Modern Times City of the Sun

Over the past year I’ve seen images and reviews of Modern Times beer more often than I’d like to considering it is not available in Canada. The San Diego, California brewer born in 2013 is named after a crazy utopian society founded in 1850. Modern Times was started by a former Stone Brewing Co. employee Jacob McKean after many years of homebrewing experience. City of the Sun is an India Pale Ale brewed with Mosaic, Simcoe and Moteuka hops to a heavy 85 IBU’s and 7.5% ABV. I was lucky enough to find this brew at Maui Brewing Company in Kihei, HI after a tap take over at the brewery. 

Pouring out a bright, glowing orange and gold in the body the head forms quickly as a stream of cascading carbonated bubbles light the body. The head is frothy and leaves many lacing splotches around the glass. The aroma is poignantly hopped with boisterous citrus and tropical accented notes. Lemon rind, grapefruit, papaya, pineapple and mango are bountiful with heavy pine resin notes. Light caramel and munich esque malts add a biscuity and bready malt character that acts as a good balance to the heavy hops. Bright and fruity with fresh citrus notes on the aroma and in the mid palate. The finish is bitter and astringent but also manages to be crisp and succinct. Nice smack of pine and hop resin with a sticky aftertaste and lingering citrus based bitterness. A truly unique and well crafted San Diego style IPA; hop heavy with floral and tropical accents to off set the overblown citrus and hop bitterness. 

Grade: 90/100

Parallel 49 Jerkface 9000

East Vancouver’s Parallel 49 Brewing Company has quickly become one of my favourite Canadian breweries since forming in 2012.  One of the predominant reasons for this assertion is Parallel 49’s fondness for brewing unique styles and taking risks with seasonal brews. For example, Parallel 49 has recently produced a Finnish farmhouse Sahti ale, a Jelly Doughnut Strong Ale and a Black Forest cake Imperial Porter to name a few. Jerkface 9000 despite the name is a more reserved and moderate style and is touted as a North West Wheat Ale brewed with Mosaic and Ahtanum hops to 37 IBU’s and a sessionable 5% ABV. The label art and name are a standout for me already as I’m sure I’ve called someone a Jerkface 9000 a quip to which there is no come back.

Jerkface 9000 pours a light orange hued straw yellow with a thin veil of off white head. The head subsists throughout drinking with a few remnant lacing rings left on the glass. The aroma is accented well with citrus based hops. Zesty grapefruit and citrus fruit aromas blend with earthy pine and a few tropical fruit notes typical of Mosaic hops. A bit of a stone fruit aroma after a while reminiscent of Marlborough, New Zealand area Sauvignon Blanc. Light crisp wheat malts add some balance to the fruity, hoppy core. Crisp and fresh finish with a heavy hop presence that leaves zesty citrus and sweet mango and pineapple notes. Moderately dry and astringent with a light lingering bitterness. Overall, Jerkface 9000 is a crisp and fresh wheat beer with pine and citrus hop notes in good balance with light bitterness and a refreshingly light mouthfeel. 

Grade: 87/100

Anchor Brewing Old Foghorn Barleywine

Anchor Brewing is seen as a the gtrandfather of American craft brewing. Founded in 1896 Anchor has a long and esteemed history that has seen many of America’s worst and best moments including being destroyed by the Great San Francisco earthquake. During prohibition Anchor survived despite having “nothing” in production. In 1965 Anchor Brewing was saved from bankruptcy by Fritz Maytag of Maytag washer/dryer fame. In 1971 Anchor expanded its lineup with four other brews; Anchor Porter, Liberty Ale, Old Foghorn Barleywine and the annual Christmas Ale. By 2015 Anchor has over a dozen flagship and seasonal releases but still get back to their roots with the original Steam beer. Old Foghorn is a Barleywine style ale with 8.8% ABV and is single hopped with Cascade. 

Pouring a bright ruby amber colour with a finger of dark beige head and tons of streaming sparkles of bubbles. The aroma is emphatically malty with tons of toffee and caramel malts that fill the palate entirely but for a subtle citrus hop and dark dried fruit aromas. Light flavours of prunes, raisins, tart cherry and woody malts in the front blend with heavy toasted bread, toffee, caramel, licorice and burnt brown sugar. A bit sweet throughout with a nice balanced profile. The finish has a moderate presence of alcohol that along with the full bodied mouthfeel make this the perfect winter warmer. 

Grade: 91/100

Deschutes Cinder Cone Red Ale

One of Bend, Oregon’s Deschutes Brewing Company’s most well known seasonal varieties has finally made it into Alberta for the first time. Cinder Cone is a Northwest style Red Ale brewed with Amarillo and Tettnang hops to a pseudo sessionable 5.3% ABV. 

Cinder Cone pours out a rich, deep mahaogany with a burgundy hue throughout the body and a thick mess of beige head. The aroma is distinctively rich with toffee and caramel malts atop a toasted bread note. A hint of vanilla extract blends with light floral and spicy hops and a pinch of citrus zest. Quite mellow in the middle with light toasted caramel malts and mild sweetness. Spicy hops with a light vanilla or herbal flavour towards the finish. The finish itself has moderate hop bitterness and lingering astringency with a prominent citrus hop and light pine resins (from the Amarillo). Cinder Cone has a medium to full body with a great hop to malt balance and light carbonation. Overall, not a earth shattering brew by any means but a fantastic example of an Amber ale with lots of flavour. 

