Basketball resumed this week, and unless you are a Houston Rockets fan, who cares. The T-Wolves at Milwaukee just ain't opening day at Wrigley. The Nuggets flailing in Philadelphia simply isn't the first drop of the puck in Detroit or Boston or Montreal. I once lived in a house with some Steelers fans who went approximately insane at the start of the NFL season. One, upon seeing the fireworks to open the first game, ran to a weight bench and started pounding out chest-presses as fast as he could in raw mad glee.
The NBA, though, transitions meekly from preseason to games that allegedly count. We know this is silly. The oldest people in professional sports populate the roster of the Los Angeles Lakers, and they so far appear content to coast into and through November with the same intensity Kobe brings to dragging his recycling to the curb. (Except that Darius Morris kid. Have you seen him race to the rack? Dude has a teardrop runner that looks like one of those HORSE shots you only take when you're ahead by three letters.) If they're not going to care until March, there's no reason you should. By then the team of frenemies might have settled into a rhythm and the fifth seed in the West and for all serious purposes start scoring more. The ball probably feels a little greasy right now, what with Steve Nash still sweating pure, slick hatred onto it every time he tries to pass to Kobe.
Basketball suffers, especially in these doldrum cold months, because there's no such thing as a great basketball beer. There's neither a hot sun nor a proper tailgate culture to anchor a drinking ritual around hoops. If you're going to drink a single beer throughout an entire game, it should be ample. Enter the moderately delightful 3 Monts, out of France's Brasserie de Saint Sylvestre, in (stupid sexy) Flanders. It is hard to fault this beer. It comes in a 750 ml bottle and punches at 8.5 percent abv, suitable for pouring at dinner or into one glass over the course of a couple of hours. Each sip brings a flurry of flavors - a bit of citrus here, some straw there, maybe cloves, a splash of liquorice. When poured out of that whopping corked bottle, 3 Monts foams up nicely and settles at a glossy bronze color. The local beeratorium in my neighborhood sells it relatively cheaply, considering especially the 5,000-mile trip it makes to get here, and it makes for a nice half-price substitute when showing up to a dinner party. French wine, French beer, it's all delicious. (If you want to read a true Valentine to 3 Monts, check out this perfect review someone submitted for it over at BeerAdvocate.)
This could be a ball beer, a one-game bottle that carries you through those first couple of months where you don't even notice the standings. During football season you gotta find something to motivate you other than the pure joy of watching the infancy of Lin and Harden in tandem.
Beer/game pairings: Uncork a 3 Monts and settle into Texas-Texas Tech, probably the least-French but most visceral matchup on tap for the day, perfect for the blood-soaked fields of Flanders. Portland pops by Houston on Saturday night, speaking of more Texas and more Rockets. And on Sunday, how about rounding out the Lone Star State (which is almost the same size as France, didjaknow?) with a couple of tricolour teams: Buffalo at Houston. Viva.