IMPORTANT UPDATE: Voting on the initial field is closed. No more e-mails are being accepted. You can cast your votes in the Sudsy Sixteen round here until 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, March 22.

It’s that time of the year. We’re all thinking about brackets, taking really, really long lunch breaks and employers are losing $1.3 billion due to the lack of productivity because everyone’s heads are exploding from March Madness. I know. $1.3 billion. It’s almost enough to make you feel guilty. Almost.

Well, while everyone else is busy crowning their college basketball winners and then crumpling up their sheet of dreams after the first two days of games, we’re working on another kind of bracket – the scientifically perfect Ultimate Beer Bracket that will forever end all arguments about WHICH BREWERY IS MINNESOTA’S BEST.***

Seriously, beer is almost as great as basketball, right? And also less likely to break your heart this spring.

Here’s the best part: While you’d probably get arrested and massively fined if you tried to hop on the court and contribute to your favorite team’s journey through the tourney, this bracket’s destiny is totally in your hands.

***Just kidding: this is not at all scientific, and you can definitely argue with us (and we know you will).

Here's what you do:

PHASE ONE: DETERMINE THE FIELD:

1. Check out our list of all the state’s breweries, below. If we’ve missed one, send me a nasty email with lots of exclamation points and angry emoticons and I’ll add it.

2. Pick your favorite five breweries. I know, you probably have like 86 favorite breweries because you so do that brew thing hard, but you’re going to have to keep it to five for the purposes of this bracket. Even we have SOME fan boundaries, OK?

3. Reverse rank these three breweries giving...

       *FIVE POINTS to your TOP CHOICE,

       *FOUR POINTS to your SECOND CHOICE,

       *THREE POINTS to your THIRD CHOICE,

       *TWO POINTS to your FOURTH CHOICE and

       *ONE POINT to your FIFTH CHOICE

Reverse rankings, see? Your votes will determine our field of the 16 breweries with the most votes.

4. Send those rankings to me at amelia.rayno@startribune.com with the subject line BREWERY BRACKET. Don’t forget that subject line! If you do, your tallies might be lost forever, and that’s basically like a last-second review pulling back a buzzer-beating three-pointer that sends your team to the title game. Yeah, gut punch.

Two notes:

*THERE IS A DEADLINE. Send me those rankings by this Sunday, March 19 at noon or your shot won’t matter. Just like your basketball brackets, if they’re anything like mine, starting Friday.

*Vote only once! OK, you can try to vote as many times as you like but you risk me figuring it out and drawing my ire. As my friends would tell you, that's a scary thing.

PHASE TWO: CROWN THE CHAMP

1. After you all enthusiastically email me and we get our field in place, we'll randomly seed all of the brewery "teams" (this will happen scientifically, with a hand and a hat) and it will be time to vote for the winner of each matchup, starting with the Sweet Sixteen round and advancing all the way to the title bout. 

2. Voting for the Sweet Sixteen round begins Wednesday, March 22, so check back at StarTribune.com for more updates!

Three ….two… one… TIPOFF:

Breweries in Minnesota

56 Brewing Co.

612Brew

10K Brewing

Able Seedhouse & Brewery

Angry Inch Brewing Co.

August Schell Brewing Co.

Bad Habit Brewing Co.

Badger Hill Brewing Co.

Bad Weather Brewing Co.

Bald Man Brewing Co.

Bang Brewing Co.

Bank Brewing Co.

Barley John’s Brew Pub

Bauhaus Brew Labs

Beaver Island Brewing Co.

Bemidji Brewing Co.

Bent Paddle Brewing Co.

Bent Brewstillery

Big Axe Brewing Company

Big Wood Brewery

Birch’s on the Lake

Blacklist Brewing

Blackstack Brewing

Boathouse Brewpub & Restaurant

Boom Island Brewing Co.

Borealis Fermentery

Brau Brothers Brewing Co.

Burning Brothers Brewing Co.

Canal Park Brewing Co.

Carmody Irish Pub & Brewing

Castle Danger Brewery

Clockwerks Brewing

Copper Trail Brewing

Cuyuna Brewing

Cosmos Brewing

Dangerous Man Brewing Co.

Day Block Brewing

Disgruntled Brewing

Dubh Linn Irish Brew Pub

Eastlake Brewery

ENKI Brewing Co.

Excelsior Brewing Co.

Fair State Brewing Cooperative

F-Town Brewing Company

Finnegans

Fitger’s Brewhouse

Flat Earth Brewing Co.

Forager Brewing Co.

Foxhole Brewhouse

The Freehouse

Fulton Brewing Co.

Goat Ridge Brewing Co.

Grand Rounds Brewpub

Granite City Food & Brewery

Great Waters Brewing 

Gull Dam Brewing Co.

Gun Flint Tavern

HammerHeart Brewing Co.

Hayes’ Public House

The Herkimer

Inbound BrewCo.

Indeed Brewing Co. 

Insight Brewing Co.

Jack Pine Brewery

Junkyard Brewing Co.

Kinney Creek Brewery

Lake Superior Brewing Co.

Lake Monster Brewing Co.

Lakes & Legends Brewing Co.

Lakeville Brewing Co.

Lazy Loon Brewing

Lift Bridge Brewing Co.

LTD Brewing Co.

LTS Brewing Co.

Lupulin Brewing Co.

Lupine Brewing Co.

LynLake Brewery

Mankato Brewery

Mantorville Brewing Co.

Maple Island Brewing Co.

Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery

Modist Brewing Co.

Montgomery Brewing Co.

Moose Lake Brewing Co.

Northbound Smokehouse & Brewpub

NorthGate Brewing

North Loop BrewCo.

Nutmeg Brewhouse

Olvalde Farm and Brewing Co.

OMNI Brewing Co.

Oswald Brewing Co.

Pryes Brewing Co.

Revelation Ale Works

Read’s Landing Brewing Co.

Red Wing Brewery

Rock Bottom Brewery & Restaurant

Roets Jordan Brewery

Roundhouse Brewery

Schram Vineyards Winery & Brewery

Sídhe Brewing Co.

Sisyphus Brewing Co.

Sociable Cider Werks

South Fork Brewing Company

Spilled Grain Brewhouse

Steel Toe Brewing Co.

Summit Brewing Co.

Surly Brewing Co.

Take 16 Brewing Co.

Talking Waters Brewing Co.

Tavern Brewery

Third Street Brewhouse

Tin Whiskers Brewing Co.

u4ic Brewing, Inc.

Union Pizza & Brewing Co.

Urban Growler Brewing Co.

Urban Lodge Brewery & Restaurant

Utepils Brewing Co.

Vine Park Brewing Co.

Voyageur Brewing Co.

Wabasha Brewing Co.

Waconia Brewing Co.

Wayzata Brew Works

Wenonah Brewing Co.

Wicked Wort Brewing Co.

Wild Mind Artisan Ales

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