Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Drinker's Guide to the Women's World Cup (Part Zwei)

By Jobst Elster / Senior Bier Correspondent

A two part series focused on football, beer and kick-ass German cities

Check out our sampler to kick off the Cup, "Sudsy Facts About the Women's World Cup".

And Part One of our tour of Germany and "Drinker's Guide to the WWC"

On the Women's World Cup's first round final days we look at the rest of the Germany's host cities and their delicious beer. 

Mainhattan: Skyscrapers and World Cup Finals

Frankfurt am Main (the local river) is the financial capital of Germany, home of the DAX (German Stock market), and because of its atypical German skyscraper landscape, oft referred to as Mainhattan. Honestly, I have probably been to Frankfurt over 100 times, but mostly either coming or going to the international airport. The big-time brewery in town is Binding and the Binding Roemer Pils and Binding Export are perfect when enjoyed with a local Bockwurst or Frankfurter and Kraut. If you are craving a Hefe and can’t get your hands on a ‘real’ Bavarian, Binding’s Schoefferhofer Hefeweizen is a good stand in. While the regional beer is good, Frankfurt’s most popular drink is the local Aepplewoi or apple wine which is served in a stone jug and poured into a patterned glass. Ordering a ‘Bembel’ (1 liter of grown-up apple juice served in said jug) is mandatory while you check out the WWC action.

Frankfurt Ladies are dominant in German soccer.
Speaking of the World Cup, the Frankfurt venue holds 48,000+ and is the home to freshly relegated side Eintracht Frankfurt. In contrast to the men, the city’s female Bundesliga club 1. FFC Frankfurt has pretty much won everything in sight boasting seven German league championships and eight German Cups (including 2011) since 1999. The team is often compared to Bayern Munich of the men’s Bundesliga based on its on-the field dominance and the fact that many of its players (six in 2011) are on the Women’s National Team including goalie Nadine Anger, midfielder Kerstin Garefrekes and legendary striker Birgit Prinz. As I complete this post, the dust has already settled on Germany’s 2nd Group A match with Nigeria, which they won 1:0 in a closely contested, physical battle. The WWC favorites are now moving on to the quarterfinals and hope to travel back to Frankfurt in time to compete in the Final on July 17th.

Leverkusen: Home of the shunned ex El Capitan

Ex German National Team Captain Michael Ballack, shunned from Chelsea FC after the 2009/10 campaign, now earns his ‘Koelsch’ in Leverkusen where he originally played from 1999-2002. As fate (and genetics) would have it, this is the second year in a row Ballack can’t compete in a World Cup for his country. Last year, a devastating injury kept him out of action in South Africa, and this year the women’s team is in the thick of it, but clearly has no use for an aging diva such as Ballack.

Dombrauhaus Schlebusch
Back to the beer …Leverkusen, a city made famous through its biggest corporate resident Bayer AG (maker, of among other things, aspirin and loads of crop protection and pest control products), is located in Germany’s Rheinland region. To me, the Rheinland is best known for three things … horrible language dialects (not even a mother could love), carnival (equivalent to mardis gras), and Koelsch beer. Although Koelsch, as the name states, originated in Koeln (Cologne) it is also very popular in Leverkusen and is consumed en masse at the Dombrauhaus Schlebusch. Make sure you sample the Dom Koelsch, but realize even the ‘shot- size’ .2 liter glasses will make for wobbly legs sooner or later. While Koelsch is one of those beers you either love or hate (it’s not my fave), Altbier (locally just referred to as ‘Alt’) is it’s evil, sweeter and richer twin. Alt is originally from Düsseldorf but also readily available in Leverkusen. Try Diebels Alt (an InBev brand also available in the states).

As far as WWC matches go, First German Division club Bayer Leverkusen’s home stadium will host four games and can seat roughly 30,000 supporters. Leverkusen is a football town being only one of a handful of WWC venues that has both a men’s and women’s team in the Bundesliga. The next match pits Japan versus Mexico which surprised England with a 1:1 draw in their opener and have thus far earned my ‘most improved team’ tag.

Note to beer lovers: It looks like true beer connoisseurs need to return to town in August (or never leave), just in time for the Bierboerse Leverkusen-Opladen, an international beer festival featuring approximately 1000 beers from 75 countries including Lebanon, Ethiopia, Morocco and Tahiti- now that’s a world cup!

Welcome to the Ruhrpott

Moenchengladbach (Gladbach)and Bochum are German cities located in the so called Ruhrgebiet or Ruhrpott area in North-Rhine Westphalia and known for the hard-working, coal mining way of life. Hard work and football fanaticism go hand-in-hand so it is no surprise that the true hardcore German football followers live in this region with Dortmund (2010/11 Bundesliga Champion) and Schalke being the definite poster children.
The Borussia Park in Gladbach hosts 3 WWC games including Germany’s group A match-up with France (to determine the group winner) as well as a semi-final on July 13. The 45,000+ capacity stadium is the 3rd largest WWC venue behind Berlin and Frankfurt and already hosted one world cup match, the June 29th Brazil vs. Australia game, which Brazil won 1:0.

The Oettinger Brewery has a location in Gladbach and offers a broad spectrum of beers ranging from Oettinger Pils to Alt, Bock and Weizen. Gladbach is the WWC host city in closest proximity to the Netherlands and Belgium so if you have a half day to spare you should head further West and sample some of the famous Belgian ales and whites. With more than 125 breweries in Belgium, you are bound to find one that floats your boat.

Bochum: At the heart and soul of German football

The Bochum arena hosts 4 group stage matches during the WWC including the recent Group A France vs. Canada game which turned into a French route, ousting the Canadians from the tournament. The city located in the heart of ‘Ruhr’ country, is the home of 2nd league team VFL Bochum as well as Moritz Fiege Pils, a traditional family-run micro brewery which produces a very respectable pilsner. If you’d like to change it up and want a caffeine jolt with your beer, try a Krefelder, a local concoction of beer (typically pilsner or Alt) and cola.

Wolfsburg: Fahrvergnuegen and Fussball

Our ‘Deutsche’ WWC drinking tour comes to an end in the city of Wolfsburg, the home of Bundesliga club VFL Wolfsburg and more famously the German manufacturing headquarters of Volkswagen. Founded in 1938 to primarily house workers of the newly opened VW factories, Wolfsburg is still the Detroit of Germany although much of the auto manufacturing has been relocated to Mexico and other cheap labor countries.
While Rheinland’s Krombacher Pils is the official beer of the ‘Wolves’, a local favorite is Fallersleber Schlossbraeu, a Pilsner-style lager and also home of the official ‘Meisterbier’, a special beer brewed in small batches to celebrate VFL’s Bundesliga championship season in 2009.

Wolfburg’s ‘Arena im Allerpark’ will play host to 4 matches during the WWC, including USA vs. Sweden on July 6th which will most likely determine the Group C winner. By the time you finish reading this, the Women’s World Cup field will have been reduced to 8 and your interest and knowledge of German (beer) drinking culture hopefully exponentially increased.

Enjoy the rest of your summer and the last week of the Women’s World Cup. Prost!

About Jobst

I can be reached at 
Jobst@TheRealFutbol.com or on Twitter @TheRealFutboler

We’re just getting started withTheRealFutbol.com, so feel free to stop by and let us know what you think. All feedback is much appreciated. 

Auf Wiedersehen.

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