Friday, June 29, 2012

Unless: Italy 2 - Germany 1

photo by Ed Yourdonvia PhotoRee

So, Germany had never beaten Italy, but as this column right here clearly told you, and in language that would be familiar to any student of economic bubbles worldwide, this time things were going to be different.  Sure, Germany had never -- not once -- beaten Italy in a major football tournament, but we all saw the raw power, the sheer athletic might of this current squad from Deutschland.  You couldn't help but notice it and be suitably impressed.  And who were these Italians that faced them, other than a less than potent version of their predecessors, a team without an effective striker, that had a tough time finding the net, a group that had won only one of its tournament games to date in 90 minutes, and only two years removed from the bunch that failed to qualify for the knockout round of the most recent World Cup...?  So this game had no chance of even being close, did it?


Unless a certain Andrea Pirlo -- a 33 year old, six years removed from being the most valuable player at the 2006 World Cup, who has undoubtedly been the player of this year's Euro tournament -- is there to block a ball off the line in the game's first seven minutes, a ball that has already evaded a haplessly waving Gianluigi Buffon, that is headed into the back of the net to provide an early German lead and begin the rout.

Unless Italian striker Mario Balotelli could lose his marker and capitalize on a pinpoint accurate Antonio Cassano cross, nodding it past German 'keeper Manuel Neuer to give Italy a surprise 1-nil lead halfway through the first 45 minutes, a lead that would represent the inaugural German deficit of the entire Euro qualifying campaign and tournament.

Unless minutes later, Balotelli were to split the German center backs, and take dead aim at the opposition net, rocketing the ball past a shellshocked Neuer and creating a two goal advantage for the Italians, sowing havoc in the German defense and creating serious problems for the Teutonic game plan heading into the interval. 

Unless Gigi Buffon were to find a way to rewind the years and stretch every inch of his long, lean body to stop a laser-like Marco Reus free kick from slipping just under the bar and keep the Germans off the board and the shutout intact at the hour mark.

Unless the Italians could make the German midfield look more like England's midfield, negating such big-club superstars as Mezut Ozil, Sami Khedira and Bastian Schweinsteiger for a full 90 minutes, allowing the men from der Deutschland possession but not penetration, keeping the danger well at bay and looking nothing more than comfortable throughout the entire match.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Game Day Beer Review: Clown Shoes Hoppy Feet American Black IPA

(7.0% ABV)  Poured from the bottle, Hoppy Feet appears deep brown in the glass, with just a tiny hint of ruby showing in the light, and a fat two fingered toffee-colored head that just won't quit.

Hoppy Feet smells of hops and bready malts, with just a slight whiff of molasses and licorice sweetness noticeable at the edges.

It's a battle between the sweet malt and the drying flavor of the hops, that's won in the end by the lingering bitterness in the floral notes of the hops. Hoppy Feet is fairly full-bodied and has nice carbonation. It's a bit bitter for me, and not as well balanced as I would like to see. I don't think I'd be a regular drinker. B-

Monday, June 25, 2012

Business As Usual: Italy 0 - England 0 (4-2 PK)

photo by Tambako the Jaguarvia PhotoRee

Thoughts I had while watching England lose to Italy on penalty kicks:

Overall: I'm not surprised England lost.  Let's face it, Italy has a very good team....  Ultimately, though, I have to disagree with all those who said that England "exceeded expectations" this year by making it as far as they did.  Shouldn't England at the very least be expected to make the knockout stage of a major tourney -- or have expectations fallen so low that this, too, is now a gift...?  It's not as if the English won their knockout game and advanced to the semifinals....

o Is this the current state of English football?  Should a team packed with Premier League "stars" such as Wayne Rooney, John Terry, Steven Gerrard, Joe Hart, et al -- England's "golden generation" of footballers -- go down meekly without creating much in the way of chances during a match to a team that was definitely beatable?  Is this the "new" England of low expectations and early knockouts?  If it is, thank God they're not my team, because this is a group of guys that appear to be going nowhere in a hurry.  And it's not like the weight of great expectations burdened the English team this year....  No, this was a squad full of individual stars that never learned to play as a team.

o If only I'd known what was to come: Although the game got off to a rollicking start -- Daniele De Rossi's wicked slice off the bar, and an English ball falling to one of the few players on the pitch who was incapable of finishing it (thanks, Glenn Johnson) -- with more chances in the first five minutes than France saw all game on Saturday, that was known simply as "upfronting" the action.  Long periods of torpid play followed, with England so knackered by extra time that they were physically unable to string more than even one or two passes together.

