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Oakes Weekly - April 10, 2003
Playoff Drinking Season Preview
April 10, 2003
Written by Oakes
<P>Hockey playoffs are prime beer drinking season, at least in Canada. By the time this article hits the presses, the games will be well underway. Preview shows are starting up as I write this, so I’ll contribute my two cents. Of course, I’m going to talk about beer. Replace hockey teams with beer scenes, and let’s see how the playoffs shape up.
<P>Edmonton vs. Dallas – These two featherweights will engage in what will best resemble a pillow fight as opposed to a serious beer showdown. Edmonton is primarily represented by the Alley Kat micro, who are average in quality, which makes them one of the best on the Prairies. At the far southern end of said prairie, Dallas has a prolific brewpub and a respected beer bar. It’s not much, but minnows are bigger than plankton. Dallas in six.
<P>Anaheim vs. Detroit – It may be a stretch to consider Bell’s in this equation, but it doesn’t matter in the first round at least. Orange County as a whole has kind of missed out on the SoCal beer revival, but Anaheim proper has been the worst offender. Detroit still has Dragonmeade, and a smattering of other brewpubs and micros. Detroit in four.
<P>Minnesota vs. Colorado – Without Sherlock’s Home, Minnesota has lost their star brewer. Denver’s beers may have underwhelmed me overall, but there is too much there to consider them anything other than a heavyweight. Colorado in a walk. Colorado in four.
<P>St. Louis vs. Vancouver – Probably the most compelling Western Conference match-up in terms of beer. St. Lou does have Schlafly, which has a great reputation, but they also have Anheuser-Busch, whose belligerent attitude does no brewing scene any favours, especially not their own. Vancouver may be short on big-name, sexy micros, but the scene overall is solid, with Sailor Hägar’s leading the way, six or seven other brewpubs, and a couple of micros. Take Vancouver in six.
<P>New York Islanders vs. Ottawa – No offense to Perry at Scotch Irish, nor to the Clocktower, but Southampton Publick House is a force to be reckoned with. The Island may not have depth, but star power will get them to round two. After that it looks dodgy, though, because buying a good beer in the average bar in either one of these places is a challenge. Long Island in 5.
<P>Boston vs. New Jersey – Jersey has some interesting breweries, but they’re kind of scattered, and not much of a factor in their East Rutherford home base. Too bad, really, because this makes it a rather easy win for Boston Brew Works, Cambridge, John Harvard’s and co. Boston in six.
<P>Washington vs. Tampa Bay – Between the Brickskeller and Old Dominion, DC should have little trouble with Tampa Bay’s moribund beer scene. That’s not to say that they’ll go far in the playoffs, but round one shouldn’t be a problem. Washington in four.
<P>Toronto vs. Philadelphia – I like the Granite, love Smokeless Joe’s and I’m encouraged by the revival of the former Denison’s Weizen by the Mill Street Brewery, but it just doesn’t compare with Victory, Flying Fish, Yards, the famous Monk’s, and the rest of the Philly scene. Philadelphia in five.
<P>Dallas vs. Vancouver – Getting past Edmonton will be one thing, getting past Vancouver another matter altogether. Despite the dubious pioneering of canned microbrews, and prolonged periods of stagnation, at least in Vancouver you won’t find a thin layer of ice on top of your brew. Vancouver in five.
<P>Detroit vs. Colorado – The problem for Detroit here is that if we were counting Bell’s, we’d have to count New Belgium as well. That still leaves a decisive edge for the home of the Great American Brewing Festival and their dozens of micros. Colorado in five.
<P>New York Islanders vs. Philadelphia – Southampton vs. Victory – I’d like to sit in on that tasting. But Philly is much more, so barring a miracle, you’d have to go with the land of the cheesesteak to advance. Philadelphia in five.
<P>Boston vs. Washington – DC has a lot of great beers kicking around its stores, but Boston reminds me of Vancouver – nothing overly mind-blowing, but lots of solid performers. The Brick carries weight, and does hold some intriguing events, but overall Beantown squeaks out a closely-fought series. Boston in seven.
<P>Vancouver vs. Colorado – Vancouver’s luck runs out here. Micro to micro I think Vancouver is underrated at times, while Colorado is overrated because of their quantity. But stores on the Canadian coast are weak, as are beer bars and festivals. So no Falling Rock, no GABF, and Denver must have a better store than Vancouver’s Cambie & 40th. If I counted the Archer Ale House an hour south in Bellingham, Vancouver might have a chance, but I can’t count that so it’s all she wrote, and Colorado represents the west in the finals. Colorado in six.
<P>Boston vs. Philadelphia – Boston runs out of gas here. Victory is better than anything Boston has, Monk’s has a better reputation than Redbones, BUT Boston will not go quietly into the night, with its strong festival calendar. Still, Philly has some serious depth, and many of its beers are known far and wide. Flyers take it in seven.
<P>Colorado vs. Philadelphia – Tough one. Both cities have a lot of breweries, great history, and well-known beer bars. Philly has more world classic beers, Colorado has the bigger beer festival. Overall, though, Philadelphia has two of the top fifty North American brewers, Colorado just one. Philadelphia beers dominate the East Coast scene, Denver is now fourth behind Seattle, Portland and San Diego. Philadelphia is your champion, seven games, double overtime.
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