Grade: 86/100

Tenaya Creek Monsoon

Situated in Las Vegas, Nevada the Tenaya Creek Brewing Company has slowly crept onto Alberta beer shelves over the past year with a selection of a few flagship beers to start. This past week we received a slew of seasonal brews from the Sin City brewer which included the Double IPA known as Monsoon. Monsoon is brewed with Cascade and whole flower Mt. Hood hops with a sturdy ABV of 8.5%. Despite having one of the worst labels I’ve personally seen I know not to judge a book by its cover. During my trip to Las Vegas to celebrate finishing University I remember sitting in the pub in the Monte Carlo enjoying a few of Tenaya Creek’s beers. For me Tenaya Creek beers are associated with the Vegas experience I had; one of fun and celebration. 

Monsoon pours out a bright golden orange colour with a thick and sticky off white head that looks truly appetizing. Large blobs of lacing coat the entire glass showing evidence of a solid fresh hop content. Taking my first solid sniff of Monsoon I notice a very fruit forward, resin filled aroma of grapefruit, tropical fruits, pine and a light herbal hop note. The malts are mostly non-evident in the aroma with the hop presence being rather strong. The first sip has a mild malty sweetness with flavors of caramel and toasted bread coming through with a general fruit flavor. A bunch of grapefruit, pear and pineapple notes become apparent after a second before the hops force their way through. There is a solid bitterness at first with a moderate acidity and a resinous smack on the finish. A fairly heavy bitterness and pine resin flavor lingers for close to a 30 seconds before subsiding. Monsoon has quite a heavy hitting hop profile with a good balance of sweet malt and fruity notes to balance out well. Overall a solid Double IPA from Tenaya Creek despite the horrendous label. 

Grade: 89/100

Price: $8.00

Omnipollo Nathalius

 

Amidst the deluge of new craft beers from across the globe making their way onto Alberta shelves are brews from Stockholm’s gypsy brewer Omnipollo. Omnipollo is one of Sweden’s newest breweries to brew unique and artisinal brews in a wild variety of styles. Nathalius is an 8% ABV Imperial IPA by style but with a major twist. Nathalius is brewed with rice and corn; ingredients usually considered to be adjuncts in beer. Nathalius was first brewed as a collaboration project with Baltimore, MD brewery Stillwater.

Pouring a bright yellowish orange Nathalius is well topped with a heady serving of dense white foam. A nice stream of bubbles stream upwards glistening in the body. The nose has a certain graininess that is slightly off putting. Aromas of rice, slight skunk, firmly resinous hop notes and lemon zest are duly noted. A mild honeyed sweetness in the mid palate with an adjoining maltiness of cereals and grains. Light grassy and citrus hop notes become prevalent towards the finish with moderate bitterness. A rather acidic finish with a lingering resinous bitterness. Overall Nathalius is a bit of a mess stylistically despite the firm hoppy characteristics.

Price: $6.99
Grade: 80/100

Parallel 49 Snap, Crackle, Hop

For those who have read this blog in the past year or so you may have noticed a plethura of beer reviews from East Vancouver’s Parallel 49. Since releasing beers into Alberta we have seen some of the most unique and inspired Canadian craft beer. Their latest unique creation is the Imperial IPA Snap, Crackle and Hop brewed with rice and Moteuka hops from New Zealand. Snap, Crackle, Hop is brewed to 9.3%ABV with a moderate 70 IBU’s. Before I even open up this bottle I must absolutely mention that Snap, Crackle, Hop must have the best bottle artwork I’ve seen.

Snap, Crackle, Hop pours a bright golden and amber hue with a sticky and thin bright white head. The nose is grainy and a tad toasted with a light cracked pepper and spice note. There is a beautiful floral and fruity aroma filled with notes of pineapple, guava, mango and kiwi. A great toasted and grainy malt mid palate with a smooth but mild creamy lactose like flavour. There is a musty dryness on the finish with a general resinous smack of hops with a lack of overall bitterness. A rather mild and subdued flavor profile despite the aroma and style.

Grade: 88/100

Price: $7.00

SKA Brewing Modus Hoperandi

I am finally getting around to posting reviews and blog articles on my May and June European Beer Vacation so this may be the first in a torrent of Belgian and Scandinavian beer articles. But during a 3 day stay in the Swedish capital of Stockholm and finally managing to find the government owned alcohol store known as Systembolaget I picked up a can of American IPA for Colorado. SKA Brewing Hoperandi is a beer I have seen many times on blogs, youtube reviews as well as on ratebeer and the like so choosing it instead of 100 SEK ($18 CAD) Swedish craft brews was an easy choice. For ony 29 SEK I purchased this little green can of hop elixir I had wanted to try for so long. SKA brewing is located in Durango, Colorado a distant town in SW Colorado closer to SantaFe and Albuquerque than Denver. At 6.8% ABV and 65 IBU’s this should be a hop rocket in a can. Later that evening after lettign Hoperandi cool a bit in my hostel fridge I set out to a bench overlooking the Baltic near my hostel on Skeppsholmen, Stockholm’s smallest island.

Unfortunately due to my rather bohemian style of travel I lacked a glass to pour this into and drank straight from the can. An aroma of solid citrus hop with a rather intense spicy hop note and resins. SKA Hoperandi smells like a freshly squeezed grapefruit mixed with sticky pine needles and resin with a bit of freshly cut grass atop. The first swill for the can has a mild sweet caramel malt with light toasted flavours and pervading citrus hop flavours in the mid-palate. A zingy tang of bitterness on the finish with definite grapefruit zest and a hot sticky resinous aftertaste. The hops linger well into the aftertaste with big floral grapefruit flavours. This although a surprisingly monotone beer has a rather nice drinkability and on a warm spring night in Stockholm it was most definitely a great beer experience.

Although this beer wasn’t Swedish I would soon visit a few of Stockholm’s legendary watering holes for some tasty treats.

Grade: 88/100

Price: 29 SEK ($5 CAD)