o Does the position of Italian Manager also come with its own suit contract....?  How do those guys always manage to look so casually cool and well dressed....?

o England's defensive posture lacks explanation: fall back and don't pressure the ball. I know about keeping your shape, but the English conceded possession and position to the Italian opposition at virtually every opportunity.

o Joe Hart was completely out of position when Mario Balotelli broke clear on goal midway through the first half. It pains me to say this, but it was only an outstanding play by John Terry that saved a goal. Terry was the only English defender running at full tilt, and it was solely down to his hustle that the scoreline remained knotted at zero.  Sad but true fact: John Terry was England's best player yesterday.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Business End: Spain 2 - France 0

photo by j.reedvia PhotoRee

If we're getting down to the business end of the Euro 2012 tournament, we must be talking about Spain:

o If anyone out there is the least bit surprised by the comfortable nature of the Spanish victory yesterday -- positively Barcalounger-ish --  you should ask yourself the following question: what in the world were the French doing in the Euro 2012 Quarterfinals anyway?  This was a team that had won one -- count it, one -- game at a major international tournament since 2006.  And that was over a Ukraine side that failed to reach the knockout round of a tournament played on its home ground.

o For all the talk about France's vaunted midfield -- featuring Malouda, M'Vila, Ribery, Cabaye among others -- they were completely asleep for Spain's first goal of the day, allowing Xabi Alonso to ghost in completely untouched for a free header.  In fact, the midfielders' view of the action was so good, so close up, that Laurent Blanc should think about charging his players a price equal to
the highest ticket for the privilege of watching Spain cut them apart.

o It may have taken Spain a while to get rolling, but they began to dominate possession about halfway through the first period, and looked in a completely different class than their Pyrenean neighbors by the interval.  Second gear is seemingly enough against almost all teams but a very select few.  And the French aren't in that group.

o The game got a tiny bit more interesting around the hour mark, as the French seemed to both 1) attack more and 2) wear down from their constant defending.  The result was a bunch of chances for the Spanish and a more exciting game to watch for the neutral fan.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Euro Mazing

photo by StewieDvia PhotoRee

Scott checks in with some thoughts on the Euros:

England may have been fortunate to avoid Spain in the quarter finals, but they won’t go far unless they get more creative on the attack and a little more solid on defense.  Lobbing in crosses won’t cut it every time, especially if they meet the Germans’ superior air power.  And on more times than I can count over the past 2 games, the back four have stopped and looked at each other when a loose ball presents itself at the top of their 18.  Maybe the defense will gel quickly and maybe Steven Gerrard’s pinpoint crosses can do enough damage (his passing has been sublime), but unless they step up their game they may have reached their limit in the competition.  Which, when looking at their lineup, is shocking since they have quality in almost every position.  But, as dominant as these players are for their club teams, as a group and playing for country, they often seem nervous and play below their abilities.  Only Gerrard and Joe Hart seem unfazed by the stage on which they are playing.

England’s ace in the hole may be Wayne Rooney’s return.  Despite missing an absolute sitter of a header against Ukraine, he is fresh from his suspension and as hungry as ever.  Roy Hodgson would be insane to contrive a lineup without him.

Andy Carroll played well against Sweden.  His goal was brilliantly taken and his effort was tireless, tracking back repeatedly to pressure and win balls.  And, of course, there was the usual, effective knock down and hold up play for which the big man is known.  Most impressive to me was to see him sprinting at the 60 minute mark to track back and pressure.  He probably knew he was coming out of the game but that is the type of consistent effort England will need.

Spain may have mastered the 1-0 win but they will need to score more to win back-to-back Euros.  A dearth of goals has always been the weak link for this Barcelona-sans-Messi team (as previously discussed on these pages), but the now-injured David Villa always seemed to come through.  The Fernando Torres-led 4-0 thrashing of Ireland seems to have been an aberration as La Roja returned to their parsimonious ways in a late 1-0 victory over an unlucky Croatia team.  The fact is that the Spanish seem to have lost some of their invincibility.  At one time, they never coughed the ball up in the midfield due to pressure or an errant pass.  But those days are gone as they have proven to be mortal with a slew of lost balls in midfield now combining with their inability to score.  They say great teams eek out results early and improve as the tournament goes on.  Vicente del Bosque knows what to work on.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Game Day Beer Review: Farlieonfootie Brewing Red Devil in the White City Belgian White Ale

This beer represents the first home brewing effort for our corporate office.  I guess you've got to start somewhere.  I wrote about the day that it was brewed in an article you can find right here.  Now, a review of the end product:

Red Devil in the White City derives its name from two sources: the beloved Manchester United Red Devils, and a great book by Erik Larson called Devil in the White City (if you haven't read it, click on the link above and order itI guarantee you'll love it).  Being that Red Devil in the White City is a Belgian White Ale, the name seemed appropriate, if a bit lengthy.  We'll just call it Red Devil for short....

