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In a competition that began modestly two weeks ago with 64 beers, Maine Island Trail Ale (MIT Ale) emerged victorious from the first annual March Beer Madness Tournament, and was declared Best Beer in Maine.  According to beer blogger and competition organizer, Dave Patterson, over 1,500 votes were cast with a landslide finish from MIT Ale’s eager fan base.

Produced by Rising Tide Brewing Company of Portland, in partnership with the Maine Island Trail Association, MIT Ale is a crisp, American ale crafted to complement summer on the coast of Maine. It was introduced just last year and has already gained an exceptionally loyal following. A portion of sales go to support the Maine Island Trail and its stewardship of over 200 of Maine’s uninhabited coastal islands.

“We are delighted that what was simply an idea in February 2013 caught fire with Rising Tide, Maine Island Trail members, and the public at large,” said Maine Island Trail Association Executive Director Doug Welch. “The beer was only available for about six months last summer, and often sold out, yet it still won the hearts and palates of beer-loving Mainers.”

MIT Ale will be officially re-released for 2014 at the Small Boater’s Film Fest and Auction taking place on May 1 at the University of Southern Maine’s Hannaford Hall from 6 to 10 p.m. (Visit www.mita.org/filmfest for details.) Initially packaged in bottles, the beer will be available this year in four-packs of 16-ounce cans for easier portability.

March Beer Madness is an NCAA-style elimination tournament that features online voting from the beer-loving public. In its two-week championship run, MIT Ale bested a field of 64 different beers representing Maine’s top breweries, including Gearys, Shipyard, Gritty’s, and Sebago. The championship final pitted MIT Ale against Allagash Curieux, a heavyweight contender from one of Maine’s iconic craft brewers.  MIT Ale secured the victory with 76% of the vote.

Maine beer critic Dave Patterson has described MIT Ale as “brilliantly crafted and accessible, like a great Beatles’ album or a Steve Jobs-designed Apple product.”  The first pour for 2014 will be at the Small Boater’s Film Fest and Auction on May 1!