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Re-draft or Re-Draught?

SBN's Conference Redraft is a fascinating exercise in gauging perceived value and desirability of programs familiar to all fans of college sports thing to do because, hey, it's hot outside. This got us thinking, as uninspiring as a lifetime of watching our team find conference-mates in the likes of Pitt, Oklahoma State, Cal and Memphis, it could be worse. We could be stuck with a lifetime of drinking Iron ("Ahrn") City, Leinie's Red and Crazy Ed's Cave Creek Chili Beer. So we at Maize n Brew have undertaken a truly important project, The Ultimate Brewery Portfolio Re-Draft! This will tell us a great many important things, such as: which craft beers could we simply not do without; what breweries are most-loved; and, which of us are actually decent people. Because, after all:

So, good people, we're calling on you to help us choose our draft/draught pool of beers for the draft itself. We've got stuff we love, but that doesn't alone mean we have the definitive word on beer. We're calling on you to let us know what we should know about and drink. Just as we have with our conference redraft, there are several critical considerations one must take into account prior to the beginning of the draft. Keep in mind, these are the criteria those actually involved in the draft will need to adhere to. You, dear reader, will have fewer constraints:

  • Quality: Obviously, this should be the most highly-rated factor. If you're compiling the ultimate line-up for your dream brewery portfolio you want your beers to be things you actually want to drink. Just because you've heard Three Floyds' Dark Lord Imperial Stout is supposed to be good isn't reason enough to include it on your list if you've never had it. And we'll just take care of this tricky little caveat right off the bat; craft beer vs. mass-produced stuff. That's fine if you love Coors (because your hands won't tell you if a can is cold...), but around these parts we appreciate that great beer is a the result of a craftman's labor and a representation of time hard-spent creating a beverage that reflects said effort. * While there are technical cut-offs as to what constitutes a craft brewery (Goose Island and Boston Brewing Co. [Sam Adams], through their great success, are over the defined limit) we're more about the spirit of the law than the letter. In other words, to paraphrase the late US Supreme Court Justice, Potter Stewart, in his definition of hard-core pornography (Jacobellis v. Ohio) "I know it when I see it." i.e. your inclusion of Bud Lime will not be counted on the draft board.

  • Drinkability: This is important. While you may recognize Founders' Kentucky Breakfast Stout as a superlative beer, do you really find yourself craving an inky-black, 11.2 % ABV, bourbon barrel-aged beer with great regularity? In many ways this should be the most telling aspect of your selection. What's your go-to? In music terms, you might think Radiohead's "Kid A" as a singular work of genius, but chances are you're throwing on a Pink Floyd or Rolling Stones album with far more regularity when wanting to get your groove on. Again, this doesn't mean you can't select that odd beer, just remember that it's what you're drinking from here on out. What's that?!? Oh, yeah, we forgot to mention. This is it. These are the beers you're bound to for the rest of your life. No wandering eyes mouths. This is the tap list for eternity and it's not changing.
  • Availability: This is the curve-ball of the bunch. Yes, it's your portfolio, but you're bound to the realities of the brewing world. If you live in Milwaukee and are convinced you'll never leave (a good possibility, amIright!?!), then go ahead and select a delicious Wisconsin-only beer from New Glarus. However, there's something to be said for the ubiquity of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.
  • Price: We recognize that this category is completely subjective. If you've reached a point in your life where a $20 four-pack of Goose Island's Imperial IPA is no big deal ,then good for you. However, think in terms of your own reality. As much as I love Three Floyds' Alpha King Pale Ale ($10.99 around most of Chicago) there's a reason I buy Lagunitas' IPA ($8.99) more often.

You can afford a $500 beer? Then why isn't someone reading this page to you?

And there are your general ground rules. The key points worth mentioning as far as the commenting public is concerned are
  1. This is Leman/Stanzi country. As such, we shall only be including beers produced in the U.S. of A.
  2. You, the noble commenter, will be limited to a Top 10 (order is unimportant) from which our esteemed board of "owners" will be selecting, eventually to be divided into categories of IPA/APA, Pale Ale, Brown Ale/Porter (yes, they're entirely different but not widely-produced enough to get separate categories), Stout, Lager, Wheat/Hefeweizen, Specialty (think Magic Hat No. 9 or New Glarus Raspberry Tart), Seasonal (eg. Great Lakes' Christmas Ale) and, finally, High Gravity (anything over 7% ABV). Yes, there will be some crossover here (drafters can choose a Russian Imperial Stout as their stout, high gravity or season [if applicable]) so they'll have effectively gamed the system here, good for them.
  3. Your Top 10 will not be subject to the categorization rules the "owners" will be subject to. i.e. if you only drink IPAs, go ahead and list 10 IPAs.
  4. The final "Draft Board" from which "owners" shall select will come from the overall Top 12 (in honor of our beloved B1G) in each category. If there's a category that falls short in commenter contribution then the "owner" is free to select what he/she chooses within the style
Confused? Good. Still, we have faith that you'll rise to the occasion and flood our comments section with all sorts of excellent Top 10's. If you have questions as to what constitutes a stout or porter or hefeweizen, we would refer you to the excellent Beer Advocate website. While not the final word on the subject, it's "beer styles" section, listed under "Education", is a great starting point. If there are further questions we welcome them within the fanshots that will be posted all over SBN announcing the event.

And there you have it, friends. These are Your Friday Drinking Instructions. We shall reconvene here next Friday with the results of the initial draft board. Go forth and drink list!

*Please don't waste our time with "beer snob/elitist" comments. If you enjoy PBR or Milwaukee's Best or whatever who are we to judge? But that's clearly not the aim of this site and column so we would ask you refrain from needless arguments about what "real" beer is or what "girl" beer is and the like. Thank you.

Ed. Note - Folks. In an effort to keep our beer commissioner/overlord Kyle McCann't from blowing his brains out trying to keep a list of all the beers we're listing, whilst filtering through the wonderful comments below, please consider moving some of the Beer commentary to our Official Re-Draught Comment Thread. It'll just make Kyle's life a little easier. No worries if you want to keep posting here, but figured I'd ask. Thanks! - Dave]