Saturday, June 29, 2013

Game Day Beer Review: Driftwood Brewery White Bark Witbier

(5.00% ABV) Poured into a wine glass while overlooking beautiful Whistler, Canada on a recent trip.
White Bark Ale poured a murky white wine-like yellow, with a pure white head. Extensive carbonation was noticeable as soon as the beer was poured.
The Belgian yeast was the most noticeable feature of the beer's nose. Coriander spice was also evident.
White Bark tasted like a fairly traditional Witbier -- a spicy, citrusy mix, fairly well blended by a brewery on Vancouver Island. It was very subtle in its complexity, and one of the best beers we had while north of the border. Extremely refreshing, and definitely recommended if you visit the beautiful province of British Columbia: B+

Friday, June 28, 2013

Game Day Beer Review: Granville Island Brewery Robson Street Hefeweizen

(5.00% ABV) Served on draft in the Granville Island Brewery tasting room in Vancouver, Canada.

The Robson Street Hefeweizen poured a hazy gold with a fluffy, pure white head. The smell was mild banana and clove.

Clove was more dominant on the forefront of the taste before the banana esters kicked in. A slight breadiness was noticeable, as well.

All in all, we have to say this one was slightly underwhelming: B-

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Parking Lot Party

The recent rash of farlieonfootie corporate outings continued as approximately half the staff gathered to watch our beloved hometown Fort Lauderdale Strikers take on Cruzeiros of Brazil this past weekend.  Luckily for all involved, the beer was better than the soccer -- at least from the viewpoint of the Strikers fans.  Our pre-game staff meeting also came to several other incisive, beer-fueled findings on that fateful Sunday afternoon, some of which might even be classified as mildly interesting:

o So much of what makes attending a football match irresistible is the camraderie involved.  Even when your team gets absolutely smoked -- and the 4-0 scoreline failed to accurately reflect Cruzeiros' dominance -- the opportunity to get together and have some fun with family and friends while watching live football is hard to beat.  The largest crowd of the season, a festive atmosphere, and a stunning pre-game craft beer list certainly helped, but there's something special to be said for sitting outdoors on a beautiful afternoon or evening and watching 22 men kick the ball around.

o You know those pop-up tailgate tents that come with instructions claiming you only need two people to set them up?  Yeah, the manufacturers are lying.  Especially in high winds.  And also if your first assistant is not quite five feet tall.  Other than that, they're a breeze to set up.

o A cold beer on a hot day is hard to beat.  Sure, there's almost no such thing as a bad beer, but some beers are clearly better than others -- a founding principle of farlieonfootie.  The beers enjoyed on Sunday afternoon included Sierra Nevada Summerfest, Magic Hat Elder Betty, Lagunitas Little Sumpin' Sumpin' Ale, and the ultra-hard-to-beat local favorite Hop Gun IPA from South Florida's own Funky Buddha Brewery, located in Oakland Park, Florida.  If you find yourself down here on vacation make sure to stop by and check out the brewery -- you won't regret it.

o Fort Lauderdale's own LaSpada's Original Hoagies makes a damn good turkey sub.  Highly recommended.

o A pre-game football tailgate may be a peculiarly American habit, but it has a lot to recommend it.  Give us a couple hours, some good friends, good food, a little country music on the stereo (Lee Brice, Zac Brown Band, Florida Georgia Line, Little Big Town, and Brad Paisley are all making regular appearances on the company iPod these days), and most important of all, some excellent beer, and we're all in.  In fact, now that we're thinking of it, it may be time for another staff meeting....

This is farlieonfootie for June 26.

Friday, June 21, 2013

We Agree on Some Things: USA 1 - Honduras 0

After a further review of his beer count, Scott remembered some additional thoughts he had on the American's 2-1 victory over Honduras Tuesday night:
The Farlieonfootie game-watching party at Coach Mark’s house was much as it should have been: mounds of chicken wings, oversized bottles of craft beer and soccer opinions flying around like mosquitoes after a fresh summer rain in South Florida.  Clearly the higher alcohol content favored by smaller production breweries contributed to the conviviality that saw United, Liverpool and Tottenham fans all putting aside their differences to agree on just about everything as it related to Team USA:

