Beer Madness 2010

The Madness begins anew, and alas, I am not a judge again this year. This year’s competition goes global, featuring 32 beers from 22 countries. Previous competitions were more localized to beers that were at least readily available in the DC area. So, let’s take a look at the contenders.
The Lager bracket features a diverse lineup of international stalwarts (Stella Artois and Heineken), Asian up and comers (Tsingtao and Singha) and last year’s lager winner The Raven. The favorite would have to be Pilsner Urquell, one of the purest examples of lager brewing out there.
The Dark bracket at long last includes Guinness, but is extremely competitive. Kostrizer Schwarzbier, Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout and Brooklyn Brown are strong contenders.
The Pale Ale side has some intriguing first round matchups. Newcomer Nogne O takes on stalwart Fuller’s ESB and Chimay Red goes up against Smithwick’s Irish Ale. Any one of them could win the region, but my favorite is still Troegs Hopback.
Finally we have the Freestyle bracket, with everything from fruit to funk. This is always the most interesting bracket to me, and it’s unfortunate that two beers like Ephemere and St. Louis Framboise have to go up against each other in the first round. I think Ephemere takes the region, but watch out for wild card Hitachino Nest White Ale.
Final Four prediction: Pilsner Urquell, Brooklyn Brown Ale, Troegs Hopback, and Ephemere. Winner: Troegs Hopback.

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