Master of Marzen 2021 – Round 2, Bout 3: Sudwerk Brewing vs. Hop & Barrel Brewing Company

Round 2, Bout 3 of Master of Marzen 2021 sees Sudwerk Brewing (California) take on Hop & Barrel (Wisconsin).

Both breweries are first-time entrants in the tournament. Sudwerk progressed over Tucker in round 1, with Hop & Barrel besting Mastry’s. Let’s see how this turns out.

Packaging Design

Sudwerk’s Amber Lager on the left and Hop & Barrel’s Oktoberfest on the right.

Two very different labels here.

Sudwerk has leveraged plenty of white space and some fall-esque colors to brand their brew. It’s a clean looking label, but not particularly Oktoberfest-y.

Hop & Barrel offers a Kaiser-looking gentleman over a Bavarian check inspired background made of blue hops.

Probably not a surprise that Hop & Barrel takes this point. Running total: Sudwerk 0-1 Hop & Barrel.

Aroma

Sudwerk’s brew offers a deep, malty aroma. Dry and earthy, it gives some great signs for what should be a very tasty brew.

Hop & Barrel’s brew’s aroma is sweet, malty and warm with a significant warmth that sits on the nostril.

When directly compared, the differences in aromatic components are comparably enjoyable, but Hop & Barrel offers a bit more power overall. With that in mind, they take this point. Running total: Sudwerk 0-2 Hop & Barrel.

Flavor

Sudwerk’s brew is a uniformly intensely flavored brew. It’s malty, smooth and dry, offering a slight earthy quality that holds on the aftertaste but doesn’t build much. It’s a well-balanced and incredibly tasty brew that’s particularly refreshing.

Hop & Barrel is also a very intense brew from front to back. Dry and earthy, a touch of sweetness tempers it all. The earthy flavors retain in the aftertaste and build between sips.

Both are spectacularly flavored brews, but with a handful more sips and some additional deliberation, I think the flavor of Sudwerk’s is ever-so-slightly more enjoyable. With that said, they take this point. Running total: Sudwerk 1-2 Hop & Barrel.

Body

Sudwerk’s brew is mid-bodied and smooth, coating the mouth liberally. A very low carbonation point makes it easy to crush and intensely refreshing.

Hop & Barrel’s brew has a comparable body and mouthfeel, but has a slight boozy heat and a slightly higher carbonation point. It does so without bloating.

Sudwerk’s Amber Lager on the left and Hop & Barrel’s Oktoberfest on the right.

As you can see above, both are comparably colored and transparent. Sudwerk holds a slight edge on head retention, but Hop & Barrel holds the edge on lacing.

Mouthfeel is the true differentiator here, so after a few more sips the edge goes to Sudwerk. It’s impeccably smooth. Running total: Sudwerk 2-2 Hop & Barrel.

People’s Choice

Now we head to public polling to see who takes the People’s Choice.

Poll result: Sudwerk 41% to Hop & Barrel 59%.

As you can see above, Hop & Barre takes this one with 59% of the vote. Running total: Sudwerk 2-3 Hop & Barrel.

Results

Sudwerk mounted a valiant comeback, but it wasn’t quite enough. Hop & Barrel now progress to Round 3 where they meet the winner of 14th Star vs. Lost Rhino.

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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