Saturday, April 9, 2011

Going Suds Up: The Best Beers, The Best Soccer

Editor's Note: Don't forget! This weekend is National Free Beer Movement Weekend. Here's a beer recommendation along with a game that you should treat a soccer newbie too!

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

Well, it’s been an interesting week of soccer, hasn’t it? Real Salt Lake beat Saprissa to advance to the CONCACAF Champions League final, where they will face Monterrey. FC Porto, unbeaten on the season, has clinched the Portuguese title, despite five matches remaining. Inter Milan rolled over and let Schalke have their way with them in the Champions League, losing 5-2 at the San Siro, whereas Tottenham Hotspur can at least blame their 4-0 defeat on Peter Crouch being sent off inside 15 minutes. There was no way they could take points off Real Madrid with a ten-man team.

It’ll be tough for this week’s matches to measure up to such excitement. The UCL Champions League returns midweek, but Schalke, Real Madrid, and Barcelona are pretty much all through, so only the Manchester United –Chelsea match will attract much attention. That leaves league games to pick up the slack, and even there, there’s not a lot of thrilling contests. There’s Zenit St. Petersburg vs CSKA Moscow, but I can’t pretend to be an authority on Russia. There’s Valencia vs Villareal, which really is a rivalry, but I’m not going to act as though I know a lot about that, either. And we’re not even going to talk about Major League Soccer until Seattle wins a game or until the wound on my shin is healed, whichever comes first.

And so this week we go to Turkey for our football matchup. Not because there’s a big derby – Fenerbah├že v Galatasaray was a few weeks ago, and there’s really nothing that compares in the Super Lig (or anywhere, really). But more because Turkey is fascinating, it’s different, and this week it offers an intriguing matchup: Galatasaray hosting Trabzonspor, at 11AM CT on Sunday. For those not into the Turkish game, a quick summary: Trabzonspor finished fifth last season but are at the top of the table at the moment, as Fenerbah├že ended their zillion game winning streak last week with a draw against Bursaspor. As for Galatasaray, well, they’re meant to be the cream of the crop, or at least second to Fener. Instead, Gala are in 13th, are on their third coach of the season, and are about to replace their chairman. It would be nearly impossible for them to go down, as they’re 12 points above the drop zone, but at this point, they’re just desperate for a win. Facing first place Trabzonspor, though, is going to make it rather tough.

You can get it in smaller bottles,
but you might as well go for the growler.
But really, you don’t need to know anything about Turkish football clubs to enjoy watching the league. I’ve written about this before, in various locations, but part of the fun of watching football from Turkey is the escape. Unless you understand Turkish, you’re not being fed information. Unless you follow the league closely, you’re likely not to know the players. Instead, you simply watch soccer, judging for yourself how good the players are, the shape of the play, whether a penalty was deserved…watching like this helps sharpen your own analysis and enjoyment of the game.

Which doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be drinking. In fact, such an occasion calls for an esoteric beer, one that you can really brag about to your friends. Something new, something captivating. Or you can just join the forces of good and light and become a Fener fan, picking up a bottle of Rogue Ales "Dead Guy" German Maibock (Newport, OR) to taunt our bitter rivals as they lose…even if it means Trabzonspor remains in first place. Such is life as a football fan. But this is a beer for anyone cheering on their rivals as they fall from grace. It pours an orange amber some off-white clings. Smells of toasted malts, brown sugar, biscuit and just a faint hint of citrus hops. The taste is fairly malty, lots of caramel and toasted sugar, with a bitter citrus finish. This one’s 6.6%, but if you really want to revel in the misery of others, try Double Dead Guy, which is just like what it sounds, a more intense Dead Guy, with an alcohol level of 9.5%. Which is really more like “One Third Extra Dead Guy,” but that doesn’t quite roll off the tongue.

Cross our fingers for another exciting soccer week, and please, let me know if you tune into any Turkish matches.

About Kirsten

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

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

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