When it comes to IPAs, San Diego’s Modern Times Beer just makes stunners. The brewer’s Hazy IPA, Space Ways, and a recent collaborative NEIPA with Fair State, Spirit Foul, both taste like near perfection.
Critical Band, Modern Times’ “hazy” and “tropical” IPA, might as well be the Pantone stand-in for “gold.” This beer is picturesque. It’s vibrant, and the color pops a bit more due to a lush foam head. Critical Band delivers an equally strong sensory experience with its fruit-forward scent featuring heaps of melon and grapefruit. Its milder elements, like earthy hops and mellow papaya, lurk in the background.
This is a hazy IPA, so naturally Critical Band’s grassier element becomes a bit more prominent once you start drinking, but this is by no means a hop bomb. Instead, everything tastes beautifully balanced: lemon and grapefruit notes intermingle with sweet and subtle papaya so each mouthful is full of flavors. Modern Times made a beer that isn’t crisp or juicy—it’s downright creamy. This amount of umami doesn’t typically show up outside of indulgent porters and stouts, but it works here given Critical Band’s flavors are in such equilibrium.
It’s impressive that Modern Times could find yet another distinct tweak on the hazy style that works. The brewer already has a reputation for being one of the best IPA-makers in California, and with its recently increased distribution footprint, it might soon be considered one of the best in the country.