and your EPL team gets their rears handed to them for the second year in a row to get kicked out of Europa before the group stages even begin, well, the heart aches a bit. So no English and no American soccer this week.

Instead (and I hope the column gets posted in time) the game of the week goes to Friday’s UEFA Super Cup matchup (12:30PM CT on FSC) between last year’s Champions League winners, Inter Milan, and last year’s Europa League winners (and my La Liga club), Atlético Madrid. Although Jose Mourinho has departed Inter, leaving Rafa Benitez to take his place, Inter are still the stronger side. The attacking style of Atlético, which is at times undisciplined, is going to run up against the remnants of Mourinho’s defensive club. Plus, well, Atlético fell out of the Champions League and went on to win in Europa, which in itself says quite a bit. And so, a beer for the underdogs:

BridgePort Old Knucklehead: In the beer-snob world, there are some breweries that are considered spectacular, and some that are merely so-so. There are some, like BridgePort, that start off with a great reputation, but then sell themselves off to a big conglomerate and try to pretend that they’re still a small-time operation. But even these fake microbrews can still manage to make a great brew every once in awhile, and Old Knucklehead is surprisingly great. A barley wine that clocks in at 9.1%, it pours a reddish brown with a creamy tan head and plenty of lace. Aromas of fresh hops, grassy, floral. Taste is slightly bitter and rather light for a nine percent, making drinking it a bit dangerous…

Speaking of Italian sides, welcome back Serie A! The first matchup you can catch on US television is Udinese v Genoa, 11am on FSC+. And with Udinese comes…Alexis Sanchez. I, for one, cannot wait to have El Niño Maravilla gracing the pitch, with his quick pace and trickery on the pitch.

And so I give you AleSmith’s Speedway Stout (San Diego, CA): In my rating system, beers can earn up to five points, but the highest I’ve given is a 4.6. Speedway is a 4.6, an absolutely marvelous beer. Pours nearly black with a cappuccino head, smelling of dark chocolate and caramel with slight vanilla notes. Rich and smooth, the taste begins with roasted malt, moves to coffee and ends with a bitter dark chocolate. And with a 12% ABV, Serie A might even be fun.

About Kirsten:

Ever since Brazil caught my eye during the 1994 World Cup I’ve considered myself a soccer fan, but it wasn’t until the summer 2008 that I decided to find a club. I focused on the Premier League and eventually chose Aston Villa. Initially drawn in by the pretty clarets and blues, I found I liked their organization, their owner and their manager. I fell hard and now it’s too late—I can’t give them up. As for MLS, that was easy, as I live in Seattle. I also support Exeter FC, SSC Napoli, FC Koln, Estudiantes Tecos and Tooting & Mitcham FC, all for a variety of reasons including cider, tattoos, scarves, owls, and a soccer player texting while on the pitch. I’m the Managing Editor of SB Nation’s Aston Villa site, 7500 to Holte. I also contribute to Two Footed Tackle.

Support the Movement. Get the Free Beer Movement T-Shirt. Only from Objectivo.com

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Free Beer Movement In Action: Matthew from San Francisco

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(Editor's Note: When we asked our readers for their "Free Beer Movement in Action" stories we sent out an e-mail to several of our soccer friends as well. We had no idea that we'd get such a wonderful response and write up from one of our closest, Matthew, from the absolutely fantastic publication, The Shin Guardian.


For those of you that have never visited, The Shin Guardian, please head over there as soon as you're finished here. By far one of the hardest-working, best written soccer publications on the Internet today.


We asked Matthew for his story of free beer in action and we got a great write-up that perfectly frames our mission and why we're so passionate about soccer in America.)


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TSG passed this (old) FBM sticker to one of the security guys at the Home Depot Center
when we met Mathew (and others) last January to take in the USMNT vs. Honduras.
There is a common axiom in business that maintains the following, "Certain businesses can only be started by certain people."

Microsoft and Bill Gates come to mind or Apple and Steve Jobs.

