With the NCAA putting the median age of the typical March Madness brewer at 48, there are still good odds for any brewer trying to make inroads with college fans through the tournament. It'll just take some local focus, a lot of legwork and a product that separates itself from the field: You know, the stuff regional and craft brewers rely on year-round.
Taking a look at the NCAA Tournament's host cities, we couldn't help but notice that each had one or more craft brewers either in town or nearby that could factor into as many road trip stories as opposing team cheerleaders or rich alums buying rounds. With the NCAA's rules leveling the playing field between those little guys and the big brewers, we figured it might not be a bad idea to see the best of what those brewers had to offer.
We went over the 14 host cities and with the help of ratings sites RateBeer and BeerAdvocate and some of the best research imaginable and were able to pick a beer to represent each city or region. Our one caveat was that they should be beers that could be enjoyed during the games -- not heavier than 7% ABV. Armed with that information, we gave First Four and Final Four hosts Dayton, Ohio, and New Orleans each a first-round bye for their trouble and bracketed the rest of the field based on region.
The result was The Beer Dance: A 14-pack of local favorites all vying for your affections over the next three weeks. Here's a look at which beers made the bracket and why: