Sunday, July 31, 2011

Game Day Beer Review: Sierra Nevada Brewery Summerfest Czech-style Pilsner

photo by cristinabevia PhotoRee

Beer: Sierra Nevada Summerfest Czech-style Pilsner

ABV: 5.00%

Appearance: Golden yellow, nice carbonation, creating decent white head that dissipates to thin lace.

Smell: Grassy hops with a hint of yeast.  Very pleasant.

Taste: Very crisp, light, refreshing summer lager; easily sessionable.

Overall: Another fine offering from Sierra Nevada: B+

Friday, July 29, 2011

Game Day Beer Review: Collaboration Cornholio Baltic Porter

(Approx 7.00% ABV).  A collaboration between three of the most innovative American brewers, Cornholio came about as a project involving Dogfish Head Brewing out of Delaware, Short's Brewing of Michigan, and Three Floyd's Brewing from Indiana.  The beer was brewed using a combination of Michigan horehound (a minty herb), Indiana red popcorn, and Delaware and Cape May plums. 

Brewed for a festive event held in northern Michigan in mid-July, and served on tap at the Short's Brewing brewpub in Bellaire, Michigan, Cornholio poured a murky caramel orange -- a lot lighter looking than I expected. Cornholio had a mild hop sweetness on the nose, with just a touch of a mellow banana scent. I got a slight bit of belgian candy sweetness mixed with citrus on first taste, followed by some sourness on the finish. The beer was medium bodied with good carbonation.  I'll have another, please! A-.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


photo by macropoulosvia PhotoRee

Editor's Note: In all honesty, the best pieces of this article were stolen -- by myself -- for a piece soon to appear in the Football United Blogs.  Which leaves us (actually, you) with the dregs.  Although sometimes I don' t mind a cup of coffee with the dregs still coated across the bottom, I'll let you be the final judge.  In any event, onward and upward with a report from a match that I happened to attend in person:

United and the Major League Soccer All-Stars met at Red Bull Arena last night in a nationally televised celebration of the game the rest of the world calls football, but we Americans refer to as soccer.  Both sides started the match a bit nervously, as if feeling each other out in front of the loud and spirited New York crowd. It was none other than former Red David Beckham who was the first to attempt a shot on goal, narrowly missing the frame from just outside the 18 yard box.

The All-Stars jelled a bit earlier than the Reds, showing surprising fluidity early on for a group that had never played together before this evening. Although the game saw lots of back and forth in the early going, few true chances were created in the first 15 minutes.  When a nifty give and go between Rooney and Berbatov ended with Anderson finding the back of the net to open the scoring, though, the evening's festivities had well and truly begun.

At the other end of the pitch, it was Beckham once again testing a stretched Anders Lindegaard to the max in an attempt to equalize. Both teams pushed the ball back and forth, requiring the goalkeepers to stay on their feet and be alert, although the scoreline remained stubbornly at 1-nil as the game hit the half hour mark.

United looked a bit labored in their first half build up, struggling to find the open man or move forward at pace. Phil Jones narrowly missed adding to United's lead 5 minutes before halftime, but MLS 'keeper Faryn Mondragon managed to keep the ball from crossing the line at virtual point blank range. Although Ji-Sung Park doubled the Reds' lead on the stroke of halftime with some nifty moves before finding goal, in truth it was probably slightly more than United deserved for their effort to date.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Game Day Beer Review: Brooklyn Brewery American Brown Ale

photo by Sonnettvia PhotoRee

Columnist Ed (Columnist Ed!) checks in from an off-season jaunt to New York with a beer review:

I'm sitting at B. Smith's in Sag Harbor, staring at Shelter Island in the distance through a pale drizzle, and chatting aimlessly about stiff necks, tv, and the girl that got away.  I'm doing all but making sweet love to the fried oysters dipped in wasabi-coconut sauce (the genius of the so-called black Martha Stewart), and I'm sipping my first Brooklyn Brown Ale (Brooklyn, New York, 5.6% ABV).

The color is true Rembrandt brown, but clear. The head is understated.  It hits the palate tenderly at first, but with a brisk after.  Somewhere abounds the hint of malt so I search for the footprints of chocolate, but they're only there for the dreamer. The beer is not sweet but is made with the strength and purpose of a classic US craft beer.   It's punchy enough for warm days, but best under light clouds.  One might expect a dull and somber mood from a beer like this, but instead it has the rhythm of classic jazz. 