Not only are these leaders shrewd visionaries, but they have an uncanny sense about their market domain to decipher what product it wants and, perhaps more importantly, is the timing correct.

On no lesser a scale, add Dan Wiersema from the Free Beer Movement into that list. He not of the millions, but of the viable product that doesn't earn him the gate mansion.

As anyone can tell you, soccer in the United States is not synonymous with "big ratings," "major advertising dollars" or "large exposure."

With the advent of a large amalgamation of entertainment options (both media and devices), Americans in particular have a world of "what should I watch" options to choose from. Couple that with the smashmouth value of the NFL and pour in the negative connotations about soccer and cutting through the clutter of entertainment for "American soccer" is at best a challenge.

And that is what makes Dan's creation, The Free Beer Movement, so very compelling.

Dan combined his enthusiasm for the libation with a passion for soccer and created a "movement" around it--not a publication like The Shin Guardian, not a fan group like the American Outlaws, but a full fledged movement predicated on growth that will not earn him a nickel.

In one fell swoop, with a simple axiom of "Building American Soccer One Beer at a Time," FBM removes the struggle for soccer to stand out amongst the competition and merely allows soccer to compete on the generosity of the fans and having a good time.

The message, "A soccer event is a good time," not "Soccer is a growing sport, so you should watch" or "MLS is making headway on catching up with European leagues, so you should watch."

No one that I know of asked Dan to do this and Franke Hedjuk as far as I know has not signed on to be the spokesperson.

That said the MLS Soccer web site as well as some local news organizations both ran features on the Free Beer Movement and that is should be lauded.

You don't see "Free Beer Movements" in the NFL. You don't see them associated to the NHL; I'm not sure why and that's not a putdown. The NHL could use the re-growth.

Dan asked me to tell you my "Free Beer Movement" story.

My story is not necessary about buying a beer for someone who thinks Makélelé is some type of Hawaiian guitar.

Most of my friends either play or watch soccer and the next circle of friends typically don't need any cajoling to see a game.

My Free Beer Movement story is about Dan himself, who perfectly timed his product "The Free Beer Movement" when American soccer could really use a grassroots methodology not specifically associated with the quality of the game to help grow the sport.

The best thing I can do, on The Shin Guardian, or when I visit Danny Coyles for a game is, sure, offer to buy a beer for a newbie if they exist, but then actually tell them about what Dan is doing. When I do tell folks they typically say something that is effectively "What a great idea."

Dan's idea, perfectly timed, perfectly innovated.

So do the same if you would, spread the word.....and buy Dan a beer next time you see it. He's earned it.

Thanks Dan.....

Addendum:

There is a fun story from TSG's earlier days. Dan was one of our first readers and one of the things we try to do at The Shin Guardian is curate the commentary so it's all discussion-focused and not promotional.

Well Dan kept linking to his Free Beer Movement story and I was like, "Bro, you need to calm down on the links to your site. It's about the discussion."

But then I realized that Dan's site traffic is not a personal trophy, he's actually quite nuts about growing his endeavor with no pay or really not much notoriety associated to it.

Dan now has a permanent sponsorship, free of charge, on The Shin Guardian's Beer & Soccer Series page (until North Coast Brewery comes calling). I think that makes our content stronger.

Matthew
The Shin Guardian

Support the Movement. Get the Free Beer Movement T-Shirt. Only from Objectivo.com

Monday, August 23, 2010

Share Your Free Beer Movement Stories

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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 freebeermovement@gmail(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.

- "Danny Beerseed"

Photo Credit: FBM member Zach

Support the Movement. Get the Free Beer Movement T-Shirt. Only from Objectivo.com

Friday, August 20, 2010

Going Suds Up: The Best Beers, The Best Soccer

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

The Premier League is back! Which, I guess we learned after last week’s massive tome on beers to accompany each team. Suddenly there is a wealth of soccer on TV in the States—so why is it that it seems Fox Soccer keeps wanting to show me West Brom v Chelsea? I mean, I love Frank Lampard and still there are only so many times I can watch the Baggies get bulldozed by the Blues.

