NEW YORK -- ( MainStreet) -- Our craft beer bracket is down to two brews and two fervent fan bases. Let the final beer battle begin.
Just a few weeks ago, we had a full 14-pack of craft beers from NCAA tournament host cities. Much as the NCAA's field of 64 winnowed down to the University of Kansas Jayhawks and University of Kentucky Wildcats, our case is down to just two beers sharing the top shelf of our fridge: Samuel Adams Boston Lager and Schlafly Dry Hopped APA.
It's been a strange road to the final for both squads, but one that's been fairly fun to travel. Sam opened up the tournament by breezing past Columbus, Ohio-based Columbus Brewing's IPA despite a strong show of online support from Columbus fans. It spend the second round fending off a potent combination of Pittsburgh pride and sessionable Munich lager, but pulled out the win over Penn Brewery's Penn Gold. The Final Four gave Sam an early scare as Abita Brewing's Turbodog surged into the lead, but Boston Lager recovered and came back for a slim victory over the beer from Final Four host city New Orleans.Samuel Adams was by far the biggest beer in our bracket. Boston Beer (SAM) produces dozens of varieties of it a year and nearly 2.5 million barrels of it last year. Depending on who you talk to, that's either tied with D.L. Yuengling & Son of Pottsville, Pa., for the biggest craft and regional brewer in the country or lags just slightly behind Yuengling's production. Either way, Sam is just about as big as craft beer gets in this country and Boston Lager is a big part of its success. Not that such things concern its competition at Schlafly. For more than 20 years, Schlafly has been producing its craft concoctions in what is basically an Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD) company town. The A-B brewery looms large, the Busch family name is on the Cardinals' stadium and the Clydesdales come clopping through for all the big city events. If anyone knows how to play underdog, it's Schlafly.