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Mother's Brewing Head Brewer David Soper Talks MILF

95 Rating - Exceptional
David Soper, head brewer of Mothers Brewing  |  Photo by Starboard & Port
David Soper, head brewer of Mothers Brewing | Photo by Starboard & Port

We spoke with Mother's Brewing head brewer David Soper about MILF.

BC: Who came up with this beer’s recipe?
The recipe was developed by our former Managing Brewer, but has undergone substantial revisions since its inception in 2011. The malt bill has undergone some minor tweaks along with us completely changing both the yeast strain we use and our entire fermentation approach. For this beer we want a good neutral yeast character that lets the character of the malts, and most importantly the character of the barrels to run the show. With the barrels we use being a major component in what MILF is, we are constantly pushing ourselves to tweak the blend of the different components and source barrels of the highest quality. I value this step in the process well above the ink of the recipe on paper and is certainly the aspect of making this beer year after year that is the most painstaking.

BC: What’s your favorite aspect of this beer (flavor, aroma, etc.)?
The part of this beer, and really any blended barrel aged beer for that matter, that I find to be truly remarkable is the transformative quality that the barrels have on the liquid we put in them. The base beer goes in tasting one way, but it is only a shadow of what the beer becomes after its time spent aging over 11 months in 5 different types of barrels. Most notably though I am always struck by how much the beer is transformed when we begin blending. Each barrel has its own unique character, but that character rarely reflects the finished product. We have found over time that individual barrels almost never taste like the finished blend, and when we put barrels together, that have overwhelmingly positive characteristics we end up with a product whose whole is much greater than the sum of its parts.

BC: Where does this beer’s name come from?
The unfortunate truth is that the name is based on the joke that likely needs no explanation. When we were a fledgling brewery, ‘MILF’ fit the kind irreverent stance we were introducing ourselves with. Over time, we’ve come to realize that what first seemed cheeky is, in fact, pretty demeaning for a large portion of the women who drink and love our beer. It also doesn’t reflect the effort and devotion we put into making it. Now we’re tasked with how to deal with a brand whose identity doesn’t reflect who we are today. A wholesale name change is the obvious solution, but it’s tough logistically given investment in packaging materials, brand equity, etc. We love this beer and are proud of it, so a big project for Mother’s in 2018 will be how to bring this beer’s image in line with the values we want to project as a brewery.

BC: Is this your “desert island beer?”
As much as I love this beer I can't say it would be my desert island beer. MILF is rich, decadent, and filling and at 11% ABV I don't think it would be good for my survival and prolonged cognitive function if I were stranded on a desert island. Let's call it my "snowed in and by the fireplace" beer.

BC: Can you describe this beer in 10 words or less?
A voluptuous exaltation of complexity, nuance, and luxury.  

BC: Do you know a story – or have a personal story – that revolves around this beer?
Every year, starting around Halloween, we begin pulling samples out of the cellar and tasting the beer for the years blend. The process typically spans several weeks as we have over 100 individual barrels that sample and take notes on. We select barrels for the MILF blend along with barrels for single barrel releases which come late in the year (Brandy, Rum, and Rye) and are released in 22 oz bottles. Out of this, we also select actual single barrels of the different components that are set aside for the release event in our tasting room, as well as discussing which barrels we have purchased throughout the year that are tasting nice. Some of my favorite times at Mother's have been spent sitting at the table with my team talking about which barrels are tasting good, talking critically about the blend, and making plans for future releases and barrel purchases.

BC: What's a good food pairing for this beer?
On the savory side, Milf pairs well with rich foods like foi gras, smoked goose, or a nice aged gouda. On the sweeter side, we like to go with either strong dark chocolate flavors like from a truffle or rich fudge brownies or something lighter with a fruity quality like a chocolate raspberry mousse.

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