Voting has started! The first half of the play-in games has the bracket, rules, and bios for those matchups. Remember: Voting closes 48 hours from when I post the article!
We move on now to the second half of our play-in matchups:
Dilly Bar Dan Bracket
#4 Hoppin' Frog Brewery vs. #5 Jackie O's Brewery
MNW's Hot Taek: I wasn't going to have an opinion about this one...but holy shit just go look at the lineup of Hoppin' Frog beers. Is there one that's not designed to put you on your ass? At the same time, Jackie O's has some of the highest-rated beers in Ohio, though you'll have to go to the Buckeye State to pick some up. This is a tough one.
#3 Seventh Son Brewing vs. #6 Fat Head's Brewery
#4 Insight Brewing vs. #5 Indeed Brewing Co.
MNW's Hot Taek: I'm torn. I really am. These are two breweries in a great up-and-coming neighborhood which have served as great anchors for Nordeast Minneapolis' revival. On top of that, Sunken City is just the best. It's one of my favorite beers ever--a saison brewed with sauv blanc grapes. Try it. My nod, though, goes to Indeed for their Indeed We Can charity series, delicious Midnight Ryder, and Ms. MNW's favorite beer of all time, Stir Crazy.
#3 Summit Brewing Co. vs. #6 Fulton Brewery
MNW's Hot Taek: I can't vote against an institution in the greatest city on earth, Saint Paul, MN. The longevity, prominence, and high quality of Summit has stood the test of, well, 30 years (holy shit, guys! Happy birthday!). Fulton does great hoppy stuff and their imperials are excellent, but a more bottle-accessible darker palate would be a great next step.
I'm also going to shamelessly plug my favorite place in all of Saint Paul, Flat Earth Brewing Co. They took the old Hamm's brewery on the East Side and renovated it into a wonderful tap room, and their Grand Design S'mores Porter (an infusion into their already-great Cygnus X-1 Porter, available in cans) is my favorite beer, bar none. But they're not in this competition! Go vote!
Chicago's Big Ten Bracket
#4 Revolution Brewing vs. #5 Two Brothers Artisan Brewing
MNW's Hot Taek: This one is nigh-impossible. I was stunned to learn Revolution only distributes in two states -- that feels low. The Anti-Hero IPA and all the successive variations (Citra, Galaxy, etc.) are delicious, and Eugene Porter is great stuff. It's a must-visit when you come to Chicago to take over Ryan Field. Two Brothers, on the other hand, has been at this for a long time and come out with a really unique line of stuff -- a French country ale as one of their biggest products? Alright, then.
#3 Pipeworks Brewing Co. vs. #6 Destihl Brewery
MNW's Hot Taek: I am on the record as being slavishly committed to sour beers, and Destihl's Wild Sour series does not disappoint. Save perhaps Anderson Valley, I'm hard-pressed to think of one more available. However, after that and Tenebrous, I can't think of the last time Destihl blew me away. Pipeworks gets my nod for blasting me with flavor every time I take a sip. It's a tough call, though.
There you have it! Get the word out to your friends and be sure to vote for your favorite breweries in the Midwest. We'll be back tomorrow with first-round action as Iowa, Indiana, and New Jersey's finest breweries square off and you, the reader, decide which is the Big Ten's best brewery!