Reviewed by his Royal Highness Tom Becham, esq
Modern Times Beer has quite the buzz in the craft beer community of Southern California right now. They can all of their offerings (a trend, at the moment), and have some catchy retro style art on the cans. But I found one of their beers, Blazing World, to be sadly lacking and unworthy of its own press. But in fairness, I cannot and will not judge the rest of their beers on this one example.
Okay, on to the review. Sorry, but cans still throw me for a loop. Yes, I know they are more eco-friendly than bottles, and I know they protect the beer from being light-struck far better than bottles ever could. Still, they just strike me as tacky. Points off for the “presentation”.
Also, Modern Times really doesn’t give a style designator for this beer, other than the tiny word “amber” on the can. They DO describe it as “dank” and “hoppy” just above the woefully inadequate “amber”, but this is also rather unhelpful.
Blazing World pours a muddy red-brown, with a massive tan head. The aroma is indeed very hoppy. It is flowery and piney, with some citrus notes. Okay, promising thus far. Maybe this is like the style-blurring “Red IPA” of Bear Republic, Hop Rod Rye?
Alas, it is nowhere near the beer that Hop Rod Rye is. The first, last, and virtually only taste of this beer is hops, hops, and more hops. That is not necessarily bad in itself, but Blazing World tastes like licking an aspirin while simultaneously eating a handful of yard mulch. This is not a GOOD hoppiness, and seems to serve no purpose other than bitterness for bitterness’ sake.
As well, the malt presence in this beer is virtually non-existent and completely at odds with the deep, rich color. Okay, there is the tiniest of hints of malt, but it is entirely insufficient to serve as a backbone for the massive added hoppiness. The finish is, unfortunately, quite long and persistent.
I know many beer geeks who have had this brew will look at my review and wonder what is wrong with me. The beer IS highly rated on most of the beer websites. But I think this simply reflects a disturbing trend in America.
I believe there are two factors that have made sub-standard beers like Blazing World popular.
First, our nation has turned into the land of intense, added, artificial flavors. We use chemicals to produce “strawberry” flavors that are many times stronger than one would ever find in nature (I only use strawberries as an example among many others). I sincerely believe that this trend has caused an increasing number of Americans’ taste buds to be unexcited by anything subtle. And Blazing World is anything but subtle.
Second, in the beer world, it seems to have become a “street cred” factor to see how intensely bitter a beer you can drink. Then, of course, the point is to play it off as if you could handle even more bitterness, and to pronounce it delicious. It is now a mark of machismo, and frequently it betrays the individual beer geek’s lack of knowledge of beer history, style guides, brewing techniques, or even the basic brewing concept of balance.
In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that I, too, occasionally have cravings for super-hoppy stuff, and have been known to quaff the likes of Stone Ruination and Green Flash Palate Wrecker. However, those beers have a well-made structure backing up the hop presence, and – for their styles – even achieve a balance.
I cannot recommend Blazing World.
Tom Becham lives in Oxnard, CA where he amazes all those CA girls with his great body and… nah, he’s just a great writer and contributor to PGA. And the short Irish guy he found with a pot o’ gold under a tree is still looking for Tom: he wants his hat back. And there is NO truth to the rumor people who live in his locale have an OX to grind, or are the Nardia versions of nerds, otherwise known as “nards.”