A Modern take on amber ale

Point Loma’s Modern Times updates a semi-forgotten classic

Modern Times Blazing World
  • Modern Times Blazing World

Modern Times Lomaland Fermentorium

3725 Greenwood Street, Midway District

Modern Times Flavordome

3000 Upas Street #102, North Park

Remember when the most popular style of beer was amber ale, AKA red ale? Not Irish-style red or West Coast-style red... just a nondescript red ale that looked pretty much the same color as those similarly vague amber ales? If you don’t, that’s OK. It merely means you’re younger than me.

So, look here, whippersnapper, back in the early- to mid-nineties, when the first wave of the craft beer renaissance was washing over San Diego, much of that fluid medium’s composition was amber in color. Even India pale ales were hard to come by — there simply wasn’t demand for them, as many found mostly malty ambers and reds to be far-enough out-there compared to the American adjunct lagers and similarly macro European imports that ruled store shelves.

Nowadays, amber ales and reds that aren’t "imperial" (high ABV and usually hoppier) are lesser-represented styles throughout San Diego county, a victim of local drinkers’ tastes gravitating toward more intense and outlandish creations. But hops make everything better, even an otherwise humble amber ale. Take, for instance, Blazing World, a “hoppy amber” produced by Modern Times Beer that's given round, dare I say “dankness” and a touch of fruity appeal from Mosaic, Nelson Sauvin, and Simcoe hops.

Lower in bitterness than most hop-focused brews, it makes for a nice ‘tweener for when a big, SoCal IPA is a bit much but one doesn’t want to go so far down the IBU hillside that they land in Kölsch or blonde ale territory. Available in 16-ounce tallboys or on draft at a number of bars and restaurants throughout San Diego, it does a good job of preserving this style while providing the update it requires to stay relevant in an ever-evolving craft beer world.

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