Master of Marzen 2021 – Round 1, Bout 12: Zero Gravity Craft Brewery vs. Back Unturned Brewing Co.

Round 1, Bout 12 of Master of Marzen 2021 sees Zero Gravity Craft Brewery (Vermont) vs. Back Unturned Brewing Co. (Texas).

This is the first time either of these breweries have entered the Master of Marzen tournament. Both have a great online following and reputation, so I can’t wait to see how this turns out.

Packaging Design

Zero Gravity on the left and Back Unturned on the right.

Two very different lanes here.

Zero Gravity has taken the traditional Oktoberfest check, but leverages it in black and white. Good text, logos and graphics break up the ample white space.

Back Unturned’s Backtoberfest has also changed the color scheme on the check, employing a light orangey pink motif with a Bavarian lion in front and with the side of the can emblazoned with Oktoberfest brew and the brewery logo.

I’m giving a slight edge to Back Unturned here, as I find the vibrant colors a slight bit more engaging. Running total: Zero Gravity 0-1 Back Unturned.

Aroma

Zero Gravity’s Oktoberfest offers a light, bright and sweet aroma. A bready malt leads the charge and a slight warmth lingers on the nose. It’s very enjoyable.

Backtoberfest’s aroma leads with a deep and caramel-y malt note. The toasted qualities lean to the sweet side, with a somewhat sugary sensation lingering. This also smells like it will be a very tasty brew.

This is a tough point on which to separate two excellent smelling brews. I am going to err on the side of Zero Gravity here. The bright mix of aromas is tremendous. Running total: Zero Gravity 1-1 Back Unturned.

Flavor

Zero Gravity’s Oktoberfest is an outrageously flavorful brew. It opens with a mild malt and the backend adds a rush of mild sweetness and quite liberal earthy bitterness and hops. The aftertaste leans into the bitterness with a mild sweetness and earthiness dancing on top. The aftertaste retains well but does not build. It’s an excellent drinking experience.

Backtoberfest kicks the proverbial door in, offering a robust, complex and powerful flavor wave from the outset. Comparably drier and earthier, the deep flavor profile is consistent from front to back, and into the aftertaste. The bitterness of the toasted malts retains through and builds a little between sips. The flavors, while intense, are balanced masterfully.

These are two absolutely excellent brews, but I’m giving the edge to Back Unturned here. Running total: Zero Gravity 1-2 Back Unturned.

Body

Zero Gravity’s Oktoberfest is a light-bodied brew with a mid-level carbonation that coats the mouth generously. It’s a smooth and easy drinking brew.

Backtoberfest is mid-bodied and low carbonation making for a tremendously easy drinking vehicle for the tidal wave of flavor.

Zero Gravity on the left and Back Unturned on the right.

As you can see above, Zero Gravity’s Oktoberfest presents as a much lighter amber color compared to the deep auburn of Backtoberfest. Both are quite translucent.

Zero Gravity retained a ring of foam and laced in spots. Backtoberfest did not retain head or lace.

On the merits, I have to give this one to Zero Gravity. Both brews have an excellent mouthfeel in their own right, but Zero Gravity just pushes ahead here. Running total: Zero Gravity 2-2 Back Unturned.

People’s Choice

The fifth and final criterion is decided by public vote on sargentsuds Instagram story. Let’s see how that went.

Poll results: Zero Gravity 63% and Back Unturned 37%.

As you can see above, Zero Gravity took this one pretty handily. Running total: Zero Gravity 3-2 Back Unturned.

Results

A very tight bout came down to the final point, with Zero Gravity pulling slightly ahead. They move on to round two where they’ll meet the winner of Spiteful Brewing vs. Equal Parts Brewing.

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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