Results and Analysis of Round One: Maine IPA’s

Round One IPA'sThe Final Round of 64 of the Maine Madness Beer Tournament played out on Friday, and it was a burner.  The Maine IPA round saw a record number of votes; so many, in fact, we had to close voting early.  This state loves their IPA’s!  (Click here to view full updated bracket.)

One of the most surprising outcomes from Friday’s vote was the battle between Baxter Stowaway IPA and Sebago Frye’s Leap.  The flagship Sebago IPA took an early lead, but slowly, Baxter supporters came in and pushed Stowaway considerably ahead of one of our favorite beers here at Maine Madness Beer Tournament.  We weren’t ready for Baxter to surmount such a sizable victory.  But they did indeed.

Sebago Full Throttle double IPA also put up a good fight against Marshall Wharf Cant Dog double IPA.  This was a good match-up of similar style beers, but Marshall Wharf has a strong hold on the market these days with their hip cans and hit-you-in-the-face hops and abv, allowing them to pull out the victory.

Rising Tide 2The real titans of this round are Maine Beer Company with three beers progressing to the next round, and Rising Tide Brewing with two.  We here at Maine Madness Beer Tournament have received a bit of flack for putting so many MBC beers in this tournament and giving Rising Tide so many high rankings, but we stand by our choices.  Plus, MBC Lunch and Mo are going to go at it today along with MBC Another facing Rising Tide Calcutta Cutter in their respective brackets.

I hope you have all been seeking out new beer from this list to broaden your Maine Beer knowledge.  As we move further into the tournament, the winning beers are world class brews.  Find them.  Drink them.  Love them.

Today, look for Round Two Madness.  We’ll be voting on all 32 beers today.  By the end of the week we’ll have our two finalists in the 2014 Maine Madness Beer Tournament.



Results and Analysis of Round One: Maine Seasonals

Round One Maine SeasonalsDay three of the Maine Madness Beer Tournament brought some of the most eclectic match-ups we’ve seen thus far.  We had pumpkin beers going up against summers and summers going against winters.  However, I find that when you combine unlike pairs, sparks fly.

And sparks certainly flew yesterday in the voting.

The closest race came between Gritty’s Vacationland Summer and Peak Winter.  The race was neck and friggin’ neck.  When we closed the votes, Gritty’s had won by a single vote, giving Gritty’s two victories in yesterday’s Seasonal round.

Geary’s Summer and Peak Simcoe Spring Ale battled it out in their own head to head match-up.  At one point, Geary’s had a solid lead in this category, but Peak fans gave a good showing and brought the Simcoe Spring Ale to a sizable win.  Must have been that citrusy freshness from those Simcoe hops that nudged Peak ahead.

The big upset of the day was Shipyard Pumpkinhead getting trounced by Peak Summer.  When we created the seeding for this tournament, we felt that we had to give Pumpkinhead the number 2 seed based solely on the juggernaut it is in the national market.  Shipyard sells a shit ton (remember, this is an actual measurement term in Maine) of Pumpkinhead.  Mainers, however, said no to this beer yesterday.  Or, maybe the better way to look at it is that we said yes to Peak Summer.

Dinner LabelIt is with great excitement now that we get ready for today’s category: Maine IPA’s.  Here at Maine Madness Beer Tournament, we are IPA loving hop heads.  You’ll notice that Maine Beer Company’s Dinner is not in this tournament.  Though it’s the best Maine beer any of us here have tasted, we didn’t feel enough of the population had a chance to sample to the delicious brew.  Next year!

Don’t forget to try a new IPA on today’s ballot, or maybe try an old friend you haven’t had in a fortnight.


(Click here to see updated bracket.)

Results and Analysis of Round One: Maine Dark Beers and Strong Ales

Round One Dark Beers and Strong AlesRound One action for the Maine Madness Beer Tournament was something to watch.  There were some brews that blew away the competition, while other races stayed neck and neck right to the final vote. (Click to see updated bracket.)

The closest race was between two titans: Maine Beer Company’s Mean Old Tom Stout and Allagash Brewing’s Curieux.  This battle went back and forth, with neither beer ever getting more than three votes ahead of the other.  In the end, Curieux pulled out the victory, showing its dominance in the state of Maine.

Don’t worry Maine Beer Company fans, MBC still has King Titus Porter in the Dark Beers and Strong Ales category.  However, Baxter Brewing’s Phantom Punch Winter Stout gave King Titus a run for its money.  That was a fun one to watch, too.

Another notable battle was between Lake Trout Stout from Sebago Brewing and McGovern’s Oatmeal Stout.  This was a strong match-up of wonderfully balanced stouts.  We thought McGovern’s longtime status in Maine was going to give it the victory, but the Lake Trout Stout pulled out a sizable win.

