Master of Marzen 2020 – Quarterfinal 1: 4 By 4 Brewing vs. Key Brewing

Round 4, Bout 1 (Quarterfinal 1) of Master of Marzen 2020 sees 4 By 4 Brewing (MO) take on Key Brewing (MD).

We are into the final stretch and only 8 beers remain in contention to be crowned Master of Marzen 2020. Both of these breweries have performed really well throughout the tournament, and I’m excited to see who will make it to the final four!

Check out the Round 4 draw.

Packaging Design

Two amazing labels pitted head to head in this one.

4 By 4’s O’Zapft Is! Has opted for the symmetrical oktoberfest and fall iconography in typical fall colors against a matte black background. It’s clean and aesthetically pleasing. A really nice label.

Key’s Lord Maltimore has created somewhat of a mascot. Being based in Baltimore, MD, I appreciate their punny naming conventions, “mascotatization” of the gentleman pictured, and the traditional Oktoberfest motif in the background.

As stated above, both of these are awesome labels. In the interest of consistency throughout the tournament, I have to give this one to Key, for their inclusion of the traditional Oktoberfest motif. Running total: 4 By 4 0-1 Key.

Aroma

4 By 4’s O’Zapft Is! offers a near-textbook aroma. It’s deep and powerful, with a toasted malt foundation and a touch of sweetness. An amazingly crafted smell.

Key’s Lord Maltimore is also a powerful aroma. It definitely leans into the toasted malts, but has a warmer, happier and earthier aroma overall. It offers a slight sweetness to temper it all. Another tremendous aroma.

Unsurprisingly at this stage of the tournament, these beers are both awesome and hard to separate. I’m going to give a slight edge to Lord Maltimore as it offers a slightly more complex aroma overall. Running total: 4 By 4 0-2 Key.

Flavor

O’Zapft Is! surprises me a bit with its flavor. It opens lighter than its color may suggest, with a slight bready quality. The backend sees a rush of deeper malt flavor, a twist of sweetness, and a semi-herbal note. Its aftertaste is mild and clean, but offers a slight bitterness that is quite enjoyable.

Lord Maltimore is a more consistent flavor profile from start to finish. It’s deep and malty, with a pleasant bitterness. That bitterness retains into the aftertaste and builds a little with each consecutive mouthful.

While I enjoy both, I’m giving this criterion to 4 By 4. The diverse experience of the beer is a great touch. Running total: 4 By 4 1-2 Key.

Body

O’Zapft Is!, from a mouthfeel perspective, is light-bodied, smooth, and generally flavorful. It’s a great balance of weight and taste.

Lord Maltimore is a heavier and thicker brew. It’s also a little bit more carbonated, making for not quite as smooth an experience.

4 By 4’s O’Zapft Is! On the left and Key’s Lord Maltimore on the right.

As you can see above, both beers laced a little, and both retained small ring of foam in terms of head. Given the lack of separation on the latter sub-criteria, it all comes down to the mouthfeel.

With that in mind, I give a slight edge to 4 By 4. It’s lighter, smoother, and a slightly easier drinker. Best of all, it doesn’t sacrifice flavor for drinkability. Running total: 4 By 4 2-2 Key.

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?

4 By 4 took a fairly convincing victory in this round’s People’s Choice. Running total; 4 By 4 3-2 Key.

Results

We’re off and running in the semifinal s

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 Round 4 draw.

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