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CougCenter Craft Beer Tournament: Filling out the Elite Eight

There are two spots left in the Elite Eight, and four great beers looking to advance.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Welcome back to CougCenter's craft beer tournament. We began the tournament with 20 selections. Once the votes from our next two matches are tallied, only the Elite Eight will remain. There are four high-quality beers vying for only two spots in the next round, and I think both contests will come down to the wire. Once again, which beers advance will be up to you, the reader and beer enthusiast.

Before we look ahead, let's take a look back at our last two matchups. Manny's Pale Ale prevailed in a closer-than-expected contest against Moose Drool. Given the pristine reputation of Manny's around the Seattle area, I figured Moose Drool didn't stand much of a chance. Big Sky's signature brew kept it close, but Manny's ultimately prevailed by double digits.

On the other side of the bracket, an interloper from Michigan took down Kona's Koko Brown, and is close to resembling Virginia Commonwealth circa 2011. I didn't think Bell's Hopslam stood much of a chance against Koko Brown, especially since Koko is incredibly good, in my opinion. However, the hop-infused brew carried the day, and advances to face either Ballast Point Victory at Sea or Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale. I HOPE YOU'RE HAPPY, POWERS.

The entire bracket can be seen here.

[2] Deschutes Red Chair NWPA (-5) vs. [7] Diamond Knot Industrial IPA

red chair industrial bracket

Red Chair Vitals:

  • Style: American Pale Ale
  • Beer Advocate Rating: 92
  • Star Average: 4.1
  • ABV: 6.2

Industrial IPA Vitals:

  • Style: American Double Imperial IPA
  • Beer Advocate Rating: 84
  • Star Average: 3.71
  • ABV: 7.9

PJ's Take: Unfortunately for me, I don't have a lot to add to this contest. Like nearly everything that comes out of the Deschutes brewery, Red Chair NWPA has an outstanding reputation in the Pacific Northwest. I'm nearly certain I've tried this beer, but it would have been a few years back when I wasn't nearly as proficient in the hoppy ale category.

I am completely certain I've never tried Diamond Knot Industrial, but that bottle design is really damn cool. Anything you folks can add to state the case for either beer is much-appreciated.

[2] Ballast Point Victory at Sea (Even) vs. [7] Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale

red chair industrial bracket

Victory at Sea Vitals:

  • Style: American Porter
  • Beer Advocate Rating: 98
  • Star Average: 4.4
  • ABV: 10.0

Celebration Ale Vitals:

  • Style: American IPA
  • Beer Advocate Rating: 93
  • Star Average: 4.15
  • ABV: 6.8

PJ's Take: I'd never heard of Victory at Sea until Craig and Baxter made it their beer of the game for the 2013 Apple Cup. After that, I pretty much forgot about it. Then I found it on a recent trip home and stuffed a couple bombers into my suitcase. I tried the first one shortly after I got back, and oh my lord was it tremendous. I'm a sucker for beer with strong hints of coffee and vanilla and this beer delivered in spades. It was so good that I immediately put the other bomber in protected status, saving it for a special occasion.

Then came the Friday afternoon a couple weeks ago when I made my usual trek to the beer store. Up to that point, the only Ballast Point products the place sold were a couple various IPAs, such as Sculpin. Well imagine my surprise when I saw a six pack of Victory at Sea sitting there, atop other six packs, just waiting for me to take it home. I'm not gonna lie, it nearly got really dusty in there, and it never gets dusty in Florida.

As for Celebration Ale, I know I tried it a long time ago. Once again, it was before my palate was ready for anything close to the flavor of an IPA. Regardless, I can say with 100 percent certainty which beer I prefer. Victory at Sea now, Victory at Sea tomorrow, Victory at Sea forever.

The fates of these four beers now lie with you. Let us know why you picked what you picked, and we'll fill out the final spots in our Elite Eight of craft beers.