Brew Bracket - The Home Edition

Email arrived -

"We have put together a Brew Bracket - home edition, would you like to come and hear about it and test it out?"

That is a summary the email but it didn't matter what the details were, I was sold as soon as I saw Brew Bracket.

I'm sure you all recall my love of Brew Bracket. (March Madness style blind beer tasting, lots of games in between, great brewery camaraderie, helps out a local charity) But as a reminder - check out these lovelies:

Brew Bracket II: Stout
Brew Bracket III: The Wheat Is
Brew Bracket V: AMBERgeddon
Brew Bracket VIII: Oktoberfest!

And now I could play this at home?

Ryan and Mike really designed this game set as close to Brew Bracket as possible.

It all starts out with the kit. There are three different reward levels available via Kickstarter. The experience, the express and the handcrafted kit.

Being a seasoned Brew Bracket participant - I suggest the Experience Brew Bracket it. It has everything you need (Minus Beer) to host an home event with up to 8 people.  It has two pitchers, 16 glasses, a host guide, 5 host brackets, 25 participant brackets, 8 voting cards and 8 pencils.

Enough selling this awesome product - Want to know how it works? Well, back to the beginning,  I got to go and test it out with Mike, Ryan and about 11 other beer lovers who are helping spread local beer love in events, media, homebrewing, and business.  We gathered around Ryan's table as Mike played the host with the Brew Bracket being all about Session IPAs.

At my spot I was happy to see the traditional plastic brew bracket glasses.  Along with a mini voting bracket to keep track of the beers and my votes, along with some notes. There was also a mini pencil and a voting card.  The voting card replaces the bottle caps that one would throw into the orange or gray cans.

We were told limited information about the beer.  Session IPA, 7 local, 1 non local. No brand names.

Not knowing what the names were really made you blind to the taste and judging your taste of the brand name.  That is a different aspect from the big event. You go into a big Brew Bracket event knowing which breweries will be there and they are all local.  Being a home event, as a host you can get the option of making the beer available any kind you want. All local, all regional, all imports, a mix, maybe from bottles, maybe all from growlers, maybe even a home brew or you could even have each party goer bring a bottle and then mix it up behind the scenes!

After information was shared, tasting begun! It starts out in the north corner and works its way around.  Each winner moving on in the bracket until we ended up with only two.  Along the way we had some hard choices. There were a lot of IPAs with nice citrus in the nose and mouth, very nice to drink. We had an IPA that had some, and I quote "dank hops".  I had some IPAs that had some of nice piney hop flavors.

Tasting goes by fast with only 8 beers. Within three rounds we had a winner!

The winner was -- Founders All Day IPA! The only non local beer.

Which given its status as a session IPA it wasn't surprising but what was surprising was that when the beers were released it was up against a homebrew from Great Fermentations, brewed by Mark Schiess! It just goes to show you that it is all about taste. Home brew, Commercial brew. It comes down to what you like to drink and that homebrewers make awesome beer.

Below is the full rundown of beers in this taste test :
Bier Brewery - Metro Session
Bloomington Brewery - Back County
FBI Homebrew Club Session - Brewed by Tom Wallbank
Founders Brewing Co - All Day IPA
Great Fermentations - Life's A Beach - Brewed by Mark Schiess
Indiana City Beer - Regulate 3
Triton Brewing Co. - Sly Boogie
Upland Brewing Co - Campside

And below my bracket!

I will say that the bracket note box was way to small to write what I really thought. I actually filled up two pages of notes about the beer, but as you can see.. I'm wordy.

Overall all - I learned to get Upland more of a chance. I used to shy away from anything produced from them (except the lambics) because it was well, basic. But this brew bracket showed me that basic is a solid, good beer. It doesn't have to be crazy to be good.

I also learned / was reminded how much I love founders. They aren't local, but they are good and set high bars for me in craft beer.

Finally, I would love to try this with all home brews. As a budding homebrewer myself, I really want to see all the different levels that someone can achieve at home.

I would also like to see what my friends could bring to the table by having  a pitch in Brew Bracket.

Another aspect of the home version is that it is a GREAT tool to help people who aren't sure about beer.  You could host this, not even tell people the style and see what they think . A lot of people are wrapped up not just in name brands, but in styles. I used to not like IPAs. Because I thought it would just be bitter bitter bitter in my mouth, but as I kept trying I've found really malty IPAs, delicious citrusy IPAs, and yes some bitter IPAs. I let the style keep me from really trying some great beer.

Back to the sell -

Go support Brew Bracket!!!

It's local.
It's fun.

It's a great way to practice your two hand pouring skills.

Until next time,

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