A few hours ago I thought it was a perfect time to crack open a bottle of one of the biggest, baddest English barleywines I had in my cellar. Now, close to midnight on a Monday I sit starring at an empty bottle and a sad glass that once held the sweet bourbon-infused nectar that was Mother of all Storms.
I have a feeling that Tuesday morning Erik is going to hate Monday night Erik.
Mother of All Storms comes to us from Pelican Pub & Brewery in Pacific City, Ore. It was originally released back in 2008 under the name “The Perfect Storm” but due to a copyright issue they changed the name to Mother of All Storms in 2010. Either way it’s a fitting name for this Kentucky bourbon barrel-aged beast.
The barrels have changed over the years but the spirit has remained the same. With a mixture of first, second and third use bourbon barrels this beer is blended and released once a year in mid-November.1 The majority of the bottles are sold on release day at the brewery with a small amount seeing very limit distribution and some bottles have even been sold online to fortunate beer lovers across the country.
The bottle opens with the faintest hiss and the smell of bourbon quickly fills the air. My anticipation grows as I pour the beer into my glass. A very thin head develops and quickly dissipates into the darkest brown you can imagine. Light barely penetrates the glass and when held up to the light beautiful rich mahogany edges appear.2
As I bury my nose in the glass I am slapped in the face with straight bourbon. Since whiskey is my second favorite beverage next to beer3 it is a very welcome aroma. It takes a few seconds to wade past the bourbon cloud that hovers over the glass but hints of dark fruits, toffee and oak start to appear. There is a sweetness to the smell that reminds me of raisins soaked in rum.
I could sit and smell Mother of All Storms for days, but that’s not what you likely came to here to read about. Its fun but you know there is so much more in store. My first sip hits my lips and I am slammed with the bourbon once again. There is a fine line of having the barrel character become too much and overpowering the beer. This beer dances that line teetering from side to side. Like the nose, the other flavors begin to emerge as I swirl around that first sip. The dark fruits and toffee are there but there is a very familiar flavor that takes me a few seconds to place. Liquid malt extract. It tastes like the smell you get when you open a fresh jug of malt extract. The rich sweetness plays well with the bourbon, raisin and caramel notes.
The finish transforms once the alcohol shows up to the party. Mother of All Storms is 14% and there is absolutely no sign of it until the finish. There is a bit of a drying alcohol bite that cuts masterfully through the sweetness as it intertwines with the bourbon and seems to last forever.