Two weeks, 64 beers, and 1,524 votes later, we have our 2014 Maine Madness Beer Tournament Champion: Rising Tide Maine Island Trail Ale. MITA received 76% of yesterday’s vote, giving it a landslide victory over Allagash Curieux, a mighty, mighty opponent. Rising Tide fans got out the vote and made it happen for this tasty, summertime offering. Congratulations, Rising Tide. You had a great tournament with three spots in the Elite Eight, and knocking off tournament favorite Maine Beer Company Lunch in the Final Four.
Before launching into analysis of this year’s tournament and thoughts for next year’s bracket, let’s spotlight the championship beer.
Maine Island Trail Ale is an American Ale brimming with malt and hop character. At 4.3% abv, I initially thought this beer would be a light-weight brew. Au contraire, MITA is brewed with Citra and Simcoe hops. The hop flavor is ever-present and crisp. They focus mainly on flavoring and aroma hops, making this beer drinkable for almost everyone since it doesn’t have a smack-you-in-the-face bitter finish that lingers on the back of your tongue for days. Hop Heads love MITA because of the citrus intensity of the Citra and Simcoe hops, and all the non-Hop Heads love it because it’s a refreshing, well-balanced beer.
And there it is. Maybe that’s why this beer made it past Lunch and Curieux, two of Maine’s best beers. It’s a world-class beer that doesn’t get backed into a corner by being a niche beer. It’s brilliantly crafted and accessible, like a great Beatles’ album or a Steve Jobs designed Apple product.
Here’s the best news, this picture from Rising Tide’s Facebook page shows them receiving their Summer supply of cans. That means that we will be able to drink the Maine Madness Beer Tournament Champion soon. Very soon. Look for it in May. Hopefully early May.
This tournament started as something my friends and I thought would just be voted on by us. Quickly, it became clear that people wanted in on the action. More than anything else, I take that as a sign that people are passionate about Maine beer. It simply reinforced what I already believed: this state has a world-class beer scene, and it’s just getting better with each new brewery.
A huge thanks goes out to Maine.Eater.com who hosted the Final Four and the Championship, allowing us to collect more votes and reach a larger voting audience. They are a great publication. Go to the for Maine food and drink news.
I’ve heard people’s feedback about the tournament, and there will be some changes next year. First, we’re thinking of supplanting the Seasonal category for a Belgium category where we can put farmhouse ales, saisons, tripels, sours, lambics, and Belgium whites. There are enough Belgium beers and super fans in Maine to inspire this change. We received some well-deserved flack for leaving Oxbow out of the tournament, so expect a good showing from this brewery next year.
In one year, we also expect the Maine beer scene to be richer with more breweries opening and new beers appearing from established breweries. This will make next year’s bracket look vastly different from the bracket we brought you this year.
Thank you to all the Maine beer fanatics who engaged in this process of voting and trying new beer. And the biggest thanks is due to the brewers who labor over their beers to get the final product just right for our palates. Without you, there would be no tournament, and no Maine beer happiness in our lives.
See you next year.
And remember: To Drink ME is to Love ME!