As a fully-committed, bandwagon-jumping World Cup lunatic, I have to say the past couple of weeks have been emotionally taxing. Not because of the sport itself, of course, but rather because of beer. Why? Well, last week we lost to Germany, and now Belgium.
To say that I am absolutely devastated would be an understatement. It's like some horrid, vengeful super-deity is looking down at me from their cloud upon high with a sneer, vowing to burden me with a punishment worse than death... or at least worse than doing my taxes without a calculator. Or going to the beach. Gross.
You see, being the dedicated and obnoxious fair-weather fan I am, there is no sport too small for me to adopt as my own, often with a distinct lack of logical context. This has resulted in odd allegiances - I'm looking at you, Swedish curling team; you took the bronze at Sochi, but the gold in my heart - as well as arbitrary, superstitious abstentions that might somehow sway the odds in my favor.
In the case of this year's World Cup, I couldn't drink beers from or inspired by Germany during the game last week, and now I was stuck not drinking Belgian or Belgian-styled beers during Tuesday's game either.
This is done out of love for America, freedom, bald eagles and grilled cheese sandwiches.
I know there are others out there like me who understand this struggle is real. And I'm here to tell those of you who are clinging desperately to your red, white and blue while living in blissful ignorance as to the purpose of a yellow card, that there is hope.
Hope, thy name is Thomas Jefferson's Tavern Ale from Philadelphia-based Yards Brewing Co.
As I've mentioned previously, brewing was considered a domestic pursuit centuries ago, so it was usually handled by women. This was no different in the Jefferson home, according to household account records archived at the Library of Congress; Thomas' wife, Martha, was the first to jump into brewing while they still swooning newlyweds, at the rate of approximately 15 gallons every two weeks.
But the beer bug must have taken a big chomp out of Thomas at some point. (Maybe it was when he was kicking back a few ales with James Monroe in their briefly-shared Annapolitan home?) By the time plans were drawn up for his now-iconic home, Monticello, they included a room for brewing, as well as a cellaring space for beer. And in the spring of 1812 - when the United States and Great Britain were inches away from kicking off an almost three-year slap fight with cannon-fire over French trade agreements, British support of the Native Americans and a couple other nagging issues - Thomas, a carefree retiree at the time, ordered the bottling of his first beer.
Flash-forward to 1994, Jon Bovit and Tom Kehoe founded Yards Brewing Co., and has since built its reputation on crafting brews that capture the spirit of the English brewing tradition, such as the Brawler, their famous English Mild. (Given the upcoming Belgium game, I'm just going to pretend their Belgian-styled Grand Cru isn't a thing right now, even though it is delicious.)
Thomas Jefferson's Tavern Ale is part of their "Ales of the Revolution" specialty series. And while its roots are founded in the English strong ale style, "...Tom Kehoe, worked closely with Philadelphia's historic City Tavern to recreate this recipe, employing honey, rye and wheat, just like the beer Jefferson made at Monticello," according to the brewery.
I felt lost as I perched atop a stool at 1747 Pub last Thursday, watching the American team flail helplessly in the match against Germany. Nay, abandoned. Then Christian, my steadfast bartender in shining armor, set the Tavern Ale in front of me. Ladies and gentlemen, I didn't just find a delicious beer in my pint glass. I found solace.
The roasted, malty sweetness balanced by the perfect amount of carbonation comforted me, as if to say, "There, there. It's okay that four of our players just fell on the ground within 10 seconds, I promise. Portugal blew it, so we're still somehow advancing, no matter what."
Yes, I know we will soon bid adieu to soccer on the global stage, and I'll inevitably become obsessed with something else, like a website dedicated to pugs reenacting scenes from famous movies. But until then, I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to the team at Yards. Thanks to you, I know the Tavern Ale will be the beer-equivalent of the song "Lean on Me" by Bill Withers when it comes time for to pick up my mantle made of freedom and cheeseburgers against those Belgians.
(Author's note: Since this game will be over by the time this is published, please send any and all condolences in the form of beer.)