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Last year was the first in which triple IPAs like Russian River Pliny the Younger and Dogfish Head 120-Minute IPA became available enough that I had the chance to taste them not once, but several times each. That and versions from other brewing companies allowed me to get more of a handle on this equal parts massive and elusive beer style. The biggest surprise of all the triples came from a local operation, Mother Earth Brew Co. (206 Main Street, Vista).

I've always appreciated the work ethic and drive of the family behind Mother Earth, but even knowing what a determined bunch they are, taking on such a beast of a beer style is no easy task. In looking to boost alcohol and balance immense hop additions, many brewers incorporate so much on the grain end of the equation that the final product is too thick and sweet to be enjoyable. In all honesty, I didn’t know if the Mother Earth clan had it in them to navigate such difficult brewing waters, but their Big Mother IIIPA shut down any and all doubts.

The first time I sampled it was last year as a first-ever, special edition anniversary beer. It was so good, I wrote about it. A check of the *San Diego Reader* website turns up these words of praise:

“The beer pours a slow-burning ember hue, exhibiting great clarity and a bouquet that, with its papaya, mango, and passion fruit notes, is like sticking one’s nose in a gift basket full of tropical fruit. The real treat comes on the first sip. Pronounced grapefruit notes hit first, giving way to a semisweet roundness, followed by a finish with savory hints of deeply brûléed sugar.”

This year, Mother Earth bottled Big Mother for the first time, allowing a wider number of beer enthusiasts the opportunity to taste it. Eager to see how the sophomore version held up against the inaugural batch, I picked one up and drank it, appropriately, on Mother’s Day. The beer was a bit sweeter, with a finish evocative of caramelized mango, but there was plenty of hop bitterness to scrape my taste buds back to neutral for the next sip. It’s a bit heavier on the palate as well, making it more about bold flavor than refreshment, and at 10.5% ABV, this is one bad mother.

Shut your mouth!

Hey, I’m just talking about Big Mother. Sorry…I couldn’t resist. And neither should you if you're thirsting for a sturdy beer packed with over-the-top hops. Limited bottles will be available this Sunday, May 19 from noon to 8 p.m.

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