Round 1, Bout 3 of Master of Marzen 2021 sees Mistress Brewing Company (Iowa) taking on Hop and Sting Brewing Co. (Texas).
Hop and Sting are returning entrants from 2019 and Mistress is a first time entrant in the tournament. This one is going to be awesome, let’s get rolling.
The two participating breweries took very different lanes when it came to designing their seasonal can.
Mistress Brewing has opted for a fall color-heavy brew that leans into the autumn time that Oktoberfest brews emerge. The two-tone can is sleek, though I feel it may be unlikely to stand out on a liquor store shelf.
Hop and Sting’s 3113 plays into the traditional motif of Oktoberfest brews with a blue-on-blue take of the Bavarian check and dark blue branding for the logo region. It’s a sleek and aesthetically pleasing can that’s likely to catch the eye.
While I appreciate the differences between the cans, this point goes to Hop and Sting. Running total: Mistress 0-1 Hop and Sting.
Mistress Brewing’s Oktoberfest offers a textbook aroma for the style. It’s deep and intense, with a foundation of toasted malts and a slight hint of sweet and spicy. It sets the stage for what I expect to be a tremendously complex marzen brew.
Hop and Sting’s 3113 Oktoberfest Lager also offers an awesome aroma. It’s a tad lighter than Mistress’ take, but it doubles down on toasted malts with a slight sweetness overtone.
This is a hard choice to make, as both are some of the best aromas I’ve experienced in Oktoberfest styles. With that in mind, I’m giving a very slight edge to Mistress. Running total: Mistress 1-1 Hop and Sting.
Mistress’ offering does an excellent job of nailing the fundamentals of Oktoberfest brews. A rush of malts dance along the tastebuds, leaving a slightly dry and earthy flavor. A subtle sweetness rounds out the backend, leading to a complex and enjoyable aftertaste that combines deep toasted malts, sweetness and a touch of earthiness.
3113 is an interesting surprise as far as the style goes. It’s a tidal wave of flavor from the jump, with a bright and refreshing foundation that leads with sweet malt and transitions into a slightly bitter backend. That bitterness retains into the aftertaste and builds a little from mouthful to mouthful.
Again, this is a tremendously difficult criterion on which to separate these brews. Mistress offers a rollercoaster of well-executed flavors and a milder aftertaste. Hop and Sting’s brew is brimming with deliberate intensity.
I’m giving a very slight edge to Mistress on this one. Running total: Mistress 2-1 Hop and Sting.
When comparing viscosity and mouthfeel, Mistress is a mid-bodied and smooth brew that coats the mouth in malty goodness. Hop and Sting’s offering is a thinner and more effervescent brew that really supports the depth of flavor without weighing down.
As you can see above, mistress offers a slightly darker brew which is a bit more opaque. Mistress did not retain a head or lace a glass, whereas Hop and Sting retained an outer ring of foam and managed a few minor specs of lacing. By and large, there isn’t much separation here.
Speaking purely objectively, I’m giving the edge to Hop and Sting here. The lighter brew, that’s still impressively flavorful, puts it slightly ahead in my eyes. Running total: Mistress 2-2 Hop and Sting.
Let’s see how the people’s choice poll went on the sargentsuds story on Instagram.
The tally was a little one-sided here. Hop and Sting takes the point. Running total: Mistress 2-3 Hop and Sting.
A tight contest of two superb Oktoberfest brews sees Hop and Sting sneak through to the second round where they will meet Saint Arnold Brewing in a clash on Texan breweries.
Be asure to check back regularly for updated results, and to follow @sargentsuds on Instagram so you can vote on all polls throughout the tournament.