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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.

 

#5

97
by John C. Tull
Four Seasons Winter '16
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?
Daniel Love (MEBC Founder/CEO) and I are responsible for this recipe. The idea to write a breakfast stout recipe came to me while visiting Boise for the first time several years ago. Dan and I were doing market research and checking out potential locations (for our second production brewery) when we decided to have dinner at a local pizza joint with a great tap list. I tried Barley Brown’s breakfast stout for the first time and fell instantly in love with the style (and their beer!). I went back to San Diego on a mission to brew a killer beer that would live up to my experience from Barley Brown’s. After several iterations and pilot brews, we dialed the recipe and scaled up for a small, 20-bbl batch that turned out fantastically.

This is just where the story begins because to start, the recipe was a lower-ABV breakfast stout and not what we eventually aged in bourbon barrels. Because we were so excited about the new recipe, we decided to make an imperial version using a double mash technique that creates a more viscous and higher-gravity product. We scaled up the recipe again to full production, brewed and then aged the finished beer for 8 months in bourbon barrels before transferring onto coffee and then waiting it out for the right balance of coffee, chocolate, and oats -- the perfect breakfast stout.

What sets this beer apart from other examples within the style?
I believe the stand-out characteristic of this beer is the balance between chocolate, coffee and the base beer. The double mash technique really lends itself well to an oatmeal stout, which is the base of a breakfast stout, and I think that we nailed chocolate and coffee notes without either being overpowering. The coffee came from a local roaster that worked with us on blend, grind and roast to get us exactly what we wanted.

What makes this beer truly World-Class?
Again, I think it comes down to balance. A breakfast stout has a lot of things going on, and if anything is too heavy or missing entirely, the breakfast stout profile can be easily lost. Also great brewers make great beer. Our team in Vista went the extra mile to make sure that everything went as planned; they really knocked it out of the park. I couldn’t be more proud of them, and I am happy to say that this is the rule and not the exception to how we do things at both of our breweries. The accolades validate what I know my team is striving for each and every day: the perfect pint for any occasion.

What is your favorite aspect of this beer (flavor, aroma, mouthfeel, etc.)?
I really enjoy the subtle yet noticeable coffee profile. The beer has a ton of chocolate, roasty and earthy notes that come from our customized blend. Also we added chocolate during the boil, which is accentuated by the coffee addition. Every ingredient plays off the others to create complex notes of coffee, chocolate, vanilla and toffee.

How popular is this beer among your faithful fans?
This beer sold out very quickly, and while we’ve hung on to some to open for the right occasion, the response was fantastic. Usually when a keg randomly goes on tap at the tasting room, it's gone in a few hours. I wish we had more!

Judge's Second Opinion
by John C. Tull

A good Russian Imperial Stout can really set the brain into overdrive with a menagerie of flavors and aromas. The combination of dark roasts, high alcohol strength and a good balance of background hops provides a stage for potentially wonderful flavor and aroma combinations that very few styles can achieve. When done well, this beer style sends a blast of sensations that weaves a very complex tapestry of olfactory and palate goodness. Mother Earth Brew Co. managed to not only make a wonderful Russian Imperial Stout, but they turned the knob up to 11 by infusing it with a perfect balance of coffee to create this breakfast stout. 

Often, coffee can really destroy a beer with heavy, vegetal flavors and aromas and a green, unroasted coffee character. In a competition, I am worried when I have to judge a coffee beer. It is more often than not that the coffee simply overpowers the base beer and just does not work very well. But Mother Earth has managed to crack the coffee code by bringing in just enough coffee expression and really good coffee character with none of the vegetal bad stuff. As a result, their Four Seasons of Mother Earth Winter Breakfast Stout rises to the top as one of the best beers that I had the pleasure to review in 2017.

This beer expresses itself with a velvety smoothness as well as flavors that include rich chocolate, roasty notes, coffee and stone fruits, with additional vanilla and caramel notes in the aroma. All of these characteristics create a complex interplay that gives the palate, nose and brain a really enjoyable workout, one that keeps you reaching for the glass for another sniff and quaff.

I would highly recommending this beer if you can lay your hands on it (this was the 2016 version I reviewed). Kudos to Mother Earth Brew Co. for producing this wonderful beer!


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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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