Origin Stories: Nick - Modus Hoperandi
In what may become a regular feature we give you a contribution from one of our regular customers. Nick tells us about the beer that started it all for him.
Some years (more than 5, fewer than 10…) ago I organised one of Mr Hop Vault’s stag parties, the central details which are extremely geeky and which do not bear repeating here. As part of MHV’s special weekend I thought it would be fun to sort out an IPA tasting session, MHV being ahead of the game in all things that were hipster and beardy even then, and drinking being one of the central themes of the weekend. I’d not had much interaction with what was then the burgeoning craft beer scene, preferring bottled ales, gallons of my beloved Batham’s Bitter, and the occasional bottle of Gower Power IPA, the closest to a hop-bomb I ever really came. Navigating to a random, I think avian, website I knew I wanted five IPAs, but with no experience or knowledge of the scene I selected the lucky five using the time-honoured method of how entertaining or punny their names were. First up was a beer that was to have a huge impact on my understanding of, and appreciation for, canned craft beer: Ska Brewing’s Modus Hoperandi. Sorted, I thought, now for four more, but, disaster! Only one in stock! What to do? Obviously add that single can to the order and take it as a reward to my future self for curating such a lovely gift for MHV and the other stag attendees; it’s not like any of them will pay me back for it, so I might as well sweeten the deal for myself. The other beers selected I sent the order and went back to my other pre-stag task; not painting my Warhammer miniatures. A few days later the order arrived and I was delighted to see that past me had been so considerate of future me; the can of Modus went in the fridge and a few hours later it was beer time. An aggressive, massively bitter, opening flurry gave way to a refreshing resinous and piney squall, before settling into an extremely moreish, clean and crisp, covering of hoppy goodness that retained a hint of the initial bitterness, and which demanded an immediate fresh covering. I was hooked.
This is such an unapologetically over the top beer, something that screams pine forests, fresh mountain streams, and massive, rolling landscapes; it was nothing like the British beers I had tried up to that time, and remains nothing like even the best, if scarce, modern British attempts to recreate the ‘mountain’ style IPA can manage. The closest we come here are the, still relatively rare, ‘West-Coast’ styles that breweries, seemingly reluctantly, put out every now and then, and which remain closer to the ubiquitous and thoroughly overdone hazy NEPAs than the dry, bitter style they boast to be. Maybe it’s a character thing, or, more probably, a landscape thing. Colorado, where Ska Brewing are based, doesn’t do ‘little’. It doesn’t do deer, it does massive elk, or, if you’re (un)lucky, moose. It doesn’t do mountains as we think of them, it does hulking, 14,000 feet monsters where the lack of oxygen has killed the trees over 11,000 feet which is, on the whole, a good thing, as the lightning storms would get them otherwise. It doesn’t do normal people, it does Brian Shaw and Brandon Stapanowich.
Modus Hoperandi opened my eyes to what canned craft beer could really be, and started an obsession for that deeply bitter hit that draws me to every British craft can claiming ‘West Coast’ or ‘Mountain’ Style, to inevitable disappointment. I get that it’s a raw materials thing, but still, UK breweries, make me a clear, outrageously bitter, piney beer then add three times as many hops as you think reasonable or necessary, and I’ll buy it by the case. Until then I guess I’ll just check every few weeks to see if any UK suppliers have it in stock, and then add to my rage by realising that the Irish beer specialists still won’t ship over here.
Since that fateful first can I’ve visited Colorado twice, and Modus by the pint is really something else. I sank two while trying to understand Basketball in a sports bar in Boulder. It didn’t help, but it’s a match made in heaven for equally unapologetically massive American-style chicken wings. That same trip also saw me leave a six pack outside our motel room in Estes Park one night, and I can say that Modus chilled to below zero by snowfall will change your life.
Modus helped me to connect beer to experience; to people and to place. It’s helped create wonderful experiences and friendships, and while my wallet won’t thank Ska Brewing for this, my bitter soul certainly does! The other beers were
Flying Dog Snake Dog IPA
Pig & Porter Whispering Bob APA
Siren Ryseing Tides IPA
Smuttynose Finestkind IPA
XT Animal Brewing Rabbit IPA
All delicious, but none with the same story or impact as Modus Hoperandi. MHV had quite the weekend, and a part of me still feels guilty that he didn’t get to try Modus Hoperandi, but he’s tried a lot more other beer than me so that guilt is fleeting when I remember that I should feel it. He assures me he is trying to get a hold of it in the UK, and until this finally happens, reader, you can give Attic Brew’s Big Sur a go. It’s stronger and not quite as fizzy, but it’ll give you the right idea.
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