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March Brewness: Round 1, Part 1

In our first round of match ups we have the breweries pictured below facing off. Please vote on each match up for the brewery that you think makes the better beer. Each poll will be open for 24 hours and will close promptly at 11:59:59 PM.

Make sure you come back tomorrow for Round 1, Part 2 of the voting.

Introduction to March Brewness 2011

Selection Sunday is tomorrow and I thought that it might be fun to hold a brewery tournament. For the next week and a half or so I will post the brewery match ups for each round of the tournament. We will follow the same rules as March Madness; 64 teams and single round elimination. As the field gets smaller we will get closer to crowning our champion brewery.

The 64 breweries represented in this tournament range from small to very large. Some aren’t even in the craft category. I divided the country up into four different regions while picking the breweries so that no particular area had a bias. The regions where; East, South, Midwest, and West. Brewery selections were made from my own knowledge of each areas, production outputs, and brewery quality according to various beer review websites.

In this tournament each region will not be competing against it’s local breweries, rather a random ranking system was used to mix the breweries together. A brewery located in the East may face any of the four regions. Make sure to stop back each day to vote for your favorite brewery and to see how it fairs verses other breweries.

If you run a craft beer blog please share a link on your site so that we can get a high level or participation in this tournament. The first matchups will begin in one week 3/19 at 12:00 PM!  The 64 breweries and their regions are below. (more…)

Importance of commerical beer to the homebrewer

My partner in brewing crime, Pete, made it down earlier this week to visit for a few days. Pete is an avid homebrewer and not only got me hooked on homebrewing, but also craft beer. As he is currently living in Fort Collins, Co, I think you can see that he is surrounded by some good beer people.

Within an hour of Pete arriving, we headed down to the beer store to stock up for the few days he was around for. We got all kinds of good stuff that will show up on the reviews here soon. Pete and I got to talking about how he homebrews so much (I believe he has 10+ cases of homebrew in his closet right now) that he hasn’t bought any new commercial beers in quite some time. His job requires that he is away from home for 3 weeks and then back at home for three. It is an ideal schedule for brewing. He brews furiously for three weeks, leaves, comes home, bottles what he made, and drinks the stuff from the last go around. Repeat.

Anyway, we were talking about how he doesn’t really try anything new, just beers from the Fort Collins breweries and his homebrew. While there is an impressive selection of great beer offered by the four or so breweries in Fort Collins, he is still only having beers from four breweries. He said how nice it was to have some other commercial brews to widen his taste buds and also to get a good sample of what a production beer of a certain style should taste like.

I fully agree with him. As a homebrewer I love drinking and making my own beers, but I am always searching for new beers to try. Part of it is because I love drinking new beers. But more than that, I think it is the fact that I want to have a solid palate and know what goes into a certain style of beer. I also like seeing a twist of a style and getting to experience something that I would never brew myself.

The next trend in craft beer

Be it good or bad, craft beer has always had trends that a lot of breweries/drinkers like to follow. Once the initial novelty of craft beer wore off IPA’s seemed to the stage. The hoppier the better. And while that still may be true for some drinkers, I think that most have adjusted themselves to enjoy a balanced hoppy beer over a hop-bomb any day.

In my mind the next “big” thing has been oaked beers. While putting beer in oak casks has been around for hundreds of years, it was the thing to do. There were/are tons of beers that are now oak conditions. While I do like some of the characteristics that oak can add to a beer, it seems like moreover the oak barrel is there to put a “unique” spin on the beer. I am sure there have been plenty of other trends that I have missed, but I’ve only been in the craft beer world for three years now, so those trends may not of been as obvious to me.

In my mind the up and coming trend in craft beer is sour beers. I see more and more news/press releases about sour beers than ever before. It seems like everyone is starting to experiment in them. I really haven’t ever enjoyed the whole sour thing, but I can see why people enjoy it. Sour beers have also been around for hundreds of years, but it seems that a lot of craft brewers are just now taking their first steps into the style. I am all for experimentation in beer and I hope that American Craft Brewers keep turning out some of the finest beers in the world, but I want brewers to be themselves and make quality beers that don’t play towards trends.

Good beer names

I recently did a post about one of the reasons that I will buy a certain beer. Other than the bottle there are a few other things that make me want to buy a beer. The name of the beer sometimes will make me want to purchase it. As I have said numerous times, I am an advertisers dream because if you can put together a creative product, chances are I will buy it or at least seriously consider it. Some gimmicks like Miller’s Vortex Bottle don’t really sell me because I know that it is just a gimmick.

The names and bottles can really turn me onto a beer. My latest example is when I was at World Market earlier this week. I have noted before how much I love going there for their mix and match six packs, which allow me to get six different beers from different breweries for the same price as a normal six pack. Genius. On this trip to the World Market I came across a beer with the title “Terrible.” I had to get it. I also recognized the brewery that made it as Unibroue, who I absolutely love. The bottle is a 750 ml corked and caged bottle that is dark brown, almost black. There is a rectangular silver section that has the words “Terrible” in fancy font in black. It look wonderful.

The whole package was put together so well and any brewery that has the audacity to title their beer Terrible deserves a chance. Some other beers that I have bought simply because of the name are Arrogant Bastard Ale, Hobgobbin, Delirium, and Captain Sig’s Deadliest Ale among others. Anyone else a sucker for good beer names?