Brooklyn Brown Ale -- it's may not be Queens Boulevard, but it's still worth a go.


Monday, July 25, 2011

Game Day Beer Review: Founders Brewing Co. Dirty Bastard Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy

(8.5% ABV). Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a stemless wine glass, Dirty Bastard pours a medium brown -- more like a ruby-like red when held up to the light -- with a very thin white line of foam. The beer smells mainly of sweet roasted malts. Dirty Bastard is a bit sweet for my tastebuds, with some malts and dark fruits apparent, and a tea-like flavor and astringency on the finish. It's lightly carbonated, and the alcohol is well hidden until the beer begins to warm. This is not a session beer, but it is very good: B+.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


photo by CJ Sorgvia PhotoRee

It's highly appropriate that United played the Fire last night in Chicago, with the US in the middle of a heat wave that is shattering records across this vast country. If Sir Alex's men can get fit in conditions such as this, going back and playing in the much cooler Manchester clime will seem like a cakewalk. With outdoor activities being limited for fear of health risks, it's amazing that 61,308 showed up to see the Champions of England in the heartland of the United States on Saturday evening. 

The Boss started a young squad, affording those in attendance the opportunity to see United's future on display.  The team on the pitch at kick off featured Tom Cleverly, Mame Biram Diouf, and Gabriel Obertan, among others, and the game also saw the introduction of new defender Phil Jones, and the side's new Spanish goalkeeper, David DeGea, in net.

United began the game more impressively than they started in Seattle, opening up the Fire repeatedly on the counter attack. This continued a theme from the second half of the game against the Sounders: while the MLS teams appear to do reasonably well in what we over here would call a "half court" game, when it comes to the "transition game," or counter-attack, they were ripped open time and again.  The US teams appear unable to handle the pace and touch of the United attack, but to be fair, not many teams in England are able to handle it, either!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Passionate Cat

photo by -Tripp-via PhotoRee
I recently had the opportunity to head over to one of my favorite South Florida watering holes, the Original Fat Cat's.  I like the place not only for the beer collection -- which is stellar, by the way -- but even more so for a quality that's rare to find these days, and which exists in spades in Don, the gentleman who oversees the bar: passion.

The older I get, the more I seem to understand life.  And one lesson I've learned repeatedly over the years is that there are few things in life that make time pass more quickly than truly loving what you do.  And by "what you do," I mean not only professionally, but personally, as well.  There is no better thing in life than to be passionate about what you do.

And Don happens to be passionate about beer.  Not any beer, but rather craft beer.  No Molson guy he, Don is an evangelist for the hundreds of small breweries popping up across our nation, spreading the gospel of craft beer to anyone who is smart enough to listen to him.

Maybe that's why we get along so well.  I don't know Don incredibly well, but each time I see him I can just about see the craft beer coursing through his veins.  We spent about an hour the other night talking about Don's recent beer tasting and brewery tour trip to the State of Colorado, home to Avery, Oskar Blues,  Great Divide and Wynkoop Brewing, among others.   Full of knowledge, Don overflowed with pure joy as he described to me the events of his week in Nirvana, and made me think more deeply about how much he loves his subject.  After all, here's a guy who works around beer all week, and what does he do on his vacation?  Goes on a beer tasting tour.  Now that's passion.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


photo by maureen lunnvia PhotoRee

Some talking points from last night's embarassment of riches:

Seattle proved a brilliant setting for Wednesday night's shellacking (I mean game) versus the Sounders, the second match in United's coast-to-coast American tour. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Seattle is a beautiful city. When the sun shines, I almost think I could live there. The problem is that the sun shines in Seattle about three times a year. For those of you who aren't too familiar with the Pacific Northwest, they get a bit of rain out there....

The Sounders' fans are pretty rabid. They made noise all night despite the rout occuring before their very eyes.  To my understanding, there's only about nine or ten football teams in the world that regularly draw more fans to their games than the Sounders.

And while the stadium looked beautiful, the pitch was crap. The grass was coming up in bunches as the first half wore down....

