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

Ballast Point Sculpin IPA

One of the most respected and revered American style IPA’s is Sculpin a 7% brew from San Diego, California’s Ballast Point Brewery. Ballast Point originally started as San Diego’s Home Brew Mart and grew to become one of the United State’s craft brewing vanguards. More recently Ballast Point has brewed special editions of Sculpin with Grapefruit and Habanero pepper additions. 

Pouring out a bright cascade of golden orange with a creamy froth of yellow tinged head Sculpin looks like an IPA from the get go with tons of sticky resin lacing. The aroma is distinctly emphasised with citrus fruits including lemon, orange, grapefruit etc. Lighter floral and spicy hop aromas are noticeable but dulled by the citrus heavy notes. Light caramel malts with honey sweetness and a plethora of fruity hop notes. Citrus notes and lighter tropical fruits fill the mid palate with notes of pineapple, mango and papaya. The finish is characteristic of the San Diego style with a resin predominance that leaves a sticky, astringent aftertaste of pine needles and bitter grapefruit. A bitter finish overall but mostly a fruity beer with glorious citrus and tropical notes. Sculpin is a great example of the San Diego IPA style and is a classic beer in general. 

Grade: 94/100

Stone/Baird/Ishii Japanese Green Tea IPA

This unique IPA is a creation from the hands of Stone Brewing in Escondido, California as well as Baird Brewing in Numazu, Japan and Ishii Brewing in Guam. Baird is a well known brewer and one of the main proponents of the current Japanese craft beer wave. Ishii is a brewing I have to admit to never hearing of. On the back label it explains that Toshi Ishii was a brewer at Stone before moving to Guam to start the islands first brewery. The Japanese Green Tea is brewed as a Imperial IPA with 9.2% ABV that is ‘dry-hopped’ with whole leaf tea. This beer was first made as a collaboration in 2011 and has been recreated with Helga hops from Australia. 

Cracking the bottle and pouring out the body is a bright ambery orange with a solid stream of carbonation reaching to the thin cap of dense pure white head. The aroma is heavy with green tea notes as well as noted herbal and floral accents. A rather malty Imperial IPA both by appearance and by the presence of toasted caramel and toffee malts that contrast the tea leaves. A fresh and zesty hops with a beautiful citrus and grass flavour. Quite leafy and herbal tasting with a commanding flavour of green tea throughout the profile. You certainly must have to like green tea to find this beer agreeable. A good hop and malt balance with a fairly heavy body and a thick, slick mouthfeel. Overall a unique and expertly executed collaboration that I hope to try the next iteration of. 

stonegreentea

Grade: 89/100

Granville Island Imperial IPA

Granville Island Brewery in Vancouver, British Columbia has been a cornerstone of the Canadian craft brewing industry since its founding in 1984. Despite its purchase by SABMiller via Creemore Springs in 2009, the Granville brewery has been pumping out solid craft brews for close to 3 decades. Thanks to the recent purchase by the large conglomerate, Alberta has recently been able to sample many of the lesser known Granville brews made at their Granville Island brewpub. The Imperial IPA is the most recent addition to this big bottle lineup of full flavoured brews.

This Imperal IPA is fashioned in the San Diego style at 8.6% ABV and 100 IBU’s with added citrus peel to the boil. As is typical, Granville’s Imperial IPA is brewed with toasted English malts and a full heap of Pacific Northwest hops. Pouring a bright, vivid orange-gold colour with a well carbonated body and a light beige head that fizzles instantly to nothing. A few white splotches of head coat the glass for a short while before fading away prematurely. The aroma has a mild Pacific NW feel with heavy resin and piney hop aromas full frontal with obvious citrus notes. The aroma lacks an overall malt character midst the heavy hop scents. The flavour is unbalanced and rather resinous upfront with heavy citric hop acids and a light toasted malt. A bit of an overall sweet flavour and notes of lemon peel and fresh grapefruit juice join the party. The finish has an abrupt and potent astringent bitterness although short lived as it fades quickly. Overall, not as memorable as many BC or Cascadian counterparts, this is a solid well hopped Imperial IPA.

Grade: 87/100         Price: $7.59

AleSmith Anvil ESB

Anvil ESB is the flagship ale produced by San Diego’s AleSmith Brewing Company and was the first beer ever produced by the brewery. AleSmith is one of California’s most awarded craft breweries known for their unfiltered hoppy brews as well as heavy hitters like Speedway Stout and Old Numbskull Barleywine. The Anvil ESB is a bit of a San Diego twist on the standard British Premium Bitter style of session ale. Premium Bitters or Extra Special Bitters are higher alcohol (4.5 to 6%) versions of the more sessionable bitter style. At 5.5% ABV, Anvil ESB is certainly within the range of alcohol to be called a ESB stylistically.

Cracking the cap and beginning to pour I find a solid heavy and creamy foam forming atop the brilliant ruby and copper toned body. Slowing the pour down, it comes to rest with a thick mess of a chunky two finger creamy beige head and some heavy lacing around the glass. The nose is a bit abrupt and has a solid hop with pleasant floral and fruity notes. The nose is rather odd stylistically with an enhanced fruitiness pairing with toasted bready and caramel malts. Taking my first sip of the Anvil I notice a pronounced fruit flavour of both banana and apples which is certainly odd. Toasted bread and grainy malts with caramelized sweetness and a hint of toffee pairs well with the intricate floral hop notes and a rather unusual fruity character. The finish is really crisp and has a mild but not overbearing bitterness that lingers for a short time. On the whole this is an exceptionally well done ESB in that the hops aren’t too foreboding and there is still plenty of grainy and bready malts as well as tasty fruit and floral hop centric notes. In general, a very well done and well balanced ESB.

Grade: 86/100       Price: $4.69 (in California)