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Thus Let Us Drink Beer – Modus Brewing vs. Urban Alley

Updated: May 29, 2023

Being dedicated hop aficionados, sometimes we wonder if there is common criteria that can be applied when it comes to breweries that play in a league of their own, especially on terra australis where breweries are mushrooming like there is no evil in the world.

Having covered quite a few breweries over the years and being aware of the huge factor that personal preference plays, it appears that some categories can be agreed on across the board in relation to defining greatness.

Consistency as far as the portfolio is concerned is one, i.e. not every frothy emission needs to necessarily stand out but there should be a bottom-line of quality as well as of course at least one stellar, unique exceptional beer that embodies and spearheads the DNA of the brewery.

What does not hurt is a distinct vision that drives the respective brewery’s efforts along with a modicum of originality - not for novelty’s sake - but to push the boundaries with new and original beers to accentuate established classic styles.

Enter two breweries that have ticked most of the aforementioned boxes for us: Modus Brewing and Urban Alley.

Having originally incarnated under the moniker Modus Operandi and eventually morphed to operating simply as "Modus", there was never a time when we did not get excited when a new release was announced, given that we fell in love from the get go with Modus’ American-style hoppy beers.

Ever since we have been introduced to Modus’ hoppy homage to the mostly instrumental psychedelic emissions of the band Earthless, i.e. Modus’ Sonic Prayer IPA , which sees a carefully calibrated melange of American, Kiwi, Teutonic and English hops culminate in a smorgasbord of reverberating stone fruity and piney nuances, along with their other big IPAs, they have become a staple especially when it comes to accompanying a dram of Ardbeg’s Corryvreckan or an Octomore expression to complete a boilermaker.

Needless to say, being partial to a great Mexican lager, seeing how under Modus’ umbrella a stand-alone endeavour was created with a Cerveza adding another welcome layer to Modus’ offerings and its credo to always focus on the quality of the beer first without any shortcuts.

Having taken a page or two out of the books of Mexico’s light lagers, we like that Modus’ Cerveza does not necessitate the addition of lime as the pale coloured goodness comes with innate nuances of citrus and an idiosyncratic grainy sweetness, which only adds to what Mexican lagers have been designed for with their relatively moderate <4.5% ABV, i.e. quenching one’s thirst on a hot day.

While we love Modus’ IPAs, one of the leftfield limited expressions, we became instantaneously infatuated with is the Imperial Sour with the fulminant name Acid Jaguar.

If you love beer and have your set favourite expressions, every now and then you might feel inspired to venture out a bit and experience other flavours, which is territory where the Acid Jaguar reigns supreme as there are few sours that can rival it in terms of balanced tartiness and juiciness as pronounced hints of lime and raspberry dance against a backdrop of acidity.

Clocking in at 8% ABV, this little number is one to have a lot of fun with.

Given all of the above-mentioned, it might not come as a surprise that Modus’ stylish range of limited merchandise complements the offerings of a unique brewery.

Urban Alley’s Moonbeam

Not unlike Modus, Melbournian brewery Urban Alley is one to watch as within the first five years of its existence, we have yet to come across an expression that did not live up to the level of quality that Dean Grant and Bruce Davey have benchmarked for themselves from the get go after having honed their skills in the hospitality industry and endeavours to bring international beer experiences to terra australis.

The fact that Urban Alley has been on the forefront of progressing sustainable efforts not merely through token actions and lip service but a commitment to treating its water onsite and being the first brewing company in Australia to use E6PR six-pack holder rings made of recycled material that can be composted once they have completed their task, only adds to the appeal.

While we have yet to experience Urban Alley’s slowly aged brews, the huge tropical flavour avalanche that the heads behind Urban Alley unleashed via their silky 2021 Hazy IPA centred around the potency of the trio of Cashmere, Galaxy and Citra hops, set expectations high for future expressions, especially in the hop forward realm of things.

While the Hazy IPA was a winner two years ago, what recently materialized via Urban Alley’s Moonbeam has dialled things up a notch or two:

Clocking in at a veritable ABV of 6.2%, this New England IPA styled brew displays fruity, Chardonnay-esque wine-like qualities of gooseberry and grass courtesy of Hallertau Blanc hops being married with passion fruity, piney and earthy nuances as well as grapefruit, lime, tropical fruits, and a delicately balanced, subdued bitterness.

A thing of beauty that has us hoping that a IIPA is in the cards for Urban Alley’s future…


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