Mother Earth is one of those breweries that I heard a lot about but rarely tasted. Fairly recently I tried their Boo-Koo IPA for the first time and knew I should visit the tap room sometime soon. Located in the center of Vista, Mother Earth is thankfully close to the 78 freeway and easy to find. The tap room is large and has a good amount of seating and room for dogs. Aside from four core beers on tap they also had a few interesting special release beers available.
I tried the Boo-Koo IPA, Roundabout Oatmeal Stout, Make up Your Mind IPA, Sin Tax peanut butter stout, and Quit Stalin bourbon barrel aged imperial stout. The Boo-Koo is a delicious light body and light colored IPA with lots of citrus and tropical fruit and medium bitterness. This one recently showed up in six-pack cans and is one of their best major beers.
The Roundabout Oatmeal Stout was listed as a smaller specialty beer but it was so good I wouldn’t be surprised if it joins the main lineup at some point. The beer was dry and roasty with a nice bitter chocolate finish. Though it was a low 5.4% alcohol it was bursting with flavor. I liked it so much that I took home a crowler (32oz can they fill on the spot for you to take home). The Make Up Your Mind IPA was a delicious tropical fruit/juicy IPA also with the light color and medium bitterness. The biggest difference between this and the Boo-Koo is the sweeter hop flavors that dominate.
The Sin Tax is a strong 8% peanut butter imperial stout with an intense and overpowering peanut butter flavor that adds a bit of sweetness and makes the beer seem a bit syrupy. The peanut butter flavor is similar to the Belching Beaver peanut butter milk stout. The underlying stout is a bit typical and tasty but I found this one too sweet. My husband liked it though. I ended with the Quit Stalin bourbon barrel aged imperial stout. This was very impressive, giving a strong stout background and plenty of sweet bourbon flavor. Everything balanced quite nicely, avoiding any strong boozy flavors.
Mother Earth has two locations and I visited the Main Street location. Their web site says that this location tends to get a more wide selection of beers. There is also a home brew shop next door. Overall Mother Earth is a very impressive brewery giving the right focus on their core beers while also brewing some smaller batch stuff. I happened to visit them after Wavelength brewing next door and I found Mother Earth to be the more impressive of the two, though they are also much older and established.
Less than a mile from Barrel Harbor Brewing is Booze Brothers, another brewery that has been open for less than two years. It is hard to believe that the breweries are of different ages because Booze Brothers has a much more polished look inside and did a great job pulling off their theme of old west imagery. I had heard some great things about Booze Brothers before visiting and I was quite glad to see them showcasing some less common styles including a biere de garde and a brett farmhouse.
I tried quite a few more tasters at Booze Brothers and thankfully my husband was with me to help me with the stouts and drive back. Otherwise I would have had to limit myself to a small number. I started with four tasters, the Old Crow IPA, High Horse brett saison, Green Eyed Amber, and Easy Rider Brown. I later tried the Ol’ Grandaddy’s IIPA, Sundown Stout, Lights out Lupus biere de garde, and Pick up Porter.
The Old Crow IPA was an OK IPA with a medium amount of citrus and lightly bitter. It didn’t have much that made it stick out though. The High Horse brett saison was a very nice refreshing saison with just the right amount of funk and a good amount of fruit from the brett. The Green Eyed Amber was an interesting fruit forward amber beer with a light amount of honey. It was also quite smooth. The Easy Rider Brown was good and sweet and nutty with a light chocolate flavor. The higher alcohol here made it a little more my style.
The Ol’ Grandaddy’s IIPA was good and dank with a medium amount of bitterness and not too sweet. Still, like the other IPA it didn’t really do much to stick out. The Sundown Stout was a nice blend of chocolate, roasted malts, and a bit of dark fruits. The fruits blended nicely with the rest of it so as not to overpower the rest. Lights out Lupus was my favorite of the evening. This delicious Biere De Garde was bursting with dark apricot and some smooth yeasty saison flavors. This one should absolutely be made a regular at some point. Finally the Pick up Porter was a nice intense coffee flavored stout that got the flavors just right.
I was impressed by the variety of beers offered at Booze Brothers and especially by the two saisons they had on tap. The IPAs could use some improvement though, as the Nugget IPA at Barrel Harbor was much better than anything hoppy at booze brothers. It certainly seems like the brewery is growing nicely and should be one to watch in the coming years.
Lights out Lupus, Biere de Garde
High Horse, brett saison
Pick Up Porter
For a brewery that has been open for less than 2 years, Barrel Harbor is not doing much to distinguish themselves in a crowded market. These days brewing a good IPA is simply expected. I stopped by this past weekend and tried the brown ale, porter, Nugget IPA, black IPA, and double IPA. From all of these the single hop Nugget IPA was probably the most impressive. They were out of their regular IPA at the time.
The brown ale was typical of the style, smooth and flavorful yet not really standing out. The porter was available on nitro and was good and creamy with mild roasted flavors. The Nugget IPA, single hop IPA with the nugget hops, was the best of the bunch. It had a nice golden flavor while being very smooth and fruity. The hops were noticeably fresh and it jumped out at me. I would guess that these are the same hops used in Abita’s Wrought Iron IPA that I love so much.
The black IPA was interesting because it was pretty mellow and low in bitterness for a black IPA. The hops tasted pretty similar to the nugget, though I was told it is brewed with simcoe. The hops blended nicely with the roast, making it a solid beer. Finally, the double IPA was strongly bitter and had a bit of a soapy taste that combined with a cloying sweetness. I wasn’t able to get myself to finish the double IPA taster.
I first tasted an IPA from Barrel Harbor on tap at a bar in Rancho Bernardo. They certainly know how to brew a good IPA but in this market you need to do more than that to stick out, especially up in the “Hop Highway” region, off the 78 freeway. They do have a nice pirate/nautical theme going that makes their tasting room an interesting place to visit. If you do drive up to visit Barrel Harbor make sure you visit one of the other breweries in the area as well. They are very close to Booze Brothers, which will be the subject of my post next week.