It’s exceedingly rare to find anything unique in the saturated world of IPAs. Whether West Coast, East Coast or Northeastern hazy, the offerings that stand out from the crowd are few and far between—until you dump loads of an underutilized Southern Hemisphere-grown hop into your IPA, that is. San Diego-based brewer Modern Times did exactly that with its Nelson Sauvin (Nelson for short) hopped IPA Space Ways.
I’m convinced Modern Times’ cans are designed specifically for my taste, as the soft but clean script and white space aesthetic catches my eye every time. The beer may be even more eye-catching, striking the perfect balance between opaque haze and light-reflecting brightness. Its orange body is topped with fine-bubbled white foam. Space Ways is up there with the prettiest hazy IPAs I’ve seen.
While the appearance is on the pleasing side of typical, the aroma is anything but, courtesy of that hefty dose of Nelson hops. The New Zealand-grown varietal brings a prickly sensation to the aroma with some fruity qualities like white grape and gooseberry that are not common with other hops. The result is an aroma that I’d have a hard time distinguishing from a glass of sauvignon blanc.
Hat tip to Modern Times for trying something a little different—hopefully other brewers take notice.”
Nelson hops can overpower a beer, but the deft hands at Modern Times add just the right amount to coax out the hop's natural wine-like flavors in Space Ways. It is distinctly grapey—white grape to be exact—and backed up by tropical fruit and spicy, fruity black pepper. The tropical flavor and hazy appearance are about the only things Space Ways has in common with other hazy IPAs, which is part of what makes it so great. Space Ways is like the love child of a white wine and a hazy IPA that took more after the IPA than the wine—a unique combination I didn’t even know I wanted to drink.
Riffing on a popular style by adding new layers of flavor is a solid recipe for success, and Modern Times absolutely capitalizes on that with Space Ways. The heavy reliance on the seldom-used Nelson hop brings an entirely new flavor profile that is totally unexpected from other hazies. It’s a winning combination that will have me searching out other Nelson-hopped brews wherever I can find them. Hat tip to Modern Times for trying something a little different—hopefully other brewers take notice.