Beer Review 0519: Mother Earth Windowpane Series Peaches Wheat Ale

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Mother Earth Brewing are located in Kinston, North Carolina. Started by Trent Mooring and Stephen Hill, there’s a family connection here — Trent is married to Stephen’s daughter. Stephen had been a home brewer since the mid-1980’s, and gave Trent a taste of his “Red Eye,” a beer made with tomato juice. “That was it,” said Trent. Love at first taste.

The brewery began production in 2008 in a building repurposed into a brewery. Bottling and kegging kicked off just one year later. Today, they’re still small, but employ fourteen people and are distributed in North Carolina, Georgia, and Washington, DC. Mother Earth are environmentally conscience, using solar panels for power, recycled blue jeans for insulation, and their tap handles are made from bamboo.

The Windowpane series are a group of beers that contain fruit from North Carolina farms; the beers are all barrel aged in either Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, or brandy barrels. Windowpane Peaches is the second release of the series, and is aged in oak Chardonnay barrels for three months. The base beer is a Double Wheat Ale. Peaches comes in at 8.2% ABV (alcohol by volume. Each Windowpane release is limited to a run of just 20 barrels, which is 620 gallons. Mother Earth started the Windowpane beers in 2012; they are producing them again in 2013. (OTHER WINDOWPANE SERIES BEERS: Blackberries, 86 points; Raspberries, 90 points; Fig & Raisin, 91 points.)

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Emptying the bottle, this beer produces a very sparse, almost non-existent head that was soapy, at least while it lasted. It quickly disappeared, leaving a flat-looking golden-orange beer that had a lightly cloudy body, but was absent of particles and sediment. Lacing was a no-go. Swirling the beer in the glass failed to even really stir up carbonation bubbles.

On the nose, if you’re expecting peaches, you best look somewhere else. Oh, there’s some fruitiness here, but there’s not really anything you can identify, let alone finger as being a peach. It’s tart fruit, edging on the border of sour; there’s plenty of barrel characteristics: white wine, oak, and some vanilla. There’s grain/wheat in the malt category, and for 8.2% ABV, the alcohol is hidden.

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Considering how the three other beers in this series were very good, there has to be a weak link. Here it is. This beer, for lack of a better word, sucks. There’s a mild tartness up front, like watered-down fruit; no pungent peach, nothing other than nondescript unripened hint of fruitiness. The best analogy I can come up with is Juicy Fruit brand chewing gum. Put a stick of that in your mouth and yes, it’s fruity, but can you identify which fruits? I thought so. This beer does have a nice wheat character, and if you dig white wine, you’ll probably be into how the barrels are used here; the tartness from the “fruit” play well into the light edge of the barrel, and there’s a decent sweep of vanilla that comes in and brings on the finish. That’s where the peaches finally show up; they’re very faint and as the beer warmed, tasted more like oranges. But the taste this beer leaves in your mouth after swallowing is like you got hold of an unripened banana and got cottonmouth. Wow. It’s dry and unpleasant. Windowpane Series Peaches is light-bodied, with a medium, very creamy mouthfeel, but it has almost no carbonation.

The disappointment I have in this beer simply cannot be expressed in words. But I’ll try: imagine taking $16 of your hard-earned money and throwing it into gale-force winds. Man, I could have filled my fridge with an awesome twelve-pack. Do not by this beer unless you are a completist and want to finish off this (otherwise tasty) series. I think even the most ardent wine lover would be best to stick to one of the other Windowpane beers, because the use of the barrels is better when combined with actual good flavors.

Mother Earth Windowpane Series Peaches Wheat Ale, 67 points. Price: $15.99 US for one 750 ml corked & caged bottle.

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