Red Devil poured a hazy copper color. It looks a bit more like an IPA than a Belgian White, but you can't expect perfection on your first try. As several friends pointed out to me, what matters in a home brew is how it tastes, not necessarily how it looks -- especially if it's not being entered into a home brewing competition.  In any event, the beer had an impressive, fluffy head that was slightly off-white colored.

The primary smell was of yeast, with just a little Belgian sweetness noticeable. The mouthfeel is a little thin for my liking. You definitely get the yeast while drinking the beer, and maybe a slight bit of orange flavor, too.  It's definitely in the Belgian White family, but maybe not a direct descendant of Hoegaarden.

All in all, it's not as good as I hoped, but better than I thought it would be....  Onto effort number two. B-

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


photo by rockcohenvia PhotoRee

More blathering from the Euros:

o How good is Danny Welbeck?  The Manchester United man's backheeled winner against Sweden Friday showed the type of imagination that only the greats can produce -- more commonly known as something from nothing. Theo Walcott's introduction into the action -- and the resulting speed -- may have changed the course of the game, but it was Welbeck's fanciful legwork that finally separated the two sides in a game that was remarkably open for a major championship.  It reminded me of a BPL game -- and that's a good thing.

o For my money, Nani is outshining his more famous countryman and former teammate, a certain Cristiano Ronaldo. While the latter man may have finally found the net against the Netherlands, it was Nani's footwork and passing that really caught the eye for Portugal.  More so than the fleet footed Real Madrid superstar, it's Nani who Portugal can thank for advancing into the knockout round of the tournament.

o Forget the Dutch team, I have a bigger question mark: What the hell happened to Wesley Sneijder?  Formerly one of the top players in the world -- an acccurate description as recently as the last World Cup -- the Dutchman has turned into a pale shadow of his former self, and was a total non-factor in the Netherland's brief cameo in Euro 2012.  The fervent object of desire for many United fans has turned into an object lesson: sometimes the best deals you do are the ones you don't do.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Storm Alert

When you got it, you got it....  Congratulations to the Scarsdale Storm, who yesterday became back-to-back title winners in the Scarsdale U-12 Girls Division, thanks largely to the efforts of their world-class coaches, Joel Amaro and Chris Saenger. 

Pictured are: 1st row kneeling: Jolie Suchin, Courtney Swift, Anna Rubin, Talia Abbe, 2nd row: Perri Thaler, Caroline Stemmerman, Sophie Camarata, Abby Glaser, Ella Saenger, Alex Goldman, Sophia Rosset, Maddie Berger, 3rd row: Coach Joel Amaro, Sandia Somar, Dana Papandreadis, Charlotte Dillon, Lauren Metviner, and Assistant Coach Chris Saenger.

This is farlieonfootie for June 18.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

El Gringo, El Nino y La Pulga: Thoughts on Jose Torres, Fernando Torres and Lionel Messi

photo by jebbvia PhotoRee

Correspondent Scott is in a Spanish speaking state of mind as he tackles the USMNT, Euro 2012, and even Lionel Messi's nickname:

Watching the USA vs. Antigua & Barbuda game last week, I was surprised to see Jose Torres at left back.  Even more surprising was to hear what the Mexican announcer kept calling him - El Gringo. I love it - a slur turned affectionate nickname!  Torres has embraced the nickname and so have a legion of female Pachuca fans who have dubbed themselves "Mexicanas Muy Gringas."  It fits - he was born in Texas to a Mexican father and American mother, then moved to Mexico at age 16 to play with the Pachuca youth team before rising through the ranks and now starring for that senior team.  With family in the US but living and playing in Mexico (and now married to a local Pachuca girl), he is quintessentially Mexican-American.  He was spared having to decide between the US and Mexican national teams as the Americans came calling and, although he was on the Mexican team's radar, they never did.  He is what made America and I'm proud to have him on our team.

Personally, I like Torres as a playmaker and like seeing him in the lineup.  I'm unconvinced about him on defense though - his forays forward were dangerous but ultimately led to crosses rather than through balls.  I like his vision for through balls but his crosses need some work.  And, defensively, he was a liability at times.  Nice experiment but get El Gringo in the midfield, Jurgen.

