World Cup Booze: Surviving the ‘Group of Death’

The Spurs will still be battling it out with the Heat when the 2014 FIFA World Cup kicks off in Brazil, but it’s time to bust out those vuvuzelas. This year’s matches might prove even more difficult for Team USA, which has to make its way out of Group G—what’s so lovingly being referred to as the “Group of Death”—with big names Ghana, Germany and Portugal.

Regardless of whether you’re a diehard fútbol fan and will be staying up all hours to watch as many beautiful games as possible, or you’re only into watching the U.S. team scrap its way out of the underdog position, we’re offering up a few libation suggestions.

Let’s tackle the U.S. first. After Jurgen Klinsmann, manager for the men’s national soccer team, decided not to include Landon Donovan (the U.S. player with the most international goals) in 2014 Cup roster, it’s given me something to quake about. To calm our collective patriotic nerves, I suggest cooling off with Rahr & Sons’ Texas Red Amber lager. Native Texas players Clint Dempsey out of Nacogdoches and Omar Gonzalez out of Dallas (who also holds a dual citizenship with Mexico) are probably familiar with the caramel notes, even malt character and just a hint of hops (specifically Magnum and Strissselspalt) in this beer that hails from Forth Worth. With matches against Ghana (June 16, 5 p.m.), Portugal (June 22, 5 p.m.) and Germany (June 26, 11 a.m.) set, there’s still time to pick up a sixer from your local Spec’s for less than $9.

If you don’t believe the U.S. has what it takes to get out of the group, make like German soccer legend Klinsmann and root for Deutschland, a three-time champion. If you’re a follower of Die Adler or “The Eagle,” may I suggest a nice Kölsch? I picked up a Reissdorf Kölsch from Central Market for $4.99, as part of beer-monger Jeff’s “picks.” This warm-fermented brew doesn’t offend the palate by any means—if anything it might make you long for hop-heavy beers du jour. The Reissdorf is an easy-drinking, sweet lager with a 4.8 percent ABV that won’t wreck any afternoon post-game plans.

While Portugal’s team is still struggling with star Cristiano Ronaldo’s overall playing health, you can take a load off while watching Spain’s neighbor compete while sipping on a fizzy vinho verde. Hailing from the Minho region of Portugal, Nobilis Vinho Verde, a sweet and acidic wine that pairs well with creamy cheeses or raw oysters, can be found at Central Market for under $10.

Good ol’ Ghana. The 2010 team took the U.S. out of play while becoming the third-ever African team to reach the quarterfinals. They’re a force to be reckoned with, even if Bloomberg is currently tapping Germany and Portugal to make it past the group level. A Ghanaian witch doctor did say he had something to do with Ronaldo’s recent ailments after all… Having said that, it’s also proven quite difficult to source traditional Ghanian booze anywhere in our city (or the U.S. for that matter): palm wine, maize beer and the sugar-cane liquor akpeteshie are not easily found at the corner liquor store.

However, Ghana is home to a Guinness brewery, and though the locally produced beer is said to be very different than the familiar Irish recipe, it is a dark, heavy stout. So, lift one if you go for Ghana.

So whether you’re rooting for 2010’s champion Spain while imbibing a fruity sangria, sourcing a Trappist-brewed La Trappe Dubbel to cheer on the Flying Dutchmen from the Netherlands or praying Mexico’s El Tri makes it past Croatia, Brazil and Cameroon while nursing a Negra Modelo, we’re in for some exciting footie. This year’s lineups will make for an interesting Cup (and we’re not even talking about host country Brazil’s less-than-ready digs).

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