March Madness is coming to an end as the Final Four games take place this weekend, and soon we'll crown new champions in college basketball. I thought it'd be fun to pit craft beers from each team's home state against each other in a Final Four beer bracket!
As a UConn alum, March Madness has always held a special place in my heart. Sadly, the UConn men didn't make it out of the AAC tournament, but we've got the incredible women to cheer on as the make a run for an unprecedented 12th championship!
Without further ado, I present the Final Four beer bracket. Breweries for each team's home state were chosen with help from Thrillist's picks for the best breweries in each state.
Matchup 1: New England Brewing Company (UConn)
vs. Southern Prohibition Brewing (Mississippi State)
In terms of beer, this matchup pits the seasoned New England Brewing Company against the relatively young Southern Prohibition Brewing. NEBCO is known for its unique and compelling beer names (and quality beer to match); SPB is into experimenting with styles and boasts some pretty cool can and beer label designs.
Matchup 2: Russian River Brewing Company (Stanford)
vs. Westbrook Brewing Company (South Carolina)
Pliny the Elder, a DIPA, is Russian River Brewing Company's claim to fame, and their offerings that end in "-ion" are also apparently legendary (think "Supplication." Coming soon: Redemption, Damnation and Procrastination.) Westbrook Brewing Company is credited with launching the resurgence of gose-style beer. More on Westbrook Brewing below...
Matchup 1: Westbrook Brewing Company (South Carolina, again)
vs. Fremont Brewing (Gonzaga)
South Carolina is pulling a UConn with both the women and men's teams making it to the Final Four! More Westbrook Brewing for all! In addition to bringing gose back in the limelight, Westbrook brews Mexican Cake (and barrel-aged Mexican Cake) – an imperial stout aged on habanero peppers, cocoa nibs, cinnamon sticks and vanilla bean – and releases it once a year. It's so popular it has its own section on Westbrook's FAQ web page. Fremont Brewing focuses on sustainability, local resources and has an "Urban Beer Garden" that's known as one of Seattle's best outdoor drinking destinations. Fremont calls itself the "Center of the Universe" (it lists its address as Seattle, EARTH) and gives back to the community through beer, because, as they say, beer matters.
Matchup 2: Breakside Brewery (Oregon)
vs. Wicked Weed Brewing (North Carolina)
According to Thrillist, Breakside makes something for everyone to enjoy. It's a relatively new craft brewery but has churned out hundreds of beers since it opened in 2010. Wicked Weed is lucky to call Asheville, one of the best beer cities in the US, home, and certainly helps bolster Asheville's reputation. Wicked Weed puts a spin on the classics, counting a watermelon saison and black cherry sour among its offerings.
Who are you rooting for in the men and women's Final Four games?