Master of Marzen 2021 – Round 1, Bout 10: Pulpit Rock Brewing Co. vs. Hi-Wire Brewing

Round 1, Bout 10 of Master of Marzen 2021 sees Pulpit Rock Brewing Co. (Iowa) taking on Hi-Wire Brewing (North Carolina).

Both of these breweries are first-time entrants in the tournament and this will be my first experience with either. Let’s see how this goes!

Packaging Design

Pulpit Rock’s Oktoberfest on the left and Hi-Wire’s Zirkusfest on the right.

As you can see above, each brewery took a very different approach to can design.

Pulpit Rock have opted for the traditional blue and white Bavarian check. I appreciate that they’ve given it a slightly distressed look throughout the label.

Hi-Wire’s Zirkusfest leverages lots of white space with a gold and olive palate and an interesting depiction of a bearded lady.

I give the edge to Pulpit Rock for putting their own spin on the traditional branding of Oktoberfest. Running total: Pulpit Rock 1-0 Hi-Wire.

Aroma

Pulpit Rock’s Oktoberfest offers a mild and malty aroma. It’s slightly toasty and has some spice about it that lingers in the nose.

Zirkusfest also offers a fairly muted aroma. While it’s not too powerful, it is quite malty and sweet.

Neither of these brews offers a super deep or powerful aroma. It comes down to a preference of deep and spiced vs light and sweet. After some additional sniffs and deep thought, I give the point to Hi-Wire. It’s a slightly stronger aroma and the light sweetness is quite inviting. Running total: Pulpit Rock 1-1 Hi-Wire.

Flavor

Pulpit Rock’s Oktoberfest is a steady and flavorful brew. A rush of toasted malts with a strong caramel sweetness and a slight bitterness is present from the jump and through all phases. The sweetness morphs into the aftertaste and holds its presence, but does not build.

Zirkusfest opens light with a mild maltiness. A rush of deep malty foundations with a slight sweetness soon follows. A mild sweetness holds into the aftertaste but does not build.

Both are tasty brews, but I’m giving the edge to Pulpit Rock here. It offers a deeper and more intense flavor overall. Running total: Pulpit Rock 2-1 Hi-Wire.

Body

Pulpit Rock’s Oktoberfest is a light-bodied and quite highly-carbonated brew. It manages the balance of flavorful and easy drinking, making for a great overall experience.

Zirkusfest is light-to-mid-bodied but also less carbonated. It’s a tremendously smooth brew that carries its flavor well.

Pulpit Rock’s Oktoberfest on the left and Hi-Wire’s Zirkusfest on the right.

As you can see above, both are comparably colored, comparably translucent, and neither retained head of laced. With that in mind, mouthfeel preference becomes the deciding factor.

I give a slight preference to Hi-Wire here. It’s a smooth drinking and low carbonation brew I could see myself crushing multiple cans of. Running total: Pulpit Rock 2-2 Hi-Wire.

People’s Choice

As is tradition, the fifth criterion of People’s Choice is decided by a public poll ok my Instagram account, sargentsuds. Let’s see how it turned out.

Poll results: Pulpit Rock 76% and Hi-Wire 24%.

As you can see above, Pulpit Rock takes this point quite handily. Running total: Pulpit Rock 3-2 Hi-Wire.

Results

This one went down to the wire, but Pulpit Rock take the victory with a score of 3-2. They now progress to round 2 where they meet the winner of Rahr & Sons vs. Toms River.

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.

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