Philly Beer

Beer Madness Sweet 16: Brewing up a fight

Some of these Round 2 battles might leave a bitter aftertaste.

Danya Henninger

Even in today’s beer world, where it seems like there’s a constant supply of just-opened breweries to try, longevity certainly has its benefits. After thousands of votes were tallied in Beer Madness Round 1, there were only a few upsets to our seeding, which ranked the oldest brewery first and went down the line chronologically from there.

The biggest knockout came from Evolution Brewing, a No. 8 seed that threw down to beat No. 1 Boston Beer, 61 to 39 percent.

All the other top seeds made it through to the Sweet 16, but there were minor upheavals in the middle seeds — young Evil Genius put the smackdown on Manayunk Brewing 65 to 35, for example, and Firestone Walker edged past slightly older stalwart New Belgium.

But here’s where things get really interesting.

Maybe the most fraught battle is the Northeast U.S. quadrant, where Dogfish Head is facing off against Brooklyn Brewery. This is a rivalry that’s been playing out for decades. Though in recent years Dogfish’s Sam Calagione and Brooklyn’s Garrett Oliver have had plenty of nice things to say about one another, they went through an era where they were basically competing to be the “face of craft beer.” The two rockstars have polar opposite styles in both demeanor and brewing — Calagione’s laid back look and extreme beer versus Oliver’s dapper blazers and classic brews. Which reputation will lead to triumph here?

Victory, which won the last round by the largest margin of any (81 percent to Naked Brewing’s 19), is now up against Sly Fox. This pits two brewmasters who are quite friendly — Bill Covaleski and Brian O’Reilly — against one another.

In the Philly region, there are also two very tough choices. Both Dock Street and Iron Hill are beloved brewpubs with lots of local history, but which has more fans? And the other fight is kind of like the Dogfish-Brooklyn one: Relative upstart Evil Genius (with its zany flavors and beer names) is up against Yards, a brand that’s almost synonymous with this city and is known for its traditional styles.

Who will win these matchups and go on to the Elite Eight in our quest with Philly Loves Beer to name the best brewery in America? It’s all up to you. Vote below.

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