Welcome back to the STL Hops 2014 St. Louis Beer Challenge! With March Madness starting today, I thought it would be fun to have a contest to see how local beers would do in a tournament. Thanks to an influx of new breweries, we now have a tournament featuring beers from within 75 miles of downtown St. Louis.

Now, a few things. First, this is the first year we had some semblance of a ranking.  I looked back at the past years round winners and pitted them against beers that may have gone out in earlier rounds.  I also did a bit of sorting so a brewery didn’t face off against itself in the first round. New beers that weren’t in last year’s competition were seeded in the last few seeds. Second, as we have a bunch of new breweries and new beers, there might be something I missed. I’m sorry if I missed you, it wasn’t on purpose.

If you’re curious how I picked the beers, here’s the method behind my madness. We’re continuing what we did last year and there are four distinct brackets again: Black/Brown, Hoppy, Belgian, and Wildcard.  I tried my best to make sure each brewery in the area was represented in each of these brackets.

I heard a couple of people say it was difficult to pit a stout vs an IPA.  I can understand that, so by grouping things a little bit, maybe it will make you decision easier (or harder.) Wildcard is exactly as it sounds, if a beer didn’t fit into one of the other brackets, it went into here.

If I did this right, you won’t have to mix styles too much until you hit the final four.  (This is a big if, I set this up on very little sleep.)

You may also notice that some of your favorite seasonal and one-off beers aren’t on the list. For the most part, I tried to stick with two year-round beer from each brewery and one season. As not everyone gets a chance to try a lot of the one-off or seasonal beers, thought it would be more fair with the year round releases.

Now, for the serious stuff. Even after the unpleasantness from a couple of years ago, I’m sticking with the Bracketeers website. It’s still the best website I can find to make this process easy for me and you, so we’ll stick with it.

Please, I remind everyone again not to take this too seriously, it’s just for fun.
Round Dates:
Round 1 – Thu Mar 20
Round 2 – Mon Mar 24
Round 3 – Thu Mar 27
Round 4 – Mon Mar 31
Round 5 – Thu Apr 3
Championship – Mon Apr 7

So, good luck to everyone and have fun! (If you can’t see the poll below, click on this link to visit the website hosting it.)