We've got our first batch of play-in voting finished, and now it's time to hit the full bracket with everything decided! Jump on down and vote on your favorites in Michigan, Maryland, and Wisconsin.
See the full and updated bracket here!
Don't Read the Comments Bracket
Dark Horse blew Atwater away, and New Holland coasted with a similar margin into the final Michigan bracket.
#1 Bell's Brewery vs. #5 Dark Horse Brewing Co.
MNW's Hot Taek: It's Bell's. Seriously. Two-Hearted is just too good. Add in Best Brown, Oberon, and my personal favorite, the Cherry Stout, and it's no contest.
#2 Founders Brewing Co. vs. #3 New Holland Brewing Co.
MNW's Hot Taek: I have a sneaky feeling this one will be really close, but the nod goes to Founders. KBS is a stupid-good beer, and their offerings across the board are just too good. Dragon's Milk is a great beer, especially with its infusions, but that doesn't carry New Holland today. Founders. And visit it when you're in Grand Rapids. What an amazing brewpub space.
In our tightest vote of the play-ins, Union Craft edged The Brewer's Art by just a handful of votes.
#1 Flying Dog Brewery vs. #5 Union Craft Brewing
MNW's Hot Taek: I'm excited by the Union Craft lineup. A little more time and distribution and I'd love to see them making their way out west. In the meantime, Flying Dog (especially Raging Bitch, a phenomenal Belgian IPA) and their wide range of styles get the nod here.
#2 Heavy Seas Beer vs. #3 Stillwater Artisanal Ales
MNW's Hot Taek: Loose Cannon and Heavy Seas are great flagships to have, and the seasonals and limited releases (like the Siren Noire Imperial Chocolate Stout) give Heavy Seas a strong, strong lineup. Stillwater has a whole funky thing going on ("Postmodern" beer? Really?) with their use (or overuse, depending on who you are) of farmhouse yeast, but still put out a solid lineup. The nod's got to go to Heavy Seas, though, for a great lineup top to bottom.
Speth's Liver Memorial Bracket
Central Waters cruised over Capital Brewery, but Ale Asylum scored the first big takedown of the voting, with a late push to cruise past Milwaukee Brewing Company in the 6-3 upset. MKE will just have to console itself with its fancy new acquisition downtown.
MNW's Hot Taek: Listing New Glarus beers is tough. Do you talk about the ubiquity and Long Legend of Spotted Cow? The crisp drinkability of their summer offerings like Two Women, Totally Naked, or this year's winner, Bubbler hefeweizen (best hefe I've had, and I'm not a fan of the style).
No. For me, it's in New Glarus' ability to do special beers. Raspberry Tart has entered the "standard" line of beers, and that's a great thing, because it's delicious. Serendipity was, as the name implies, quite the stroke of luck (and a must-try cranberry lambic). Scream IIPA is top notch, and the Oud Bruin is fantastic. They've even seasonally really ramped up with a coffee stout and the Fat Squirrel brown ale. Central Waters probably has New Glarus beat in the dark beer section, but the longevity and reputation of New Glarus carries them through into my Wisconsin championship.
#2 Lakefront Brewery vs. #6 Ale Asylum
MNW's Hot Taek: I'm not totally surprised Ale Asylum took down MKE, though I am a bit shocked at how big the margin of victory was.
In any regard, the nod here goes to Lakefront, the best craft brewery in Wisconsin at distributing high-quality beer on a national level. Fixed Gear is a must-try IPA, and their commitment to organic and healthy brewing (New Grist Gluten-Free, Organic Belgian White, Growing Power farmhouse-style ale) puts them over the top.
There it is; a heavy-hitters' round if there ever was one, with both Michigan and Wisconsin (and Maryland, yes) to vote on! Polls stay open for 48 hours. Look for Round 2, with Ohio, Minnesota, and Illinois up at some point today, and don't forget to vote for Iowa, Indiana, New Jersey, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania before tomorrow morning!
Let us know your picks in the comments!