Unlock a $2,400 Donation to Bike SD

On Apr 17, 2013 - 0 Comments -

As you’re undoubtedly aware, we are in the midst of a hugely ambitious Kickstarter campaign. Fortunately, you all have risen to the challenge in a super-sized way and helped us blow past our goal of $40,000.

But we’re not done yet. We’re hungry…like a bunch of really hungry people. For more stuff. To make us less hungry.

You see, Modern Times needs to be the most backed brewery ever on Kickstarter. It just does. Otherwise, the universe will be all out of whack. But in order to do that, we need $52,375 in pledges, which is $8,596 more than we have (as of this writing).

Why should you help us reach this historic goal? Because a group of our incredibly rad vendors have stepped up to make it worth your while in a big way. If we set the record, they’ll donate $2,200 $2,400 to Bike SD, a phenomenal local advocacy group that is working hard to make this city a better place to walk, bike, and live.

Who are these incredible vendors, you ask? Here they are, listed in order of how much they love me:

  1. Premier Stainless Systems ($600). These guys are the super experienced Escondido-based savs who built our brewhouse & fermenters. 
  2. Atlas Kegs ($500). These guys came up with this whole “break the record/give to charity” idea, which lets you know how super cool they are.
  3. Coastal Automation Solutions ($500). Our insanely skilled contractor, they built the new Green Flash, Societe, Stone Liberty Station, and our place.
  4. The Country Malt Group ($200). Known to every homebrewer the world over, they’ve been supplying grain to breweries for a long, long time. 
  5. Helms Workshop ($200). The geniuses behind our mind-blowingly awesome can designs and some of the best graphic designers working today.
  6. Brewers Supply Group ($200). Famously excellent suppliers of malt, hops, and a smorgasbord of other necessities for the craft brewer.  
  7. Beer-Con ($200). This unique local beer conference is in its 3rd year. We’re planning on being a stop on their popular brewery tour circuit.

Wanna add your name to that list? It’s not too late. Have your people shoot my people an email through our Contact page & we’ll chat. I want to raise as much for Bike SD as we possibly can.

How you can you make this amazing donation thing happen? By backing our Kickstarter campaign at the highest level you possibly can.

If you’ve already backed, now is the time to up your pledge. If there’s another reward you want on top of what you’ve already got coming to you, just add that amount to your pledge and let me know what the money is for in the survey that will go out at the end of the campaign (except for limited rewards).

Breaking this record & getting this donation for Bike SD would be such a cool way to end this campaign & launch this brewery. So please, be a pal and help us make it happen. If you can’t throw in any more cash, please spread the word on Facebook & Twitter.

Let’s Kickstart The Bejesus Out Of This Brewery

On Apr 6, 2013 - 0 Comments - Start-Up

Who: Modern Times Beer

What: A Kickstarter campaign

When: RIGHT NOW, ending April 30th


Why: Six months of determined fundraising got me enough capital to get Modern Times off the ground. But by working together on this crowdfunding campaign, we can make Modern Times so much more than just the bare minimum. We can make it a truly spectacular space, a producer of devastatingly tasty sours, and a metronomically consistent producer of high quality beer.

We’re seeking $40,000 in pledges to build a wildly creative tasting room, purchase a truckload of used wine & spirit barrels, and acquire precision lab equipment. We’re offering some shockingly rad rewards to help make this campaign a success, including a slew of one-of-a-kind experiences that go well beyond the standard Kickstarter rewards.


So (pretty extra super please) check out the Kickstarter campaign, pledge what you can, and share this link like the plague:



Black House: The Commercially Rationalized, Less Delicious Version

On Apr 3, 2013 - 14 Comments - Beer, Coffee, Start-Up

As promised, I now bring you latest update on our oatmeal coffee stout, Black House.

Being both a coffee & beer geek, I adore coffee stouts, but many of the best are night-enders. As you’re undoubtedly aware, our year round beers will be packaged in four packs of shockingly handsome 16oz. cans, a size and quantity that lends itself to drinking higher volumes of more modest-strength beers.

So our challenge with Black House—and most of our year round beers, really—is to provide a similar experience as the sledgehammers of the coffee stout universe, without the accompanying requirement that one exit the bar in a wheelbarrow.

This task began successfully enough: the very first batch Mike sent me was quite good, and the second was most of the way there.

We ran into trouble with the third, however, when we switched the base malt from Maris Otter to the standard Pale Malt that will one day fill Modern Times’ silo. Different base malts in oft-made beers mean lots of manual labor and significant additional cost, so it’s better avoided if possible. Our goal is to keep things reasonably efficient without sacrificing quality, so we made some adjustments and figured we’d compensated for the difference.

Lo-and-behold, we did not compensate enough. A beer that used to taste and smell like a chocolate covered espresso bean suddenly became a bit bland, with none of the doughy malt flavor that supported the rest of the beers’ flavor profile. A humbling tribute to the power of Maris Otter, it was.

So for our fourth attempt, we tried to reclaim the original flavor profile while maintaining the Pale Malt base by adding additional specialty malts. We essentially took three approaches to imitating Marris Otter: biscuit, crystal, and Caramunich. Alex and I brewed three separate, consecutive batches to test the competing approaches to this problem.

None quite did the job, but biscuit turned out to be the most promising of the lot. The biscuit version was closer to the chocolate covered espresso bean profile than the other two, which featured too much dark fruit and astringency, respectively.

Another key factor in Black House is the coffee addition, which didn’t quite work out in any of the three. We’ve been adding ground coffee in a hop sock for 24 hours right before packaging. I favor this approach because it seems to impart more aroma than other methods, which makes sense considering that it’s essentially the same approach we take to dry hopping.

As you may know, we’ll be roasting the coffee ourselves, and it is here that our learning curve is substantially steeper than it is with beer. I’ve been a homebrewer for 7 years, but I’ve only been roasting coffee for about one year. Something we learned from the subdued coffee profile from all three of these versions of Black House is that one cannot roast coffee beans for beer the same way one does for prepared coffee. It turns out that beer requires a significantly darker roast than most coffee aficionados would desire in a cup.

Light roasts allow the origin and varietal character of the coffee to express itself in the cup, while dark roasts make everything taste like char. Beer—being a mix of sugar, alcohol, water, and a million other things—requires a different approach. Darker roasts seem to translate much better in beer than do lighter roasts, which come across as muted and excessively fruity or acidic. While there’s a time & place for everything, Black House isn’t it for a light roast.

So for the next batch we’re going to increase the portion of Sumatra in our Sumatra/Ethiopia blend and roast a bit darker. Not anything so debased as a French Roast, but a little darker than we’d normally drink.

Alright, thanks for hanging with me through all that. I’d love to hear about your own experiences with oatmeal stouts and coffee additions. We’re brewing two more versions of  Black House tomorrow as part of our continuing effort to recapture the magic, so your feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Next up for the blog: Lomaland saison, which recently went through several more rounds of adjustments.