Mother Earth Brewing's Endless River Kolsch: Beer of the Week
by Joshua M. Bernstein
Back in October, the residents of eastern North Carolina's Kinston received an early Christmas present: a former supermarket had transformed into Mother Earth Brewing, the city's first -- and most ambitious -- microbrewery.
"We were looking for styles that weren't really out there," says the aptly named Brew Master, Josh Brewer, of Mother Earth's inaugural quartet of quirky, European-leaning releases. There's not a bad one among the bunch. Weeping Willow is a tart, well-spiced Belgian witbier; Dark Cloud is a smooth, malty lager; and Sisters of the Moon is an intensely aromatic IPA.
Still, we're smitten by the Endless River. "I didn't want to do a typical golden ale," Brewer explains. "I wanted something with a little more flavor." For that, he looked to the pride of Cologne, Germany: the kölsch. Classically, the kölsch is all about balance and restraint. It's fermented at warmer temperatures before cold lagering rounds out the sweet malts and mellowed hop bitterness. Since kölsch is super-mild, it's tricky to do right: Off notes easily shine through, making a bad batch as nasty as Natural Ice.
That's not a problem with Endless River. The bright-golden brew, best served in a narrow, cylindrical glass, has a gently floral bouquet crossed with a hint of honey and sweet malt. The taste is crisp and delicate, with a light body, big bubbles and a wisp of grassy bitterness. And at but 4.9 percent ABV, you can burn through a sixer without getting blotto.
Though it's too soon to plan our July vacation, we know what we'll be drinking all summer.
Joshua M. Bernstein has written about brews, bars and booze for New York Magazine, Time Out New York, ForbesTraveler.com and the New York Times.