Round 1, Bout 5 of Master of Marzen 2021 sees Tucker Brewing Company (Georgia) meet Sudwerk Brewing Co. (California).
Tucker return for their third Master of Marzen tournament, having been crowned champions in the inaugural event in 2019. Sudwerk are first time entrants in the tournament. I’m really looking forward to this, so let’s pop the tops and get things moving.
Each of the breweries have taken very different lanes from a design perspective.
Tucker has stuck to tradition, presenting a blue can that leverages Bavarian check up the top and simulates the check with images of pretzels at the bottom. The gold lettering is a nice touch with high contrast. For what it’s worth, the can is quite busy with little space left to leverage.
Sudwerk’s bottle appears to lean into the typical colors of fall, using tones of brown and orange on a clean and relatively minimally designed label. Their use of white space and choice of font makes for an aesthetically pleasing and eye-grabbing design.
In most instances, sticking to Oktoberfest tradition goes a long way. In this instance, while I see lots of merit in Tucker’s can design, I’m really drawn to the clean and minimal label put forth by Sudwerk. After lots of deliberation, I’m leaning towards Sudwerk. Running total: Tucker 0-1 Sudwerk
Tucker’s Oktoberfest offers a robust aroma with a deep malt backbone and a pleasant sweetness. A subtle spice pops through the backend. This aroma is damn close to textbook Marzen.
Sudwerk is also a quite deep and robust aroma. It’s not quite as sweet and there’s no heat, but the malts are truly tremendous.
Both beers offer amazing aromas and I’m really excited to see how they taste. I’m giving a slight edge to Tucker here, as the added depth is hard to beat. Running total: Tucker 1-1 Sudwerk.
Tucker’s Oktoberfest offers a whirlwind of complex and complimentary seasonal flavor. A slightly earthy toasted malt opens on the front end, and a rush of sweetness soon follows. The aftertaste is quite tart and earthy, retaining long after the mouthful but not building much.
Sudwerk’s take is a superbly balanced and and even experience. A sweet and malty brew with a touch of hoppiness is present from front to back and into the aftertaste. A subtle sweetness and a bitter foundation mix in a reasonably muted, but very enjoyable aftertaste.
These are two truly superb brews, making the differentiation here very difficult. After a few more mouthfuls and some lengthy internal deliberation, I’m giving a slight edge to Sudwerk. Running total: Tucker 1-2 Sudwerk
Tucker’s is a light-bodied and smooth brew with a reasonably high effervescence. The reasonably thin body does an excellent job supporting a particularly robust flavor. Sudwerk’s is a thicker-bodied and smooth brew with a much lower effervescence. A sweet consistency coats the mouth.
As you can see above, Tucker’s brew is a little lighter in color and both are mostly translucent. Neither did a particularly good job of head retention or lacing, but slightly more foam held on the Sudwerk.
In my opinion, the smoother and less effervescent Sudwerk is a slightly more enjoyable drinking experience. It’s a very close comparison, but Sudwerk takes this point. Running total: Tucker 1-3 Sudwerk
As is tradition for Master of Marzen, the fifth criteria is settled by a public vote on sargentsuds Instagram story. Let’s see how it turned out.
As you can see above, Tucker takes this point reasonably comfortably. Running total: Tucker 2-3 Sudwerk.
A late comeback by Tucker Brewing Co. was not quite enough to secure the win. Sudwerk now progresses to the second round where they’ll meet Hop and Barrel Brewing out of Wisconsin.
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.