2015 2nd Annual Mitten Madness Brackets

Congratulations Harmony Brewing Co., 2015 Mitten Madness Champions!


April 5 update: Congrats to Original Gravity and Harmony Brewing for advancing to this year’s Mitten Madness Finals!


March 30 update: Congrats to Mitten BC, Original Gravity, Harmony BC, and especially Brewery Terra Firma for reaching the Final Four!  Go Sparty!

The Final Four!
The Final Four!

March 28 update: Congrats to the Elite Eight, Liberty Street, Brewery Terra Firma, Harmony BC, Dragonmead, Stormcloud, Mitten BC, Original Gravity, and Mountain Town.

In today’s action, Stormcloud faces Mitten BC, and Original Gravity tangles with Mountain Town.  Join the Michigan Beer Guy crew tonight at 51 North and experience Mitten Madness with us!


March 23 update: We’re down to the Sweet 16, and each brewery that has advanced to this point has earned an automatic bid in next year’s Mitten Madness brackets. In a rematch of last year’s finals, Brewery Terra Firma (Michigan State) upset 51 North (Virginia), ending their bid to repeat as Mitten Madness Champions. Congrats to the breweries who are still alive, see updated brackets below. Catch all the tournament games at your local Michigan breweries and Drink Local!

Updated March 23
Updated March 23

It’s that time of year again, March Madness has arrived!  The 2nd Annual Mitten Madness is back here at MichiganBeerGuy.com, and the brackets are now set.  68 Michigan breweries have made the field, check the brackets to see who qualified and what teams the breweries have been randomly assigned to. Congratulations to last year’s Champions, 51 North, who will look to defend their title with Virginia. Last year’s runner-up, Brewery Terra Firma drew the home state Michigan State Spartans, and Mitten BC drew undefeated Kentucky. There were over 30 breweries in the hat who did not make the random field, apologies to those who we were not able to include. There are simply more brewers than available spots on the brackets.

This year, a growler of 51 North Imperial Tangerine Wheat was quaffed by the committee during selection Sunday as names were randomly drawn from a hat to fill the field.  Breweries who made it to the Sweet Sixteen last year receive automatic bids (see list below).  Remaining breweries were selected randomly from Michigan’s Best Beer Guide by Kevin Revolinski, with priority to breweries that we interact with on Twitter. All seeding is completely random, this is all for amusement only and no breweries are given preferential treatment with bracket placement.  We’ll make sure and visit the breweries that make the Final Four sometime during the next year and review their beers.  We’ll visit the winning brewery during next year’s tournament, and provide some swag for the staff at their tasting room.

51northlogoOn that note, please join us at the home of last year’s Champions, 51 North,  to enjoy beer and basketball on the weekend of March 28-29 where we’ll have a few special surprises in store. Stay in touch with us on Twitter for details, and a chance to win a sweet MichiganBeerGuy Belgian-style tulip beer glass. To top it off, 51 North is featuring $2.50 Lake Orion Light and Paint Creek Tangerine Wheat brews along with a special $5 food menu during all March Madness games!

Good luck to all our Michigan brewery friends, check back on Sunday, March 15 when the brackets are released to find out who made the field and what NCAA team to cheer for.  Cheers for Michigan Beers!

Breweries receiving automatic bids from last year’s Mitten Madness Sweet 16:

51 North, Brewery Terra Firma, Brewery Ferment, Round Barn, Frankenmuth, Detroit BC, Short’s, Big Buck, Bell’s, Latitude 42, The Livery, Mitten BC, Mackinaw BC, Motor City BC, Schmohz, Original Gravity

Join us at 51 North and win a MBG tulip glass!


The Michigan Beer Guy crew will be catching the Arizona-Wisconsin game at 51 North on Saturday night, March 28 at their tap room in Lake Orion. We’ll be honoring last year’s Mitten Madness winning brewery, tipoff is scheduled for 6:08 pm. Please join us for a pint or two and a chance to win a MichiganBeerGuy.com tulip glass. We’ve also got glasses for the 51 North taproom staff as a reward for winning last year’s Mitten Madness contest. Details will be announced on our Twitter feed at 6:00 pm on Saturday just prior to tipoff of the Arizona-Wisconsin game. 51 North is located at 51 N Broadway St. in Lake Orion. The tap room offers $2.50 Lake Orion Light and Tangerine Wheat drafts and $5 food specials during all March Madness games!

