Round 1, Bout 1 of Master of Marzen 2021 sees West Side Brewing (Ohio) take on Ironshiled Brewing (Georgia).
It’s an exciting bout to kick off the tournament with, as both of these breweries are first-time entrants in Master of Marzen. The kick off of this tournament has been a long time coming, so let’s get rolling.
This one is an interesting contest to judge packaging design for, as both have put their own spin on the traditional Bavarian blue and white check.
West Side’s check is a more muted shade of blue and takes up considerably less real estate in its largely minimalist can. The use of vast black space with a monochrome logo and striking blue text for “Oktoberfest” is an aesthetically pleasing way to develop the can.
Ironshield’s can background is a much more typical shade of blue for the Bavarian-style check that is famously associated with Oktoberfest. The yellow and red base of the logo and naming are a striking contrast to a much more relaxed base.
I really appreciate both cans for different reasons. I like West Side’s clean and minimal look, but the choice of a more muted blue is not my favorite. I really appreciate the traditional check of Ironshield’s background but, although I know the striking contrast will draw eyes on a store shelf, I find the yellow and red to be very intense compared to the background.
I’m giving a slight edge to West Side on this one. Running total: West Side 1-0 Ironshield.
West Side Brewing’s Oktoberfest offers a powerful aroma of sweet malts and that has a warm and spicy undertone. It’s quite a full-strength aroma and makes me expect a very full-bodied flavor.
Ironshield’s Oktoberfest has a milder aroma overall. A faint malt comes through with no detectable sweetness. It’s not a bad smelling brew, but it lacks depth and power comparably.
This one goes to West Side Brewing. Running total: West Side 2-0 Ironshield.
West Side’s Oktoberfest offers a flavor that largely meets expectations set by its aroma. It opens slightly sweet and the back end offers a deep toasted flavor with a slight bitterness. The bitter of the malts retains into the aftertaste and builds a little from mouthful to mouthful. It’s not as generally sweet as the aroma may have suggested, and there’s a surprising but welcome boozy heat and a slight earthiness on the back and aftertaste.
Ironshield’s Oktoberfest is a warmer and sweeter brew, offering a great take on the style that’s comparable to a warm hug. Leveraging sweet malts and hoppy bitterness simultaneously, this one is a more level experience through each phase of the drink. A balanced combination of bitter and sweet holds on the aftertaste, which is generally quite enjoyable.
While I appreciate the many phases of flavor experience in West Side’s brew, I’ve got to give this one to Ironshield for a delicious and balanced overall experience. Running total: West Side 2-1 Ironshield.
West Side’s Oktoberfest is a light-to-mid-bodied and smooth brew. A relatively high effervescence adds some depth to the experience with light tingling sensations on the tongue and mouth.
Ironshield is a mid-bodied and smooth brew that offers a little less effervescence. Its physical properties are quite chill and relaxing overall.
The color of both brews is comparable, though West Side’s presents as slightly more opaque.
As you can see in the image above, neither beer was able to maintain a head very long. No lacing occurred on either glass.
There isn’t a ton separating these brews, and both are excellent drinkers. That said, I’m giving a slight edge to West Side for the added pop of effervescence. Running total: West Side 3-1 Ironshield.
As in prior iterations of the Master of Marzen tournament, polling through @sargentsuds’ Instagram story is the fifth criteria. Let’s take a look and see how it ended up.
This was a pretty close result, with Ironshield managing to just push past West Side.
Running total: West Side 3-2 Ironshield.
This bout was a close one, ending with West Side just slipping past Ironshield with a score of 3-2. West Side now progresses to the second round where they will meet TUPPS Brewery (Texas).
Be sure to check back regularly for updated results, and to follow @sargentsuds on Instagram so you can vote on all polls throughout the tournament.