The Triad’s two largest breweries, Foothills and Natty Greene’s, both made it through the first round of voting in Craft Beer Raleigh’s online March Beer Madness bracket.
Set up like an NCAA basketball bracket, the competition pits breweries across the state against each other. With advancement determined by online voting, Natty Greene’s passed Lynwood Grill and Brewing and now faces Carolina Brewing Co. in the second round. Foothills bested Frog Level Brewing and now squares off against Deep River Brewing Co.
It is unclear why newer Triad breweries Small Batch, Hoots, and Gibb’s were excluded, but even the much larger and older Liberty (in High Point) and Red Oak (in Whitsett) didn’t make it into the competition in the first place. Pig Pounder in Greensboro was eliminated by Olde Hickory Brewery in the first round.
Like the NCAA, the bracket is split into four divisions — yeast, hops, malt and water. Natty Greene’s and Foothills could only meet in the championships, though Natty Greene’s will likely have to face powerhouse Sierra Nevada in the regional semifinals. Beer giant Oscar Blues is in the same division, too.
Foothills won’t match up against a major craft brewer early on, but its division is chock-full of well known and very popular North Carolina breweries including Aviator, Hi-Wire, and Big Boss.
Voting for this round ends March 22 — click here to vote.
[Editor’s Note: The whole bracket seems like pretty obvious clickbait that comes down to brand recognition and popularity. I don’t put any stock in it to reflect which breweries are creating the best beer, but still thought our readers would be interested in knowing this is happening so y’all can make up your own minds. I’m most interested in the results of the Hops division, which looks like the most evenly matched showdowns.]
UPDATE: Natty Greene’s didn’t make it through the round, but Foothills prevailed over Deep River Brewing. It now faces Gizmo Brew Works (you can find one of Gizmo’s beers on draft at 1618 Wine Bar) in the regional semifinals (AKA the Sweet Sixteen). Carolina Brewing Co., the brewery that bested Natty Greene’s, now faces Sierra Nevada.