The USA team is still a work in progress. While they are on the path to "win at home and draw away" qualifying success, more is now expected from a nation of over 300 million people where the excuse of soccer not being the main sport is losing its relevance with each passing year. Especially with Southern neighbors kicking it up a notch as Giovanni Dos Santos and Chicharito have started to hit stride and vanquish the likes of Brazil. Some may not like the USA's 28th place FIFA ranking but it's pretty accurate.  We are top 20 at best and more likely top 25 right now.  But with that Klinsmann magic, who knows?

Another Torres, Fernando that is, needs more time on the field, both for club and country.  It is criminal how this peaking talent moved to Chelsea and has plummeted in form.  I still say he is getting his mojo back (despite his misses against Italy) and just needs more playing time as a starter to recapture his magic.  As I'm typing this I see he just scored a brace against Ireland.  Bravo, El Nino!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

To Axe or Not to Axe?: Thoughts on Terminating Harry

photo by apasciutovia PhotoRee

Tottenham's firing of Harry Redknapp is debated by Columnists Ed and James, Spurs fans both:

Ed:  What the hell happened?  I don’t understand getting rid of the guy who gave you three of your four most successful seasons ever in the BPL consecutively.  I saw somewhere that Harry’s among Spurs' longest lasting managers, which says something about the organization.

I’m sure they blame Harry for the collapse into 4th position (a position, by the way, that they never achieved in the BPL before Harry), but really, it was still a stellar year for Spurs.  As for his loyalty, I’d be interested to see what you read James.  I’m a bit of a cynic when it comes to loyalty in pro sports – it just doesn’t seem there is ever any from either side.  It’s all just a pure contract thing.

Also, why did Spurs wait until the two most promising coaches (Brendan Rodgers and Paul Lambert) were already gone?  David Moyes is a good coach if they can get him (why exactly would he like to leave a team that he has such security at for a team which will have higher expectations but too little money to back them up?).  It seems to me that Spurs are just longing to be back in 11th place.

James: Where do I start?  Harry's a relentless self promoter; constantly refers to Spurs in the third person; says things like "you"  (instead of "we") are lucky to get 4th/5th and that ("we") never had it so good since he got there ("you" had two points from eight" when 'I" got here" over and over and over); whored himself out for the England job after Levy and the club supported him through the tax thing to such an extent that they shut down his daily press briefings....

Friday, June 15, 2012

Pedestrian Crossing: More Thoughts on Euro 2012

photo by iboy_danielvia PhotoRee

The Euro express rolls on:

o Although they won on Wednesday, Portugal looked rather pedestrian for the supposed 7th best team in the world. If not for Silvestre Varela's 87th minute strike, the European papers would have been sharpening their knives on the stunningly poor effort turned in by Cristiano Ronaldo. Instead, Varela saved his compatriot's bacon with a world class winner.

o Although Twitter was filled in the game's aftermath with regular fans and even media types lining up to label the game a classic -- due to the Dane's fight back from 2-nil and then the late Varela winner -- in truth the contest was anything but classic to my eyes.  Filled by long portions of ugly and thoroughly uninspiring football, the game was punctuated by two brief periods in which multiple goals were scored, leading to a score line that made the game seem more exciting than it actually was. Here's an important lesson for you: don't confuse close final scores with "classic" games. This one was rather ugly, plain and simple.

o For all of their supposed "superstars" -- Cristiano Ronaldo, Nani, Raul Meireles and Pepe among them -- Portugal has never struck me as a great team. If I remember correctly, they barely made the last World Cup, and -- including yesterday's narrow victory -- they've done nothing in Euro 2012 to disabuse me of my opinion.

o Ronaldo looks as if the weight of the world is hanging on his slight shoulders. Every shanked shot or lost ball was met with hands in the air or that faraway wistful look. His complete and utter bollocksing of a virtual empty netter in the game's 78th minute made it look as if the ghost of Fernando Torres was possessing the Real Madrid man's body.

o On the other hand, Michael Ballack is having a much better tournament, albeit off the pitch in his role as a commentator for ESPN.   The Leverkusen man is growing on me -- he's not afraid to speak his mind, in contrast to many other athletes who toe the politically correct line.  Acting like Johnny Miller, Ballack -- seemingly having found his feet while calling England's win on Monday "ugly" -- is a breathe of fresh air on the airwaves, and I would rather listen to him for days at a time than have to hear another second of Alexi Lalas.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Game Day Beer Review: Lost Coast Great White Belgian White Ale

Great White poured a clear pale yellow color, and looks more like a Pale Ale than a Belgian White. It had a nice, fluffy white head that looks as if it would leave some serious lacing behind -- if I let it....

