Beer Review 0322: Mother Earth Old Neighborhood Oatmeal Porter

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Mother Earth Brewing is a local brewery to me, headquartered in Kinston, North Carolina. Started in 2008, the founders are Trent Mooring and Stephen Hill, both of whom had a love for home-grown vegetables and hand-crafted beer. These two men became family when Trent married Stephen’s daughter — and when Stephen, who had been home brewing beer since the mid-1980’s, gave Trent a taste of his “Red Eye,” a beer made with tomato juice, the two forged an even deeper bond.

After listening to some old vinyl albums from the 1960’s, the idea for Mother Earth came about. And as the name suggests, this brewery is environmentally friendly, using solar panels for power, recycled blue jeans for insulation; even tap handles are made from bamboo. And they’re growing their own hops.

Old Neighborhood is an Oatmeal Porter brewed with what Mother Earth calls, “a HUGE amount of oats.” This is a seasonal offering, available each fall. The ABV (alcohol by volume) is 5.5%.

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Pouring produced a small, soapy, and fizzy off-white head that fast faded. The beer was a deep brown, tawny, and had a clear body with no particles or sediment. When held to the light, it was translucent. Lacing was minimal, leaving behind only very small pieces on the glass as I sampled.

The nose had some nice things going, particularly the soft milk chocolate and sweet caramel. For an Oatmeal Porter, this one actually smelled of oats, and struck my nose as being creamy. There were a host of other background players; some roasted black coffee, toffee, a bit of nuttiness, and even a hint of smoke.

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However, the taste presented a different story. Slow to open, what was here was mostly roasted coffee, a hint of raisin, some bready malt and dark caramel. The finish is where things really fell apart — there’s a moderate amount of bitterness, which is just way too much for this brew, and an overwhelming taste of charcoal. And the texture was way off — this is thin and not creamy at all, more fizzy and gritty, with a medium body. While the initial flavors were somewhat pleasing, the finish was simply not good and made finishing this a chore.

Ahh, Mother Earth, I hate to do this. You do make good brew. But Old Neighborhood misses the mark, and it misses it by a mile. What is a pretty average Porter is marred by a disastrous finish that I’m afraid never makes me want to return to the Old Neighborhood. When I think Oatmeal Porter, I expect a fair amount of sweetness, and a creamy mouthfeel. Simply not so in this case.

Mother Earth Old Neighborhood Oatmeal Porter, 75 points. Price: $1.99 US for one twelve ounce bottle.

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