Date: 30 October 2008, 8:00 p.m.
Location: Home (in gorgeous Meridian Park)
Settling in to watch my beloved Chicago Fire take on the New England Revolution in the first round of the Major League Soccer playoffs. This is Game 1, and I'm pretty psyched. I shouldn't be, however, because the Fire have a Revolution curse when it comes to the playoffs. They face the Revs in the playoffs every year, and they lose every time.
But this year, I'm confident that the Fire can advance because they have a new weapon up front: former U.S. international Brian McBride. This dude is literally a man of steel, and I'm not just talking about his stamina on the pitch (though he really can go at full speed for the full ninety minutes). I'm referring to the list of nasty playing injuries he has suffered in the past, which includes two broken cheekbones.
I figure I might as well drink a red beer (the Fire's team color), so I grab a Founders Rubaeus. Ah, Founders--one of the true giants of craft brewing, in my opinion. Never had a bad beer from them, and the Rubaeus is no exception. This raspberry wheat ale pours with a reddish-pink hue and smells like a carton of candied raspberries. The flavor of this beer is heavier than the typical fruit beer, probably because it clocks in at 7.0% ABV, which is higher than the typical ABV for a beer of this type. It's slightly tart, quite sweet, and has a pleasant alcohol bite. There's a bit of a lambic character to this beer.
In the end, the beer is better than the match. I have to settle for a boring 0-0 draw. Yes, soccer haters, I know you're going to say, "I told you so," but many 0-0 games are exciting. No really...I swear.
[Postscript - The Fire advanced to the MLS Eastern Conference Championship on November 6 after beating the Revs 3-0.]
Date: Saturday, October 25
Location: Shallos, Greenwood, Indiana
Hanging out on the south side with Mike and Gina. We're at Shallos after having dinner at the Fireside Brewhouse. As usual, Shallos' beer list is chaotic, confusing, and outdated. Therefore, our visit is sort of like going on a scavenger hunt as we ask the bartender to search various shelves, nooks, and crannies to help us find a good selection. I begin with a Two Brothers Heavy Handed IPA, which is one of a plethora of "wet hopped" beers that come out around the hops harvest every year. This one's on tap, so I figure it ought to be pretty decent, and it is. This IPA pours with a coppery color and is predominately piney in the nose and flavor. I don't get a lot of malt sweetness out of this beer as you do out of other American IPA's. Indeed, to me, it's rather dry, à la Bell's Two Hearted Ale. A good wet hopped beer, but Gina had the Founders Harvest Ale; after having a sip of it, I thought it was head and shoulders above the Heavy Handed IPA.
After finishing the Heavy Handed IPA, I puzzle over what to have next. The bartender suggests a Belgian she has on tap: St. Bernardus Abt 12. She gives me a sample. Mmmm...much potential, so I order a full glass. This ale comes served in a sizable goblet, which spells trouble because the beer clocks in at 10.5% ABV. In fact, Gina and I decide on the politically incorrect nickname of "St. Retardus" (sorry--please don't hate us because we're sometimes vile people) because of the potential for this beer to wreak havoc on brain cells. But sipped slowly, this is a beer to savor. It pours with a dark brown color, and it has that classic, silky mouthfeel you get from a Belgian of this particular style. It also has that nice blend of sugar, chocolate, and dark fruit notes you get from this kind of beer. Almost as good as Trappistes Rochefort 10, but not quite.