On to Paul's bracket of the tournament which covers Mid-Atlantic, Southern, and parts of the Midwest region. We're talking breweries from Philadelphia down through Texas and up to Chicago. The 1 vs 16 match up in this bracket pits a big time favorite Troegs Nugget Nectar against a lesser known (but still delicious) Cigar City Jai Alai IPA. This is a match up that will pose problems for some hop heads out there. Jai Alai is a very good IPA that would normally steal votes from a beer that has been labeled an amber, but the brother's Trogner certainly bring the hops for this hulked out version of their popular Hopback Amber. Even with Troegs local popularity; it will be hard to discount the rising popularity of that brewery in Tampa.
This 8 vs 9 match up is an interesting one. We have the norm in Flying Dog Doggie Style Classic Pale Ale against an extreme beer with Dogfish Head's Festina Peche. Sour beers came in a big way this past year, but they are very new and did come in to some mixed reviews to beer drinkers I talked to. I am not sure how the sours will fare this year, I enjoyed them personally, but I feel like I have proven that I will drink just about anything...
The 5 vs 12 match up has 2 beers that were big this past year for different reasons. Abita Beer Save Our Shores was made after the disaster in the gulf last spring. For every bottle of SOS sold Abita donated 75 cents for the restoration of the environment, industry, and people devastated by the oil spill in the gulf. Victory Yakima Glory rode the wave of black beer popularity straight in to our hearts and then won us over by showing us what a perfectly hopped dark beer could be.
4 vs 13 brings us a popular Philly beer and the pride of Frederick, MD. Yards Brewing Philadelphia Pale Ale vs Flying Dog Raging Bitch Belgian Style IPA. The pale ale is a style that I have always been fond of and this one is no exception; this Yards brew is a great representation of this classic style. It is up against a relatively new style. However, this belgian IPA is something I am very fond of, with the addition of Belgian yeast to this IPA this hybrid style of beer has become incredibly popular recently.
A very popular Victory Prima Pils lands at 6 vs 11 Stoudt's Scarlet Lady Ale. The Scarlet Lady brings is a quality English style ale and one of my favorites that I've had from Stoudt's, but it's up against a beer from Victory that seems to be single-handedly changing the perception of pilsners that are made in the states. Tough pull for a brewery, I personally like a lot, in Stoudt's. Scarlet lady is a beer that I get excited about every time I see it on tap. However, Prima Pils is good enough and popular enough that I think it could probably give any beer on this list a run for a spot in the second round. I am looking forward to seeing how this one turns out.
Occasionally, we see teams teams from the same conference run into each other during the first round of the tournament, and that's just what we have in this matchup. Troegs Trogenator Double Bock 3 vs 14 Spoetzl Brewery's Shiner Bock. As you can tell by clicking the previous link, Shiner Bock has quite a following. Being flagship beer from the oldest independent brewery in Texas, this is a perfect beer to come to the tournament to represent the Lone Star State. Sadly, however, it draws a frist round matchup against a very similar style that may be more familiar with some of this particular audience. Troegs checks in with it's second beer in the top 3 with their double bock. It's a beer that this particular beer friend is very fond of, hence why it is rated so highly.
7 vs 10 Has Nebraska Brewing Brunette Nut Brown ale against a beer that has been underrated in it's popularity for the past few years in Goose Island IPA. This is a match up that has two of my favorite styles of beer going up against each other. Both beers are great representations of their style and are sought after by many beer drinkers. I will hardly hesitate when I see any Nebraska beer on tap, let alone the Brunette Nut Brown Ale. Nebraska may not have a large foothold in NYC, but their beers have shown up (and I have sought them out) over this past year. However, the other side of this match up has a very popular IPA that is known for it's balance instead of it's overwhelming hops. Goose Island IPA can be found on tap throughout this city and many others in America that I have traveled to. Whenever I see that unmistakable white goose neck tap handle, I know I have a beer I can drink and enjoy. Goose Island has done a great job of getting their beer out there and the IPA is their flagship that has been leading the charge.
2 vs 15 Features a beer that has been called "Perhaps the best IPA in America" with Dogfish Head's 90 Minute IPA against a beer you probably never had a chance to try with Great Lakes Christmas Ale. I think we all know just how good 90 minute is, but it's in this bracket because I've noticed a new found love and devotion to this beer over the past year. I see more and more 90 minute 4 packs in people's fridges this past year than ever before. It's becoming the Dogfish Head staple beer and for good reason. On the other side, the beer you probably didn't taste. Christmas ale was one of the best beers I have had from Great Lakes Brewery and was my favorite this past holiday season. I have only had a few beverages from Great Lakes, mostly during my travels to Cleveland, but they have proven to be quality beverages; this Christmas ale was no exception.