Round 4, Bout 1 of Master of Marzen 2021 sees Hop & Sting Brewing Co. (Texas) vs. Hop & Barrel Brewing Company (Wisconsin).
Hop & Sting are second-time entrants of the tournament who progressed against West Side in Round 3. Hop & Barrel is a first-time entrant in the tournament who qualified for Round 4 through their bout with 14th Star. Let’s get things rolling.
Hop & Sting’s 3113 leans into the blue on blue version of Oktoberfest branding. The dark blue shape around their logo is clean, and the red and yellow design makes for a pleasant contrast.
Hop & Barrel’s Oktoberfest has been a standout in terms of can design. A background of blue hops on a white background leans into tradition. The foreground sees a man dressed as the Kaiser, complete with a stein of brew.
Both are great, but the personality shown by Hop & Barrel puts them over the edge here. Running total: Hop & Sting 0-1 Hop & Barrel.
Hop & Sting’s 3113 offers a robust and intense aroma. A deep, malty backbone sees sweet and earthy notes accompanied by a pleasant warmth that lingers on the nose.
Hop & Barrel’s Oktoberfest offers a milder aroma. Sweet and malty, it also adds a certain warmth that lingers a bit.
Unsurprisingly at this stage of the tournament, both brews are particularly pleasant smelling. That said, 3113 is clearly the more robust and intense of the two, so Hop & Sting takes this point. Running total: Hop & Sting 1-1 Hop & Barrel.
3113 is a uniformly intensely flavored brew. A rush of deep, toasted malts with an earthy undertone is accompanied by a pleasant dryness. The backend is both earthy and dry, seeing the earthiness fall off a bit and leaving a moreish dry quality. It’s a very tasty brew.
Hop & Barrel’s take opens a little milder, seeing a pleasant rush of earthy goodness and a very subtle sweetness on the backend. The earthy bitter rules the aftertaste, playing off the slight sweetness to create a truly enjoyable experience.
This is a touch comparison to make. After a few more sips I’m going to err on the side of Hop & Barrel for creating a more robust flavor overall thats amplified by the rollercoaster of flavor sensations. Running total: Hop & Sting 1-2 Hop & Barrel.
3113 is light-bodied, crisp and smooth. A low carbonation level makes for a particularly easy drinking brew.
Hop & Barrel’s brew is a mid-bodied, heavier brew that coats the mouth liberally. It has a slightly higher carbonation, but is still quite smooth.
As you can see above, the coloration is quite similar of each brew. Hop & Sting’s brew is a bit more translucent. Both brews are comparable as far as head retention and lacing are concerned.
Given the wash on foam and lacing, mouthfeel is the differentiator. With that in mind, a very slight edge goes to Hop & Sting here as they’ve got a smoother drinking and highly enjoyable brew. Running total: Hop & Sting 2-2 Hop & Barrel.
Tied at 2 points each, public polling for People’s Choice will be the decider. Let’s see how that went.
As you can see above, Hop & Barrel takes this one with 56% of the vote. Running total: Hop & Sting 2-3 Hop & Barrel.
It was a tight battle between the “Hop” breweries. Hop & Barrel now moves on to the Semi-Finals where they meet the winner of Telluride vs. Zero Gravity.
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.