In addition to the usual football column, today's version of the blog will include several observations from a recent trip to the World Beer Fest in Columbia, South Carolina. After all, what could be better than a weekend full of footie, unless it's a weekend full of footie and beer? Now how the World Beer Fest happened to choose Columbia, South Carolina as its winter home I'll never know, but I'm guessing the event was rather optimistically named.... First off, regarding the football I saw: Liverpool looked better on Saturday than they have in many weeks, although I wouldn't be getting too carried away about the rest of the season if I were a fan of the reds (which I am decidedly not). True, Torres appears to be finally waking up from his somnambulistic state, hitting the back of the net twice yesterday, but even I could have scored the two goals he did -- and I'm not very good. For his second goal, which capped a 3-nil win over a downtrodden Wolves side, the goalkeeper wasn't even in front of the net, leaving Torres nothing to do but spank the ball home from three feet away. And true, also, that Raul Meireles is finally showing a bit of the form expected when the Scousers bought him this summer from Porto [Ed. Note: Have any Liverpool supporters thanked Uncle Roy for signing Meireles, or is it not appropriate to show even the smallest sign of gratitude to their former boss man?]. But let's be completely honest here: that was Wolves the reds beat, a side currently sitting one spot north of the southernmost spot in the league, and Wolverhampton turned in an absolute stinker yesterday afternoon after several strong recent performances. So let's not get too hot and bothered over King Kenny's triumphant return. The team he inherited will not be relegated, but they're right where they belong: this Liverpool team is a mid-table club.
Turning our attention further to the north, both in England as well as the league table, Spurs turned in a disjointed performance against a resilient Newcastle side playing in front of the home crowd. I thought the introduction of Steven Pienaar to Spurs' attack was superfluous at best, and he slowed the team down to my eyes in his attempt to become another midfield general in a side that already features the league's best in that spot, Luka Modric. Of course losing Gareth Bale in the game's tenth minute was another factor which slowed Spurs down, and it was easy to see while watching them yesterday the extent to which they now rely upon the Welsh winger to provide their offensive spark. Aaron Lennon's stoppage time goal equalized the game and captured what could be a very important point at the end of the season in Spurs' race for a top four spot. So the overall verdict for Spurs is maybe not as positive as they would have hoped for -- especially with City dropping all three points against a Villa side now featuring Darren Bent -- but all in all, Spurs have to be happy with the one point they did gain, especially with the scoreline reading 1-nil in the wrong direction at the end of regulation. And now onto the beer: The World Beer Fest featured over 80 largely craft brewers showcasing their wares to an approving audience of brew afficianados from throughout the Southeastern US. Although some of the big boys showed up (Heineken, Newcastle, and Stella among others), the focus of the day was on the small batch producers, who tend to distribute regionally or locally.
Some of the day's longest lines congregated around B. Nektar, a Michigan-based brewer of mead (one of the oldest drinks known to man, dating back to 7,000 BC or even earlier, and essentially a beer-type beverage made by fermenting honey and water), and Carolina's own Foothills Brewing, who showcased some excellent local beers made in the Tarheel State.
My personal favorites at the Show [Ed. Note: Or could it be the only ones I actually remember tasting? After continual two ounce sips over the space of four hours, all beers begin to taste the same....] included Clipper City Brewing's Heavy Seas Red Sky at Night Saison, a tart and funky, lemony farmouse ale brewed in the Belgian style, Great Divide Brewing's Yeti Imperial Stout, a coffee and chocolate-laced beast of a stout, which easily stood out amongst its peers, and Brasserie De Brunehaut's Saint-Martin Brune, an easy-drinking dubbel made by a brewer that dates its founding to 1096. Anything that's been around that long must be good. Going with good friends -- host (and sometime farlieonfootie correspondent) James, Trey, Mike, Alan, and Tiger -- made a great event all that much more special. Call me simple, but it's the little things in life that give me great pleasure these days: good friends, cold beer, and a little footie (okay, make that a lot of footie) for the watching. Who could ask for anything more? This is a brewed farlieonfootie for January 24.