Master of Marzen 2020 – Round 1, Bout 10: Backpocket Brewing vs. Saint Arnold Brewing

Round 1, Bout 10 sees Backpocket Brewing (IA) take on Saint Arnold Brewing (TX).

This is my first time trying Backpocket, and may be my first ever Iowan beer to be completely honest. Conversely, Saint Arnold is an institution of Texan craft beer, and is a brand I am very familiar with. Let’s see how this one goes!

Check out the Master of Marzen 2020 Round 1 draw.

Packaging Design

I quite enjoy the label design of both cans.

Backpocket’s Hawktoberfest clearly takes aesthetic cues from the Iowa Hawkeyes trademark black and yellow with white supplements. I appreciate their use of the diagonal checkerboard motif associated with Oktoberfest. The can’s overall design is a great way to commemorate Oktoberfest and college football, both of which hit full swing in September.

Saint Arnold’s Guten Tag offers an eye-catching tessellation of red, yellow and black (German National colors) surrounding their trademark Saint Arnold image. The inclusion of a pretzel is a nice touch. Interestingly, Guten Tag is one of the few Master of Marzen entrants that is available year round. With that in mind, it makes sense that Oktoberfest motifs are not included in their packaging.

The packaging design point goes to Backpocket. The clean, minimalist design and compliment of traditional checkerboard shapes slightly edge out a strong Saint Arnold design. Running total: Backpocket 1-0 Saint Arnold.

Aroma

Hawltoberfest offers a mild but malty aroma overall. It’s slightly bready and has a mild warmth, with enough malt to know you’re about to drink an Oktoberfest.

Gluten Tag has a much deeper and more powerful aroma. It’s absolutely packed with toasted malts and has a faint sweetness on the back.

This point goes to Saint Arnold due to the amazing depth of their aroma. It sets the stage for what should be a truly special experience. Running total: Backpocket 1-1 Saint Arnold.

Flavor

Backpocket’s Hawtoberfest is a crisp and mild brew with a nice malty base. It’s a clean and easy drinker that takes a measured approach to the flavor profile. A consistent, tempered malt flavor throughout and a nice pop of sweet on the backend round out the experience. The aftertaste is very subtle, teasing tastebuds with a mild, sweet malt.

Saint Arnold’s Guten Tag is an incredibly deep brew. A rush of toasted malt flavors, it draws in a little touch of sweetness and an earthy twist. It’s a smooth and flavorful brew that keeps the balance of being light-bodied—quite a remarkable feat!

Saint Arnold takes this one. While Hawktoberfest is a tasty and enjoyable brew, Guten Tag is a textbook Marzen and a juggernaut of flavor. Running total: Backpocket 1-2 Saint Arnold.

Body

On mouthfeel, Hawktoberfest is a thin and light-bodied brew that is incredibly easy to drink. It has a subtle effervescence that really maximizes the flavor and makes the beer very refreshing.

The Guten Tag is a considerably heavier, but still quite light-bodied brew. It’s smooth and flavorful, offering an awesome malty profile while maintaining high drinkability.

Backpocket’s Hawktoberfest on the left and Saint Arnold’s Guten Tag on the right.

Neither beer did a whole lot on head retention. They both developed a reasonable head that receded into the glass very quickly. There’s no real separation here.

When it comes to lacing, as you can see above, Guten Tag outperformed Hawktoberfest. It’s not a ton of rich lacing, but there’s a clear difference between the two glasses.

Across the three sub-criteria, it’s evident that Saint Arnold takes this point. Its balance of body-weight and flavor, and its more developed lacing set it ahead. Running total: Backpocket 1-3 Saint Arnold.

People’s Choice

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?

Backpocket was the resounding winner of this point, bringing in 2/3 of the total vote. Running total: Backpocket 2-3 Saint Arnold.

Results

Another great bout in the 2020 Master of Marzen! Backpocket developed a flavorful brew, but Saint Arnold were able to take aroma, flavor, and body en route to a 3-2 win. They now progress to round 2 where they meet Parleaux Beer Lab.

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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