We Just Tapped 3 New Beers

On Apr 28, 2014 - 41 Comments - Beer

It feels like it’s been a zillion years since we last released a large-scale batch of something new. One of the downsides to brewing at max capacity is that there’s been no room for one-offs. With the arrival of our two new 120bbl monster fermenters, we finally have the tank space to start scratching our collective creative itch again.

And, well, we scratched pretty hard right out of the gate here. Releasing 3 new beers all at once wasn’t quite how we intended to do it, I assure you, but sometimes that’s just how things shake out. The good news is they’re all tasting extremely rad. In fact, I’m overjoyed and incredibly proud that these beers are as good as they are. 

All three are on-tap right now at the Lomaland Fermentorium, and a healthy number of kegs will land at our distributor this week.

Let’s run ‘em down.

1) Nitro Black House

When you order a “nitro” beer, are you getting a beer nitrogenated with real, honest-to-goodness nitrogen? Or are you getting a tall, frosty glass full of lies? Unfortunately, far too often, the answer is the latter. Some “nitro” beers are in fact CO2 carbonated beers that are either pushed out of the keg with nitrogen, or partially de-gassed and then partially nitrogenated. The results do not do nitro beers justice, in my humble opinion, which is why I was determined to only do Nitro Black House when we could commit to doing an entire 30bbl batch fully nitrogenated in the brite tank. So that’s exactly what we did and what we’ll continue doing, since this is now a year round offering from us.

The best thing about Nitro Black House is that it is noticeably different in flavor and aroma than regular ol’ Black House. The flavor is bright and snappy with a big chocolate/coffee aroma, and the trademark super smooth, creamy mouthfeel and lingering head of a true nitro beer. It’s goddamn delicious, and definitely worth trying side-by-side with regular Black House. If I were to say it is “hella crushable, brah”, I would not be lying. I would not.

2) Booming Rollers

Booming Rollers is a 6.8% ABV, 75 IBU IPA brewed and dry-hopped with Citra, Motueka, and Centennial. Although it finished bone dry (1.5P), the juiciness of the hops is the main story here. Citra is definitely the dominant flavor and aroma contributor, but Motueka makes its presence felt with some darker fruit notes and that strong tropical juiciness. The malt offers enough backbone to balance the bitterness and provide a light, crackery underpinning. The finish is characterized by a briefly lingering bitterness and loads more tropical fruit. All in all, I’m very pleased with how this beer turned out, and I can say without question that it’s the best IPA we’ve made yet.

3) Black House with Bourbon Barrel-Aged Coffee Beans

I’ve written at length before about the unique process of barrel-aging coffee beans, but this is our first full-scale batch of beer produced with these beans. We dosed this beer with the bourbon barrel aged coffee the same way we do regular Black House: 22lbs per batch of whole beans for 2 days post-fermentation. The results are a beer redolent with vanilla, coffee, oak, bourbon, and chocolate. We are the first brewery in the world to make beer with barrel-aged coffee beans, and I think this beer clearly demonstrates the potential of the process, if not it’s final iteration.

A Fresh Crop of Warm Bodies

On Apr 25, 2014 - 2 Comments -

One of the inevitabilities of running a business is that some of the people you hire will leave. You can choose to freak out about it, or accept it as part of the natural life of a business. Personally, I’m just thankful for the contributions people make when they’re here and hopeful that we’ve been a good home for them.

That is why it is without a hint of animosity that I’m announcing our first departure: Alex Tweet. Alex has spent the last year working incredibly hard to help get Modern Times up and running. He’s come in at 4am on countless occasions to get double brew days started (including yesterday and today). He’s completed a veritable potpourri of dirty, demanding minor construction tasks far outside of the job title “Brewer.” He’s run our cask program, and in doing so, has come up with several marvelous concoctions that are destined to be scaled-up. And he’s taken the lead on our pilot program, which he’s faithfully attended to whenever there’s downtime in the brewhouse.

In short, Alex has contributed a great deal towards making Modern Times what it has become, and I’m deeply thankful for his time here.

And best of all, he’s leaving in a way that makes me excited for his future. Next month, Alex will be moving to the Bay Area to take the position of Head Brewer with a new brewery he’ll be starting with Barry Braden, a friend of Modern Times and certifiably great guy (and former owner of Local Habit).

The timing is auspicious. I’ll take this opportunity to announce the hiring of Andrew Schwartz, current Brewer & Lab Guru at the highly regarded Ithaca Beer Company, makers of some legendarily delicious IPAs and sour beers. Andrew will be a Brewer for us and he is eminently qualified for the task: he has a Masters in microbiology to go along with two and a half years of quality brewhouse experience. He also has a deep knowledge of beer & brewing techniques, and relentless desire to learn more.

Andrew has a strong interest in the microbiological side of beer, and we expect him to make significant contributions to both our quality control efforts and our fledgling funk/sour program. His tastes lean toward dry, hoppy IPAs and funky saisons, and he has a specific passion for barrel-aging. All in all, we’re incredibly excited to be bringing him on.

Additionally, I’m proud to say that we’ve been rapidly promoting from within to support our continued growth. Tim Kamolz started with us as a part-time canning line dude, but we recently made him a full-time Cellar Assistant. Tim is a super sharp guy who has made a very strong impression on everyone working here, and we expect him to have a bright future with us. 

We're also stoked about some new canning line hires, a bunch of new hires/promotions for the forthcoming North Park Flavordome, and a COO hire that I'll have more to say about in a few weeks. All in all, we've managed to attract a bunch of really great folks who I'm extremely proud to see moving up, and we've got a fresh crop of promising warm bodies that I'm sure you'll be hearing more from in the future.

So, lots of growth and a few changes happening. We’re morphing from a tiny cell of extremely harried individuals into a 20+ strong group of somewhat less harried individuals. The pace of our growth continues to boggle my mind, and we’ll undoubtedly be bringing on more rad people in the not too distant future. Exciting stuff ahead.