So if you want a break from FSC, and a chance to watch a match while winding down from a hard week, I recommend catching Estudiantes Tecos v San Luis at 8PM CT on Galavision. I declared myself a Tecos supporter sometime earlier this year, but haven’t watched much of them. I confess, it was more of a “Owls seem cool” situation than anything else.

For this match, I recommend Dogfish Head "Punkin" Ale (Milton, Delaware). Guadalajara, where Tecos play, is known for its pipián, a type of mole, which is made with pumpkin or squash seeds. Punkin Ale should be available soon—I’m just giving you a head start. This one pours a pale orange and smells of nutmeg and brown sugar. Tastes of toasted sugar, cinnamon, a bit of ginger: basically the essence of pumpkin pie. When you find this beer, grab it.

Saturday and Sunday are overloaded with matches. I’d like to give you something for Monday, for a late lunch at the bar while watching Manchester City v Liverpool at 2pm CT on ESPN2. Victory "Scarlet Fire" (Downington, Pennsylvania) has been rotating through taps this summer, so if you see it at your local beer bar give it a try. This rauchbier pours copper with plenty of white clings. Aroma is toasted malt, brown sugar, and a subtle smokey note--not overwhelming at all. Tastes smoked but not overdone, spicy, background of sugars. And I went with the scarlet beer as I’ve got to choose the Reds over Manchester City in this match.

About Kirsten:

Ever since Brazil caught my eye during the 1994 World Cup I’ve considered myself a soccer fan, but it wasn’t until the summer 2008 that I decided to find a club. I focused on the Premier League and eventually chose Aston Villa. Initially drawn in by the pretty clarets and blues, I found I liked their organization, their owner and their manager. I fell hard and now it’s too late—I can’t give them up. As for MLS, that was easy, as I live in Seattle. I also support Exeter FC, SSC Napoli, FC Koln, Estudiantes Tecos and Tooting & Mitcham FC, all for a variety of reasons including cider, tattoos, scarves, owls, and a soccer player texting while on the pitch. I’m the Managing Editor of SB Nation’s Aston Villa site, 7500 to Holte. I also contribute to Two Footed Tackle.

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Practicing What We Preach: Abita's S.O.S. Pilsner

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We at the Free Beer Movement are notoriously unreliable.  We just don't always update the site in a timely manner, or respond to e-mails quickly, or call our mothers when we should (sorry mom!).

But our values are uncompromising and we've got those in abundance.  We're all about building American soccer through the power of free beer. Especially when we can combine our love of beer with doing good in the world ("For once in your life," that angry mom of ours would say.) 

A few weeks back we wrote about Abita Brewing Co.'s S.O.S. (Save Our Shore), a brew who's purchase would help fund the clean up of the Gulf Coast after the terrible BP oil spill this summer.

As the post's title says, we practice what we preach, and the Free Beer Movement made a contribution to the Gulf Coast cleanup when we picked up some Abita's handiwork and enjoyed it during some great American soccer with friends.

S.O.S. is a German Weizen Pilsner, but not your typical pilsner. Start off with the fact that this one weighs in a 7.0% ABV (alcohol by volume) it packs more of a punch to your liver than the rest of the beers in this style. A great golden "straw" color, again, gives the impression of a simple pilsner, but it's betrayed by hints of tropical fruits and heavier than normal hops. A tasty finish hangs in your mouth a bit longer than what you'd expect from other pilsners.  Abita went out of it's way to make a pilsner that would stand out from the rest of it's style; mission accomplished.


Ratings:
BeerAdvocate - B+
Rate Beer: 85






The well is plugged, but there's still a big job to be done. Please pick up some Abita S.O.S. and help the Gulf Coast today.

