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Illustration by Levi Lowell, special to the Star Tribune

Beer lovers of Minnesota, you have spoken.

Since we announced our second annual Ultimate Minnesota Beer Bracket last week, readers armed with drinking experience and barrels full of opinions cast their ballots for what they deemed to be the best suds in all the state.

The votes are in and the field of 16 is set. (Editor's note: Voting has closed in the Sudsy Sixteen round. Results will be announced Monday morning, and voting in the Ale-ite Eight round will begin Tuesday.)

Only three newbies joined the race, and one of them didn’t yet exist during last year’s bracket. Falling out after debuts in last year’s competition: Town Hall Brewery, Hammerheart Brewing Co. and Copper Trail Brewing, the 14th, 15th and 16th seeds, respectively. New to the field: Barrel Theory (which opened its doors last summer), Junkyard and Insight.

Minnesotans love their breweries, and seem to be loyal to those in their cities and neighborhoods — all 151 in the state received 12 or more votes. Additionally, there were a stunning 49 breweries earning at least 1,000 votes. And reader votes were incredibly more prolific in general this year: about 1,500 votes were made in last year’s initial round, while an avalanche of 14,000 ballots were sent in this year.

Surly is coming in hot once again. A year after getting toppled by Schell’s in the Ale-ite Eight, the Twin Cities giant once again crushed the competition in the field-voting round, earning 12,030 votes — 2,346 more than the 2-seed, Castle Danger.

Schell’s, an underdog no more. After shocking the field and seizing the championship as a 9-seed a year ago, the old-school brewery comes into this season’s competition as a 4-seed. That’s legitimately chalk. Can the family-owned brewery still have success with a target on its back?

Click to enlarge the bracket.
Click to enlarge the bracket.

Star Tribune Illustration

Only two breweries (Surly, 1-seed; Summit, 5-seed) kept the same seeding as a year ago. Three improved their positioning (Schell's from 9 to 4, Lift Bridge from 13 to 9, Castle Danger from 6 to 2), while eight fell (Fair State from 11 to 12, Fulton from 7 to 8, Steel Toe from 8 to 15, Dangerous Man from 4 to 6, Bent Paddle from 2 to 3, Bauhaus from 12 to 14, Indeed from 3 to 7, Bad Weather from 10 to 16). Download all of our custom jerseys for each brewery here.

Upset potential? Well, we can always be surprised (that’s why you play the games!) but at first glance, the field doesn’t seem primed for much craziness in the first round. Beyond a potential Barrel Theory (10-seed) upset over Indeed (7-seed), any lower-seed toppling would be a pretty major takedown.

First up: the Sudsy Sixteen. Check out the bracket and vote for your favorite in each matchup here. Voting closes at 5 p.m. Thursday. The breweries that receive the largest tallies will advance to the Ale-ite Eight. Get sipping!