The beer was very mild smelling, although some citrus notes definitely shone through, particularly orange.

It's a very easy going drinker, nothing at all like coming face-to-face with its namesake. It was quite tingly going down, with a good bit of carbonation, and refreshing to say the least. Great White was not very complex, but sometimes you're not looking for a challenge.  I'm not certain it's perfectly on style, but could be a nice session beer if youre not looking to get into a lot. B

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Beauty or the Beast? Thoughts on England vs. France, and Euro 2012

Beauty & The Beast Live!
Photo by Loren Javier on Flickr

More thoughts, as the Euros roll ever onward:

o Beauty or the Beast?  Or, in other words: What to make of the English Team's performance in their first round game against France yesterday?  Michael Ballack and Alexi Lalas got into a rather fierce debate on ESPN about how to interpret the Three Lions' effort: while Lalas thought it was just what the doctor ordered, and even pronounced it a thing of "beauty," Ballack disagreed as vehemently as can someone who has had their personality surgically removed.  For the record, I agree with the unemotional German. Is parking the bus and looking for the rare counter against the French really the best the founding nation of football has to offer....? 

o Although the 1-1 draw did neither team any harm, it also didn't do much to help their cause with the host nation still for both to play.  England fans had better hope there is more in the tank than the team showed on Monday.  England under Uncle Woy retreated into a defensive shell early and often -- pulling off the rather amazing feat of showing the French how to retreat -- and were only very reluctantly coaxed into attacking. 

o With Ashley Young, Danny Welbeck and Alex Oxlaid-Chamberlain on the pitch, England should have displayed some deadly speed and ambition in attack.  Instead, they consistently ceded possession to their rivals from across the Channel, and seemed more than happy to defend their lead and then satisifed to play for a draw once Samir Nasri drew the French level.

o Yesterday's early match was Exhibit A in why I don't love first round games.  There's too much at stake as both teams know they can't afford an early slip up.  The first round of this year's tournament has produced several uninspired games in which both sides played cagily, preferring the type of defensive postures that commonly produce nil-nil or 1-1 draw to looking for an outright win.

o Fortunatelty, that wasn't the case when Spain met Italy, a match that paired the winners of the last two World Cups.  Unsurprisingly, this game also produced the best match of the tournament's first round, and although the action ended at 1-1, the game was played with anything other than a cantenaccio mindset, and both sides should really have scored more.  The end result was just about fair.

o Spain look bored to me, as if they need a new challenge after winning the last European Championship and World Cup.  For the record, no team has ever repeated as European Champion, and although there's always a first time, I don't think 2012 will be it.  None other than Cesc Fabregas admitted that the team had never practiced the 4-6-0 that they sent out against Italy, and it looked almost as if Coach Vincente Del Bosque was daring his team to take their game to the next level.  Unfortunately for the Spanish, the Italians gave almost as good as they got.

o Without the focal point of a striker, Spain to me looked like Barcelona without Messi: all tiki and no taka.

o Why Del Bosque kept his formation intact until late in the game is a mystery to me, and why he chose to insert Fernando Torres rather than Fernando Llorente is a mystery, wrapped in an enigma, inside of a riddle.  The diminutive Spanish midfield looked as if they were tilting at windmills as cross after cross flew over their heads -- exactly the kind of situation that would have been tailor made for Llorente, one of the few Spanish strikers who can be counted on to score with his head. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Argentina and Messi Take Out the Euro-Trash

Euro 2012
Photo by DrabikPany on Flickr

Several thoughts, but not many, after a hard couple of days watching Euro 2012:

o Including the action in Europe, easily the best football game of the day was played in the United States -- Argentina's 4-3 victory over Brazil was fun to watch, fluid and dynamic, with goals, footwork and fancy passes galore.  Anyone that didn't enjoy that one won't enjoy football.

o I'd like to see Pele repeat his assertion that Neymar is better than Lio Messi with a straight face. Neymar may be good, but his game is nowhere near as good as Messi's and his haircut is patently ridiculous.  Maybe Messi can lend the Brazilian the hat (trick) that he scored to cover up the My Little Pony look.