United looked a bit at sixes and sevens as the game commenced, and the Sounders took the game to them. I know the team is just getting used to playing again after a few weeks off, but Lindegaard had to make a bunch of early saves, even if they were relatively easy ones.  And repeating their "road form" from last year, the boys gave away possession cheaply a number of times, with even Vida being guilty as charged. The Reds played their way back into the match after a torrid opening from the home side, and managed to open the scoring on their first shot of the evening, courtesy of Michael Owen's head. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Game Day Beer Review: Deschutes Brewery Twilight American Blonde Ale

photo by Matt McGeevia PhotoRee

Columnist James checks in with some new beer reviews.  Many of his reviews come from a recent tasting trip to the State of Colorado, a veritable craft brew haven:

Beer: Deschutes Brewery Twilight Summer Ale

ABV: 5.00%

Appearance: Golden, light carbonation, gentle lacing

Smell: Hints of citrus with faint yeast

Taste: Refreshing, with the slight presence of malt, overtaken by grapefruit/hops with lingering bitterness in the finish.

Overall: Crisp American Blonde Ale that is a perfect summer afternoon refresher. B+

Monday, July 18, 2011

Misdirected Destiny

photo by Carly & Artvia PhotoRee

Coach Tom makes a sparkling return to our pages, closing the book on what was a magical run to the Womens' World Cup Final for the US team:

There was a great article yesterday in the New York Times about how quickly the women's game has improved and how much more like men's soccer it has become.  Anyone watching the France and Japan teams can attest to that.  Where were they in 1999?  

And even US Coach Pia Sundhage sees that it's no longer enough for the US just to be the best athletes on the pitch, they need to play better soccer.  And so on Sunday they went out and did just that.  

But then it all fell apart.  A bizarrely bad defensive clearance and a goal, an indecisive Hope Solo not getting to a ball which led to Christie Rampone clearing for a corner, which led to another goal?!  And then a vomit-on-the-cleats shootout and there it all went.  The golden girls defeated.  Heros to zeros. What happened to destiny?

Destiny.  It's a word we use far too often in sports.  But on Sunday there seemed to be a lot of sporting destiny in the air.  First Darren Clarke came from nowhere to find a week of glory and help erase a heap of personal hurt and professional disappointment. Maybe Team USA should have taken note.  Because destiny is not a word reserved for the number one team in the world; it's reserved for teams that carry the grief of a nation on their back and fight their way through the tournament to claim the title.  

It's destiny that saw Team USA play their best soccer of the entire tournament, and still lose.  And while Brazil and France might say "karma, baby!"  it should be noted that in those games the USA withstood possession disparities, not clear goal scoring opportunities. In a game that the US should have won 5-1, a game in which they held good shape, showed a variety of attacking skills and effort, the US created chance after chance - good ones - and failed to score. It seems unfathomable.  I can't (won't?) watch the highlights just to see the ball hit the crossbar again or go just wide or....  How could this happen?  Destiny seems to be the only answer.   

The sad part is how quickly the women's game will be forgotten into four more years of oblivion (with the exception of maybe a brief uptick at the Olympics).  Good luck seeing any women's soccer coverage on ESPN after Monday night.  Think it'll be different this time?  Ok.  Quick quiz:  Where was the Women's World Cup held in 2003 - only 4 years after the amazing USA win?  Germany?  

Nope, back home in the USA (there was a SARS scare in China at the time).  Where's the next World Cup?  Korea?  Nope, Canada.  Will we see you there?  Doubtful.  But hopefully, as the skill improves at this lightning pace, and as the world sees more good teams enter the tournament with a chance to win -- Take a bow, Japan -- this sport will continue to rise and maybe even creep into our consciousness.  Ya know, kind of like the NHL, eh?  Destiny, we need your help!

