Who doesn't like beer? Well, nobody asked you, buddy. The American craft beer industry has exploded in the past 15 years. When I was in college in the mid-1990s, the best beer you could reasonably find in my area was the occasional six pack of Sam Adams. Now, walk into any decent liquor store and you'll find dozens to literally hundreds of different beers and beer styles on display. It can be overwhelming, but the majority of them break down (extremely generally) into some broad categories.
Tottenham Hotspur played Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool to a scoreless draw at White Hart Lane on Saturday. While many Spurs fans are disappointed not to come away with the win, they successfully avoided the pull of #narrative in what was mistakably a trap game. And there were some outstanding performers on Saturday, as well.
So let's examine the Cartilage Free Captain writers' rankings of player performances, to the theme of beer styles.
Postscript: yes, I probably overlooked your favorite beer style (barleywine, Scotch ale, pilsner, pumpkin (ugh), Oktoberfest, etc.). I also know that I'm a terrible person because I ranked them poorly. BUT NO FLAMING IN THE COMMENTS.
5 stars: Stout
For my money, there is nothing – and I mean nothing – better than a good, impossibly dark, viscous stout. It doesn't have to be strongly alcoholic to be good, but you should be able to lose yourself in its inky black depths. I like a stout that you can almost literally chew on. Examples include the boozy complexity of a Founders Breakfast Stout (or even better, Kentucky Breakfast Stout), and the chocolate and coffee characteristics of Evil Twin's Imperial Biscotti Break. Even Guinness is creamy, tasty, and potable. All else being equal, I'll take a good stout over just about any beer.
Mousa Dembele (MOTM): Mousa Dembele was the best player on the pitch on Saturday, for either side. And it wasn't even close. Strong on the ball, he not only capably dealt with Liverpool's press in the center of midfield, he displayed an expansive passing game, capably shielded the defensive line, and showed a vision that was not shared on the day by his normally expressive midfield partner, Dele Alli. He had probably the hardest job of anyone on Tottenham's team – replacing Eric Dier – and he nailed it.
Jan Vertonghen/Toby Alderweireld: As good as Dembele was, Spurs' Belgian central defenders were again absolute rocks. It still feels strange to me to think that after last season Spurs now have the second most effective defense in the premier league, but there we are. Only seven goals allowed in nine matches, and the only reason the goal differential isn't higher is because Spurs aren't converting at the level of their xG. Even in the opening part of the match when Liverpool pressed high, you never really thought that Jan or Toby couldn't handle it.
4 stars: Belgian ales
Those Flemish monks sure did know how to brew a good beer. While actual Belgian beermakers tend to eschew categories for their beer, most of the time you know what you're getting with when you get a Belgian ale, and it's almost always guaranteed to be, if not great, at least good. Plus I was coerced into using this category because it's Tottenham and we love Belgians at Tottenham.
Hugo Lloris: Hugo wasn't called into action all that often against Liverpool, but when he was, he was superlative. Apart from the scrum that ended up going Please don't ever leave us, Hugo.
3.5 Star: Hefeweizen
Gotta have a German beer on this list, and Hefes are the best of the German styles (come at me, bro!). A cloudy wheat beer with flavor profiles that include bananas, cloves, and freshly-baked bread? Shouldn't work, but it really, really does.
Clinton N'Jie: All right, I'll say it: Clinton was downright scary-in-a-bad-way for the first 15 minutes of his sub appearance. And then he settled into the match and showed a good awareness of what was going on around him. He had a couple of shots that were close, and once Liverpool ran out of gas he was able to put in some dangerous runs into defense. He's young and raw, and needs both game time and patience. With Nacer Chadli out for an indefinite period of time, this could be the chance he needs to grab onto a starting role.
Christian Eriksen: For about a half an hour, Christian Eriksen was masterful against Liverpool, threading passes to open teammates and making a nuisance of himself in the hole. The rest of the time he was good, but occasionally faded into the background. That said, every time Spurs did something good offensively, Eriksen was a part of making that happen, and he continues to work to perfect his Vulcan mind meld with Harry Kane.
3 stars: IPA/Lager
Now, look: I hear you. I understand that this is a category with almost infinite variation. At its best a good IPA is crisp, bracing, and extremely complex. There are some outstanding IPAs out there, like Bell's HopSlam, or Cigar City's Jai Alai. The problem with IPAs is that every brewery thinks they need one, most of them are attempts to cram an entire pine tree into a bottle, and the vast majority range from awful to merely acceptable. IPA gets dinged because there are too goddamn many of them. As for lagers, they're fine. There's nothing wrong with a lager. But nobody goes out to a craft beer pub and says "Barkeep, give me your best lager." Maybe in Europe? But not in 'Merica.
Spurs' fullbacks: There was division amongst the masthead regarding Danny Rose and Kyle Walker. Liverpool set up to attack them and make them look bad, and for the most part they succeeded, at least early. Walker had a horror-show in the opening 15 minutes, and Danny Rose alternated between good and derpy. However, I thought especially in the second half both Rose and Walker were able to re-establish their positions and make their performances at least respectable, if not great.
Harry Kane: Harry Kane continues to be about as good a striker who isn't scoring goals as you can possibly be. You will never be able to doubt his work rate and his effort, but at the end of the day he needs to start putting away the few chances that he's getting.
Dele Alli: A rare mediocre game for Dele, who looked off the boil. He was okay in central midfield beside Dembele (could unfamiliarity with Mousa's game be at fault?) but didn't look like the creative, forward thinking deep lying playmaker we've become accustomed to seeing the past few matches.
Two stars: Porter
I'm going to get yelled at for this. I accept it. But for me, porters are just... well, not that great. Roasty and dark but not dark like a stout, and bitter, but not like an ale, porters are the "diet stouts" of the beer world. There are some great examples of porters out there, but for me personally a porter hits a sweet spot between styles that I just don't appreciate. YMMV, but I can count on one hand the number of porters I've had that I've really enjoyed, and it's to the point now where I no longer seek them out to try new ones.
Erik Lamela: Not sure what happened to Erik out there, but he wasn't imposing himself at all on the pitch, and this time his work rate wasn't enough to make up for the fact that he wasn't very effective. Might have been a match-up thing, I dunno. This was not his worst performance of the season, but it was definitely in the bottom half.
One star: Shandy
Shandy gets a one-star because Skipjack loves them and because they're not beer. Shandys are trash. Suck it, Skip.
None of Tottenham's players were as bad as a Leinenkugel shandy.