And then there were eight.
The judges have spoken and Beer Madness is down to the quarterfinals. Greg Kitsock has the blow-by-blow in today's Food section, as pre-tournament Final Four favorite -- okay, my pre-tournament Final Four favorite -- Mad Fox Orange Whip fell to Troegs Perpetual IPA.
There's an interesting twist to this round: For the first time, Beer Madness readers were invited to go to Meridian Pint and sample small pours of each of the Sweet 16 matchups before casting their own votes with the bartender.
The results were somewhat surprising: Readers disagreed with the judges in four of the eight contests. If it was up to them, Hardywood Singel, Starr Hill's the Love, Mad Fox's Orange Whip and Dominion Lager would be heading to the Elite Eight. One matchup, between Atlas District Common and Devils Backbone Vienna Lager, ended in a tie with readers; judges had preferred Devils Backbone.
Sometimes readers and judges had very different opinions of the beer: Orange Whip thrashed Troegs Perpetual IPA by more than a two-to-one margin among readers, while the judges gave the edge to Troegs. Other contests were similarly close: Hardywood Singel squeaked out a win over Victory Swing Session Saison with just 52 percent of reader votes, while judges awarded Victory a narrow 5-4, um, victory.
Readers and judges were in wide agreement about Bluejacket's Forbidden Planet kolsch, which handily beat Lost Rhino Zlaty Czech Pils.
The obvious flaw in these results: Unlike the judges, readers were not tasting beers blind, and they knew exactly who they were voting for. It will be interesting to see if any of the beers that readers wanted to kick out in the last round are able to advance to the Final Four.
As with the previous round, Meridian Pint will allow the public to come in, sample one-ounce pours of the participating beers in each matchup and cast a ballot for their favorite. The schedule is below. Important reminder: You can only try free beers and vote on the designated day. If you visit the Pint on Friday night, for example, you will not be able to vote for the winner of Troegs vs. Monocacy.
Thursday, April 3
Hop regional final: Troegs Perpetual IPA v. Monocacy Riot Rye
Friday, April 4
Fruit/Spice regional final: Victory Swing Saison v. Franklin's Golden Opportunity Blonde Ale
Monday, April 7
Crisp regional final: Bluejacket Forbidden Planet Kolsch v. Stillwater Classique
Tuesday, April 8
Malt regional final: Devils Backbone Vienna Lager v. AleWerks Tavern Ale