Local Craft Beer Tasting Tournament Held At Fairgrounds Barley Island Brewery wins “Best Wheat” at Brew Bracket
Indianapolis, IN – Central Indiana is home to a blossoming craft beer movement, with incredible growth from existing brewers and new entrants joining the market each year. But such a wealth of options can be overwhelming for a beer fan looking to expand their palette. Brew Bracket, a locally run beer tasting event, aims to give consumers a chance to learn more about their personal preferences and to aggregate the voices of the masses to identify the most preferred local brews. At a Brew Bracket tasting event, participants taste beer of a similar style in a blind, head to head comparison. This method of tasting eliminates any brand bias and helps current and future craft beer customers better define their preferred tastes within a specific style of craft beer.
Two tasting glasses for blind tasting and voting; one gray and one orange (Photo courtesy of Anna Foster)
The Brew Bracket event centers on a friendly competition between the local brewers. Each event features beer from sixteen Indiana breweries. Prior to the competition, the brewers are randomly seeded into a bracket and set up at tasting stations that event-goers will visit over the course of the event. Participants taste two different beers at a time and vote for their favorites at a central voting station without knowing which brewers are behind each style of beer. At each round, some brewers are eliminated from the tournament while others will advance to additional rounds of tasting and voting. At the end of the event, the results of the entire day of tasting and voting are revealed to the crowd. Prior to the reveal, participants do know which sixteen breweries are participating in the bracket, but nothing about their specific beer or location within the tasting stations.
Panorama view of two of the four tasting stations (Photo courtesy of Anna Foster)
On Saturday, April 14th, Brew Bracket held their third event in Central Indiana. Three hundred Hoosiers visited the Indiana State Fairgrounds to taste and vote on beers within the style category of Wheat. The following brewers joined for the event, bringing their own variation of wheat beer:
Barley Island Brewing Company – Noblesville, IN Bier Brewery – Indianapolis, IN Bloomington Brewing Company– Bloomington, IN Bulldog Brewing Co. – Whiting, IN Cutters Brewing Company – Bloomington, IN Flat 12 Bierwerks – Indianapolis, IN Fountain Square Brewing Company – Indianapolis, IN Half Moon Restaurant and Brewery – Kokomo, IN Peoples Brewing Company – Kokomo, IN Power House Brewing Company – Columbus, IN RAM Restaurant and Brewery – Indianapolis, IN Rock Bottom Downtown – Indianapolis, IN Triton Brewing Company – Indianapolis, IN Upland Brewing Company – Bloomington, IN
After 15 rounds of single elimination side by side tasting, Barley Island Brewing Company emerged victorious with their Sheet Metal Blonde. In the slimmest margin of any voting round in Brew Bracket tournament history, Barley Island edged out Rock Bottom Downtown by two participant votes. Rock Bottom Downtown was the competition runner-up with Jerry Sutherlin’s El Jefe Wheat. Barley Island’s Sheet Metal Blonde is widely distributed throughout Indiana and can be found at their brewery in Noblesville, IN, as well as through many grocery and liquor stores. El Jefe can be found on the rotating taps at Rock Bottom Downtown, call to confirm availability.
Left to right: Mike Sale, co-founder Brew Bracket, Mike Hess, Barley Island Brewing Company, Jerry Sutherlin, Rock Bottom Downtown, Ryan Coyle, co-founder Brew Bracket (Photo courtesy of KC Goshert)
The brewing industry has a strong history with philanthropy in the community, with this event as no exception. Brew Bracket is happy to be involved with “Buying a Round”, a program designed to raise funds with a different local organization for each event through a donation of a portion of the proceeds. The SCI Hope Fund, a local foundation that provides grants to patients with spinal cord injuries, was featured at the April wheat event. The event founders and our very generous local brewers worked together to donate over $1500 to the worthy cause.
The Brew Bracket event is an outstanding opportunity for craft beer fans of all experience levels to come out and enjoy a tasting event built around one specific style. A true beer connoisseur (even a cicerone) can hone their pallet through blind tasting of some new variations on popular styles. And a novice brew fan interested in learning more about the local craft scene can use the blind tasting event as an opportunity to expand their horizons and figure out new personal preferences. Co-founder Ryan Coyle sums up the event, “In the end, our goal is to help advance the overall craft beer movement in Indiana. When that happens, everyone involved with this event wins”.
About Brew Bracket: Brew Bracket was founded in late 2010 by two Carmel residents and avid craft brew fans, Mike Sale and Ryan Coyle. The company hosted two tournaments in 2011, an IPA focused event in April and an event featuring Stouts in October. The team is planning an additional event for the Fall of 2012 and will be soliciting feedback from their passionate customer base before finalizing a style selection. More information about this and prior events can be found at www.brewbracket.com.
Brew Bracket is also proud to be self-recognized as the only beer tasting event in Indiana (and possibly the world per our Google searches) to offer two tasting glasses for each participant for a seamless side by side taste comparison of two different beers.