The final surprise for us at Maine Madness Beer Tournament was the battle between Geary’s London Porter and Cadillac Mountain Stout from Bar Harbor Brewing.  Cadillac Mountain Stout absolutely ran away with this victory.  It seems that Bar Harbor Brewing’s stout has a serious hold on the palates of this state.

Today, look for Round One of the Maine Seasonals.  This might be the most interesting round simply because there are so many different genres of beer in this category.  We have summer beers against fall beers and spring beers against winters.  Anything can happen.

And don’t forget to try a new Maine beer from this category.  Though, I guess you’ll have to look for something that’s in season.



Results and Analysis of Round One: Maine Ales

Round One Results Maine Ales

As I watched the results come in yesterday in real time, there were a few races that changed leaders a number of times.  The tightest race by far throughout the day was Shipyard Export vs. Gritty’s Pub Style.  These iconic Maine beers battled it out, but in the end, Pub Style pulled ahead and remained ahead until polls closed.  (Click here to see entire bracket.)

Another tight race was between Baxter’s Pamola Xtra Pale Ale and Peak Pale Ale.  At one point, Peak took the lead, but Baxter’s brew proved much too popular among voters and pulled off the victory.

The last race that caused great excitement here at Maine Madness Beer Tournament Headquarters was between Rising Tide’s Ishmael and Sebago’s Runabout Red Ale.  It was a battle of two great breweries: Rising Tide, the new kid on the scene, against one of Maine’s first craft breweries, Sebago.  At the end of the day, Rising Tide took the victory.

Round Two for Maine Ales already looks exciting.  The Daymark vs. Ace Hole Pale Ale match-up will be one to watch closely.

Speaking of Ace Hole Pale Ale, I took the challenge to try a new Maine beer, and I got my hands on a four pack of this Marshall Wharf brew.  Man is this a tasty ale.  The Sorachi Ace Hops and the Citra Hops come through in this ale in a subtle way.  The bitter aftertaste is magical.  More to come on this brew later.

Thanks for voting.  Thanks for imbibing.


Participate in the Joy that is the Maine Madness Beer Tournament


After a year of writing a beer blog and drinking my way through New England, it occurred to me that the great state of Maine is fertile with good beer right now.  And it’s only getting stronger with new breweries opening up every week.

So when I saw the NCAA Men’s Basketball bracket, I thought, I wonder if I could find 64 Maine beers to pit against each other.  I did some research, some math, and discovered that, yup, we live in a state with some beer prowess.  Thus was born the Maine Madness Beer Tournament.  (Click here to join the Facebook page and vote!)


DinnerWeek one (March 24 – March 28): Round One of the tournament.  Starting on Tuesday, we will vote on Maine Ales.  Wednesday will be the Dark and Strong category of Stouts, Porters, Blacks, and Strong Ales.  Thursday will be the seasonals.  And Friday will be my favorite category: the IPA’s.

Week two (March 31 – April 4): Round Two, Round Three, Round Four, and Round Five.  I’m guessing there will be a lot of upsets.  By the time the Sweet Sixteen (Round Three) comes around, I’m sure we’ll all be surprised by the way the field looks.  So by the time the Elite Eight (Round Four) rolls around, it will be anyone’s game.  And when we get to the Final Four (Round Five), our heads will explode with amazement at who’s left and which favorites are gone.

Week Three (April 7): Championship Game.  This will coincide with the NCAA national championship game.  As the NCAA crown’s a champion, so will Maine crown a beer champion.  I’m so friggin’ excited.


The Challenge to You

I challenge each of you to try a new Maine beer every round that you’ve never had before.  Doing so enhances your appreciation for Maine beer, bolsters our local economy, and strengthens the unique culture of our state.  For example, today when we vote on Maine Ales, I’m going to go out and find Marshall Wharf Ace Hole Ale.  I’ve been meaning to try it, and this is the perfect occasion to do so.  Vote for the beers you love, and buy Maine beers you’ve never tried before.

Remember, this is a celebration of Maine beer.  Let’s celebrate!

The Philip Seymour Hoffman I Knew

Of course, I didn’t know Philip Seymour Hoffman.  But like the rest of you, I knew the version of him that he gave us in his movies and interviews.  I loved that version because he was hilarious and serious and chubby and flawed and honest and vulnerable.

Since writing is cathartic and I’m as confused about his death as everyone else, I’m making a list of the Philip Seymour Hoffman roles that will most haunt me.  I’m hoping it helps.

5. Along Came Polly (2004)

Hoffman was the only memorable part of this movie.  It’s a Ben Stiller rom-com, so I sleepily watched it, but when the scene drops with Hoffman on the basketball court I woke up.  Hoffman nails the character of Sandy Lyle (what a great name).  I love this role, because his hilarity completely took me by surprise.  My favorite quotes bellowed by Lyle as he misses shot after shot: Make it rain!  Raindance!  Raindrops!  White chocolate!

