West bracket

Albuquerque, N.M.: Marble Brewery's Marble Red Ale
The Southwest seems to love it a simple, flavorful ale recipe, which is why a great old-school red ale such as Marble's goes a long way with beer drinkers in this town.

Marble's only been around since 2008, but its Red Ale has all the character of a recipe several times its age. Brewed with caramel malt and three kinds of hops, the Red Ale has lovely copper-red color that looks every bit as good as its creamy texture and semi-citrusy finish taste.

At 6.2% ABV, this beer's just slightly more potent than its flavor suggests. Still, it's just mild enough to be savored slowly.

Portland, Ore.: BridgePort Ale's IPA
If we could have forfeited this pick, we would have. As it is, there's no way to win by picking just one beer to represent Beervana.

The Rogue, Ninkasi, Deschutes and Full Sail breweries had plenty of brews up to the task, but they're each headquartered outside of Portland and had to go just to whittle down the list. Hair of the Dog has incredible brews, but a whole lot of their best drift into 10% ABV territory or higher. The Widmer Brothers ( HOOK) were among craft beer's pioneers.

In the end, though, it was BridgePort IPA that won the day. We know, a West Coast IPA -- how original. Well BridgePort's IPA has about as much distance between it and the stereotypical mouthful-of-hops IPAs of the West Coast as Portland has between itself and a tournament-bound college basketball team.

It's not exceedingly bitter, nor is it as bland as what the East Coast generally considers an IPA. It's very fruity but, more importantly, the balance of malt and hops and its cask conditioning make it highly complex without being offputting to new drinkers. While its contemporaries try to be as bitter as possible to keep the riff-raff away, BridgePort's flavorful, easy-to-drink 5.5% ABV IPA welcomes everybody to the game. It's something the brewery's been doing fairly well since 1984.

Which first-round beer in the top half of our West bracket would you prefer?

Marble Brewery's Red Ale B.
Bridgeport Ales' IPA

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