The Amber Ale both literally and figuratively serves as the red-headed stepchild within the Ale family. The beer nerds flock to the latest buzzy IPA or DIPA or bourbon-barrel-aged Imperial Stout. The more casual beer drinkers tend to prefer easy-drinking wheat beers or Pale Ales. When was the last time you sat down and had a chat with your friends (beer-drinking or otherwise) about any Amber beer? Heck, what was the last Amber Ale you even consumed not named Fat Tire or (insert Irish Amber)?
I fall into the category of IPA and DIPA seeker – a bit of a hop head who generally avoids the Amber category whenever the choice presents itself. Living in the Bay Area often means chasing Russian River, Fieldwork, or Cellarmaker beers in the hoppy category, and the prospect of taste-testing some Amber Ale from San Diego elicited the same type of excitement one would expect from an (insert late season month) (insert sporting event) matchup between (insert two junky franchises).
Coming into Modern Times’ Blazing World with no specific preconceptions other than what the can describes as “Hoppy Dank Amber,” I expected the usual characteristics of Amber Ales. Yet, Blazing World delivers none of the chewing on rocks with hints of rusted metal that I associate with the category.
Going off of my fading memory, I would park this right next to Tröeg’s Nugget Nectar as an Amber Ale that not only excels within the category, but goes beyond the label of drinkable and into realm of very tasty.
The bitter finish lingers on the back of the tongue a bit longer than it should, like a slightly awkward kiss with just a bit too much tongue.”
Pouring out of the can, the color leans more brownish orange than reddish like its category brethren. The nose is subtle, with a friendly, welcoming hop aroma. Nothing big and bold that hits your nostril hairs like the popular hop bombs that the beer nerds like to wait in line for. But, there is something to be said about making a beer with a mild, hop-forward scent.
Blazing World has a very clean and hoppy profile on the front. In the middle, the beer features bread-like characteristics. Did someone take a bunch of hops and jam them into a bread starter and throw it in the oven here? No? Well, they should. This beer would make a pretty appetizing bread. Mmmm…bread.
Sorry, we’re back. The bitter finish lingers on the back of the tongue a bit longer than it should, like a slightly awkward kiss with just a bit too much tongue.
After about half of the pint, the beer really tasted more Pale Ale than Amber Ale – an attribute that many would consider a positive thing. As the beer warmed, the bready middle and bitter finish mellowed a little, and the dankness stepped forward. In fact, if this were a blind taste test, I would have bet my son’s college fund (shhhh) on the beer being an ”American Pale Ale with slightly Euro finish.”
Blazing World is a clean, full-flavored beer that trades in rusty characteristics for a clean profile with a few danky hops, helping to make it a true standout in an otherwise forgettable category. While it lacks the tropical profile of popular IPAs and Pale Ales, Blazing World should serve as a welcome addition to any beer-drinker’s fridge.