And we’re off! Due to Round 1, Bout 1 seeing Oak Highlands Brewing currently set against an alternate, this year’s tournament launches with Round 1, Bout 2. This bout sees reigning champions Tucker Brewing’s (GA) Tucktoberfest against newcomer Night Shift’s Steinbier. With no-further ado, lets get Master of Marzen 2020 underway!
An interesting comparison of packaging in this one. On the left, Tucker has opted for a more traditional two-tone blue check that is synonymous with Oktoberfest. You may also notice the lower half of the can includes many blue pretzels in the design. Night Shift have opted to maintain their trademark owl motif, including a shield, two lions, and old school script.
I think both of these cans are well designed and aesthetically strong to draw the eye. Being entirely subjective, I have to give a slight edge to Tucker due to their inclusion of a more traditional Oktoberfest motif. Running total: Tucker 1-0 Night Shift.
When evaluating the aroma of a Marzen-style brew, I am looking for deep and powerful notes of malt.
Starting with Tucker, their brew gives off a sweet and malty aroma, with a hearty warmth. A great indicator of a strong Marzen style, this is very close to what I would expect in this seasonal brew.
The lighter color of Night Shift’s offering was a pretty good indicator of the aroma. It wasn’t quite as deep, though a touch of maltiness is definitely present.
This point goes to Tucker. I really appreciate the full, deep, style-typical aroma it presents. Running total: Tucker 2-0 Night Shift.
The most important part of the beer experience, how do the brews taste?
Starting with the Tucker brew, the flavor is surprisingly light given the color and aroma. Malts are definitely present, but not as strong as I would have expected. That said, a mid-body with a solid amount of flavor, it does a great job straddling the balance of being flavorful without being heavy.
Night Shift’s Stienbeer offers a great mix of flavors. The malt comes through a lot more in the flavor than the aroma, and a well layered hoppiness and touch of sweet round out what is truly a tasty beverage.
This is an incredibly difficult criteria to judge in this bout. Both beers artfully weave flavors to create similarly high-performing while simultaneously quite varied experiences. Theses beers are about as disparate as you could expect whilst remaining classified in the same style.
That said, I have to make a decision. In this instance, I think Night Shift takes a slight edge. Being malty and hoppy, with just enough sweetness to really round out a stellar brew, it’s a truly great experience. Running total: Tucker 2-1 Night Shift
When I’m considering the body of a beer, I tend to think of it in three facets. First off is the mouthfeel, second the head retention, and thirdly the lacing of the brew.
On mouthfeel, I would describe Tucker’s take as mid-bodied and smooth. It has a solid depth without becoming heavy overtime. A great balance of flavor and drinkability. Night Shift’s offering is considerably thinner than Tucker’s offering, but it certainly doesn’t lack flavor.
Head retention wasn’t amazing on either brew. Both built a meager head that receded quite quickly.
From a lacing standpoint, Tucker did not present any discernible lacing. Night Shift, in contrast, created some (albeit limited) lacing on the glass, as pictured below.
With all things considered, I think Night Shift comes out ahead on the body criteria. A preference for a thinner bodied but flavorful brew, coupled with a slightly stronger showing of lacing and a practical stalemate on the head retention side sees Night Shift tie things up. Running total: Tucker 2-2 Night Shift.
As in last year’s tournament, my Instagram followers have the opportunity to shape the decisions of each bout. In the 24 hours directly preceding each bout, a poll is placed on my Instagram story. Whoever has the most votes when the poll closes, takes this fifth criteria. So how did it shape up?
As you can see, Night Shift handily took the people’s choice in this one.
Overall, that leaves the running total as Tucker 2-3 Night Shift.
Master of Marzen has started with a bang. Reigning champions Tucker (GA) falling short of new comers Night Shift, 3-2 makes an exciting way to kick things off. The Master of Marzen crown is wide open, and with many more brews to come, it’s anybody’s guess how this will end up.
Be sure to check back regularly and to follow me on Instagram for your latest updates and opportunity to vote on each bout throughout the tournament. Until next time, cheers y’all!