Thursday, March 27, 2008


This time of year, it's all brackets, brackets, brackets! Emulating the NCAA men's basketball tournament 64 team bracket, there are brackets everywhere. The most annoying ones are drawn up for all sorts of non-sports related contestants, from the hilarious Name of the Year, Real NFL Mascots (Kill Kill Kill), Hottest Chicks, Nerd Icons, the TV show LOST (SPOILER ALERT: Desmond won!), and Books (BORING!). But those are all a little too sissy for me.

So while drinking/watching the NCAA tournament in White Plains, I had the genius idea to create a bracket of 64 beers. So Karl, Rob and I drew it up, and held a draught (with help from Lee) comprised of beers that we like, for reasons of taste or sentiment. The only stipulation was that it could only be beers that we've actually had, so there's no Westvleteren, Kate the Great, Three Floyds, or Russian River entries here. There are, however, multiple Chimays, Stones, Ommegangs, Unibroues, Sam Smiths, as well as various domestics and Germans on the list.

I thought we might set up the bracket and then leave it up to voting on the blog. But it was a long afternoon and Karl had his laptop, so we forged ahead and chose the winners through a combination of opinion, intuition and coin flips. I think it turned out pretty good. It's BEER MADNESS!

Let's take a look at the ROAD TO THE FINAL POUR.
The four #1 seeds were (in order):
Chimay Blue (Dark Region), Rochefort 8 (Oatmeal Region), Ommegang Abbey Ale (Belgian Region), Allagash Tripel Reserve (Commercial Region).
Last pour in: Grolsch, Negro Modelo, Rheingold Extra Dry, Corsendonk
Last pour out: McAndrew's Scotch Ale, Saison Dupont, Schneider Aventinus, St. Bernardus Abt 12.

BITTER 32. None of the #16 seeds (Rolling Rock, Michelob Dark, Rheingold Extra Dry, Ballantine IPA) stood a chance against their heavier, unfiltered foes. Though there were few early upsets and the entire Oatmeal region went to chalk, there were a few underdog brews to advance:

#9 Hoegaarden def. #8 Duvel
#9 Young's Old Nick def. #8 Spaten Optimator
#9 Harpoon IPA def. #8 Thomas Hardy's Ale
#10 Anchor Porter def. #7 Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Ale
#11 Stone Smoked Porter def. #6 Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock
#12 Sierra Nevada Pale Ale def. #5 Samuel Smith's Winter Warmer

One scary matchup involved #3 Westmalle, who needed Tripel OT to defeat the smooth Sam Adams Cream Stout at #14.

HOPPED 16. Cinderella arrived dressed like a Piraat, as the #6 brew boarded the Old Thumper ship and made the #3 Shipyard beer walk the plank. #6 Sam Smith's Oatmeal Stout, possibly getting a lower seed than they deserved, cruised past the #3 Philosophers, who spent too much time thinking instead of drinking.

AROMATIC 8. In a battle of the Blues, the impressive Guinness-beating Blue Point guards couldn't hand-pull it out, succumbing to the formidable Chimay Blue. Rochefort 8 couldn't make it to the 8 against a syrupy Triple Bock attack. Fuller's Vintage Navy sunk the Piraat, and Westmalle mauled a wordy Shakespeare, who were ineffective on the iambic pentameter. But the biggest shocker was the affable #6 Affligem Noel who gift wrapped a defeat of #1 Allagash, whose starters and Reserves couldn't hit the Tripel to save their lives.

FINAL POUR. The shocker heard across the pond was the upset of the consensus #1 beer in the tournament, Chimay Blue, spilled and mopped up by Fuller's Vintage. The 'Gang's all here and upstate New York was ecstatic as two Ommegang offerings advanced (Hennepin, Abbey Ale) . Chimay's lighter, faster brother Red, filled out the Pour. Eventually the #2 seeds prevailed, as Chimay Red's Trappist defense and FVA proved too strong for Cooperstown representatives.

CHAMPIONSHIP. In the end, the Vintage brew crew couldn't run with the Red, as Chimay won handily to down their Premiere title. The Abbey is not too shabby, and they will be partying in the Abbaye Notre Dame de Scourmont in Belgium tonight!

(Do monks party?)

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