Three weeks, 64 beers, 714 votes. A contest that pitted some of Vermont's most beloved craft beers against each other. And when the smoke cleared last night, a surprising winner.
For Seven Days
' third annual Brew Bracket, we decided to split the contest into four regions, which energized lesser-known brewers to get out the vote. Their campaigns resulted in a few unexpected upsets — such as Lost Nation Brewing's Gose coming out ahead of both Abner and Everett from Hill Farmstead Brewery.
It was the "final pour," though, that brought the biggest rout: The Honey IPA from St. Albans' 14th Star Brewing Co. kicked the two-time winner, the Alchemist's Heady Topper, to the curb. The final tally? 169-113.
14th Star Brewing is barely 2 years old, but it has captured a lot of hearts. The Army vet who founded it, Steve Gagner, is working with his staff to renovate a former bowling alley
in St. Albans for a vast expansion of their brewery and taproom.
Gagner seems dismayed by accusations of vote rigging that have cropped up on various websites. "We have worked very hard to get the word out about our beer and the brewery," he wrote in an email. "Our fans, especially our local fans, have shown us tremendous support in spreading the word. We're very proud of the beers that we are producing; they're solid and clean, and I think our scores on various rating websites reflect that."
can confirm that the voting wasn't rigged. The Honey IPA clearly has it goin' on. Congrats, 14th Star!