This is farlieonfootie for July 18.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Fleeting Thoughts

photo by Andrew Masonvia PhotoRee

o I'm getting sick of the Wesley Sneijder / Samir Nasri / Luka Modric transfer saga.   It's been dragging on forever and a day, and I can't take much more "will he" or "won't he" speculation.  It does look as if Old Wes is going to end up at Old Trafford, but please let's get it over with so we can all just move on.  It's also looking likely that Luka is headed to Stamford Bridge, and my best current guess is that Samir stays put at the Emirates.

o I write above that I still believe Sneijder is headed to Manchester because I can't help but believe that Fergie still has not completed his summer shopping spree yet.  After all, if you're Fergie -- and I obviously don't presume to be, but I will presume to make some educated guesses here -- you're probably thinking you've got 3-5 years left in the hot seat.  And that's not alot of time to knock Barcelona off their fricking perch.  So you'd better get busy now, and no amount of words are ever going to convince me or anyone else that Ando is the permanent answer in midfield.  He may be part of the equation, but he's not the answer.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Game Day Beer Review: New Holland Brewing Co. Black Hatter American Black Ale


(5.5% ABV). From a bottle, the Black Hatter appears Coca Cola black with a shaving-cream-thick head of light brown foam, which leaves behind less lacing than you might expect. The beer is very mild smelling, with the most pronounced smell being malty, roasted hops. Upon first taste, the initial roasted coffee flavor gradually disolves into a hoppy finish. The Black Hatter is decently carbonated, which gives it a lighter than expected mouthfeel.  It feels a bit safe, as if the brewers were trying not to screw this style up.  I'll give it a B.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Inaugural Ball

photo by brdwebvia PhotoRee

Some very brief thoughts on Manchester United's inaugural victory of the 2011/12 season, a 4-1 thrashing of the MLS' New England Revolution:
o Dear ESPN commentators RobStone and John Harkes: the team's name is "Manchester United," not "Man You." Stop embarrasing yourselves.

PS - the new goalkeeper is pronounced "De Hey-a," not "De Ghee-ya". Do your homework. It's not as if the guy was playing in the lower rungs of the Turkish Leagues last year. He started for a pretty famous team in La Liga.

o Ashley Young saw a lot of the ball last night. He hit a few nice crosses, but looked suspiciously like another right footed player who would be more comfortable playing on the right wing than the left.  Traffic jam, anyone?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Third Coast: A Mecca for Craft Beer Lovers

Quick quiz for you: Which U.S. State has the second longest coast line?  Bet you'd never guess it's Michigan, unless you grew up in the Midwest.  Often derisively referred to as "fly over country" by east and west coast types, Michigan is a jewel of a state placed smack in the middle of the country, and lined with white sandy beaches and pristine turquoise water -- and lots of it.  In fact, the Great Lakes region of the U.S. holds more than 20% of the earth's entire supply of fresh water.  And to visit it in the summer time, as I recently did, is to take an unexpected beach vacation in the midst of America's heartland.

The Caribbean, or Michigan?

Boasting 400 foot tall sand dunes left over from the last Glacier Age, crystal clear water, and small beach town after small beach town (at least during the summer), Michigan is surrounded by beautiful and very accessible white sand beaches.  In fact, Michigan was a complete revelation to this particular traveler.  Yes, the water was a bit chilly -- but refreshing is probably a more apt description, at least for this South Floridian.  And the sunsets over Lake Michigan, as viewed from Traverse City, rivaled those in Key West and Naples, Florida....

Monday, July 11, 2011

I Love You, Hope Solo

photo by JMRosenfeldvia PhotoRee

I've finally calmed down enough from Sunday's emotional win by the US Women's National Team to write  a few lines about the game.  This was a game that had it all: tragedy, farce, cliffhanger, and finally, redemption.  It was the kind of game that makes you love and hate the sport, and all at the same time.  In fact, I'll go so far as to say that this was the most exciting performance by a US soccer team since....well, since the same day twelve years ago, when the US Women beat China on penalties to win the 1999 Womens' World Cup.  July 10 has quickly attained legendary status for US Soccer, and the Women's team has left their male counterparts far back in the rear view mirror in terms of providing this country with legitimate soccer thrills.

Sure, the USMNT will always have Landon Donovan's last gasp goal against Algeria this past year to fall back on, but Abby Wambach's thrilling header in the 122nd minute was all that and more.  Down to ten women, forced by a referee -- who can only be described as incompetent, corrupt, or both -- to play the final hour of the match (including stoppage and overtime) one player short, the US toughed it out and never gave up.  Displaying our very finest national trait, the Americans virtually willed themselves to victory, a victory all the sweeter for how it happened.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Game Day Beer Review: Rahr & Sons Brewing Company's Ass Kisser Double IPA

(9.00% ABV). Poured into a wine glass, Ass Kisser is a dark, ciderish orange, with a small, whitish head that leaves behind little, if any, lacing. This beer is hoppy, aggressively so right from the first sniff, although I also get a certain chocolate sweetness in the scent.