Neymar Coloring Pages, by Coloringpagesforkids on Flickr

o Speaking of world class, does anyone still think Wojciech Sczcesny is that kind of 'keeper?  Let's hope not, after his ridiculous display against Greece on the Tournament's opening day.  Although neither of his mistakes cost his team points, it's only a matter of time: the kid is not ready for Prime Time.

o Robert Lewandowski looks good.  His first half goal was a textbook illustration of how to put the ball in the back of the net.  With thirty goals in 2011/2012, his skills shouldn't come as a surprise, but if you weren't watching the Bundelsiga, you may not have realized that guy is bringing his 'A" game.

o Germany looked decent, but not great -- but beware.  Teams that grind out three tough points early on in a tournament usually raise their game as the matches get more important. 

o In contrast, Portugal never really got started.  Cristiano looks as if he spent more time working on his hairdo than his ball skills, and Nani was a complete non-factor.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Game Day Beer Review: Victory Saison Du BUFF

Last week we reviewed the Dogfish Head Saison Du BUFF, but this week it's time to turn our attention to the same beer made by the Pennsylvania leg of this unique three brewery partnership, Victory Brewing.  One of our favorite of all American craft breweries, Victory is based in Downingtown, Pennsylvania, and is known for their consistently excellent lineup of beers.  Their version of Saison Du BUFF is only sold in limited parts of the country, and -- interestingly enough -- only by the single 12 ounce bottle.  Herewith, our review:

(6.8% ABV) Victory's version of Saison Du BUFF was poured from the bottle into a wine glass. The beer was a clear-as-a-bell gold color, although there was virtually no head to speak of.  Given the massive amount of bubbles clinging to the side of the glass, this probably reflects more on the cleaning materials used at the hotel I stayed at than it does on the beer.  Which just goes to show lesson number one for the day: don't drink good beer from a cheap glass. 

Du Buff smelled fairly mild -- I got more faint lemon than anything else on the nose.

This version has very little of pepper that I found in the Dogfish Head's release.  It's blunter, whereas the Delaware brewer's version seemed to show a bit more finesse. I'm not getting the individual spices -- rosemary, parsley, sage and thyme -- but rather a more blended taste of spice.  Victory's Saison Du Buff tastes "thicker," as well (if that makes sense). There's more bread and biscuit flavor here, rounded out by some drying lemon at the end. I'll give it a B.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Game Day Beer Review: Rogue Brewing Voodoo Doughnut Maple Bacon Smoked Ale

Poured from a pink bottle into a tulip glass. Voodoo Doughnut appears the color of maple syrup, with a thick head that quickly disappears.  It's actually much lighter than I was expecting.  I don't know what color exactly I was anticipating, but something along the color of Aunt Jemima Syrup would not have surprised me....

Voodoo Doughnut smells like a bacon, pancake and maple syrup breakfast.  It's absolutely remarkable that the great brewers at Rogue were able to capture this fragrance in a bottle, and a bottle of beer, no less.

It's more bacon than anything else on the initial taste, followed by the sweetened mellowness of the maple syrup. Smokiness pervades the entire beer, which tastes a bit darker than it looks.....  The bacon aftertaste lingers. And lingers. And lingers. Voodoo Doughnut is well carbonated, and only medium bodied for all of its ostensibly heavy flavors.

This beer was a bit harsh tasting at first, but really grew on me over time.  By the last sip I was thinking about another bottle....  I don;t know that I would drink it regularly, but I'm glad i tried it.  B-

Thursday, June 7, 2012


photo by What Makes The Pie Shops Tick?via PhotoRee

The Euro’s are upon us, and the respective national teams in place and ready to go.  Here are Columnist Ed’s thoughts on three of the more relevant sides (to him, at least).

1.        Spain
This may be the last hurrah for Xavi, arguably the best midfielder in the history of the game.  Spain once again seems the class of Europe.  Their success will largely be a matter of how much they care about this Euro title. After winning the biggest prize world football, I’m just not sure whether the fatigued pros want it enough.
2.       England 
Not sure who’s left to play on the England team.  Frank Lampard out and Jordan Henderson in.  Eewww.  Gareth Barry also out (yawn) and replaced by Phil Jagielka.  And of course, most recently out is Gary Cahill after an outrageous push that deserved a red by Belgian forward Dries Mertens -- although it only got a yellow.  (The push was intentional and malicious, and as bad as the injury was it could have been worse.)  Oh, and Jack Wilshere never even made it to the initial team due to injury.  So where does England stand?
Actually, not so bad, I think.  England usually suffers from outrageously high expectations.  For the first time they can play the role of the underdog.  And this despite more speed than I can remember up top with Danny Welbeck, Ashley Young, Theo Walcott, and Alex Oxlaide-Chamberlain.  There’s also that Rooney guy coming back after a suspension.  Needless to say, these guys can break and they can score on the break.
As for the midfield, Scott Parker and Stephen Gerrard should be able to hold down the fort, although this is a weakness of this team even with Barry in the lineup.  In short, these guys are neither terrific possession guys nor terrific runners.  As much as I love Stevie G, and as much as I suspect he will do well in the Euro’s, he doesn’t seem to have the flash he did a few years ago.  And perhaps it’s his ankle injury, but Scott Parker has also looked a step too slow in the friendlies.
As for the defense, I think England will be fine with Ashley Cole, John Terry, Phil Jagielka, Martin Kelly and Glenn Johnson.  Cahill would have been nice, but this squad will be fine.
Finally, Manager Hodgson will have this team playing disciplined and tight football.  It probably won’t be easy on the eyes, but I suspect more games just like the one they played against Belgium.  For most of the game, Belgium looked the better team, but England was of course the most lethal.  You simply cannot get too aggressive with the finishers England has up top, and sometimes when you dominate possession you tend to forget their skill and push too far forward.  

