A Bar Where Everyone Gets Along: Catawba and Microbrew Madness

The BRO MicroBrew Madness is pitting the best craft breweries in the South against each other in a March Madness style bracket that has neighbors against neighbors, Davids matching up with Goliaths, IPA’s versus IPA’s…It’s a veritable fight to the death. A bloody cage match where only the mightiest beer will be left standing, towering above slain pale ales and porters.

Okay, most of that fierce competition is going on in my head. The fact is, craft brewing is one of the friendliest businesses I’ve ever witnessed, particularly on a local and regional level. What other business could a small start up call the company who dominates the market and ask for advice? What other business do you see cross-company collaborations. Sierra Nevada invites other breweries, small and large, to brew at their facilities in California every year. Terrapin is known for whipping up some ridiculously creative collaboration brews with other Southern breweries. I can’t remember the last time McDonalds collaborated with Burger King to offer a special sandwich.

I recently went to the opening of the Catawba Brewing Company’s new tasting room here in Asheville, and half the people in the room were representatives of some sort from other breweries here in town. And they were all genuinely happy to have Catawba open up shop on their home turf.

Are these breweries competitive with each other? Of course. I have no doubt that every master brewer is trying to one up his neighbor brewer with off the wall experimental batches of craziness. Sure, the breweries push each other, which is why America has become ground zero for good beer in the last decade. But it’s a friendly push. A soft nudge. Like how you push your riding buddy to go over that kicker that both of you know he shouldn’t go over.

I like brackets like this Microbrew Madness. It gives brewers a chance to go head to head and work out some of that competitive spirit in a friendly way. I’d also like to see a brewery-only basketball league, where each brewery fields a team, and head brewers try to create a super-hydrating beer that doesn’t cause everyone to throw up after running crazy on the court for 20 minutes. Elbows would be thrown, fouls would be called, but after the game, they’d all go back to being friends and frenemies, gently pushing each other to be better.

Visit the Microbrew Madness tourney brackets here.



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