Beer Review 0399: Mother Earth Windowpane Series Fig & Raisin Dubbel (A Double Review)

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We’re taking on a bit of a different format for today’s review of this dubbel — a double review! That’s two different reviews of the same beer.

As part of my trade with Dave earlier this year, he received (from me) Mother Earth Fig & Raisin, part of their Windowpane Series. I also had a bottle, and since neither of us had popped the cork, we decided to review the beer together.

Mother Earth’s Windowpane Series is a limited release set of four beers that use local North Carolina-sourced ingredients. I reviewed one a few weeks ago — Raspberry, which I awarded 90 points. Fig & Raisin was the third release, and was the only beer to differ in style. While the other three were amped-up wheat ales, this one is a traditional Belgian-style Dubbel. The beer was actually conceived a couple years ago by brewmaster Josh Brewer (yes, that’s his real last name) when contacted by Carriage House Distillery and The Raleigh Times Bar — they wanted a special beer made for a beer dinner. This dubbel was made using dried figs and raisins, then aged in Carriage House apple brandy barrels. The end result was so tasty that it had to be done again, and the Windowpane Series seemed to be the perfect opportunity.

Fig & Raisin comes in at 9% ABV (alcohol by volume) and is in a corked & caged bottle. There were only 20 barrels made, which is 620 gallons of beer.

Derrick’s review:

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The pour drew an average size, off-white head that was creamy and soapy in texture, with a lasting quality. Color-wise, this one was murky amber-brown, as most Dubbels tend to be; the body was clear, free of particles and sediment. Lacing didn’t exist.

To the nose, this is a Dubbel on steroids — intense dark fruits, including plenty of the advertised fig and raisin. The malts are sweet, giving off caramel and sweet bread; the yeast is doughy, and the barrel aging just raises this to another level, contributing a minor woodsy oak and lots of vanilla. The 9% ABV is detectable but melds well with the dark fruits, giving this a rum-soaked raisin quality found in some Quadrupels. The alcohol becomes more prominent as the beer warms.

On the palate, those raisins punch you in the face, giving off lots of dark grape and dry fruity notes, along with a mild hit of alcohol. Middle of the mouth rounds out the flavors a bit, bringing on the fig, caramel, and bready malts. The barrel hits with a big wash of vanilla, leading to a finish of grape chewing gum, caramel, sweet bread, and alcohol. The alcohol isn’t overwhelming and plays nicely with the dark fruits, as it does in the aroma. I found Fig & Raisin to be medium-bodied, with a thin, foamy mouthfeel.

This is a beautiful beer that would be enjoyed by most Belgian-style lovers and is versatile enough to be served to a wine connoisseur. For a 9% ABV brew aged in barrels, the drinkability is exceptionally high, and all the flavors promised on the bottle deliver. Cheers to you, Mother Earth!

Mother Earth Windowpane Series Fig & Raisin Dubbel, 91 points. Price: $17.99 US for one 750 ml. corked & caged bottle.

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Dave’s review:

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The appearance of this beer was nothing spectacular, producing just under a finger of white soapy head with a nice mahogany body, toffee colored when held to a light. The dissipating head brought no excitement compared to what the aroma was about to bring.

This is where the beer really comes together and brings its complexity. Every time you bring your nose to the glass, a new aroma comes forward. One would assume there would be noticeable raisin, but to be honest, there was only hint of the raisin. What came forward up front were the apple and some grape. Dark fruits of plum, figs and pitted cherries came out after. This followed with the brandy barrels and a touch of oak. The only real malt picked up was a mild caramel sweetness throughout — which did strengthen as the tulip glass sat.

Not wanting to wait long to enjoy this barrel aged dubbel, I took the first sip. What came first was the sweetness of the apples and dark fruits, plum and figs. This followed with a very nice oak flavor from the apple brandy barrel. The carbonation was lively for the first few sips, which helped to balance all the sweet, tart flavors coming forward. However, as this crept towards room temperature, and the carbonation mellowed, the flavors did become a bit sticky on the palate. Deep flavors balanced the sweetness as it warmed with brandy, oak, and caramel coming forward over time.

The second pour brought a whole new beer in itself with an appearance that was no longer clear but rather murky with sediments (typical of bottle conditioning) that could be expected in the style. I also noticed even stronger notes of the oak and caramel when sipping on this warmer second glass. The apple was no longer in the front of the palate but now brought a tart sweetness towards the end, balancing out the drying finish. If I were blind-folded, I may have thought I just enjoyed a glass of port wine.  Overall, a great beer and very curious what else Mother Earth has up their sleeve in the future! Maybe I will get to experience more of their Windowpane Series.

Mother Earth Windowpane Series Fig & Raisin Dubbel, 93 points. Dave can be found on Untappd under the username OnWisconsin.

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