Ass Kisser is appropriately sour on the tongue, but the hoppiness gradually mellows into a a malty, bread-like finish. The beer never really comes together for my liking, and I find it a little unbalanced for my tastebuds.  It's neither fish nor fowl, so I'll give it a: B.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Game Day Beer Review: Collaboration Gnomegang Belgian Strong Pale Ale

(9.5% ABV). This beer is a collaboration between one legendary brewery and one legend in the making: Brewery D'Achouffe of Belgium (the legend) and  Brewery Ommegang out of Cooperstown, NY (the up and comer). 

Poured from a 750 ml bottle into a chalice, Gnomegang is a rich straw color with a slightly off-whitish head that quickly fizzles away.  It's definitely a belgian through the nose, yeasty and reminiscent of a saison, with a bready smell and just a hint of lemon zest apparent. Gnomegang is plenty carbonated, which gives it a crisp, clean mouthfeel, and it has a rich, spicy yeastiness that combines with a faint candy sweetness upon tasting. 

I'm also getting the taste of apples, and the alcohol definitely comes through before it's all done. With two breweries like this working together, I'd like to see some more joint efforts! A-

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

How Quickly We Forget

THIS is what's on Correspondent Ed's playlist -- You can't make this stuff up....
photo by Lunchbox LPvia PhotoRee

His brain addled by the steady stream of music from boy-band Big Time Rush that he's been grooving to on Pandora, Columnist Ed closes the book on farlieonfootie's recent musings on the US Mens National team:

I’ve heard some grumblings lately about this 2010 version of the US Mens National Team, and how we miss players like Tab Ramos or Claudia Reyna, or even John Harkes.  I find this position silly at best.  This current US team is our best in the modern era, and despite the fact that progress is still slower than any of us want, our progress since the 1990’s has been substantial. 

Let’s first tackle what this 1994 team did to earn it’s reputation.  In the World Cup in the United States, this team upset Columbia 2 to 1, tied Switzerland, 1 to 1, lost to Romania 1 to 0 and lost to Brazil 1 to 0.  You may remember that record to be better; but that was it.  Now it’s tough to beat these guys up, as playing Brazil to a 1 to 0 game is an accomplishment, and this was by far a new high water mark for a US team in the World Cup in the modern era.  I will also grant this about the 1994 team:  they played with heart, they put US Soccer on the map, and they had a good run.  Of note from this World Cup was the vicious elbow Tab Ramos received against Brazil – literally breaking his skull and putting him in the hospital for 3 months – as well as the murder of the Columbian goaltender at a nightclub for an own goal against the US when he returned.  

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Independence Day

photo by pingnews.comvia PhotoRee

Wishing a Very Happy 4th of July to our readers in the United States.  And to our readers in the UK, this'll teach you to try and raise the taxes on our tea!

Enjoy the holiday.

This is a patriotic farlieonfootie for July 4.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Rumors and Speculation

photo by R/DV/RSvia PhotoRee

Some thoughts on activity (and inactivity) so far in the summer transfer window:

o I'm going out on a limb here, but I think David De Gea is going to be a wonderful 'keeper.  I've been banging on about him on this website for almost a year now -- I was impressed from the first time I saw him play live for Atletico Madrid, handing Barcelona their only La Liga defeat of the 2009/2010 season.   His long, lanky frame covers a ton of ground, and he's one of the best shot blockers in Europe.  He's young and likely still learning, but I'm confident he'll be able to handle the pressure cooker that is Old Trafford, and that he's going to be United's rock in front of goal for years to come.

o Arsenal should pay whatever it takes to sign Chris Samba.  He's exactly the kind of imposing physical player the Gunners need to be competitive.  I don't rate Gary Cahill nearly as much -- he may be a fine player, but Arsenal need someone with some size, bite and presence.  They need someone opponents fear.  I hope they don't sign him.