As someone who actively tries to avoid watching or participating in any sort of sports-related activity, March Madness has always been fairly meaningless to me. But recently, after seeing a few brackets for movies and music, I realized sports fans aren’t the only ones who can get in on the action this month. So I figured I would compile the ultimate Connecticut craft brewery bracket. Featured are 16 local brewing companies that will be going head to head. It might be too early for the NCAA Final Four, but it’s never too early for beer.
Southern CT Regional Bracket
No. 1 Two Roads vs. No. 8 Brewport
Two Roads has quickly become a local favorite when it comes to craft beers. The Stratford-based brewing company earns the No. 1 seed and moves past Brewport with creations such as the Ol’ Factory Pils and Lil Heaven Session IPA.
No. 4 Bad Sons vs. No. 5 Lock City
BAD SONS Beer Company opened in Derby, Connecticut in 2017 and it gets the win here over Lock City, not only for its great IPAs like Lupefied, but also because its name is an acronym for all the towns in Naugatuck Valley, which the owners call home.
No. 3 Black Hog vs. No. 6 Thimble Island
Black Hog Brewing of Oxford advances to the Elite Eight with its originals such as the Hog Water IPA and Piglet Double IPA. Thimble Island Brewery and Taproom has some competitive brews of its own, including the Lil’ Tug Session IPA and the Thimble IPA, but Black Hog takes this round.
No. 2 Tribus Beer Company vs No. 7 New England Brewing Company
New England Brewing Company almost pulls off the upset here, with favorites such as the 668 Neighbor of the Beast, a Belgian Golden Ale that may be referring to a novel by Lionel Fenn, but is really just a great beer. However, Tribus Beer Co. claims the win due to its excellent selection from its Baby Cakes Stout to the Shuga Mama IPA.
Of the remaining four Southern CT brewing companies, Two Roads and Black Hog advance to face off in the Final Four.
Northern CT Regional Bracket
No. 1 Hanging Hills Brewing Company vs No. 8 Connecticut Valley Brewing Company
Hanging Hills is located in the industrial outskirts of Hartford, but boasts several fantastic brews such as the Hills Pils, Lulu L’Orange, the Hartbeat Double IPA and the Hartbeast Triple IPA. Hanging Hills also has a few cute dogs wandering around named Poppy and Wheeler, who are two of the founders of Hanging Hills. Connecticut Valley has a few of its own quality beers on tap, but Hanging Hills advances.
No. 4 City Steam vs No. 5 Back East
City Steam in downtown Hartford is a local favorite. Brewmaster Jeff Pasquale graduated from UConn in 2009 and was formally trained in the World Brewing Academy’s Master Brewer program. But despite his expertise, Back East takes this round due to its creative concoctions such as the Ice Cream Man IPA.
No. 3 Alvarium vs No. 6 Fox Farm
Alvarium Beer Company has one of my absolute favorite Connecticut craft beers, Nektar. This pint has notes of caramel, biscuit, herbal tea and apricot jam. Fox Farm has a wide selection of its own such as Gather, its German-style pilsner, but Alvarium moves on because it has other quality beers like Crunchy Roll, Kraftwerk and Honey Shot.
No. 2 Hog River vs No. 7 Elicit
Elicit Brewing Company in nearby Manchester just opened up in November and has a great environment, some good food and a great night scene too, with a DJ’d second bar upstairs to complement the live music that often plays on the first floor. However, its originals aren’t quite as good as Hog River in Hartford. Hog River takes this round with its Side Sleeper Lager, Hartford Pale Ale and one of my personal favorites, the Local 35 IPA.
Fast forwarding a bit in the Northern CT Regional Bracket, Alvarium advances past Hog River to take on Hanging Hills in the Final Four.
The Final Four
No. 1 Two Roads vs. No. 3 Black Hog
Two Roads conquers Black Hog because of its combination of environment and wide selection of quality brews that will keep you coming back for more.
No. 1 Hanging Hills vs No. 3 Alvarium
This is certainly the most difficult decision of them all in my opinion, but I have to give the nod to Alvarium since Nektar is one of the best craft beers on the market.
CT Brewing Company Championship
No. 1 Two Roads vs. No. 3 Alvarium
Another tough decision, but ultimately, Alvarium of New Britain wins this edition of CT Brewing Company March Madness because of its solid environment, competitive price points, great beers and central location.
Thirsty Thursday is created by of-age students in the Daily Campus Life section. Recommendations can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will respond if sober.