Win this glass!
Join us at 51 North on Saturday and WIN THIS GLASS!

Beer Education classes on tap in SE Michigan

Tap handles

Interest in beer and home brewing has skyrocketed as craft beer sales enjoy unprecedented growth in Michigan and beyond. Today’s beer drinkers have more choices than ever, and are exposed to a wide array of beer styles and taste profiles. New breweries, beer bars, and retailers are opening throughout the state to keep up with demand, creating new opportunities and stimulating enthusiasm throughout the craft beer community. Consumers have more beer questions than ever, and employers are looking to educate servers and salespeople.

Annette May and her husband Mike Bardallis are here to help. They are both Certified Cicerones® and BJCP judges. Annette was the first woman to achieve Cicerone® Certification in 2008, and manages the beer department at Merchant’s Fine Wine in Dearborn. Mike started out as an avid home brewer and is now a professional brewer with Grizzly Peak in Ann Arbor. He has home-brewed over 400 batches to date.

11046483_1591281681088002_5005906606944462351_nAnnette and Mike have teamed up to offer KNOW BEER Beer Education classes in Southeast Michigan.

KNOW BEER provides education on beer styles, service, brewing, and appreciation, with a focus on preparing students for Cicerone® certification.  Among the courses currently offered are Certifications in Craft Beer, Basics of Beer, Beer Styles, Off-Flavors, Short Pour Draft, and Beer Camp for amateur home brewers.  A Beer and Food Pairing course is currently being developed and will be offered later this year.

I recently enrolled in the Beer Styles course, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.  We studied nearly all BJCP beer styles, including history of German, British, Belgian, and American styles, and gained valuable insight on relevant topics and available resources to study and prepare for the Cicerone® exam.  Fellow students included a professional brewer, distributor sales manager, server, and a few home brewers.  Not everyone in the class was preparing for the Cicerone® exam, several students were simply interested in learning about beer styles and enhancing their appreciation of beer.  This is one course where everyone enjoys their homework assignments!

I have also attended the Off-Flavor course where participants taste tainted samples and identify the most common flaws that occur in commercial beers and home brews.  Annette explains what causes each of the off-flavors and how to prevent them from proliferating.

KNOW BEER courses are highly recommended for anyone who wants to expand their knowledge of beer and/or home brewing;   from industry professionals preparing for the Cicerone exam to craft beer enthusiasts who simply want to KNOW BEER.

For more details or to register for courses, visit www.knowbeer.org.

Feb. 14: Rochester Mills Milkshake Stout

Rochester Mills Milkshake Stout

5.0% ABV, 20 IBU – Milk Stout

IMG_3856_2 Brewery Description: The combination of four different malts, along with a low hop level creates a deep dark beer featuring rich, sweet roasted flavors. The addition of lactose (milk sugar) adds complexity, body, and a residual sweetness lending a smooth creamy texture to this full-flavored brew. Once a Seasonal offering in the pub, now prominently featured due to popular demand.

Tasting Notes: Aroma is malt forward coffee, chocolate, and a bit of roasted nuttiness. Pours black with a thick tan head that dissipates rapidly. Tastes just like a chocolate milkshake, sweet with a light body and low carbonation. Finishes with subtle roasted malt and milk chocolate; no hop bitterness whatsoever. Delicious and very easy to drink with a relatively low 5% abv, Milkshake Stout is sure to please everyone!

Food Pairings: Brie, Camembert, Cheddar (aged), Goat Cheese (Chevrè), Swiss Cheese, Beef barbecue, spicy Asian dishes, chocolate cake and other chocolate desserts.


Valentine’s Day suggestion: Visit your nearest Hopcat location and pair this with their “I Am the Pork Sandwich Who Knocks” Pork Tenderloin sandwich.  Hopcat’s menu description: This sandwich is  totally “Breaking Bad.” Beer battered, pretzel-encrusted pork tenderloin, topped with Swiss cheese, blue cheese – BBQ slaw, lettuce, tomato & haystack onions. Served on a jumbo English muffin.

If you’re in SE Michigan, stop by the new Ann Arbor location today and celebrate their Grand Opening on Valentine’s Day with your sweetheart!

Availability: Available throughout Michigan and selected stores in Northeast Ohio.


Beer My Valentine

Feb. 13: Greenbush Brother Benjamin

Greenbush Brother Benjamin

10.1% ABV, 114 IBU – Imperial India Pale Ale

Brewery Description: Prepare to be Mystified

Be prepared, be prepared I say, to receive the mighty powerful taste of this truly heavenly Imperial India Pale Ale! It is a true force of nature my children! It’s a mystification!

Tasting Notes: Hazy copper appearance with a thick two-finger head. Orange, pineapple, caramel malt, and honey in the nose. Resinous pine and citrus fruit up front, with a distinct earthy caramel malt backbone. Dry grapefruit bitterness is tempered by a sweet, mellow honey finish. Hides its 10% abv quite well; brewed with clover honey and beet sugar. A fantastic Imperial IPA that flies under the radar. Comparable to Bell’s Hopslam (and readily available) with its own distinct identity. Highly recommended!

Food Pairings: Stilton cheese, smoked salmon, spicy chicken wings, jambalaya, creme brûlée, carrot cake.
Valentine’s Day suggestion: Pairs well with spicy dishes. Serve with tender, fall-off-the-bone spicy barbecued spare ribs.

Availability: Available throughout Michigan and stores in Indiana, and Illinois that stock Greenbush products.


Beer My Valentine

Feb. 12: Evil Twin “I Love You With My Stout”

Evil Twin I Love You With My Stout

12.0% ABV – Imperial Stout


Brewery Description: “When I copied the famous Even More Jesus, I had to ask myself as an artist, why am I doing this? I didn’t honestly know. It was just an instinct about beer as pure form… in a sense this stout is like a metaphor for freedom – the sum of all the beauty that surrounds me and my perfect contemporary existence.”
– Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø, Brewer and founder of Evil Twin Brewing


Tasting Notes: Pours jet black with a one-finger off-white head. Aroma of smoky dark malt, coffee and vanilla.  Bursting with robust flavors of dark fruits, cherries, plums and raisins, accompanied by notes of coffee, chocolate, vanilla and molasses that all blend together in perfect harmony. Full-bodied and smooth with a slight alcohol burn on the back end, indicative of its 12% abv. This selection may not be suited for everyone’s palate, but will be treasured by the hardcore stout drinker.

Say “I Love You With My Stout!” with this world-class gem from Evil Twin Brewing.

Food Pairings: Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Smoked Gouda, Oysters, Steak,  Cheesecake, Pecan Pie.
Valentine’s Day suggestion: Sip after dinner with chocolate fudge brownies.

Availability: Available in selected Better Beer stores that stock Evil Twin beers in Michigan and throughout most of the US.


Beer My Valentine

Feb. 11: Southern Tier Creme Brûlée

Southern Tier Creme Brûlée
9.5% ABV Imperial Milk Stout

Brewery Description: “A STOUT OF GREAT CONTENTION”

We are not the harbingers of truth as some may suggest but it may indeed be argued that our brewing philosophy is tantamount to a dessert with a bellicose past. How, you may ask, would a brewery determine a likeness to hard-coated custard? Our response is simple; it’s all in the power of history, and of course, the extra finesse needed to top off a contentious treat with definition.

By comprehending the labyrinthine movement of time, one would not think it strange to trace the errant path of an ordinary object such as a cream dessert only to discover that it has been the cause of cultural disputes since the middle ages. The British founders of burnt cream and from Spain, crema catalana, both stand by their creative originality and we respect that, but it was the French Crème Brûlée, amid the strife of contention, that survived to represent our deliciously creamy brew.


Tasting Notes: Pours a deep ruby brown with a half finger tan head. Powerful aroma of vanilla, butterscotch, and caramel. Rich and creamy vanilla flavor with plenty of butterscotch, caramelized sugar, chocolate malt, and custard. Very sweet, yet not cloying, this stout is amazingly balanced and stunningly unique. Finishes with a touch of malt bitterness and some alcohol warmth. A fantastic creation of liquid creme brûlée, this gem is truly a world-class dessert beer meant for sipping.

Food Pairings: Pair with vanilla custard, bananas foster, or with vanilla ice cream.
Valentine’s Day suggestion: Needs no accompaniment, full-bodied, very sweet and flavorful. Pairs just fine with your sweetheart, it will take both of you to finish off a bomber of this deliciousness. Curl up in front of the fireplace with that special someone, this brew is sure to keep you cozy and warm.

Availability: Seasonal, November-February in Michigan stores and in other states where Arcadia is distributed.


Beer My Valentine

Feb. 10: Arcadia Cocoa Loco

Arcadia Cocoa Loco

7.0% ABV, 39 IBU cocoaloco_illus

Brewery Description: This triple chocolate stout is a unique interpretation of the style, combining three different chocolate malts, cacao nibs and 63 percent semi-sweet chocolate, creating a sinfully delicious brew. The addition of blackstrap molasses produces an earthy, caramelized tone in an already complex flavor profile. It’s creamy, milkshake-like mouthfeel earns this beer the reputation of being dessert in glass.

Tasting Notes: Pours black with ruby red edges when viewed through light; razor-thin tan head that disappears rapidly leaving some lacing on the side of the glass. Aroma of milk chocolate and roasted malt, reminiscent of a malted milk ball. Roasted malt and bittersweet chocolate at first, followed by some sweetness. Milk chocolate, caramel, vanilla, and subtle dark fruits emerge as it warms. Finishes sweet with no hop bitterness. Good mouthfeel, body is slightly on the thin side for a stout. Cocoa Loco is a candy bar in a glass, well balanced and not too sweet and loaded with chocolate bliss. Ideal to share with your sweetie on Valentine’s Day!

Food Pairings: Brie cheese, cherry cheesecake, seared ahi tuna, vanilla ice cream, berry pies.
Valentine’s Day suggestion: Sip with a slice of cherry pie

Availability: Seasonal, November-February in Michigan stores and in other states where Arcadia is distributed.


Beer My Valentine

Feb. 9: Founders Breakfast Stout

Founders Breakfast Stout


8.3% ABV, 60 IBU

Brewery Description:
The coffee lover’s consummate beer. Brewed with an abundance of flaked oats, bitter and imported chocolates, and two types of coffee, this stout has an intense fresh-roasted java nose topped with a frothy, cinnamon-colored head that goes forever.

Tasting Notes: Pours jet black with a light brown creamy one-finger head. Strong aroma of coffee and chocolate, which mirrors the flavor. Smooth and creamy, loaded with coffee, mocha and dark chocolate flavors with no alcohol burn whatsoever. Slightly sweet finish, with lingering cocoa; low carbonation and no hop bitterness. This is a fantastic brew that should appease a wide range of beer drinkers ranging from beer snobs to occasional beer drinkers who might normally be intimidated by trying a stout.

Food Pairings: Sharp cheddar cheese, coffee ice cream, cheesecake, pecan pie.
Valentine’s Day suggestion: Breakfast-in-bed on Valentine’s Day!

Availability: Seasonal, October-December in Michigan stores and in other states where Founders is distributed. There should still be some on shelves in selected stores.


Beer My Valentine

Feb 8: O’Fallon Cherry Chocolate Beer

O’Fallon Cherry Chocolate Beer


5.7% ABV, 10 IBU

Brewery Description: A dark wheat beer that tastes like a chocolate covered cherry…only better! Available December1.
Style: Dark Wheat Alcohol: 5.7% ABV Bitterness: 10 IBUs Color: 13.3 SRM Grain: Pale, White Wheat, Caramel 40L, Chocolate Hops:Cluster

Tasting Notes: Pours dark amber with moderate carbonation. Chocolate and cherry aroma; initially tastes like a tootsie roll, followed by maraschino cherries; just like chocolate covered cherries. No hop bitterness whatsoever. This beer may not appeal to a sophisticated craft beer palette, but it’s a nice change of pace and likely will be romanticly enjoyed by most sweethearts. Go ahead, don’t be afraid to pop that cherry!

Food Pairings: Camembert cheese, vanilla ice cream, cheesecake.
Valentine’s Day suggestion: White chocolate mousse

Availability: Seasonal, December release in Michigan stores and in other states where O’Fallon is distributed.


Beer My Valentine

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