Philip Seymour Hoffman4. Fresh Air Interview with Terry Gross (2008)

This was the interview that gave me a glimpse into Hoffman as a man.  I was in awe listening to his approach to craft.  His desire to find the flaws in his characters and make those flaws naked was inspiring.  He felt so damn human.  And humble.  I recall Gross asking him at one point about his relationship to alcohol.  He told Gross that he has no idea how anyone has just one drink.  He understood that he was an addict and one drink would lead to twenty.  That response has been with me since his death.

3. The Big Lebowski (1998)

Brandt!  His reaction when Bunny Lebowski (Terra Reid) propositions the Dude (Jeff Bridges) shows Hoffman’s ability to stay in character in even the wildest of moments.  It’s brilliant straight man comedy, and different from his hilarity in Along Came Polly.  Let’s recap.

Bunny: I’ll suck your cock for a thousand dollars.

Brandt: Ah hahahahaha.  Wonderful woman.  We’re all very fond of her.  Very free-spirited.

Bunny: Brandt can’t watch, though, or he has to pay a hundred.

Brandt: Ah haha.  That’s marvelous.

2. Capote (2005)

I’m not going to say anything about his portrayal of Truman Capote that hasn’t been said.  His work in this film is genius in the real sense of the word: the voice, the mannerisms, the duplicity of character.  When I think Truman Capote, I think Philip Seymour Hoffman.

1. Love Liza (2002)

This movie ripped my heart out of my chest cavity and threatened to never put it back.  For whatever reason, it’s this performance by Hoffman that will always haunt me.  Maybe it’s the presence of his wife’s suicide letter Hoffman’s character Wilson Joel carries with him throughout the movie.  Perhaps it’s his raw back and forth with Kathy Bates.  Or possibly it’s his character’s decision to begin huffing gasoline to suppress the pain of loss.  It’s a character walking into the abyss.  It’s dark.  It’s gripping.  It’s beautiful.  Most likely all these reasons combined won’t allow me to shake this performance in the wake of Hoffman’s death.

That helped.  A little.  We’re all blessed to have laid witness to the brilliance of a great actor.  Rest in peace, Mr. Hoffman.

Advice From a Reluctant Blogger


I got into blogging reluctantly.  Now that I’m in it, I understand its importance for emerging writers.  It’s a necessary component in this uber-digital age we find ourselves in.  With that said, I’m having a hell of a time blogging about writing, music, and beer.  (Especially the beer part.)

Six Reasons Why I Blog

1. A literary agent told me:

-Publishers are interested in publishing authors, not books.
-Publishers want to see that their writer can write about a range of topics in a range of genres.  (They want to see that you have chops.)
-Publishers want to see that you’re living a life in letters.

2. It gives me a weekly assignment where I can practice craft in a quick shot.  I try to give myself different ‘assignments’ for each post to keep pushing my writing.

3. My blog is a place where I play with language, ideas, and content.

IMG_60874. It’s a great way to run a low-cost/no-cost website where people can read your work, bio, and contact information.  (Good to have when you’re sending your work to literary publications.)

5. It’s a great way to redirect someone to my publications and music pages.

6. More people have read my prose on my blog than have read my fiction.  For now.

Advice from a Reluctant Blogger

1. On your blog, you don’t have to do A+ work.  Don’t obsess over the perfect post.  People consume blogposts like fairgoers consume fried food.

2. Don’t let the blog distract you from the projects most important to your writing life.

3. Aaron Hamburger, one of my writing mentors, once told me that in my fiction I should only write what excites me.  So I blog about writing, music, and beer.  Those three things make life worth living.  I am always excited to write about each of those topics.

4. Be open to letting your blog evolve into whatever it wants to become.  This blog has evolved greatly over the past year.

5. Check your stats, but don’t become obsessed.  Computers are depleting our dopamine supplies through endless satiation; don’t let your blog rob your dopamine reserves.

6. Use the any writing you already have to give your blog an immediate injection of content.  As you figure out what you want your blog to be, you can delete old work.

7. Keep each post short.  I have a self-imposed word limit of 500 words.

JaphytheWonderDog8. Include images in each post.  Fact: humans like pretty pictures.  (Just look at that picture of Japhy the Wonder Dog.)  Write detailed descriptions of your images to help with your blog’s searchability.

9. Twitter is your best friend if you’re writing about someone or something else.  Try Twitter out, and as Neil Gaiman urges, if you don’t like it, don’t do it.  Find your relationship with Twitter.

10. Facebook is a good place to toss more personal posts.  Overall, Facebook isn’t a great place to grow your blog after the first few months.  I post less than half of my blog posts to Facebook.  It induces ‘social media fatigue’ among your cyber friends.