The first Vermont Brew Bracket has come to a close. And the winner is...
The Alchemist's Heady-Topper! The Waterbury brew defeated another fine double India pale ale, the Double Sunshine IPA from Lawson's Finest Liquids, in the final round by a margin of 61 percent to 39 percent. In the final round, 1151 people cast a vote.
Heady-Topper jumped out to an early blowout lead, but Lawson's slowly chipped away throughout the weekend. Alas, there just wasn't enough time to make up the difference. Chants of "Drink from the can! Drink from the can!" rained down from the rafters in the closing minutes as Heady-Topper rode out the clock to victory.
It's been a year of many changes for the Alchemist, but this much has always been true: People love their Heady-Topper.
Thanks to everyone who took part in the first Vermont Brew Bracket. It didn't always go smoothly and passions occasionally flared, but it just goes to show how well we drink here in Vermont. We're lucky to have the most breweries per capita in this fair state, and they're all pretty great.
Heady-Topper was the big victor, but we've got other awards to hand out, too...
Tournament MVP: The Alchemist Heady-Topper. OK, so the Alchemist wins this one, too. Heady-Topper was far and away the dominant brew of the tournament, winning nearly all its rounds with 60 to 83 percent of the vote. The only scare came in the controversial third-round matchup, where it barely squeaked out a win over Woodchuck Amber Cider.
Cinderella Story of the Bracket: Lawson's Finest Liquids Double Sunshine IPA. Here are the breweries Double Sunshine defeated on its way to the final round: Harpoon UFO, Magic Hat #9, Trout River Rainbow Red, Long Trail Ale. It was the toughest path faced by any beer in the tournament, yet this little beer from Warren, which is only available in three stores and a handful of bars, wasn't afraid.
Brewery Whose Social-Media Team Most Deserves a Raise: Woodchuck Cider. Considering how many people got righetously upset that we included a hard cider in the Vermont Brew Bracket, it's a small miracle Woodchuck made it through three rounds. But nearly knocking off eventual champion Heady-Topper was the icing on the apple-flavored cake.
Rookie of the Year: Fiddlehead IPA. Fiddlehead didn't make it out of the first round, but it gave Long Trail Double Bag a good run, losing by just 8 percentage points. Double Bag was a tough matchup to draw, but Fiddlehead performed well considering it's a brand-new brew.
Biggest Lesson Learned: Ballot stuffing happens here, too. At least we got it under control for the last few rounds, right? Right?
We know you'll miss the fun of brewing and bracketology, but the fun isn't over yet. The airborne snowhounds over at Ski the East have a bracket of national breweries going on, and Vermont breweries need your help to advance out of the semifinal round.
And in nonalcoholic bracket news, WRUV-FM, the campus radio station at the University of Vermont, is up against Carnegie Mellon's radio station in the finals of a noncommercial radio bracket. Whoever gets the most airplay wins, so help out the local guys and girls and listen to lots of WRUV over the next couple of days.