Being a fan of the U.S. Men's National Soccer Team is kind of a masochistic exercise. Fans from countries with long-established football traditions look upon you with a disdainful pity. They know that your team does not rate among the world's best, and they smile at the notion that America cannot seem to force its hegemony upon the world's game. What's more, your team is a Jekyll and Hyde project. On its best days, it can vanquish the world's best teams; on its worst, it can look like your nephew's under-10 traveling club team.
But we still love our team (I mean, what other team in the World Cup can claim a player named Herculez?). And America's interest in the game, especially in the USMNT's exploits, grows during every World Cup cycle. During the 2002 World Cup, only a handful of the most faithful fans were getting up at 3:00 a.m. to watch the Yanks' quarterfinal run in Japan/South Korea, and only one bar in town opened in the wee hours for viewing parties. Eight years later, the list of pubs opening early to show World Cup matches is substantially larger, and the number of fans who actually know the USMNT's players and where they play their professional soccer is exponentially larger.
So we continue Hoosier Beer Geek's soccer fan indoctrination project with a special edition of our "Where to Drink" series. Here's our list of where in Indianapolis you can enjoy good-quality beer along with your viewing of World Cup soccer--
This will be the KOTBR's home base for World Cup matches (though we can't promise that we'll be there for every USA game). For the Yanks' opening match against England on Saturday, our favorite former goalkeeper, Ted "Safe Hands" Miller, will have the big screen up in the downstairs dining room for family-friendly match viewing. Of course, the upstairs pub will also be open for those 21 and over. Belgian-style beer (including, we hope, the much coveted Pooka) + Belgian brasserie fare + World Cup games = Golazo-azo-azo-azo!
Broad Ripple Brewpub
Just down the Monon Trail from Brugge, Broad Ripple Brewpub publican (and Englishman) John Hill has a television in the bar that always seems to be tuned to the big game of most sporting events. We wouldn't be surprised if the BRBP were a great place to take in a match or two. Given John's English roots, we imagine that you might run into a some of his fellow expats enjoying a few pints and some bangers and mash.
For many USMNT fans, the Tap has become the place to head on match day. The reason is fairly clear: this Mass Ave establishment is unabashedly soccer-focused, often opening early in the morning to show league and international matches from around the world. We went to the Tap to watch the USA's disappointing loss to Brazil in last year's Confederations Cup final; the place was packed with passionate and knowledgeable fans. If you're going to the Tap, arrive well before kick-off; the bar will fill up quickly, especially for USA matches.
MacNiven's Restaurant & Bar
Amazing beer list. Televisions galore, often tuned to soccer. Tasty, Americanized Scottish fare. If the Chatham Tap is not your style because you're not down with hanging out with wall-to-wall crazies, head down Mass Ave to MacNiven's to catch your favorite team.
Union Jack Pub - Broad Ripple
Like the Chatham Tap, the Union Jack is a destination for those who like to get up on weekend mornings to watch their English Premier League team in action. They have a decent bottle and draft list and family-friendly seating. They also do a respectable Chicago deep-dish pizza. What more is there to say?
You may be wondering what a rock club is doing on this list. There's a good reason: Radio Radio owner Tufty Clough hails from Liverpool and is a life-long football fan. The club was open for World Cup matches in 2006 and was an excellent venue to take in those games with its large-screen, hi-def televisions. The club holds a special place in my heart because it's where I first met Mike and Gina during one of the USA's 2006 World Cup matches. World Beer Cup medal winners Sun King are among the beers on tap. Doors open 30 minutes before kick-off for the first game of the day. Showing all 64 matches.
Red Lion Grog House
If you're in Fountain Square and not heading to Radio Radio for games, you might want to hit the Red Lion. We recently visited and were fairly impressed with what we saw. Upland and Sun King are on the tap list.
And then there's Scotty's, with its ubiquitous televisions, its massive and outstanding tap list, and its encyclopedia-sized food menu. While we can imagine that this is the one bar where you're most likely to run into soccer-haters, don't let that discourage you. We're big fans of Scotty's, if only because of the larger-than-life experience that each Scotty's location provides.
If you know of any other bars or restaurants, whether in Indy or elsewhere in Indiana, that are showing World Cup matches, please let us know in the comments.