Craft beer is big business, but let’s not forget that it’s also fun. The folks over at Paste Magazine put together a Fantasy Beer League and wrote a whole article about it. There’s lots of words in it, so we took out a bunch of them and put the rules into bullet points, for those that are less inclined to….read.

Pre Game

  1. Each team owner in the league drafts a roster of local and regional breweries.
    1. We populated our draft board using the distribution tracking site SeekABrew (in addition to some collective brainstorming), allotting seven roster slots per team.
  2. Then we used each brewery’s Beer Average on BeerAdvocate to numerically rank the list
  3. Games take place once a month, and are each focused on a specific style of beer

Game Daybeer-samplers

  1. On game day, owners select and conceal a beer of the indicated style from a brewery on their roster to submit into a blind taste test.
    1. Team owners must bring sufficient supply of their chosen beer so that each person ends up with an adequately-sized taster
  2. All submissions—which have been discreetly poured into a coded tasting flight by a spouse or friend—are then sampled by members of the league.
  3. Each league member then ranks the samples from best to worst, and points are tallied.
  4. After tasting, the beers are then revealed and those with the highest scores win.
    1. Instead of just tracking cumulative total, teams are placed head-to-head, simulating the way games are scored in most fantasy leagues.

Voila! A pretty straightforward and fun way to make craft beer even more community oriented than it already is. We all know that if we aren’t competing we aren’t having fun! The article also laid out various strategies to consider

Depending on your plan of action, you could try to specifically draft the best brewery available for each type of beer, though this blueprint could be risky: Cantillon would be a great play for Belgians in May, but would be warming the bench for much of the rest of the year, stealing a spot that may be better served by the versatility of a Founders or Three Floyds. So instead you pack your roster with well-rounded breweries that produce a greater variety of styles, though this lack of specialty means you don’t have any real home runs.

Or perhaps you balance your lineup by having a few all-purpose breweries alongside a couple of sure-fire winners. Everyone approaches the draft with their own pseudo-scientific theories, even if they’re as logically unsound as that guy in your fantasy football league who took two Kickers last season.

It’s the nuances of the competition that make Fantasy Beer League more than just a creative tasting party—anticipating what flavors will most strongly appeal to the taste buds of your competitors; analyzing their previous six-pack proclivities and strategizing accordingly. For Sessions month, should you submit a session IPA, even though everyone else is likely to bring an IPA as well? Or should you go with something distinctly different, like a low-ABV Berliner weisse? Hours are spent digging through bottle shop shelves and scrolling through BeerAdvocate scores while at work. We’ve incorporated a Waiver Wire (new or undrafted breweries) and Flex (once per season you can play a beer not distributed in the area). Even better, you’re not bound by 16 weeks or 162 games. Beer league can take place year-round, on your schedule. We’re currently playing a 10-month season.