March Madness is that time of year when you get to slip on that old college sweatshirt, invite some friends over to watch the big game, and cheer on your alma mater. If your team has made it to the big dance, that is. You already have the food down – wings, chips and dip, maybe a cookout. But what about beer? There's no way you could possibly serve a domestic like Bud Light. You have to go with craft beer. With all of the choices, deciding seems impossible, especially if you don’t think your craft beer knowledge is up to snuff. How about hosting a March Madness beer tasting tournament during the game? It’s a fun way to learn about beer varieties and add a unique twist to your game watching party.
March Madness Beer Tasting Tournament Logistics
The tournament works like a March Madness bracket. You pit two beers against each other in a blind taste test. Participants vote on which beer they like the best. The beer with the most votes moves onto the next round. If you’re doing a Sweet-Sixteen theme, that means you’ll have eight beers advance to round two. You then start the process over again, chiseling the beers down to the Final Four and finally the Championship Game.
The key is to keep the beers anonymous throughout the game. The blind aspect forces players to vote for what they truly like, not what they think they like. At the end of the tournament, you can reveal the various beers. Encourage participants to take notes and maybe even try their guess at the type of beer or brand.
Someone will need to play emcee to pour and serve the beers. Obviously, they’ll know the beers so they won’t be able to participate. Their reward is drinking all the losing beers along the way.
March Madness Beer Tasting Tournament Tools
A March Madness beer tasting tournament is actually quite easy to set up. Here’s what you need:
- 16 different types of beers – I know there are 40 teams in the real tournament, but trust me on this one. You won’t have anybody left standing if you do a full 40 beers. You don’t have to buy six packs of each beer. Find a bottle shop or grocery store that sells individual bottles and pick up two bottles of each participating beer.
- A bracket for the emcee to track the rounds.
- Sampler cups.
- Papers for note taking.
- Pens/pencils for note taking (duh).
- Water – To rinse sampler cups and to help cleanse palates.
- Pretzels – To help cleanse palates.
If you’re not the arts and crafts type, or you just want to make life easier, I suggest buying a pre-made version from Brew Bracket.
The Beer for Your Tournament
I’ll try not to beer nerd out on you too much here…the beer you select for the tournament can be random or it can follow a theme. For example, I’ve hosted a tournament where only hoppy beers participated (IPAs, IPLs, pale ales). I also hosted one in the summer and chose summery beers like wheats, lagers, and session ales. Maybe pick beers from the various states or towns represented in the tournament. Or, ask each guest to bring their favorite beer (you’ll want to pre-screen for duplicates).
I think the most fun is picking random styles. It’s the best way to educate yourself on all the various varieties and for craft beer nerds to challenge their beer conceptions. Whatever you do, don’t stress out about the beer. A March Madness beer tasting tournament is meant to be fun and help broaden guests’ horizons to the delicious world of craft beer!
Now you're all set to invite your friends over for a March Madness beer tasting tournament to both cheer on your team and learn about beer.
Go buy your Brew Bracket pre-made March Madness beer tasting tournament kit now!
What do you think about hosting a March Madness beer tasting tournament during the NCAA tournament? Let us know your thoughts and questions in the comments below!
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