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Deep Thoughts on 2015

On Dec 31, 2015 - 2 Comments -

It's been far too long since I've checked in personally on this blog. When I was working on getting Modern Times open, writing for the blog was a key outlet for me, as a way to both let people know about this awesome thing we were building, and as a way to vent during an exceptionally stressful time. But as challenging as it was to get the brewery open, it's many times harder to actually run this 2.5 year old beast, which has made it difficult for me to write regularly.

While the process of getting this place open felt like a sprint through thick mud to a tangible finish line, running the brewery is like a sprint through thick mud, over lava pits, around deadly booby traps, and between the legs of towering monsters (yes, we've been playing some D&D recently), with no finish line in sight. The challenges are endless and far more complex than the ones I faced getting this place up and running; the day-to-day is the definition of "decision-making fatigue."

Opening a brewery follows a fairly linear path: buy this stuff, build these things, get it all approved and licensed, then start brewing & selling beer. While there are innumerable ways to go about all of those things, the steps themselves follow a well-worn path.

Running a brewery is nothing like that. There is no path and there is no end goal. You can do almost anything, which sounds liberating but is actually an unfathomable challenge. It's like writing a "Choose Your Own Adventure" book during the adventure, with your life's work at stake.

When I was dreaming of opening the brewery, I couldn't wait to be the decision-maker. But as the business has grown into something akin to an enormous Rube Goldberg Machine, I'm now thrilled every time I'm able delegate decision-making responsibilities to someone else. Doing so means my decision-making fatigue is ever so slightly lessened, and it means I've hired and trained someone I can trust. Those are far greater victories than simply making a good decision because they mean good decisions will be replicated endlessly. That is my new definition of success.

Naturally, I've brought a lot of this complexity and fatigue on myself. We could brew nothing but our core beers and make a very healthy living, but I find it impossible to have the power to do something awesome and not take advantage of it. And rapid growth has meant we've rapidly accumulated the power to do lots of awesome things. We're doing as many of them as we can afford, and eagerly planning for more in the future. It's an incredibly difficult approach to manage, but it's the only one that's true to who I am.

Anyway, that's where my head is at as we close out 2015. It's been a mind-bending year, with far too many highs to even remember and only a few humbling lows. If anything, 2016 will be an even more ambitious year for us, with more elaborate projects and sphincter-puckering challenges ahead. It should be pretty rad.

Cheers and thanks for all of your incredible support. Hope you'll keep following along.

Jacob McKean
CEO/Founder
Modern Times

New Modern Times Distribution Areas Opening 2016

On Dec 18, 2015 - 8 Comments -

We realize that everyone is still reeling from the ungodly magnitude of our last three announcements, and we promise to let you rest soon, but we’ve still got one more piece of galactically momentous news to drop on you before we wrap up this insane week.

As you may have noticed (and thanks largely in part to all of your heroic drinking efforts), we're in the midst of a massive expansion project that will soon double our capacity. With a new packaging hall, tons of new brewing toys, and an additional cellar pad going in as we speak, 2016 is the year we will finally shatter the S.D./L.A. monopoly on Modern Times beer and show some more love to our homies up in NorCal and southern Nevada. This is something we’ve been wanting to do for a long time, and at long last we’ve arrived in a place where we feel we can reliably supply more of our patiently waiting markets with the same life-changing dankness that has hitherto only been available to them via trades and vacation days. Here are the lucky areas about to get hit with a tsunami of whalesauce:

Here’s the (initial) timeline for the first three months of 2016:

January
Las Vegas and southern Nevada

February 
Sacramento, Tahoe, Chico, Davis, Shasta (Sacramento to the northern state border)

April
Napa, Sonoma, Marin, Mendocino and the rest of the coast north of San Francisco

If your area should totally be on this list but isn’t, don’t panic just yet. This is just phase one of the plan, and we’ve got more distribution announcements pending. Be sure to keep an eye on our site and social media for launch party announcements and events as we open these new areas. We'll see you soon!

Modern Times 2016 Year-Round Bombers & 10-Packs

On Dec 17, 2015 - 6 Comments -

The unstoppable barrage of electrifying beer news continues for a third straight day. As if next year's mega-bomb line-up of 22oz releases wasn’t enough, we have even more jaw-dropping bottle news to reveal today: beginning in March, 2016 we will be making three new 22oz bottles available year-round. What?! Yup. Three–count 'em–three bombers of tasty, tasty nectar will now be available all day, every day. Here’s what you can expect to quaff on the regular:

City of the Dead
Export Stout with Bourbon Barrel-Aged Coffee

The internet can officially calm down. Not only is City of the Dead not being cut from the team, it’s been offered a lucrative, year-round contract. This groundbreaking export stout is brewed with house-roasted, bourbon barrel-aged coffee. Yup, bourbon-barrel-aged coffee. This unique process imbues our coffee with the incredible flavor and aroma of a freshly emptied bourbon barrel, which carries over magnificently into this rich, chewy beer. Unlike any other beer in the world, City of the Dead is immensely flavorful and unforgettably delicious, and starting March 1st, 2016 it will be in your fridge all the time. If you can't wait until March 1st, a bag of our barrel-aged coffee should hold you over nicely.

