Sunday, November 9, 2014

Day 2 - Let The Good Times Flow - MODERN TIMES PT. 2

Modern Times has the Flavordome in North Park and the Fermentorium in Point Loma, two names that evoke gladiator battles and clashes on the field of malt, hop and yeast-based battles. And so what two better beers to pair off against one another than a wet-hopped India Pale Ale and a dark coffee stout, served up on Nitro. (Two notes: we'll cover some of those terms in a minute, second, no actual battle occurred, though I did stub my toe on my stool.)

Literally shades of light and dark, MT's City of the Sun is a golden IPA that utilizes three particular hops - Mosaic and Motueka that give it that west coast IPA citrus hop kick and Simcoe to balance it with pine at the end. The version I sampled is a Wet Hop IPA. Hops are a super delicate flower which can fall apart after being harvested, so most breweries dry the hops to preserve them for the brewing process. A "wet hop" is one that isn't dried and stays green until it's added to the mix. Wet hops usually provide a solid one-note flavor to ales, though often losing some of the complexity you find in multi-hop ales.

City of the Sun (Lest we forget, Beer #3, an American India Pale Ale, ABV - 7.8%), uses the wet hop to bring out the fruity flavors of the two main hops, and strengthen the best aspects of the IPA. Having had the dry hopped version and left off with a head-tilting "not bad" feeling, the wet hop is a certain step in the right direction. Another excellent example of what can be done with simple methods, and a good source of inspiration for homebrewers that may want to try wet hopping their own recipes.

Beer #4 - Black House (Nitro) - Coffee Stout - ABV: 5.8%

Think of that perfect glass of Guinness. You may not like it, but that shar division between the white head of foam and solid black body sticks in the mind. That slightly creamier flavor comes from the beer being nitrogenated, a word I totally didn't just make up. The carbonation from nitro beers comes from a greater amount of nitrogen than carbon dioxied (Your usual carbonation go-to.) Basically put, nitrogen bubbles aren't beer-soluble, so they rise to the top inside your beer, creating that strong foam head, a creamier beer taste and a greater spread of flavors.

For an example, next time you pour a Guinness, you can point out the bubbles rolling down the sides are the nitrogen distributed from the tap and split up from the beer, racing down the sides as the main flow of bubbles push up in the center of the glass. Fun facts like that will guarantee the swooning and swarming of members of the opposite sex at your local beer depository. (Editor's Note: This is 100% true. It's how I got engaged. Any other reason is a bold-faced lie, regardless of how true they may be.)

So onto Black House, a standard fare at Modern Times and one of the cans you'll find on store shelves. The nitro version mellows out the strong bitterness of the coffee and falls back on the roasted flavor of espresso beans. I'm not saying it's not bitter, this is coffee stout for coffee stout purists. Heck, they even have their cold-pressed coffee two taps away, that has to count for something. I'll hold off on getting into the deep explanation of their in-house coffee related to their beer for the Black Friday Black House event coming up at the end of the month.

BH on Nitro has got that chocolate and coffee scent and follows up with nice, smooth roasted flavor. It's a definite pull away from the non-nitro version, which puts their home-brewed coffee in the spotlight. BH on Nitro takes out the bold and replaces it a combination of dark roast flavors and some sweetness, smoothly delivered.

Final Scores:

City of the Sun, Wet Hopped - 8 out of 10
Black House, Nitro - 7 out of 10

Next up - Drinking out of a paper bag and some beer that really "Sucks" - It's Lagunitas Night at Churchill's Pub and Grill!

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