The Cheap American Beers Bracket: Elite 8

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OH MY. The action in the Cheap American Beers tournament is heating up to an almost unbearable temperature, and today we’re ready to see which beers made the Final Four. Later, we’ll also reveal the Final Four of the People’s Bracket, and let you vote for your champion!

If you’re new to this tournament, I recommend you visit the following two links:

Tuesday: The Introduction
Wednesday: The Sweet 16

“But I hate clicking things!” you scream, in your fancy chair.

Fine. For you, the short version: Eight Paste staffers convened in Atlanta for the express purpose of choosing a champion from a field of 16 cheap American beers. We sent Paste co-founder Nick Purdy out on a tour of the local convenience stores (and a Kroger) as though he were just another Friday night reveler making a run to keep the party alive. The 16 beers in the bracket came from this trip, so if you’re the complaining type who wishes Genesee or Grain Belt Premium or the bathtub lager your uncle brews in prison made the cut, blame the greater Atlanta metropolitan area. Once the beers were in house, we set up a blind taste test. In the case of a 4-4 tie, I made everyone turn around, switched the beers (or didn’t!...tricky!) and we tasted again. This always worked.

After yesterday’s opening round, we narrowed the bracket down to the Elite 8. Here’s how it looked:



And now it’s time to winnow it down to the Final Four. Can you feel the tension? The drama? Join me now, as we take a magical journey in time to Paste Headquarters, one week ago:


(1) Bud Light vs. (3) Coors Light


You may have remembered yesterday when I told you that I consider myself a Coors Light man, and that I become happy whenever I see the ole reliable silver bullet at a party. And you may also remember that, to my everlasting shame, I voted against it in favor of Miller Lite in the opening round. Well, what follows is hard to admit, but against Bud Light…I…I…I did it again. (Breaks down weeping.) I don’t even know what to think of myself anymore. My whole beer-based identity is ruined. And it hurts even more that I was the deciding vote. Along with EIC Josh Jackson, designer Sarah Lawrence, assistant film editor Mike Burgin and multimedia editor Dacey Orr, I was responsible for sending Bud Light through to the semifinals. I’m so sorry.

(1) Bud Light defeats (3) Coors Light 5-3


(1) Budweiser vs. (3) Coors


It was at this point in the tasting that everyone involved gained a newfound respect for multimedia editor Dacey Orr. As the eighth and final taster (by virtue of us having to cajole her from her desk for each new round), she often determined whether we’d have a four-four draw in any given match-up. But soon it became clear that alone among the eight tasters, which included some pretty hoity-toity beer people, she always knew exactly which beer she was tasting. While film editor Michael Dunaway was misidentifying beers at an almost uncanny rate, Dacey nailed them all within a half-sip. It hinted at a strong palate, and also a past life full of honest-to-god American parties. We didn’t press too hard for her history, but clearly we had a genius on our hands. Or at least a frat-house savant. And I’m proud to say that I voted with her, for Coors, along with Josh Jackson. But the rest of the devils migrated to the self-proclaimed “King of Beers,” and like something out of a nightmare, we had an all-Bud Final Four showdown. GAH.

(1) Budweiser defeats (3) Coors, 5-3


(2) Natural Light vs. (4) Keystone Light


I believe it was at this point that Nick Purdy unleashed the line of the tournament after drinking one of the beers. “This one has more flavor,” he said, pausing to let the after-taste sink in, “but I’m not sure that’s a good thing.” It was the perfect line to sum up the competition thus far; some beers tasted more distinct than others (hello, Schlitz), but this often just made you want to choose the more watery of the two. At least water is sort of neutral-tasting, right? Anyway, as the votes rolled in for this match-up, it became clear that Keystone Light had a chance to continue its incredible Cinderella run after defeating top-seed Michelob Light in round one. The deciding vote came from editor Bonnie Stiernberg, who was somehow able to vote with almost every winner. She was the bellwether of the bracket; how she went, the vote went. Just like Missouri in a presidential election! Congratulations, Bonnie; you are America personified.

(4) Keystone Light defeats (2) Natural Light, 5-3


(1) Miller High Life vs. (2) PBR


Here it is: The one we’ve all been waiting for. We had a lot of complaints yesterday that these two juggernauts were meeting so early, but look, that’s life in Bracketville. To be the best, you’ve got to beat the best, and it doesn’t matter when it happens. And while I’d love to stir up drama and pretend that this was a nailbiter, the fact is that to most of us, Miller High Life just tasted significantly better. This was another disappointment to me personally, since I enjoy PBR and was hoping it could carry my dreams forward in the absence of Coors Light, but the truth was, there was no debate. Maybe PBR came in a little cocky after its 8-0 win over Schlitz, or maybe Miller was just on its game. Either way, it was a no-doubter right from the start.

(1) Miller High Life defeats (2) PBR 6-2

And so we arrived at our Final Four. Some classic match-ups awaited, including a Bud vs. Bud semi and the juggernaut Miller High Life taking on Cinderalla sensation Keystone Light. The winners of the semi-finals and championship will be revealed tomorrow.




Based on yesterday’s voting, which numbered over 1,000 READERS (!) we have a People’s Final Four!



Here are the exact results of the Elite Eight voting; you can trust our transparency:

Lights Region: (3) Coors Light defeats (1) Bud Light, 568-452
Heavies Region: (1) Budweiser defeats (3) Coors, 576-441
At-Large Region: (1) Michelob Light defeats (2) Natural Light, 571-440
Old-School Region: (2) PBR defeats (1) Miller High Life, 655-371

The big surprise, at least for me, was how the Coors and Bud votes were reversed almost perfectly in the light and heavy regions. It sets up an intense rubber match in the Final Four; two hated opponents, squaring off for glory. In the other semi-final, let’s just be honest and say that Michelob Light is a huge underdog to PBR, which has somehow branded itself to become the coolest cheap beer in the history of alcohol. I’m glad the people could put it through to the Final Four, even if Paste could not.

BUT! I don’t want to influence your votes in any way, so I’ll shut up. Here’s how this is going to work. Since we’re doing both the Final Four and Championship of the Paste bracket tomorrow, we also want to be able to reveal the People’s Bracket winner. To do that, you’ll be voting on the two semi-final match-ups, but also four hypothetical championships. Based on the Final Four results, only one of the championship head-to-heads will count, so make sure you vote in all four. Your voice must be heard!

Vote now, and all will be revealed tomorrow.

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