o Michael Bradley’s head should be in every wall formed by the US from now on.  If we get the rest of his body that is a plus.  But we at least need his head, which single-foreheadedly blocked one of the more ominous Honduran attempts on goal. 
o As a quick Google Images search revealed, Clint Dempsey’s perpetual look of disdain is clearly an effort to compensate for his default permanent grin, courtesy of his photogenic and paintily clad wife, Bethany.
o Jozy Altidore, recently interviewed by our host, Mark, as the pictures of his daughter and the Forward proved, is on a tear with four consecutive international games with a goal.  As his confidence grows, he is beginning to look like the strong scorer we’ve been expecting.  May his streak continue!
o After the photos of his daughter, next up from Mark were classic audio clips of commentary by the inimitable Ray Hudson.  Heads were nodding all around when it was proposed that Mr. Hudson is maybe the best at his trade.  If only Fox Soccer were of the same mind rather than enlisting the services of the enthusiastic yet hapless Gus Johnson.
o After the aforementioned nodding of heads, there was a communal scratching of those heads as we tried to piece together the mystery that is Cobi Jones having over 100 caps for the national team.  This was followed by a general, slow, side-to-side shaking of heads (accompanied by two forceful exhales and at least one eye roll) as we then reminisced about the thankfully brief Tim Ream experiment.
o Has Michael Bradley officially broken the American player in Serie A curse that began with Alexi Lalas?  Maybe.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Getting a Big Head: USMNT 1 - Honduras 0

Continuing our theme of not enough soccer and never enough beer, the farlieonfootie corporate staff gathered on Tuesday night to watch the US Men in action against Honduras at Coach Mark's bachelor pad.  The swanky soiree was catered with the best food that money could buy and a fairly decent selection of craft beers, as well: The Bruery (Mischief), Dogfish Head (75 Minute), and Lagunitas (Sumpin' Sumpin') were all represented. As was Goose Island (312 Urban Wheat), a beer which Correspondent Ed gets cranky about when we refer to it as a "craft," but as no one pays him any mind in the first place, his sulking in the corner brought no further disruption to the evening's festivities.
Despite the beer flowing liberally, we did manage to retain enough of our wits about us to keep at least some small impressions from last night's crucial 1-0 victory for the Nats, viz:
o Although we've always fancied the Great Gazoo to play the role of Michael Bradley when they make the movie about how the USA won the World Cup, Correspondent Ed made a decent case last night for Megamind.  We'll leave it up to you, our faithful readers, to make the final call:

Who Will Play the Role of Michael Bradley?  You Decide.

o Regardless of who plays the role, there's no denying the former coach's son has become an integral part of the US setup, and is probably our second most important player at this point -- trailing only the Deuce, Clint Dempsey.  He's definitely turned around our former thinking on the subject from a year and a half ago -- there's no denying that some time in Roma has helped our boy significantly "up" his game.
o Jozy Altidore has turned into a pretty decent center forward.  Scoring 24 golazzos in a single season in Europe will do that to you, we guess....  During the past month Altidore has displayed a depth and maturity to his game that we hadn't seen before, and his confidence has got to be sky high after his latest exploits.  His touch looked great, his runs were brilliant, and his hold up play was much better than average -- and that says nothing about his finishing, which is on a par right now with the best the US has ever seen. 
o Could it be be coincidence that the US offense has started to click under the tutelage of noted former goalscorer Jurgen Klinsmann, or could it just possibly be that the Nats' bossman might know a thing or two about putting the ball in the back of the net...?  Although we were early and ardent admirers of der Klinsi, many fans in the US camp needed some convincing -- and some still do.  To hell with his "inability to switch tactics in the middle of a game."  We're more interested in watching a team that looks as if it's beginning to understand how to truly play the game in the first place.  Did we ever see any sustained wide play under Bob Bradley? 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Game Day Beer Review: Allagash Brewing Black Belgian Strong Dark Ale

(7.50% ABV) Served on tap at Fore Street in Portland, Maine. Served in a tall Collins-like glass. Allagash Black was true to its name, pitch black with a coffee-colored head that left lots of lacing behind as it disappeared.

The beer smelled of muted chocolate, nicely matching the subdued mood and dark wood ambience of the restaurant bar.

Allagash Black showed both coffee and dark chocolate notes upon tasting, although the coffee gradually prevailed.  The beer had a silky mouthfeel, which added to the sense of luxurious ease with which it went down. Highly recommended from this stellar Vacationland brewery. A

Friday, June 14, 2013

Transfer Talk

photo by Señor Codovia PhotoRee

Somewhat surprisingly, Scott manages to work an allusion to Clay Aiken into an article on, among other things, Jose Mourinho:

I am humbled by Correspondent Ed's recent rash of prolificacy.  And since his blanketing coverage of the US international team renders my planned comments superfluous, I'll shift to European transfer news.