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Grading on a Curve

photo by Tony Cridervia PhotoRee

With the end of the school year now in hand, Scott shows us his annual report card:

OK, let’s get this out of the way.  I made some predictions at the start of this season, so I suppose it's good form to review their accuracy and accept the kudos or derision that results.  For those of you who don’t breathlessly await my every next written word and, as such, may not have consigned to memory those predictions, here they are:
1)      Norwich City will stay up: I would say I nailed this one with room to spare.  The Canaries finished 12th and never looked in danger of relegation.  I hope they can do it again but they will need to fill the very large shoes of the departing Paul Lambert.  It would also help if they can keep Grant Holt;
2)      Tottenham won’t make the Champions League: While I technically got this right, I certainly get points deducted, for this only came to pass because Chelsea won the Champions League; 
3)      Manchester City won’t make the Champions League: Wow!  It would be hard to flub this one more than I did.  I have to give Roberto Mancini & Co. credit as I really thought the horde of overpaid, talented misfits would underperform again.  But I suppose there comes a time when a growing embarrassment of talent can’t be undone even by the likes of Mario Balotelli;
4)      Liverpool will win another title before Manchester United does: Well, the dream is still alive on this one although it had to be resuscitated at literally the last minute by Sergio Aguero’s goal.  Points deducted for being only a minute away from being wrong.  And further points withheld as this one actually requires future action by Liverpool.  However, I’m putting my faith in Saint Brendan (Rodgers).

Beyond those bold predictions, I listed the top 6 finishers which I have put below along with their actual finish.

1.       Liverpool (8th)
2.       Manchester United (2nd)
3.       Chelsea (6th)
4.       Arsenal (3rd)
5.       Manchester City (1st)
6.       Tottenham (4th)

Of those six, I got Manchester United right and Arsenal about right.  Liverpool, of course, was way off, as was Manchester City.  A clerical error seems to have transposed Chelsea and Tottenham.

Fortunately,  the grading guidelines for these predictions are much like 93.4% of all statistics – made up on the spot.  So, in self-serving fashion, a wicked grading curve has been employed to give me a “C”.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Game Day Beer Review: Flying Fish Extra Pale Ale

(4.7% ABV) Poured on draft into a pint glass, and sampled at a beer bar.  Flying Fish XPA arrived an orange-tinged gold color, with just the slightest of white heads. Active carbonation was evident from visual inspection of the glass, well before the beer ever touched my lips.

XPA had a mild smell, although a bit of citrus did come shining through.

The beer was a bit sour tasting right off the bat.  There was the strong taste of citrus in the middle, followed by  bready flavors at the very end.

It was refreshing, to be sure, but I'm not certain it's on point for the style.  For a beer that's supposed to be a pale ale, I'm getting much more of a mild Belgian White type of vibe....  B

Monday, June 4, 2012

Game Day Beer Review: Evil Twin Monk Suffers Serious Sugar Rush on Barbados Belgian Strong Dark Ale

(8.0% ABV) With a name like Monk Suffers Serious Sugar Rush on Barbados, who could resist?  Seriously, though, I had never heard of Evil Twin Brewing until I happened by this bar that had it on tap.  And when I saw the name and the style -- one of my favorites -- I was hooked.  So here goes with my first Danish craft beer review:

Evil Twin Monk was poured into a smallish chalice -- $9, no less, for half a pint -- and appeared a dark brown color, with only the fat, toffee-colored head to distingush it in the relatively dimly lit bar.

It smelled a bit sour at the outset, almost like a whiff of vinegar, but that quickly passed, and I was soon nose deep into a bag of Dixie Sugar Crystals -- it smelled like pure cane sugar.

