18 April 2011

Brew Bracket IPA Challenge

I'll be the first to admit that I had a few reservations on how the day was going to go, but I am quite happy to say that Brew Bracket's IPA challenge on Sunday turned out to be a great event.  It's been a while since I've been able to be a participant in an beer event and from our vantage point, it seemed to go off without a hitch.  I am really happy Mike and I decided to go that route.

The bracket worked in quadrants, North, South, East, and West.  The first round had 8 of the 16 beers, second had the other 8.  Round 3 halved the competition to 8 and round 4 had the top four.  All judging of the beers was done blind, so you didn't know who was who, only that you had a beer in a gray cup and one in an orange cup.  Other than that, it was no different that any other bracket you are used to seeing.

The only difference is that you get to be a player in this event instead of a spectator.  And when matters, it can be a little nerve-wracking.  I really thought it was just going to be a chance to kick back and drink a few with some friends.  As it turned out, I was a bit of a nervous wreck the entire time.  I really wanted everyone to do well.  Some choices were easier than others but some were so difficult,  it just came down to circling a color on the ticket.  This is especially true for the later rounds.

Though my decisions didn't always match the crowd, I couldn't be happier with the outcome. The winners were clearly deserved and that was an easy thing to see as the rounds advanced.

The pace at times was a little hectic, but understandably so.  Timing was one of the biggest things I thought would be an issue.  It is easy to start chatting and stop paying attention to the clock, but the brew bracket guys did a nice job keeping everyone on time.

The bracket was as follows: * marks an advance through, + marks how I voted, if you are interested.

Round 1 - North
Flat 12 vs. Rock Bottom Downtown * +

Round 1 - West
Bier* vs. Crown+

Round 1 - East
Shoreline vs. Brugge*+

Round 1 - South
Figure 8+ vs. Sun King*


Round 2 - North
Upland*+ vs. BBC Bloomington

Round 2 - West
Bee Creek Brewery*+ vs. Barley Island

Round 2 - East
Oaken Barrel+ vs. Rock Bottom College Park*

Round 2 - South
Ram+* vs. People's

Round 3 - North
Rock Bottom Downtown *+ vs. Upland

Round 3 - West
Bier*+ vs. Bee Creek

Round 3 - East
Brugge+ vs. Rock Bottom College Park*

Round 3 - South
Sun King+ vs Ram*


Round 4 - West
Rock Bottom Downtown +* vs. Bier

Round 4 - North
Rock Bottom College Park +* vs. Ram

Rock Bottom DT +* vs. Rock Bottom CP

Liz Laughlin - Rock Bottom College Park and Jerry Sutherlin - Rock Bottom Downtown
Congratulations to all who participated and especially to Jerry for the big win! Thanks to Brew Bracket for putting on a very enjoyable event.  We look forward to the next one!


  1. Glad to see Jerry and Liz get the recognition they deserve. Both top-notch brewers and top-notch people.

  2. Sounds like a good time!

    Were all the IPAs similar? (ABV, malt-backbone, dry-hop)

  3. I am not sure on the rules for submission, so I can't speak on the specifics on where the recipe needed to fall.

    In my opinion, all of the breweries kept within IPA range (as opposed to venturing into the DIPA range). The variances laid primarily within their hop and yeast profiles.

    I'm not sure if that answers your question or not.

  4. 3 comments:

    1. The first two rounds were indeed very hectic. Stopping to chat for a couple of minutes meant you really had to scurry to get all of the tastings in.

    2. I know it's nearly Dark Lord Day, but I find the results inconclusive without the presence of 3 Floyds. A disappointing absence.

    3. More information would have been nice--such as, what were the actual names of these beers we were judging? Were they old standbys? Were any of them brewed just for the event? These things should be known.

    Overall, an enjoyable event that went pretty smoothly for a first attempt.

  5. I agree with Kurt - I would love to know the actual names of the beers.

    So will the winner be available at other restaurants/bars?

  6. Kurt. Solid feedback. Some answers for you.

    1. Agreed. Trying to balance keeping the event at 3-ish hours vs. ensuring people have time to relax is a tricky dance. Open to any suggestions you may have.

    2. Would have loved to have them. For this event we invited all brewers across IN and hosted with the first 16 to accept. Need a good method to manage this in the future with more than 16 interested parties. Lottery? Seeding? Either way, some great brews in the field Sunday.

    3. Would you want the beer info upfront? I'll have all the brew names on the site by Wednesday eve, but is that value-add up front also?

    and thanks for the kudos. Feel free to send any and all feedback to mike@brewbracket.com, we're learning as we go here. Thanks for joining us.

    And anonymous, we are working with Jerry to get his beer on tap at Tomlinson Tap and Scotty's (96th and downtown) within the next month...I understand he has to brew some more after we drank it all Sunday. =)