You have to admit - the offseason player transfer and coaching carousel drama is fun. The annual shuffling of the BPL deck of cards has us reading the headlines and rumor lines scouring for how the hands will ultimately be dealt. Sure, most of the cards stick together, but enough of them are flipped to another team to make the summer just about bearable. Yes, we have World Cup Qualifying to tide us over too (not to mention Ed's pertinent, persistent posts), but a few games over the whole summer doesn't sate this addiction.

Neymar to Barcelona - many have opined on this move with the majority having yearned for a BPL test instead of another Barca chess piece. I agree. I want to see everybody ply their trade in the BPL at some point. Even Messi.

Martinez to Everton - I'm happy that the Spaniard will get to continue to have his name bastardized by BPL commentators, even as his beloved Wigan will have to claw their way back again from the Championship (is that a stupid name for the second league or what?).   My affinity for all things Spanish (outside of a certain Catalan team, of course) is well documented but I also believe that Martinez will bring an attractive form of attacking soccer to the other Liverpool team.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Well, That Was Better: USMNT 2 - Panama 0

photo by meddygarnetvia PhotoRee
It's all Ed all the time around corporate HQ these days: 
My US national team assignment continues, this time from Seattle, Washington, where our heroes put in a dramatically better performance to defeat Panama 2 to 0 and move to first place in their World Cup qualifying group.  (By the way, thanks for putting me up in that slick Residence Inn, boss, really loved the gratuitous continental breakfast buffet.)  Of course, this was a home game against weak opposition, but even so the USA moved and handled the ball with much more confidence and tactical awareness.  In particular....

Michael Bradley.  Bradley played one of his better games, controlling the middle, handling the ball well, and working forward into space on breaks expertly.  He was the man of the match for the US, and was only stopped from scoring by an unfortunately positioned Clint Dempsey.  I recall much criticism of Bradley as only starting because he's the coach's son.  Well, that's not true.  Bradley is the best midfielder we have right now.  He lacks speed and isn't dazzling, but he's one of the few American's whose capable on the ball and has the vision of a coach's son.  He's also clearly a leader of that team.  At 26, he's coming into the prime of his career and in the next World Cup the USA will need him.

Jozy Altidore.  Altidore had a terrific game, but remains to me simply an old style number 9.   He uses his strength well, can finish, and is a threat in the air, but don't look for him to scare anyone when he has the ball at his feet in the way top strikers like Aguero or Van Persie do.  That said, he is also older now and is gaining confidence.

Geoff Cameron.  The press had the loss of Jermaine Jones due to a concussion as being a huge problem for the USA.  I see the value of Jones and think he's a solid player, but I've also felt that his touch is suspect in addition to his all to frequent lapses of judgment with hard fouls.  Geoff Cameron, it turns out, filled in admirably and seemed to be little different than Jones in this one, perhaps even better.

Damarcus Beasley.  Well, I've been harsh on Damarcus for some time, but he had one of his best games against Panama.  He was solid and defense and handled himself well on offense.  I'm sorry to say, though, that the lack of competition on that side seemed a huge part of his success, and I still can't believe we don't have someone better. 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Observations: USA 2 - Jamaica 1

photo by psdvia PhotoRee

Tapping into some stream of consciousness from Correspondent Ed's mind.  We think this is related to the US Mens National Team's 2-1 victory in Kingston, Jamaica on Friday night:

Our left and right backs are beaten routinely.

There is absolutely no midfield when move the ball forward.

Omar Gonzalez just kicks it like a KC stopper.

Jozy Altidore is never onside.

Jermaine Jones: typical heavy touches.

Fabian Johnson is awful; he looks like a high school player.

Graham Zusi is the most creative American at this point.

The camera work for the game is awful; the stadium looks like it was made without help of an architect.

US: strong defense on corner kicks.

There's no one more disdainful then Clint Dempsey after he's been fouled.

Damarcus Beasley may be even worse going forward than he is at back.

Easy long balls in space we head forward mindlessly instead of trapping.

They just love bombing it forward to no one from the back.

Brad Evans has Beasley-level incompetence going forward.

We're unable to hold ball against Jamaica.

Edgar Castillo comes in for Fabian Johnson and, somehow, he looks even worse.  Plus he's the size of a Under-10 player.