For More Information: Abita's S.O.S. Website

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Flight: The Weeks Most Random, Tastiest Bits

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We continue our new feature on the Free Beer Movement site blog, "The Flight". In "beer-speak" a flight is a serving of several choice brews to whet one's appetite and that's what we hope our flight does for you.

As with any good beer tasting it's important to serve up some variety and try all sorts of good stuff. That's why we're debuting "The Flight," compiling the soccer's (and sometimes beer's) most random and tasty bits.

We'll serve up video clips, news items, opinion, or complete random-ness. It might come in piles or just in a single serving. Hopefully most of it peaks your interest.

If there's anything floating around the Inter-net-blogo-sphere that you've seen and think should be featured on the site just leave us a comment in any of the "Flight" posts or drop us an e-mail at freebeermovement@gmail.com.


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Free Beer Movement in the News


* The official website of Major League Soccer, MLSSoccer.com, recently did a feature on the FBM and founder, Dan Wiersema.

From the article:
Teams, leagues and federations have tried everything from Kids-Eat-Free nights to signing Pele to the wholesale importation of foreign teams to American cities in hopes of reaching the unconverted. The results of these endeavors have been decidedly mixed, but one fan thinks he’s found the simplest solution to this 100-year-old problem: free suds.
* Our appearance on USSF Division Two/Austin Aztex podcast show, "In The Mixer" has been re-scheduled for a later date. We were to be a guest on the show last week, but got word that "technical difficulties" prevented the show from being saved AFTER we "recorded" the thing.

Good times. Next time they need press the red button with the circle on the Speak-And-Spell.

Soccer Things of Interest


* The New York Times says soccer in America is "hitting all the right notes" (Sounds pretentious, and maybe a bit condescending, but... YEA! Approval!)

* NCAA makes some rule changes that mean good things for MLS


*An MLS Network?

*Coach Sweatpants to meet to discuss USMNT future next week

* Beckham's International Career Over, According to Capello (he will throw him a nice farwell match... awww!)


Soccer-Related-YouTube-Awesome-Ness

*From a Canadian Football League game two weeks ago. Check out the touchdown celebration from Dave Stala. I'd kill to see Ocho-Cinco do that this season.




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Hejduk Watch: Week of August 15th

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We continue our absurd weekly mission to document the season of Columbus Crew and team captain Frankie Hejduk.

Why, you ask? Well because we want Hejduk to become the National Spokesperson for the Free Beer Movement. His steadfast commitment to American soccer and, of course, beer is above none.

Read our post, "The Case for Frankie Hejduk" and there will be no doubt in our mind that Captain Free Beer is the right man for the job.)

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In any match that your side loses 0-2 your team captain and right defender has to shoulder some of the blame, right? That was the case this past weekend as future Free Beer Movement National Spokesperson Frankie Hejduk and his Columbus Crew fell to Real Salt Lake.

Captain Free Beer was up to his usual recklessness picking up a yellow card in the 48th minute. You know... nothing like warming up for a second half of soccer with a poorly timed tackle.

Despite the disappointing team performance, Hejduk could hang his hat on some fantastic defending in the 34th minute, down 0-1, our man Frankie laid out to make a goal-line clearance of RSL's Fabian Espindola's shot.

The guy has still got it folks! Just waiting for Coach Bob Bradley's call now!

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Our Frankie Rating: Surfboards Out of Surfboards


A loss is a loss for Hejduk and company so that holds down his rating for this week. A goal-line save for the long-hair handsome man saves face and shows the FBM why we'll always be in his corner.



USMNT Status:


No word on any possible call up for the upcoming October friendlies, but as discussions continue between Coach Bradley and the USSF and new coach may have room in their squad (or coaching staff!) for Frankie Haircut.


About Frankie:

Read his Major League Soccer profile.


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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Who We're Buying a Beer For....

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The one thing we love more than drinking beer and watching some soccer is being able to share said beer with people. We do it all the time and so do the fine men and women that subscribe to the Free Beer Philosophy of the Free Beer Movement. We share our beer with our friends, family, and co-workers who desperately need some education on the soccer front to understand the passion that drives our connection to the sport of soccer.

