Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries


Beer Reviews

Modus Hoperandi

Ska Brewing Co.
Durango, CO

Style: India Pale Ale (IPA)
ABV: 6.8%

Nigel’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Outstanding within its style.)

The next stop on my Spring Tour O’ West Coast IPAs, presented in part by Huggies and the homeless guy that lives in the dumpster behind the convenience store down the road, is from Colorado’s Ska Brewing Co. Modus Hoperandi, a most excellent name for an IPA, intrigued me not only for that reason, but also the fact that it comes in a can. While there continues to be a noticeable trend in the craft beer industry towards canning, it’s still rare enough at this point that drinking an IPA out of a can seems like an exotic journey, much like drinking an IPA with the bushmen of the Kalahari.

Ska is located in the small town of Durango, in the isolated southwestern portion of the state, a long drive from the better known craft beer regions in the greater Denver region that lie east of the highest peaks of the Rockies. Durango is just north of the New Mexico border, and is actually closer to Arizona than it is to Denver. While seemingly out of the loop, Ska has put Durango on the map with a lineup of craft brews that, while I had not sampled them prior to my visit this spring, are well known. The reviews have been mixed on some of them, but Modus Hoperandi is one that I have always heard good things about, and am very excited to finally get to sample.

Modus Hoperandi comes in a green can, with the appropriate imagery of hop cones, as well as three gentlemen in suits, one of which is a skeleton, walking out of the logo towards us. The skeleton is also on the side, dancing with a young lady car hop, circa 1960. It’s reminiscent of something you’d see in a Tarantino movie. Modus Hoperandi is of course a play on the Latin phrase modus operandi, or M.O., which is commonly used in criminology.

Modus Hoperandi cracks open with a nice whiff of Northwest hops, pouring smoothly into the glass with a pillowy white head well over an inch. Slowly but surely the head settles to a creamy white lace that lingers throughout and sticks to the side of the glass like glue. A beautiful coppery, golden brown color, there’s a slight hint of sediment at the bottom of the glass and light amounts of carbonation dancing as well. It’s yet another great looking IPA from a Western brewer.

Aromas are wonderful, with all the elements of Northwest hops present. It’s heavy on the citrusy side of the spectrum, though the noticeable tones of grapefruit and orange zest are well balanced with a slight touch of evergreen and some biscuity malt. It’s a light, zesty scent that is a bit strong when compared to other standard American IPAs.

The flavor finishes off Modus Hoperandi, sealing its reputation as an upper echelon IPA, not just one with a gimmicky name that comes in a cool can. Flavors are strong and very hop-centric, yet never overwhelm due to a good amount of balance from the more subtle secondary flavors. Initial flavors are zesty to say the least, with huge amounts of citrus bombarding the tongue, followed by a much smaller profile of bitter pine. While hops dominate, there is a sugary, earthy backdrop that eases the zip of the hops, one that gives the light, effervescent brew a solid foundation and allows it to go down smooth. While in many ways this is a by-the-books American IPA, it’s one of the better ones I’ve had recently. On the stronger side of the spectrum in virtually every aspect (aroma, flavor, and ABV, which is 6.8 percent), Modus Hoperandi doesn’t quite get to the point that one would have to consider it an imperial IPA. Medium bodied, it goes down smooth and leaves a strong hoppy aftertaste.

Modus Hoperandi isn’t just a fun name, it’s a damn fine IPA to boot. Ska is the another entry in a long line of Western brewers that has mastered the American hop, and proves once again that fine brewing knows no limit, as a small mountain town can produce as fine an ale as the sprawling metropolis a few hours to the northeast. Modus Hoperandi is worth a try for any lover of hops, though its profile makes it a bit more specialized, so non-Hopheads may want to look elsewhere in the Ska lineup for something to sample.


Reviewed by Nigel Tanner on June 13, 2011.
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