Friday, June 7, 2013

You're So Special

photo by batraxvia PhotoRee

Ed is back -- twice in one week! -- to wax lyrically about the Special One, new (or is it old?) Chelsea bossman Jose Mourinho:
Ever since the pinching incident, I've been a little weary of the Special One and have mixed emotions regarding his return to the BPL.  Chelsea may very well benefit from him, and his certain reorganization of the team will be interesting to see.  Rumors are that Juan Mata and Fernando Torres will be sold to make room and money for new talents.  I get Torres, but Mata?  Well, hard to blame him for something he hasn't done yet.
Mourinho's return coincides with Sir Alex Ferguson's departure.  We can be certain that Mourinho was hopeful he would have a chance at the United job, and we can be equally certain that he's going to be very motivated to beat United in his return to Old Trafford with Chelsea.  David Moyes is no weakling, and he certainly knows how to put a team together.  That said, I expect the matchup to be a fun one, but I'd warn Jose not to try anything so ginger as a pinch with Moyes -- if I recall he was ready to deck Roberto Mancini for throwing a ball his way not that long ago.
And now we will also have the opportunity to see what Roberto Martinez can do at Everton.  The Toffees have a long proven track record of success; fighting for relegation is not something they were familiar with under Moyes.  It's been said that Martinez's defenses at Wigan have been poor -- the opposite of Moyes rigid defenses at Everton.  Will Martinez have success due to that defensive coaching residue?  Will he struggle trying to adapt the players to a new system?  Fans will not have much patience with him; it will be as tough a job as any he's had.
Manchester City also looks to be adding a new Italian coach.  I've always been a bit suspect of the Italian coaches, believing that they are caught in the defensive counter attack system that took shape years ago and is largely unentertaining to watch.  Something may have changed my mind, though, and that is Dortmund's uber-coach Jurgen Klopp stating how he learned from the Italian coaches just how talent can be outdone by good tactics.  Seeing his teams play is believing; perhaps the Italians have more to offer the modern game than I thought.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Notes and Sighs

photo by jake.auzzievia PhotoRee

We always had more than a sneaking suspicion that Correspondent Ed followed Justin Bieber's every move....
• It was nice to see the USA A-team beat the German B-team (or maybe C-team) in last week's friendly, especially in light of what Germany did to Ecuador in their prior friendly at FAU in Boca Raton (Nice stadium, by the way). But in another way, the top tier German players missing in that game -- Schweinsteiger, Ozil, Muller, Goetze, just to name a few -- show the enormous distance in ability between these two countries. Put more simply, the USA's best player, Clint Dempsey, would likely not make the German team. Egads, that has to change. You've got your work cut out for you, USA soccer clubs.

• I'm somewhat over Spurs' fifth place finish, one point behind Arsenal, in this year's BPL. It's also looking more likely that Gareth Bale may stay another year. But don't confuse "more likely" with "likely." If AVB is able to keep him for another year and somehow build on the squad with some depth at midfield and striker, that would be all a Spurs fan could ask. Hopefully, what seems to be a close personal relationship between the manager and the player will triumph. That said, a Real Madrid team with Bale on one side and Ronaldo on the other would look similar too and potentially even more dangerous than that Bayern team with Ribery on one side and Robben on the other. What would Bale go for on the market today? Is $70MM crazy?

• I'm disappointed that Neymar is bringing his "My Little Pony"™ hairdo to Barcelona, not because he won't be fun to watch there, but rather because I'd prefer to see talent such as his play week in and week out against the tougher competition of the BPL or the Bundesliga. He will certainly prosper there, but I expect it will take him time to fit in to the system -- a system that Cesc Fabregas has repeatedly described as complex. Certainly Barca can use Neymar, but can't they use some defensemen more? And what was with the Alex Song pickup? Song is decent but I never put him at the Barca level. He clearly isn't meant to replace Xavi (who will, by the way?). Is he intended for use in those league games that matter less?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Game Day Beer Review: Abita Brewing Andygator Maibock

(8.00% ABV) Poured recently at Zatarain's Kitchen, located inside Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans, Louisiana. Andygator was served in a 16 oz. plastic cup and appeared a warm caramel hold color with an ultra-fluffy white head. 

The beer smelled primarily of malt, and served as a very nice accompaniment to my meal of sausage, red beans and rice, taking the heat out of some of the liberal Tabasco usage. 

It was an easy drinker, too, with a relatively light mouthfeel and low carbonation. It was surprisingly sweet up front, with  malt flavor in the middle and tropical fruit on the finish.  We wouldn't call it a prototypical maibock, but we liked it just the same. B