Editor's note: Voting in the championship round is closed. The winner will be unveiled Monday morning here.

 

Sometimes the chalk nails it. Sometimes the No. 1 and the No. 2 seeds are actually on top for a reason.

There isn’t always a renegade Loyola Chicago daring us to dream, OK? Sometimes that little formula of Hall-of-Fame coaching, 7-footers and time-honored tradition adds up to a free parking space in the title game. Life is unfair! Brackets are busted! Projected first-round NBA draft picks are actually very talented!

OK but back to beer, here. Although we understand that not everyone gets excited about watching powerhouses rise to the top and then systematically stay there, think about it this way: The two top-billed heavyweights in the sport are about to go at each other’s throat in the ring. It’s like the two rich girls in school taking bets to bring it to the alleyway. Even if you’re not really rooting for anyone, you’re rooting for ... that.

Then again, Castle Danger really isn’t a rich girl. The Two Harbors brewery might have earned the No. 2 seed this year, but as it brewed less than 15,000 barrels last year (a drop in the bucket compared to Surly’s capacity of 200,000 bbls), it’s more like the kid who started dating someone in the in-crowd and suddenly got invited to the cool parties like every weekend. In this matchup, Castle Danger (last year’s 6-seed) is absolutely the underdog. Well, we think. Castle Danger does have title round experience from its bout with reigning champ Schell’s a year ago.

Surly, on the flip side, is the one that has earned its reign. It’s had the target on its back since the start, and deserves some applause for fighting off the potential threats (which it did, in close races, more than once).

But there’s another angle: yep, Twin Cities vs. North Shore. Wow, maybe we’ll finally solve the conundrum of which sector of Minnesota land is the best and most valuable! Maybe we’ll finally know which brand of life – city flow or lake drift – is the unquestionable best! Can all this really come down to beer!!??

No, definitely not. Stop being ridiculous. Still, we all have regional pride and strong opinions about what we know and love so why not gear that toward this showdown?

Surly vs. Castle Danger! Twins Cities vs. Two Harbors! Mississippi vs. Superior! For Pete’s sake, BEER!

Who will be the state’s champ? You can start voting now. (Voting continues through Thursday at 5 p.m.)

Here’s how the last round went down:

Surly (1) – 3,998 total votes (51 percent)
Fulton (8) – 3,812 total votes (49 percent)

Castle Danger (2) – 4,016 votes (51 percent)
Bent Paddle (3) – 3,793 votes (49 percent)

More thoughts!

- Castle Danger is back! One year after charging to the title game as a surprise 6-seed, the Two Harbors brewery has returned, this time with some clout. Last year, it tumbled to champion Schell’s in a final that lacked some drama. Has CD learned from its mistakes? Can it find a lasting power? Has it been doing lots of burpees over the winter? It will all play out on the court!

- Chalk prevailed, but it wasn’t exactly smooth sailing. Both Surly and Castle Danger advanced via last-minute, come-from-behind victories, making for a THRILLING performance behind the scenes. As long as you assume watching numbers tick upward on a spreadsheet can be thrilling. We had beer, OK?

- After crushing Bad Weather in the Sudsy Sixteen, Surly has squeaked out its last two matchups – narrowly slipping past Summit by 0.6 percent and then playing with a deficit against Fulton, and finally managing just a 2 percent margin of victory.

- MEANWHILE, Castle Danger has earned a greater vote total than its new competitor, Surly, in each of the last two rounds, while facing opponents with higher seeds overall as well.