Some people already get it and their working day in and day out to improve the atmosphere in the U.S. for soccer. Those people or groups deserve some recognition and we only know who way to thanks.

A beer on us.

Each week we serve up a healthy dose of brewskies for the individuals and organizations that are building a foundation for soccer in America. Hey... kinda like us at the FBM!


Yeah... most of this is literary flourish, but if we were to ever run into one of our honorees, say Sir Alex Ferguson (Mar. 8th, 2010) or Landon Donovan (Jan. 4th, 2010), we'd be obligated to let them know that their next drink is on the Free Beer Movement. And we'd hope, dear readers, if you ever ran into one of the ladies or gentlemen you'd let 'em know the FBM owes them a beer (or better yet pick up a drink for them and send us a picture and the tab!)


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LeToux and Mwange: Double Trouble.
First up is the The Sebastien LeToux and Danny Mwange Show from Philadelphia. The Union duo is tearing up nets all across Major League Soccer. The pair have a combined 17 goals making them, by far, the league's most dangerous attack pair. Despite Philly's dangerous position near the bottom of the Eastern Conference LeToux's and rookie Mwange's contributions are keeping the Union in a fight for the playoffs in the parity-driven MLS.

But let's talk about the guys a bit more. LeToux, a French international who just got his Green Card, and Mwange, on his way to U.S. citizenship have formed an effective attach up top for Union coach Peter Nowak. LeToux also leads the league in shot, shots on goal, and assists. At seven goals on the season Mwange is just five goals off the rookie scoring record in MLS with 11 matches left.

The best thing about is how the two are rocketing up the scoring charts in style. LeToux and Mwange's last two hooks up have both been quality set-ups with great finishes. Check the Free Beer Movement's video archives:

August 11 vs. Real Salt Lake

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August 14th vs. Colorado Rapids

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How soon til we see these two in the red, white and, blue?

Next up from the beer-vending machine (how cool would that be?) is the soccer-fan-and-gamers' wet dream the annual release of EA Sports FIFA. The 2011 edition of will, of course, be their best effort to date and is made even more special with the spectacular receding hairline of one Mr. Landon Donovan aka "Captain Clutch" on the cover. At that point we we're like "Carlos Vela, who?" "Kaka, what?" and wondering why Donovan just didn't get the whole box top to himself. Admittedly we're very biased towards the American "legend". With the release of FIFA 11 slated for September we're positively giddy with excitement. Mrs. FBM? Not so much.

When we saw LD10 we thought back to other great moments in FIFA video game cover history: LD back in '07, Jozy Altidore, and Sacha Kljestan gracing it as well.

We're sure the game is going to be outta sight (as always), but with EA choosing yet another American to grace it's cover it send another positive signal that American soccer is on the up and up; most certainly as a soccer gaming nation, but as a soccer playing nations as well.

And one more thing to consider. The FIFA video game series is a huge gateway drug to soccer watching for the average sports-watching American. We know loads of friends who because of their love for video games have found FIFA to be one of the best sports games available period. Because of this they've also figured out soccer and know the players and teams from all the best leagues. The FBM has personally taken several newbies who were FIFA nuts and that's almost... almost as effective as free beer.

Consider how powerful a free beer and FIFA party would be.... DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAMN!

Lastly a sympathy beer out to USWNT and Boston Breakers midfielder Leslie Osborne who's season ended last week when she fell and broke her collarbone during Women's Professional League action last week. We're particularly fond of Osborne given her Milwaukee, WI roots as the FBM called Wisco home for most of our life and did the majority of the "beer" training part of the Free Beer Movement in the "City that Made Beer Famous," Mil-town.

This is Osborne's second major injury as she missed out on gold in the 2008 Beijing Olympics with a torn ACL (a terribly common injury for young female athletes). Here's hope that her recovery is swift and she can regain her National Team spot before the 2011 Women's World Cup.

