Brew Bracket - A Craft Beer Tourney

Thursday, April 21, 2011 - 
Hubs and I joined up with our friend Steven and a few others to participate in the IPA tourney of craft brews - Brew Bracket.  I wasn't entirely sure how the event was going to work, but was excited for this portion of the birthDAY celebration.  We happily made our way to the Indiana State Fairgrounds and arrived a few minutes early.  A few minutes early that day in the beer community was a lot early, so we sat around and waited for the festivities to begin.

As we looked around I saw there were four different areas: North, South, East and West.  Later on when we learned how the tourney would work, we were informed how the first round was split into two, narrowing the 16 entries down to 8.  The third round down to four, and so on until it was two against two in the finals.  Two plastic cups - one silver and one orange - were the vehicles to taste the beer blindly.  Then, you cast your vote in a paint bucket and hoped for the best.

It was intense.  Each round was 30 minutes so you had to make sure you left yourself enough time to try all the beers, especially in the first round.  It was also intense because it was a blind tasting.  Though you would normally cheer on your favorites, you really couldn't tell if you cheering them on or not.  I have to be honest: some beers I wouldn't have tried because I had bad experiences with others from that particular brewery.  Unless they were 'free' samples, I wouldn't spend my money on them.  But I would easily try a brew from a brewery that I've loved in the past.  It was intense, a little nerve racking.  I truly wanted everyone to do well, and I found myself crossing my fingers sometimes as I dropped a ticket into the bucket. 

There were some not so good beers and then there were some great beers.  Oh, and there was raffle.  I did not win one of the coveted growlers.  ::enter sad birthday face::

Here is a video of the bracket announcements:

And for those who didn't want to watch it - the finalists were Rock Bottom College Park (Liz) and Rock Bottom Downtown (Jerry).  I have a confession - I knew Liz's brew was in the mix.  I guessed it and I was right.  But I was surprised by Jerry's IPA - I had never tried it before and it was delish as well.  But for both RB's to be in the mix?  No one was expecting such a close family battle at the end (well, I like to think no one was...)

I'm sure you were wondering who the winner was...I know I was...

The winner was announced, and Rock Bottom Downtown brewer, Jerry Sutherlin's IPA brew was liked a little bit more by the taste buds of the room as he brought home the coveted tap handle. 

A BIG congratulations to all of the brewers who participated, and of course to Jerry for a great win.  Thank you to the coordinators of the event - we really had a great time.  Heard some rumors of an Oktoberfest tourney in the works.  Now, that sounds like another perfect way to spend my birthday...