First, it took down Surly. Then it showed Bent Paddle the door. Now, with the results from our Ultimate Beer Bracket’s final round in, our Cinderella of Minnesota breweries proved it had one more trick up its sleeve: a fourth consecutive upset win to seize the championship and complete its charmed run from underling to undefeated.
Beer fans, meet your champion: Schell’s Brewery.
If you thought this year’s NCAA Tournament has had drama, you should see how our March Malt-ness went down.
After 2½ weeks and more than 57,000 fan votes, a barrage of shocking upsets and one stout (get it?) underdog, the competition came to a head (sorry) last week, when Schell’s (our 9-seed) trumped runner-up Castle Danger (our 6-seed) to cut down the frothy nets.
How we got our results
* More than 1,500 ballots named 128 different breweries in our initial round of voting that determined the field. Surly snatched the role of front-runner with fury, getting 654 votes — 122 more than the runner-up, Bent Paddle.
* After the Sudsy Sixteen round of voting was in, it looked like this might be a snoozer. All chalk (that means the better seeds) moved on, except for in one matchup — Schell’s (a 9-seed) over Steel Toe (an 8-seed). At the time it didn’t seem like a big deal, considering it was barely an upset. But Schell’s was just getting started.
* The most interesting takeaway of the Sudsy Sixteen? That Bent Paddle, our 2-seed, might be able to compete with top dog Surly. The Duluth brew actually received more votes in its respective matchup in that round.
* Then the magic began. In the Ale-ite Eight, Schell’s took down Surly — which once seemed unbeatable — with 911 additional votes, and it would be 9-1-1 for all the brewery powerhouses from there on out. Bent Paddle fell to the same Schell’s fate in the Foamy Four and the New Ulm Cinderella polished off its run with a victory over 6-seed Castle Danger in the title match. (You can download your very own copy of the final bracket here.)
* Want to compare Schell’s and runner-up Castle Danger side to side? The latter actually consistently put up bigger margins, winning its first three matchups by an average of 23 percentage points. But Schell’s had the tougher path to the championship, going through an 8-seed, a 1-seed and a 2-seed while Castle Danger was faced with an 11-seed, a 3-seed and a 5-seed.
* Fans voted 22,722 times in the championship bout, by far the most of any round. Schell’s took 12,507 votes (55 percent) while Castle Danger followed with 10,215 (45 percent). More than 57,000 votes were cast throughout the contest.
Now all that's left is to raise a toast to the winner — to whomever your personal winner was, that is. Happy drinking!