headshots-bRound one is under way right now, and we’re seeing some surprising results already. When the seeds were determined and beers were matched up, we asked our selection committee if they had any thoughts on how the bracket looked for this year’s tournament. Here’s what Fairway’s General Manager, Brandon Peiffer, had to say:

This year we see that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Even with the growth of popularity of craft beer, the number of new breweries opening, and the number of new offerings that are made available getting larger by the day, we still see the same two beers hanging on to the top seeds in the Michigan bracket. I do not mean to down play how awesome Bell’s Two Hearted Ale and Short’s Huma Lupa Licious are at all. They really are world class beers, but I just am wondering if there will ever be a beer introduced that we the panel vote into those top seeds?

One beer that I personally have become a big fan of from the state of Michigan is Griffin Claw’s Norm’s Raggedy Ass IPA. This is such a well-crafted and balanced IPA, and with the popularity of cans gaining momentum, I can see this beer becoming the next big thing in the state. However, I am not picking Norm’s to make it to the finals this year. I think that it still is about a year away from being a top contender.

I think that this year will see one of the top two seeds (either Two Hearted or Huma) come out of the bracket, along with a little known beer that recently opened up to year round availability, and has been putting up huge sales numbers lately. That beer is Saugatuck Neapolitan Milk Stout. I know that those who have never heard of it, or have never tried it, may think that the concept sounds crazy. Trust me, this beer is an experience. If you drink the beer at the right temperature (my preference is slightly below room temperature) you will taste layers of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry as you drink it. It also has a wonderful, creamy mouth feel that makes it feel like you are drinking a milkshake. Outstanding beer!

When we look at the world side of the bracket it is better rounded. Unlike the Michigan bracket, it is not as IPA heavy, has a nice variety of styles, and an awesome representation of new breweries distributed to our state.

The top seed in the World bracket comes from a brewery that has only been selling beer in the state since last July! Alaskan Brewing is making some outstanding stuff, highlighted by the Amber, but the entire portfolio (IPA, APA, Smoked Porter) is awesome! Some other newcomers to the tournament this year that I think are of note are Flying Monkey Chocolate Manifesto, Anderson Valley Gose, Lagunitas Sucks, Mills Street Vanilla Porter, and my personal favorite Evil Twin Nomader Weisse.

Check back later this week when we get to hear opinions from some of the other committee members, and don’t forget to cast your vote for Round One if you haven’t done so already!