Massachusetts Malt Madness 2018: Round 2 Begins

Thirty-two breweries remain—and one first-round matchup was decided by a single vote.

Boston magazine's Malt Madness: Best Massachusetts Breweries bracket

Styled and photographed by Chloe Grinberg / Styled and photographed by Chloe Grinberg

The votes are in, beer fans. Round 1 of Boston magazine’s inaugural Malt Madness bracket ended at midnight, with 32 breweries remaining through Wednesday, March 14. We tallied about 3,950 votes per head-to-head brewery matchup, with some close races.

In the Central / Western Mass. conference, America’s first Trappist beer, Spencer Brewery, narrowly edged out Exhibit ‘A’ Brewing of Framingham, with 50.5 percent of the vote. As Exhibit ‘A’s general manager, Kelsey Roth, wryly noted on Facebook, Spencer “[has] God on their side.” Tree House, the cult favored brewery in Charlton, handily beat Wachusett Brewing, on the other hand, with 68 percent of the vote.

Mystic Brewery beat the O.G., Boston Beer Co. (Sam Adams) by a similar margin in the Greater Boston conference; as did Night Shift Brewing over Harpoon. The closest race in that category was decided by one vote: 4,587 people helped Turtle Swamp Brewery prevail over Somerville Brewing Co.’s Slumbrew, which nabbed 4,586 votes.

In the Northeastern conference, the makers of Boom Sauce, Lord Hobo Brewing Co., are out early after going up against Newburyport Brewing, known for Plum Island Belgian white and other colorful cans.

Nantucket’s Cisco Brewers, on the other hand, lost Round 1 to Weymouth’s nearly two-year-old Barrel House Z, despite the off-island prevalence of beers like Whale’s Tail Pale Ale, and Grey Lady.

Pour one out for every Massachusetts brewery that bowed out of this competition early—and take a moment to appreciate the support competitors showed one another.

Down the Road Beer Co. brought its rival, Cambridge Brewing Co., some fresh cans before the votes were tallied in the Everett brewery’s favor. And Winter Hill Brewing was gracious about being up against down-the-hill neighbors, Aeronaut Brewing.

“We’re big fans of their beer and even bigger fans of the people who work there,” Winter Hill shared on Instagram. “Vote for us or vote for them—either way it’s a win for Somerville independent craft breweries!”

Indeed, the point of this friendly competition is to celebrate the Massachusetts beer scene. We hope fans continue voting for their favorites, and maybe discover some new favorites as the tournament continues.

On March 15, we will announce the Sudsy 16. The Elite Ales (and Lagers) will be eight finalists left on March 22. Voting for the Final Pour—the leading brewery in each conference—will close Monday night, March 26, and then that Thursday night for the two finalists.

The two remaining breweries go head-to-head over Easter and Passover weekend, and we will announce the Malt Master on Thursday, April 5.


Click here to vote in Malt Madness Round 2