Nick Carr on April 11, 2016 0 Comments Quick Characteristics Brewery: Ska Brewing Company Location: Durango, CO Style: American IPA ABV: 6.8% IBU: 88 Appearance: Deep orange-amber color with off-white and slightly orange head; Good head retention and lacing; Superb clarity. Aroma: Sweet orange peel backed with other citrusy notes; Hints of pine resin and mango. Flavor: Sweet & zippy orange with maltiness; Notes of citrus, mango and pine across the palate; Crisp finish with fruity bitterness left as aftertaste. Hops: Dry hopped with Mandarina Bavaria Hops Malts: ? Special Ingredients: Sweet orange peel Shelf Life: 3 months Suggested Glass: Tulip or IPA Glass Serving Temp: 46° – 50°F Availability: Year Round Pairs With: Burgers with a citrus marinade, Indian curry, orange cheesecake It seems the hottest thing in the American craft brewing world is enhancing the citrus profile of the American IPA. I see more and more citrus forward IPA’s on the shelves. Some, like this one, include further augmentation of hop citrus profiles through the use of actual citrus ingredients. I’ve seen and tried, a grapefruit IPA from Samuel Adams, Citradilec from New Belgium, and Ballast Point has both a Grapefruit Sculpin and a Pineapple Sculpin. I’m sure there are several more out there and more in the pipeline. This influx of citrus forward, sometimes citrus augmented beers could be called the second iteration of American craft beers’ obsession or love-affair, depending on how you want to see it, with the IPA. First it was bitterness as the goal. Brewer’s upped hop dosages to mega proportions, went looking for the highest alpha acid hops out there, and invented new delivery systems (Sierra Nevada’s now famous torpedo, for instance). Now it seems brewing has circled back to putting more emphasis on aroma and flavor experiences, especially in the case of the American IPA and its classic citrus forward profile. I like this new path. I’ve always enjoyed IPA’s, but never really understood the whole bitterness-is-king concept. I much prefer a well balanced flavor/aroma forward example than a Hop-bomb whose only point is IBU’s and its slap-in-the-face bitterness. I am hoping this exploration of different hops, especially new varieties continues beyond that of citrus and floral notes to a study of the more subtle yet broad aroma and flavor categories; herbal, woody, earthy, spicy, etc. Granted these categories may not carry the wow factor of bright citrus or juicy tropical fruit, but it would still be fun to see them explored a little deeper and as possibly more individual, standout players. It’s also exciting to see the influx of new varieties this hop driven approach to brewing has generated. It seems every time I turn around there’s some new hop variety making big news in the beer world. Hops like Equinox, Triple Pearl, Medusa, Azacco, Hüll Melon, and Mandarina Bavaria give brewer’s plenty of new options to fiddle with. Ska Brewing’s Modus Mandarina is just one such hop tinkering experiment. Combining Mandarina Bavaria’s intense mandarin orange flavors with additions of sweet orange will, I expect, be a most orangy experience. THE TASTING Below are the tasting notes I took while drinking Modus Mandarina. If you tasted this beer, please share your thoughts with me in the comments below. Pour and Aroma: Clarity is superb and the color is a deep orange-amber. A sticky off-white, tingging slightly orange, head forms to a finger and a half. It sticks around for the long haul and creates an impressive mosaic of lacing across the inside of the glass as I indulge. Easily pickup the sweet orange peel in the nose. Joined by other citrusy notes and backed-up by slight pine resin. Mango is also noticeable. Mouthfeel and Taste: Mouthfeel is clean and bright with medium carbonation pushing a slightly astringent experience. Body is medium. There is slight bitterness at the back building in strength though the aftertaste and making the need for another sip inevitable. Front of the palate is a mix of sweet and zippy orange and malt. It is quite fruity at the front; orange along with grapefruit and low notes of mango. Mid-palate brings the pine and earthy whispers. A pithy and resiny bittering rises through the back, but only really comes to the fore after swallowing. Finish is crisp with rumors of that orange sweetness still flitting about. In the aftertaste most of the fruity, juicy elements disappear leaving a brawny bitterness as reminder of its passing. FINISHING THOUGHTS I thoroughly enjoyed this IPA. Modus Mandarina is comparable to several other citrus and tropical fruit IPA’s out there. However, where a few others I’ve tried have a hop note or two that seems to fall out of sync or balance with the rest of the profile, this one maintained that balance a little better. The orange is probably the most striking flavor here, obviously helped out by the use of sweet orange peel, but it makes for a bright zippy ride down to a bitter punch. Modus Mandarina is a great companion for a sunny day.