Four Seasons Of Mother Earth: Spring Barleywine Ale – Tantalus (2016)
Brewed by: Mother Earth Brew Co.
Beer Classification and Specs
- Style: Barleywine
- Variation: American, Barrel Aged
- Seasonal: Spring
- ABV: 8.2%
- IBU: N/A
Notes: First of four bottles in the 2016 Four Seasons of Mother Earth series.
Brewer’s Notes and Ingredients
The beer pours a reddish orange hue with a soft white head and immediately hints of honey, vanilla, and berries are perceived in the aroma. A modest ABV of 8.2%, the beer is malt forward with notes of caramel, honey, sweetness, cherry, plum, and black pepper. A complex meld of beer, fruit, and oak from the wine barrel age process make this a perfect beer to be enjoyed with the coming of spring.
Additional: Aged in wine barrels
More Mother Earth Four Seasons Spring Images
Artwork: Using green, gold, and teal colors, Balboa Park is positioned inside the flowing locks of Mother Earth’s hair.
Color: Vibrant amber.
Aroma: Mild raisin.
Arrived in: 22oz. Bottle
Served in: Snifter
Every year we try to review a “series” of beers, which have always ended up being IPAs. So this year, we changed it up and went in a different direction, with Mother Earth Brew Co’s “Four Seasons of Mother Earth.” Each seasonal (quarterly) release will vary by style, giving us a little variety.
First up was the spring bottle, Four Seasons Of Mother Earth: Spring Barleywine Ale — Tantalus. Named after a Greek mythological figure who was “cursed to never enjoy the fruits and liquid that he so desperately craves.”
Mother Earth Brew Co did not hold any creative punches with this ale, as it was a barleywine aged in wine barrels. That was something completely new to us, and in concept, one of the most creatively “different” beers we’ve ever had the pleasure of drinking.
Before it sounds like we are picking this beer apart, we are not. We enjoyed drinking it, appreciated its uniqueness, and thought it was a solid beer overall. We are simply making some observations as to how this barleywine differed in many ways from the prototypical attributes of the style.
For example, Spring Barleywine Ale was one of the clearest and most vibrant looking barleywines we had ever seen. Its color was stunning — an almost transparent amber tone that shimmered in the light. After pouring, its moderate bone white head lingered for a few minutes, then melted away.
We couldn’t wait to see how the wine barrel aging process came through with this style of ale, but it didn’t really have much of an impact. The aroma was faint raisin with some vanilla, and maybe a quick whiff of toffee if you looked for it.
On the palate, it was pretty much more of the same. There were mild oak notes and a hint of grape mustiness and raisin up front, with toffee in the finish. Its subtle barrel nuances were palatable, but it could have used more bold flavors from the base ale itself.
Four Seasons of Mother Earth Spring Ale was the antithesis of a barleywine in clarity, as well as consistency. On one hand we truly missed that big trademark maltiness, but also enjoyed its lighter body for part of the glass. Eventually we wanted a chewier beer.
Final Score: 3/5
Four Seasons Of Mother Earth Spring Barleywine Ale was a unique take on the barleywine style, but in the end it lacked too many standard traits. If there was a heftier malt backbone, more bold ale flavors (toffee / caramel), or oaked character from the barrel Mother Earth would have been onto something really special here.