NEW ORLEANS -- ( MainStreet) -- The Beer Dance is through its first round, and while some powerhouse craft beers stayed alive, March Madness was too much to bear for sentimental favorites shown the door early.
What did we learn after our field of beers based in NCAA host cities (and brewed with less than 7% alcohol by volume) dwindled from 14 to eight? Mostly that this bracket bears almost no resemblance to its NCAA cousin other than the cities involved. The University of Kentucky's No. 1 ranking and opening-round drubbing of Western Kentucky didn't help Bluegrass Brewing's Dark Star Porter at all when Schlafly's dry-hopped IPA proved too much. Ohio State's nearly 20-point dismantling of Loyola did little to boost Columbus Brewing's IPA, which had some tough luck drawing Boston Beer's (SAM - Get Report) flagship Samuel Adams Boston Lager in the first round.
The other thing we learned is that the breweries by and large are really into this kind of thing. Schlafly and Bluegrass fans combined for more than 400 votes and the breweries themselves kept our Twitter feed humming with updates. Nashville's Yazoo Brewing got out the vote for its Dos Perros, but faced some Steelers-sized Pittsbugh pride as Penn Brewing's faithful pushed its Munich-style Penn Gold across the finish line.Even Boston Beer, which produced more than 2.5 million barrels last year and tied with D.G. Yuengling & Son for the title of largest U.S. brewer, got into the act and rallied fans on Facebook. Nearly 250 of them tipped the scales in Sam's favor, second-best in our bracket behind the 280 that pulled for Schlafly. That said, we'd be remiss if we said the first round was perfect. Early polling problems on our end kept the numbers low, with one of the West brackets not going fully functional until Thursday. My apologies to Portland, Ore.'s BridgePort Brewing and its IPA and Albuquerque, N.M.'s Marble Brewing and its red ale. Each deserved a better matchup than we provided. The kinks are ironed out, the taps are flowing with a lot less foam and the competition's heating up in the first round. Before the pints get warm, let's take a look at the upcoming action: