It's Beer Madness time again at the Washington Post. (In case, you're not a US sports fan, the name is a play on March Madness, the collegiate basketball championship tournament which occurs every March.)
Eight panelists are selected, based upon their one-sentence emailed applications. 630 applied, including me. ("I sell beer, and I wear a tie, " I wrote this year, as I did last year, again failing to secure a spot. Maybe I should re-write.)
They vote their preferences (in blind fashion) on thirty-two beers —-as selected by Washington Post beer writer Greg Kitsock— pairing two at a time. The winning beers advance through 4 rounds until one remains. This year's roster includes some local brewpub draft beers as well as national and local bottled beers.
Washington Post's Greg Kitsock (l) with British beer writer Roger Protz (r).
Last year, the results and process seemed to distress a few 'serious' beer gurus who decried the judges' lack of training and the somewhat arbitrary match up of beers.
But it's that very approach that mirrors the real-world of commercial beer. Beer is bought and enjoyed in a non-rigorous manner. (To be fair, there was also some confusion last year about the sometimes differing results of on-line voting and the judges' decisions.)
The judges' emailed applications were reprinted; some were quite clever, and one was socially pointed.
For example, this, which was written as a beer 'personal':
amber-skinned, full-bodied, porter-haired SAF who's occasionally hop-headed, tart,and malty.
And this Rabbinical doggerel:
Where lager or stout the decision/A mere blogger would lack the precision:/That beer must be picked/Only under most strict/Rabbinical [hic!] supervision.
And this one, which in only a few words, addressed a major failing of marketing and inclusion in the craft beer world:
I'm a black woman who thoroughly enjoys beer, which is a rarity in itself.
Round One has occurred. Round Two's results, winnowing the field to eight beers, will be announced this Wednesday. Read more.
[UPDATE: 1 April 2009. And the winner of the 2009 March Beer Madness is ... Troegs HopBack Amber. Congratulations.
Read about the 2008 Beer Madness here.