The beer tasted of coffee, fueled with pure, undiluted sugar -- like I was mainlining it. Monk Suffers Serious Sugar Rush was highly carbonated, and ended with a nice -- you guessed it -- sugary finish. I feel like I just swallowed a whole packet...!

The alcohol became more noticeable as the beer warmed.  I liked it -- nice job.  I need to get to Denmark.  Or Barbados....  B+

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Super Heroes

Not wanting to be left out, Columnist Randy checks in with some final thoughts on the BPL and the Champions League:

With the Premier and Champions League seasons over and now the summer transfer season upon us, I thought it time to chime in with some random musings:

  • How appropriate are QPR’s court jester jersey’s considering they have the biggest clown in the Premier League as their captain: Joey Barton (yes Correspondent Ed, I’m piling on). Barton really has no place in the BPL and as long as QPR keeps him they get what they deserve.

  • Now that Chelsea in looking to sign the Hulk, Roman Abramovic has to go after Thor, Iron Man and Captain America. We here at farlieonfootie will keep Black Widow (aka Scarlett Johansson).

  • While Didier Drogba was definitely a star in Chelsea’s miraculous Champions League win, the real MVP of their run in my book was Ashley Cole. His play was absolutely brilliant.

  • Tottenham Coldspur's stumble into the finish cost them a coveted Champions League spot. It will be interesting to see how many players this will cost them, as players look for Champions League teams (Modric to Man United, anyone?!).

  • Arsenal can thank Coldspurs for their Champions League spot. Now they need to get a real defense if they want to compete. Oh, yeah, they also better re-sign RVP. Without him, they will be battling to avoid relegation.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Mr. Rodgers' New Neighborhood

Photo by Ryan Leighty via Flickr

It's a neighborly day in this beautywood for Columnist Scott:

Still smarting from the fact that I was not consulted before Kenny Dalglish was sacked, I now find myself in a conflicted mood regarding Liverpool’s hiring of former Swans' boss, Brendan Rodgers.  I suppose it is mostly because I have yet to thoroughly digest this new development at Anfield but, as Mr. Rodgers dons his cardigan and sneakers, herewith are some thoughts and observations:

I'm a big fan of Roberto Martinez and was disappointed he wasn't selected. His budget-savvy transfers, unflappable demeanor and lemons-into-lemonade coaching abilities, along with my admitted fetish for all things Spanish, made him ideal in my eyes. Just surviving for as long as he has in the EPL, while effectively serving as a farm team for the larger clubs, is a huge accomplishment. Alas, I am forced to continue to admire him from afar and root for his perennial underdog team (except when they play Liverpool, of course).  

Nobody can accuse Fenway Sports Group of a lack of investment or decisiveness.  They will shell out a reported $4M to get the Northern Irishman who shepherded Swansea into the Premier League last year and to an 11th place finish in the top flight this year.  And, in doing so, they kicked a Liverpool legend to the curb.  Sure, both club and Coach said all the right things when King Kenny was dismissed.  The former pointed out that ''He didn't ask to be manager; he was asked to assume the role. He did so because he knew the club needed him. He did more than anyone else to stabilize Liverpool over the past year and a half.''  And the latter offered that ''Whilst I am obviously disappointed to be leaving the football club, I can say that the matter has been handled by the owners and all concerned in an honorable, respectful and dignified way and reflects on the quality of the people involved.''  Those niceties aside, anyway you look at it, it takes balls to ask a legend, who is the last coach to lead you to the league title, for help and then fire him 18 months later.  Hopefully that is the kind of balls that will lead to the next league title.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Game Day Beer Review: Dogfish Head Saison Du BUFF

Poured from the bottle into a cheap wine glass, while preparing to watch the US Mens' National Soccer Team from my hotel room. Dogfish Head's version of Saison Du BUFF is a cloudy, pale yellow color, with almost no head to speak of.

Saison Du BUFF is citrusy on the nose, with a bevy of spices also apparent -- it smells like my spice cabinet! There's also the scent of a yeasty lemonade on the nose, with a hint of pepper, rosemary and basil.

I like the flavor; it's not nearly as sweet as the nose would imply. Although Saison Du BUFF begins with lemon, you can definitely taste the rosemary and other spices somewhere in the middle, before the beer finishes on a peppery note. I'm also tasting a bit of salt. 

This is a savory beer, although fairly light bodied. My guess is that it would go fairly well with food.

An interesting take on a classic Summer style from our friends at Dogfish Head. B+