We're rootin' for ya, Leslie!

Photo Credits: FIFA 11 (SoccerNotFootball.com), Osborne (TopFamous.net), LeToux and Mwange (Getty Images/MLSSoccer.com)

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Monday, August 16, 2010

Back to School for the Free Beer Movement

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Secret is that the FBM is not some sort of massive profit-making machine. In fact, we here at FBM HQ actually have day jobs! Gasp! We know, shocking.

That being said.... it's back to school time for FBM Founder "Danny Beerseed" and his educator profession.  This means, of course, that he's got to fit his American soccer and beer-lovin' ways into the school calendar.

The Free Beer Movement is bigger than just one man so we'll do our friggin' best to keep the FBM site and blog running as smooth as possible with great content and stories. That being said....trying to fit all of that in between awesome lesson plans, grading papers, and calling parents is a tough challenge. But we're up to it.

We love running the FBM as much as, we hope, you love coming here for all the random crap we throw up here.

We've got loads of great things planned for the site in the coming months; some in-depth interviews, projects, and all the regular stuff you see day in and day out. So stay tuned.

A teacher has gotta do something to stay sane in this world!

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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Follks.... You Really Have No Excuse to Not Be Watching This MLS Game

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Seriously people... Just Do It (copyright Nike).

Photo: Credit: MLSSoccer.com

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Friday, August 13, 2010

Going Suds Up: English Premier League Season Beer-view

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


One English side will be celebrating with beer like Ashley Cole and Chelsea did.
Hopefully not with Heineken, though.
The Free Beer Movement has a massive treat for you today a team-by-team beer-view of the English Premier League that will kick off Saturday morning. Our regular contributor and "Going Suds Up" writer Kirsten Schlewitz has tagged each side with a tasty brew for you the fan to sit down with as each begins the long and treacherous hunt for the EPL Trophy.

So as you sit down this Saturday or Sunday to re-new your faith in your favorite English club make sure you try and find one of these beers to wash down the opening ecstasy of victory, the sorrows of defeat, or the blasé of a draw (unless of course you're for Blackpool then any points are crucial!).

Better yet..... print it out, slide it into your man-purse, and keep this helpful list with you and drink through the opponents as the season goes on.

By May when the Premier League table has solidified you'll have drank your way through some of the best beers the world has to offer.

Cheers! May the best team win!

