What's Your Tournament Craft Beer Bracket?

What’s Your Tournament Craft Beer Bracket?

When it comes to college basketball’s tournament season, it’s all about your bracket. Whether you know all of the stats and have been avidly watching all season, or you tune in at the end and choose your bracket based off odds or hey, I’m not here to judge – because you like the mascot, the colors, or because your aunt’s/uncle’s kid went to school there, whatever.

For me, it’s the feeling. The frenetic and desperate plot of win or go home.  It reminds me of the Wide World of Sports tagline, “the thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat”.  College basketball:  where the travelling whistle is enforced, where getting 5 fouls results in a bench view of the game, and where yelling at the referees provides the opponents with the advantage.  That’s why I love college basketball.

Of course, a large part of the fun of watching college basketball is enjoying a craft beer to accompany your favorite snacks. So if I were to put together a bracket of my top contenders for craft beer right now, these are who I feel would wind up in my top 8.


  • Founders Beer has just rolled out their newest, and one of the most exciting, new brews named Solid Gold.  This is not the lip-syncing, big hair, dance version of your 80’s beer.  This beer is money.  I tasted this beer on draft and it is amazing.  It is an American Lager beer, full-flavored with beautiful hints of hops.  It is absolutely thirst quenching and has an ABV of only 4.4%.
  • New Holland, another Michigan-based brewery, has produced a New England Style IPA named Tangerine Space Machine.  This style was made famous in Michigan by our friends at Old Nation.  This beer is made with Pale 2 row, white wheat, and oats.  It is hopped with Galaxy and Citra to a 40 IBU.  With an ABV of 6.8%, tangerine has found its mate.
  • On the national craft scene, we have Samuel Adams’s newest offer of Sam ’76.  Using both ale and lager yeast strains, this is a refreshing beer with a hint of fruit quaff.  It drinks very easy and at 4.7%, is very do-able.  There are 12 IBUs in this brew.  I would recommend that you pair it with pigs in the blanket (one of my favorite game day appetizers), grilled pork chops, or strawberry shortcake.
  • Dogfish Head out of Delaware with their always-interesting names has produced an IPA named Flesh & Blood IPA.  Caution: you may need sunglasses to look at the label with its red, orange, yellow, and green pop from the 12z can.  You can’t miss it in the beer cooler.  It is brewed with all natural ingredients: lemon flesh, sweet orange peel, and juice from blood oranges.  It features 45 IBUs and an ABV of 7.5%.  Moderation is key with this beer.
  • For hop lovers, my recommendation is Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’.  They had to stand on the hop load to jam these hops into the kettle.  Made with all the hops that start with the letter C, this beer needed balance. Lagunitas accomplished this with a base of Pale Wheat.  This American Pale Wheat Style beer has 64.2 IBUs and an ABV of 7.5%.  If you love hops, this is your sipper.
  • For dark beer enthusiasts, I recommend Founders Sumatra Mountain Brown.  This is an Imperial Brown Ale in style and uses caramel malt for sweetness.  This beer also utilizes Chocolate and Munich malts to add depth.  The Sumatra comes from the style of coffee added to this Imperial. With all those delicious flavors combined, it is a great pairing for caramel cheesecake.
  • Back to local, we have a great Farm House IPA from Brewery Vivant named Hop Field.    The ABV is 7% and made with Michigan hops.  This beer is un-filtered and made with farmhouse yeast allows for a bright, fruit forward beer.  A very comfortable beer to sip during the stress of the games.
  • How about bringing a dog to the games? Not calling it a bad tasting beer, but a dog-labelled beer from Alaskan Brewing named Husky.  This label is garnering significant raves with its steel blue eyed husky coming right out of the label.  This IPA, based on the sled dog of Alaska, is a single malt and single hop beer.  Mosaic is the lone hop on this puppy.  ABV of 7% and IBUs of 50.

So that is my version of the best 8 team tournament bracket…what is yours? Feel free to reach out and share with us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter!


Greg Vanoverloop Beer Wine Spirits Category Manager

  • Started in the Grocery business bagging at D&W in 1975.  Worked at D&W for 30 years in various departments.
  • Worked at SpartanNash for 11 years.  Currently the Category Manager for Wine/Beer/Spirits for SpartanNash East.
  • Have been a category manager since 1990 and a category manager of beer  since 1997.  CM of wine and spirits since 2007.
  • Have travelled extensively which provided the opportunity to taste many foods and beverages from Hong Kong to Caribbean, from California to Maine.
  • Love to cook, grill, and bake, snow ski, sail, and read books.    Best baked item – a bourbon pecan pie with rum crust.  Best grilled item – salmon with blueberry onion wine sauce and goat cheese.  Best cooked item – Squash Apple soup with bourbon.  Best ski slope – Go Devil at Keystone.  Best book – Wonder.
  • 1 wife, 3 children, 7.3 grandchildren.