The Beer Dance: The Championship Of Our Craft Beer March Madness Bracket
NEW YORK -- ( MainStreet) -- Our craft beer bracket is down to two brews and two fervent fan bases. Let the final beer battle begin.
Just a few weeks ago, we had a full 14-pack of craft beers from NCAA tournament host cities. Much as the NCAA's field of 64 winnowed down to the University of Kansas Jayhawks and University of Kentucky Wildcats, our case is down to just two beers sharing the top shelf of our fridge: Samuel Adams Boston Lager and Schlafly Dry Hopped APA.
It's been a strange road to the final for both squads, but one that's been fairly fun to travel. Sam opened up the tournament by breezing past Columbus, Ohio-based Columbus Brewing 's IPA despite a strong show of online support from Columbus fans. It spend the second round fending off a potent combination of Pittsburgh pride and sessionable Munich lager, but pulled out the win over Penn Brewery 's Penn Gold. The Final Four gave Sam an early scare as Abita Brewing 's Turbodog surged into the lead, but Boston Lager recovered and came back for a slim victory over the beer from Final Four host city New Orleans.
Samuel Adams was by far the biggest beer in our bracket. Boston Beer (SAM) produces dozens of varieties of it a year and nearly 2.5 million barrels of it last year. Depending on who you talk to, that's either tied with D.L. Yuengling & Son of Pottsville, Pa., for the biggest craft and regional brewer in the country or lags just slightly behind Yuengling's production. Either way, Sam is just about as big as craft beer gets in this country and Boston Lager is a big part of its success.
Not that such things concern its competition at Schlafly. For more than 20 years, Schlafly has been producing its craft concoctions in what is basically an Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD) company town. The A-B brewery looms large, the Busch family name is on the Cardinals' stadium and the Clydesdales come clopping through for all the big city events. If anyone knows how to play underdog, it's Schlafly.
Underdog may be the wrong adjective for Schlafly when it comes to this bracket, though. Despite strong support in Louisville for Bluegrass Brewing 's Dark Star Porter, Schlafly fans came in and crushed their competition with a surge of votes at the end of the first round. What should've been a clash of rabid fan bases in the second round became a laugher for Schlafly as neither Cleveland, Dayton nor Great Lakes Brewing showed up to support Edmund Fitzgerald Porter.
Nothing -- not even Schlafly's beer bracket campaign posters -- compares with what happened during the last round. We're willing to take the blame for the first poll imploding and doling out 18,000 votes to one side in an hour. When the replacement poll started clocking a vote per second for Schlafly and Four Peaks Brewing 's Kilt Lifter Scottish Ale, though, we just threw up our hands. The last thing we wanted was for half the workforce in Phoenix and St. Louis to spend its Friday workday hitting the vote button for its favorite brewery and only taking breaks to hit the boss button when a supervisor strolled by. What we really didn't want was for the poll to be turned into a big game of Rock 'Em Sock 'Em robots, with bots for each side trading blows on our poll.