Master of Marzen 2020 – Round 1, Bout 5: Brooklyn vs. Fonta Flora

Bout 5 sees Brooklyn Brewery (NY) take on Fonta Flora Brewery (NC).

One of the best things about this tournament is discovering new breweries and beers. I am quite familiar with Brooklyn Brewery, but this is my first time trying their Oktoberfest brew. For Fonta Flora, this is my very first time enjoying any of their beer. Let’s get things going!

Check out the 2020 Master of Marzen Round 1 draw.

Packaging Design

Both breweries have gone for the traditional Oktoberfest branding this time around.

Brooklyn has incorporated the blue and white check that’s typical of the season, though the way it is oriented reminds me more of tartan than Oktoberfest flags. The use of yellow in contrast is a wise choice when considering their product will likely be displayed amongst a sea of blue.

Fonta Flora’s packaging leverages the diagonal checkerboard design that is typical of Oktoberfest brews, though their choice of blue seems a bit muted compared to the deep and rich colors expected in the style. The tightened layout towards the top of the can, and inclusion of large print “Marzen” is a bold choice which clearly stands out. My only concern would be the typical beer consumer not necessarily understanding the term Marzen, which is likely why many breweries run with Oktoberfest instead.

Speaking purely subjectively, I think Fonta Flora’s use of the more typical Oktoberfest motif is my preference. Running total Brooklyn 0-1 Fonta Flora.

Aroma

Starting with Brooklyn’s Oktoberfest, the aroma is warm and malty, but a bit weaker than I might expect given its hue. The malts are toasty and definitely what I am looking for in the style.

Fonta Flora’s brew is much lighter in hue, which translates into the aroma. It’s also quite malty, and almost has a touch of smoke. The strength of both aromas is quite comparable.

On this criterion, I’m inclined to side with the more traditional aromas of Brooklyn’s Oktoberfest. Running total Brooklyn 1-1 Fonta Flora.

Flavor

But how do they taste?

Brooklyn’s Oktoberfest opens quite thin and mild, with a nice hit of malt and a twist of hops on the backend. The delicate flavor doesn’t retain much in the aftertaste, but is crisp and refreshing overall. I’m surprised by how thin the brew is, and it seems the flavor is limited very slightly by that choice.

Fonta Flora’s Marzen punches above its weight. Despite its light appearance, it opens with a powerful malty flavor which is supported by an earthiness and a mild smoke flavor. Surprisingly, I would suggest this one is a bit “heavier” than Brooklyn’s take, but that weight is maximized by a strong flavor and holding off becoming overbearing in its weight.

My preference in this case is Fonta Flora. It has a deeper, stronger flavor, a developed malt profile and the interesting touch of earth and smoke. Running total Brooklyn 1-2 Fonta Flora.

Body

Considering body as a product of my three key sub-criteria, this is an interesting bout.

Regarding mouthfeel, Brooklyn is a tad thinner overall, which is surprising given it’s a considerably darker brew than Fonta Flora’s offering.

Brooklyn’s Oktoberfest on the left and Fonta Flora’s Marzen on the right.

In terms of head retention, neither held up particularly well. It could be argued Fonta Flora built a larger head at first, but a single pour makes comparison difficult. Either way, both heads receded quickly, disappearing into the beer. Minimal lacing occurred on either glass.

On this criteria, it’s almost impossible to separate the brews. With that said, I think Fonta Flora holds a slight edge here. Being a bit thicker with little discernible difference across the other two sub-criteria lets them sneak ahead. Running total Brooklyn 1-3 Fonta Flora.

People’s Choice

As in last year’s tournament, my Instagram followers have the opportunity to shape the decisions of each bout. In the 24hours 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?

This bout was considerably closer than some of the previous ones, but Fonta Flora took out the people’s choice this for around. Running total Brooklyn 1-4 Fonta Flora.

Result

While both are solid brews in their own right, Fonta Flora takes this bout 1-4. They now progress to the second round where they will meet Klaus Brewing.

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!

Check out the 2020 Master of Marzen Round 1 draw.

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