Beer Review 0055: Mother Earth Dark Cloud

Today’s beer review is going to feature a beer local to me, from right here in North Carolina. Dark Cloud, by Mother Earth Brewing, is produced in Kinston by a somewhat unusual combination of people. Started in 2008, the founders of Mother Earth are Trent Mooring and Stephen Hill, both of whom adored home-grown vegetables and hand-crafted beer. These two men became family when Trent married Stephen’s daughter — and when Stephen, who had been brewing beer since the mid-1980s, gave Trent a taste of his “Red Eye,” a beer made with tomato juice, the two forged an even deeper bond.

After a listening session of some old vinyl albums from the 1960s, Mother Earth was founded. And like many of these great beer companies we’ve profiled in earlier reviews, the ethos behind this one is honorable and something we really get behind on this website: stay true to your small town, be passionate about what you love, and let all that surrounds you be your inspiration.

Dark Cloud is a Munich-style Dunkel Lager, a style that has blossomed in popularity recently. You might think this beer is heavy because of its dark color, but it’s not — this is a lager, and is designed to be an easy drinker that is rich and complex.

Release from bottle showed an average head that quickly diminished. The beer was clear in body, dark ruby and almost brown in color, with no particles or sediment. The head was creamy and looked great atop the nicely colored drink. As I enjoyed, the lacing was quite a thing of beauty, thick and sticky sheets were left behind each sip.

Immediately after uncapping, I could smell this beer and sense it filling the room. Dark Cloud is quite pungent, and it leaves thick clouds of aroma in the air — and the overwhelming scent here is something that is surprising: grape. Remember when I reviewed Midas Touch? The aroma here is similar, in terms of the grape. But there is more going on here; there’s a nice roasted coffee note and some herbs lingering in the background, with a stage-setting pleasant whiff of freshly baked bread. I also detected a touch of alcohol, although this beer only comes in at 5.1% ABV (alcohol by volume).

At first sip, one is immediately greeted with a nice coffee and chocolate combination that blends perfectly together. The chocolate is up front first, rich and decadent, almost like cake icing. Then it’s followed by the roasted coffee, washing the mouth of the chocolate and setting up a finish that starts with some subtle herbs, which play well with the carbonation, then transitions into a creamy and drying end, that is a little shorter than average length, and is perhaps the only disappointment about this beer. It just doesn’t linger long enough!

It should also be noted that as I allowed Dark Cloud to warm, the finish presented some of those grape properties found in the aroma. It’s very subtle and extends the finish a little.

I thought Dark Cloud to be an outstanding beer and a fine example of a Dunkel Lager. The highlight for me was the chocolate flavor — one of my favorite cakes is just plain yellow cake with a thick, rich layer of chocolate icing, and this put me in the mindset of that. This is a beer I would be happy to return to many times, and I’m proud to call it a local beer. Made in Kinston, three hours to my east. Great job, guys.

Mother Earth Dark Cloud, 92 points. Price: $1.99 for one twelve ounce bottle.

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