Club
Beer
Brewery
Style
Description





Arsenal
Éphémère Apple
Unibroue (France)
Fruit beer
Want France exported to a different country? Something beautiful, but without a lot of depth? Go with this fruit beer. Plenty of apple in the aroma. Crisp taste. Both tart and sweet at once.
Aston Villa
Night Owl
Elysian (Washington)
Spice/Herb
A beer from the gods for God’s own club. Aromas common to a pumpkin pie--cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. The clove in particular stands out. This is a beer that is wonderful in the fall, but just doesn’t seem to work come the spring.
Birmingham City
-
-
-
I cannot, in good conscious, recommend a beer that compliments scum.
Blackburn
Kodiak Brown
Midnight Sun (Alaska)
Brown
It’s brown. With minimal beige head. It smells brown, like brown sugar and chocolate. It tastes brown, like nuts and toast. Yes, it’s a brown.
Blackpool
Double Trouble
21st Amendment (California)
IIPA
Pours an orange-honey color. Floral and spicy hop in the aroma, but plenty of citrus in the taste. At nearly 10% ABV, you’re definitely in for some trouble.
Bolton
Smoke Ale
Rogue (Oregon)
Smoked
Aroma primarily of smoke with a hint of toasted caramel. Lots of smoke and saltiness in the taste. No subtlety here.
Chelsea
Rochefort Trappistes 10
Rochefort (Belgium)
Belgian
The 10 stands for the ABV, but this beer is really an 11.3%, capable of sweeping aside almost anything in its path. The alcohol is evident in the aroma, but it tastes of dark fruits, caramel and bittersweet chocolate, with just a tiny bit of a bitter linger.
Everton
Claymore Scottish Ale
Great Divide (Colorado)
Scottish Ale
A lot of sweet and more than a touch of warmth in this beer. Just like having someone whispering in your ear in a Scottish brogue. Beware, though, this one is only available through mid-April.
Fulham
Landlord
Timothy Taylor (England)
Bitter
A classic English bitter that can be celebrated for representing its country well. Aroma of floral hops. Citrus, pepper, and brown sugar tastes, and of course a nice bitter linger.
Liverpool
Duet
Alpine (California)
IPA
Citrus and pine hops working in perfect harmony—at least, that is the goal. A fresh beer for a fresh season.
Manchester City
Utopia
Sam Adams (Mass.)
Barley Wine
For only $599, Utopias can be yours. Can you find just as good of a barley wine for just $20? Of course you can—but if you’ve got the pockets, why not get something flashy?
Manchester United
Troublette
La Caracole (Belgium)
Witbier
Smells deliciously citrusy with underlying caramel, clove, and yeast. Tastes of citrus and wheat with a slightly sour, spicy finish. But what is most intriguing about this beer is the label, a snail representing Narcissus…the god who fell in love with his own reflection.
Newcastle
Black
Allagash (Maine)
Stout
Adored by many, but I don’t quite see the appeal. Pours coal-black and smells a bit funny. Coffee and chocolate tastes make it a standard stout.
Stoke
Kolsch
Gaffel (Germany)
Kolsch
Fun and yummy in a domestic context, the Kolsch often falls flat in other venues. To experience it at its best, enjoy in its home.
Sunderland
Black Cat Porter
Mac and Jacks (Washington)
Porter
I have run out of clever things to say about some of the clubs and have resorted to connecting this one based on its nickname. This brewery is known for their amber, and the porter is standard, with coffee and caramel, but there is no wow factor.
Tottenham
Boulevard Pils
Boulevard (Missouri))
Pilsner
Tasty for what it is. Classic, not too bitter, not too sweet. Refreshing on a hot day, but nothing you’d pick up in order to impress.
West Brom
The Abyss
Deschutes (Oregon)
Imperial Stout
Two releases ago, this beer was amazing. The taste was full of anise and bourbon, a total winter warmer. But the last one, only so-so. What will the next release bring? Well, the Abyss beckons…
West Ham
Cuvee de Tomme
Lost Abbey (California)
Sour
Adored by its fans and completely misunderstood (often despised) by everyone else, Tomme has the aroma of sour straws and tastes of cherries, chocolate, bourbon and vanilla, with a long lingering sourness.
Wigan
Hop in the Dark
Deschutes (Oregon)
Black IPA
Prepare for the unexpected. A red-black pour but a floral and citrus nose. Atypical combo of chocolate and spicy hops in the taste, but surprisingly it all works.
Wolves
Totem
Black Raven (Washington)
Pale Ale
A beer that shows that Black Raven have finally figured out how to make a solid offering. While last year’s batch wasn’t special, this one is solid. Earthy, grassy, and not too bitter.

About Kirsten:

Ever since Brazil caught my eye during the 1994 World Cup I’ve considered myself a soccer fan, but it wasn’t until the summer 2008 that I decided to find a club. I focused on the Premier League and eventually chose Aston Villa. Initially drawn in by the pretty clarets and blues, I found I liked their organization, their owner and their manager. I fell hard and now it’s too late—I can’t give them up. As for MLS, that was easy, as I live in Seattle. I also support Exeter FC, SSC Napoli, FC Koln, Estudiantes Tecos and Tooting & Mitcham FC, all for a variety of reasons including cider, tattoos, scarves, owls, and a soccer player texting while on the pitch. I’m the Managing Editor of SB Nation’s Aston Villa site, 7500 to Holte. I also contribute to Two Footed Tackle.



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