Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Michigan Microbrewery March Madness

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Gentle readers, March means many things to different people. To some, it means basketball. To others it means St. Patrick's Day. To me, March means internet voting. So without further ado I present Damn Arbor's Michigan Microbrewery March Madness. Starting tomorrow we will feature a daily polls that pit two of our state's finest microbreweries against each other. It is up to you, gentle reader to vote for your favorite brewery. Now I'm no professor of bracketology, but I've carved the state into two leagues each with two divisions.

Western League
North Division
1. North Peak - Traverse City
2. Short's Brewing Company - Bellaire
3. Right Brain Brewery - Traverse City
4. Founders Brewing Company - Grand Rapids

Kalamazoo River Division
1. Bells Brewery - Kalamazoo
2. New Holland Brewing Company - Holland
3. Dark Horse Brewing Company - Marshall
4. Arcadia Brewing Company - Battle Creek

Eastern League
Motor City Division
1. Kuhnhenn Brewing Company - Warren
2. Motor City Brewing Works - Detroit
3. Atwater Block Brewery - Detroit
4. Traffic Jam and Snug - Detroit
5. Woodward Avenue Brewers - Ferndale
6. Detroit Beer Company - Detroit

Ann Arbor Division
1. Arbor Brewing Company - Ann Arbor
2. Wolverine State Brewing Company - Ann Arbor
3. Grizzly Peak Brewing Company - Ann Arbor
4. Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales - Dexter

The Western League is bringing some heavy hitters with Bells and Founders. It will be interesting to see if the hometown heroes in the Eastern League will have what it takes for an upset. Feel free to share your predictions for the tournament in the comments for this article. The competition starts tomorrow with a playoff between Motor City Brewing Works and Atwater Block Brewery in the Motor City Division. Let your friends know and remember: vote early and vote often.


  1. What? No love for Ypsi with the Corner Brewer?

  2. Well, I guess I'm lumping Corner Brewery with Arbor. I'll make sure Ypsi gets credit.

  3. Yeah, I think everyone should treat the Arbor Brewpub and Corner Brewery as conceptually the same since it's one team of brewers with a shared set of recipes making all the beers.

    Good idea with this though! There's going to be many tough choices here.

  4. I really enjoy the matchup of Grizzly Peak against Jolly Pumpkin. Ron Jeffries of JP began his life as a professional brewer at Grizzly Peak in the '90s so this has a great Darth Vader/Obi-wan Kenobi angle to it.

  5. BEER AND STAR WARS. Best idea ever. BCB, how does it feel to have peaked so early in life?

    I guess not that early.

  6. And there will be tours?
    I'm still waiting on confirmation that there will be Damn Arbor-sponsored tours, at least of the winning brewery, and maybe of the nearby divisions.
    I want to rub elbows with, and spill beer on, Damn Arbor's finest.

  7. The Wolverine Rocks OUT! and offers tours, and makes lagers, and loves all breweries, no matter what they think of it!

  8. You should just buy the best or most popular beer of each of these and have a taste-off tournament to determine the winners. Expensive, but worth it. Otherwise, Bell's or an Ann Arbor brewery will win by virtue of popularity rather than quality.

  9. BTW, I like New Holland over Bell's in an upset. Their Dragon's Milk is fabulous. I like them to advance to the Foamy Four where they'll be pounded by eventual champion Founder's. I don't know enough about Detroit brews, but I'm sure who ever comes out of that bracket will clobber the winner of the Ann Arbor Division (the weakest of the four). Also, how is Founder's a No. 4 seed? Or is seeding arbitrary? And what beer is the Duke of this tournament? And most importantly, how can I gamble on this? If we could somehow combine gambling, drinking and tournament competition, I think we'd achieve the everything the Founding Fathers intended for America.

  10. @Chris your analysis is appreciated. To be honest, I don't really know how "seeding" works (outside of forest ecology). I just tried to break breweries into regions. If you would like to gamble, download a bracket and fill it in, if your predictions are correct, I will mail you a gift card I find on my floor next time I clean my room.

  11. See, I want to be able to gamble for real, not secretary style. I want to parlay New Holland (-300) over Bell's, Jolly Pumpkin (-400) to win the Ann Arbor bracket and Founder's (-500) to win it all. If you could somehow set some spreads so I can tease, NH over Bell's, JP over GP and Founder's over Right Brain, I'd be most obliged. It's time you realize your true potential as my bookie.

  12. Alas, the only spread I know how to make is a cheese spread.

  13. BCB:

    May I suggest moving Founder's out of the Northern division and into the Kzoo River Division...especially if you are going to lump New Holland in with Kzoo. Founder's really doesn't belong "Up North" (if you don't believe me, check out this map may I instead suggest some WAY North categories to fill out the bracket instead, for better representation: Keweenaw Brewing Company or the new Upper Peninsula Brewing Company (founded by K'08 alum Paul Clegg's brother).

    Thanks for considering,
    Sincerely yours,
    Damn Arbor's Up North Beer-drinking Correspondant

  14. PS another thought would be to include some of the Up North wineries that serve hard apple cider, but I don't know if that should be a separate category all together...

  15. Namely I am a little shocked that Traffic Jam got a first round bye over Atwater. Did you decide to echo the NCAA with your arbitrariness? I am sure I wasn't the only one to pass out after University of Richmond was callously placed as a 12 seed.

  16. There is also Mackinaw Brewing Company in Traverse. Also, I refuse to concede that Founders would beat out Right Brain. And if ABC wins, I will die out of confusion. I don't understand what the big deal is about their beers.

  17. Shorts = '83 NC State Wolfpack. Go Shorts!!

  18. Right, what was the DAMMMM Selection Committee thinking? Perhaps we need to expand the field, schedule some play-in games or create a Michigan Brew Invitational Tournament.

  19. Michigan has over 80 breweries and you include only 18? There are plenty of Good Michigan breweries that you have forgotten, just a short list including: the Livery, dragonmead, Saugatuck, the Hideout, Original Gravity, Bastone, Big Rock Chophouse, Olde Peninsula, Liberty St, Sherwood Brewing, Rochester Mills, Fort St. Brewing, and another 50 more.

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  21. how come i can't fill out a bracket?

  22. Todd P has it on spot (again). Counting even outside the Guild - 90+ breweries. You could really fatten the list up big-time and make the Madness as it could be!

  23. Yeah, Ben, why don't you waste more valuable time creating an unnecessarily expansive bracket solely for your ungrateful readers' enjoyment which they can in turn snobbishly mock to demonstrate their smarts since every novel concept simply must been ridden into the ground. Just like the NCAA, you need to include every schmuck with a leaky home-brew and a meaty fistful of spoiled hops, not just the few that have proven themselves worthy. Hey, while you're at it, don't forget about prison wine. I'm sure some of our state's finest spirits are brewed in penitentiary toilets. And one time I left some orange juice in the fridge too long and it fermented. Shouldn't that be included?

    Shame on you, BCB. This is not to be taken likely. Without beer snobbery, how can every quotidian jabroni pretend to have class and taste? This is lazy and unacceptable. Shame on you, BCB. SHAME ON YOU!!!

  24. @Chris: This is violently delightful.

  25. I hope Right Brain doesn't get dismissed if people haven't been there. I don't relish only being able to only choose them or Shorts.