West bracketPhoenix: Four Peaks Kilt Lifter Scottish Ale
Perhaps the best example of the humorously named beer that backs up the belly laugh, Kilt Lifter took down Portland and stormed through the early rounds on one tenet: Extreme beers wow, but simplicity wins.
A Scottish ale is one of the more benign styles a brewer can offer. Brewed well, though, it can be a pillar of business when selling to a session crowd that craves more than one. Kilt Lifter beat not one, but two IPAs on the way to the Final Four by offsetting their strong, hoppy profiles with smooth, settled malt while keeping its kick at 6% ABV.
Four Peaks has been just about as mellow through this process as its beer. It posts bracket updates to its social networks, it casually reminds fans to get out the vote and it sits back and watches its followers give it a lead and never let up.
It's a simple plan, but it's steady and it's been working. It's also a huge contrast in beer and promotional approach to its upcoming opponent ...St. Louis: Schlafly APA
Schlafly provided this bracket with perhaps the best craft beer lesson of all: If you want people to follow your brewery, you have to go out and get them. Schlafly's performance in The Beer Dance has been a free lesson in do-it-yourself promotion. During each round, the brewer sent multiple reminders to fans to get out and vote. It kept its Twitter feed filled with updates and provided links from Facebook. We suggested that fans of all breweries involved vote early and vote often. Schlafly not only took that advice, but turned it into a campaign slogan. Their supporters have worked harder than some of the political campaigns to bring their voters to our polls and push the button for Schlafly's Dry Hopped American Pale Ale. The results have been hundreds of votes in each round and a more than 90% margin of victory in the last round. Take note, young brewers, because this is how you not only succeed, but thrive in the shadow of the Anheuser-Busch (BUD) brewery. The Cascade and Chinook hop-heavy Dry Hopped American Pale Ale is hoppy, bitter and aromatic enough to pack a punch, but sweet enough not to scare away the newcomers. It's not a powerful pale ale at 5.9%, but neither are the Schlafly beers sneaking onto the taps during Cardinals games at Busch Stadium. Schlafly's been the beat of this bracket because it has willed itself to be. Much like its craft beer competitors, nobody gave Schlafly a share to the market space. They had to step up and take it. When you can do that in the backyard of one of the biggest beer companies in the world, you can do it anywhere. Schlafly's fans know that, and it's frightening to think of what they'll do now that they're two pints away from a title. Editor's note: Our antiquated poll tool couldn't handle all of the votes that we received for this heated rivalry (sorry about that), so we're extending the voting until March 30th and shopping out the tallying to our friends at Flisti. Again, our apologies. -- Written by Jason Notte in Boston.
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