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Top 100 Rated Beers of 2017

Delve into the best beers of the year as judged in BC's Official Review.

 

#10

96
by Randy Scorby
Four Seasons Spring '17
Mother Earth Brew Co.

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Brewery Impressions
by Mother Earth head brewer Chris Baker

Who was responsible for this beer's recipe?
“Spring” was a collaboration between Mother Earth and our friends at The Bruery in Placentia, CA.  Dan Love, Patrick Rue, Kevin Hopkins and I had a conference call to discuss what style of beer we wanted to make and Patrick suggested a Saison, something that he has a lot of experience with, and then adding in fresh kumquats. It was a great idea, and to put the Mother Earth stamp on it, we decided to dry hop and draw out the citrus notes from the Kumquats. I then wrote the recipe and kept in contact with Patrick throughout fermentation. It was truly the definition of a “collaboration” as each brewery brought ideas to the table that melded together into a great beer. One of my favorite moments was when checking in with Patrick during primary fermentation. I updated him on how the beer was doing and his reply to me was, “Let it Rage!” Awesome…

What sets this beer apart from other examples within the style?
I think the standout in the beer is the play between the dry hop, the fresh pureed kumquats, and the yeast profile. The acidity from the kumquats and the dry, spicy nature of saison yeast complement each other beautifully to create a clean, crisp and refreshing finish. The dry hop and kumquat also work well together to create a balanced citrus character that doesn’t come across like a traditional dry hopped beer, instead bringing out more from the kumquats. Everything in our industry is about balance and it often takes similar characters from several ingredients coming together to create a great final experience.

What makes this beer truly World-Class?
Two great breweries working together, playing off of their strong suits in making something that they love. I really enjoyed working with Patrick and it was very clear from the beginning that this beer was going to be something special -- and it continues to evolve in the bottle! Just brilliant.

What is your favorite aspect of this beer (flavor, aroma, mouthfeel, etc.)?
I’ve made a lot of Saisons in the past and typically I try to hit all the big flavor categories: spicy, peppery, fruity, dry, acidic, funky. This is the first time that I feel that I have really touched on every profile the way I wanted to. Personally, I like the citrus notes and how they’ve developed since we created the beer. The beer was released at the 2017 spring equinox and it still continues to grow and develop into something deeper and more intriguing. We had the idea to leave it unfiltered using a yeast that doesn’t drop out of suspension, thus scavenging oxygen, preserving the beer and continuing to create carbonation and an effervescence fitting of a Saison.

How popular is this beer among your faithful fans?
Creating this with The Bruery allowed us to capitalize on multi-state distribution where both of our breweries already have presence. Knowing that we were getting it out to our mutual fans both near and far gave us a hint that it was going to be very popular. Lately we’ve been creating a lot of IPAs, dark beers, and barrel-aged beers, so this brought a once a year change of pace to our Four Seasons program, which is predominantly barrel releases. It has also really been enjoyed by our Tap House regulars as well as the faithful wherever they may be pouring a glass. I definitely qualify as a faithful fan and this is one of my favorites.


Judge's Second Opinion
by Randy Scorby

When I reviewed Spring ’17, a collaboration between Mother Earth Brew Co. and The Bruery, my first thought was: "Can a dry-hopped Saison and kumquats play well together?" The answer was not long coming: Oh yeah, they can. The brewers did an admirable job of integrating the kumquats into a beer style with complex yeast character that already includes citrus esters, as well as complementary black pepper phenols, without becoming lost.

This beer delivers on all levels for a standard-strength fruit Saison. The balance of black pepper, orange-like citrus, bready malt character, fermentation esters and kumquats works extremely well together and each element complements the rest. The kumquats are slightly more noticeable in the flavor than in the aroma, and the light residual sweetness that they contribute is offset by refreshing hop bitterness and a pleasant dryness in the finish. Saisons are considered artisanal ales in Europe, as this style was originally brewed in Belgium, but are known in the United States as Farmhouse Ales.

Some of the most challenging beers to brew are those with adjuncts, particularly when trying to integrate fruit into a style that already has fermentation as well as hop-derived ester character. All too often the adjuncts, in this case fruit, overwhelm the base beer style. A well-constructed fruit beer is a thing of beauty. Unfortunately, with some, there is an unfair and undeserved stigma attached to fruit beer (or beer with most any adjunct). Some of my fellow beer enthusiasts consider it fruit punch and struggle to find the enjoyment in it. 

However, beer can certainly include more than just the four traditional ingredients, and skillful brewers such as those who created Spring ’17 were able to artfully combine these ingredients to create a well-balanced and extremely enjoyable dry-hopped fruit Saison.  

Having enjoyed more than my share of offerings from Mother Earth Brew Co. and The Bruery, the high quality of this collaboration does not surprise me at all. Both of these breweries have been on the beer scene relatively the same amount of time, and neither of them is bashful about a little risk-taking, and they both push the envelope to create brews that are complex, harmonious and, well, quite tasty. 


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worthel's picture
So,I'm a member, but I must pay another two bucks to read the rest of this article? Are you kidding?
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worthel's picture
So,I'm a member, but I must pay another two bucks to read the rest of this article? Are you kidding?
Editorial Dept.'s picture
Hello Worthel, Our magazine articles are premium content and are reserved for premium subscribers. We researched your account and it does not appear you have purchased a premium subscriptions. If you feel this is in error, you may complete a customer service ticket by clicking "account services" at the head of the website. Cheers! BC

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