Orderville
Mosaic IPA

Yup, we're adding a brand new IPA to our year round line-up. Orderville is an aggressive, fragrant beer that blends the fruit-forward character of Mosaic hops with the dank, resinous stickiness of Simcoe hops. The resulting beer is immensely complex and enjoyable, with an unmistakably bangin' aroma and a fully saturated hop flavor and finish. The cracker-dry body keeps the focus squarely on the massive, incredibly delicious hop character. Those of you that have been Modern Times junkies for a while may recall that we called our wet-hop beers (since retired) "Orderville"; this beer is a totally different recipe, but we liked the name too much to abandon it.

Fruitlands
Gose: Apricot, Passion Fruit/Guava, and Sour Cherry Editions

A beer this infinitely crushable absolutely deserves a year round place in our line-up. Fruitlands is tart, fruity, and delicious, with the sour, salty base beer bringing the funky refreshment, while the heavy dose of real fruit turns the whole thing into a tasty flavor bomb. The three different fruited versions will rotate three time a year, with Apricot from March through May, Passion Fruit/Guava from June through September, and Sour Cherry from October through January.

Think we’re done? Think again, friend. We’ve still got one more news item today in the form of an unbelievably sexy new mixed 10-pack of Modern Times cans. Behold:

Starting in mid-January, you'll be able pick up a killer variety of our four year-rounds and our rotating seasonals (which will remain the same as last year) at a wide variety of retailers wherever Modern Times is distributed.

At this point you may be wondering, “Say, where exactly is Modern Times distributed?” Funny you should ask, because we have another announcement coming up tomorrow regarding that very question. Swing by the blog tomorrow for all the titillating details!

2016 MONTHLY 22OZ SPECIAL RELEASE CALENDAR: PART 2

On Dec 16, 2015 - 3 Comments -

We gave you 24 hours to unpack the mind-bendingly delicious implications of the first six months of our 2016 special release schedule. Now, just when you’re starting to recover--BAM--we’re hitting you upside the domepiece with another roundhouse kick of flavor-magic. Calendar and details below:

Protocosmos
July

Back for a second year, due to radness. Protocosmos combines the crazy, fruity awesomeness of Australian Galaxy hops with the bright, citrusy qualities of American hops. The dry, cracker-like malt body is super-saturated with hop flavor & aroma, allowing you to revel in the diggity dankness of these absurdly expensive hops without any sweetness to harsh your mellow.

Fortunate Islands w/ Grapefruit Zest
August

Also returning for a second year, due to sickness (the good kind). The hoppy, tropical aroma & flavor of Fortunate Islands is the perfect canvas for grapefruit zest, which we make by hand-peeling a zillion goddamn grapefruits and adding only the oily skin to the beer.  It's insanely labor intensive, but the poppin', fresh grapefruit character can't be beat.

Sleepless City w/ cocoa nibs & vanilla beans
September

Sleepless City is a brown ale loaded with our house roasted coffee.The base brown ale is super tasty in its own right, with prominent notes of toast, chocolate, and fresh bread, but the coffee really makes it sing. We then layered cocoa nibs & vanilla beans atop this marvelous foundation of flavor to produce a truly splendid combination. Currently on-tap at both of our tasting rooms, FYI.

Trueland Pale Ale
October

A 5.6% ABV quencher, this insanely juicy pale ale is loaded with Simcoe & Amarillo hops with a featherweight body, big aroma, and moderate bitterness. Tasting room regulars will recall two versions of this beer; the bottled version will be very similar to the second batch.

Haunted Stars
November

Haunted Stars is an 8% ABV rye imperial porter rocking a chewy, chocolatey, spicy malt character that coats the mouth and warms the cockles. It starts off rich and full-bodied, with a velveteen texture and creamy dark chocolate flavor, and finishes with a lingering rye spiciness and pleasing earthiness.

Mega Fortunate Islands
December

Bringing it back again because it's a Lite Brite for your tastebuds. It's a tropical fruit ba-bomb of a double IPA bursting with mango and tangerine aroma and flavor from the Citra/Amarillo one-two punch. It’s a thunderously flavorful beer that captures everything we love about new wave hops. Get some. On the shelf in our tasting room and around SoCal right now.

If we have yet to mention your favorite Modern Times offering, don’t blow up the message boards just yet – we’ve got more internet-breaking announcements coming down the pipeline, and we’ll be posting them here tomorrow and Friday. Stay tuned.

2016 Monthly 22oz Special Release Calendar: Part 1

On Dec 15, 2015 - 5 Comments -

With the last of our 2015 special releases now in the wild and months of experimentation, fine-tuning and grueling tasting panels under our belts, the time has come at last to pull back the curtain on 2016’s impending scheduled bombtasticness. If you were dazzled by the majesty of last year’s offerings you may want to shield your face, because we are about to unleash some Ark-of-the-Convenant-level face-melting up in this piece. Behold, the first six months of libational wizardry in our 22oz special release calendar:

Devil’s Teeth w/ Coffee
January
Devil’s Teeth is a hybrid of an Old Ale and an Imperial Stout, two English beer styles designed to withstand long voyages and dark winters. It brings rich maltiness & robust roastiness in a thick, tongue-coating, aggressively flavorful package. To this chewy mix of old world beasts, we brought a massive dose of our house roasted Black House Blend coffee, a complimentary mix of blueberry-forward Ethiopian and chocolate-forward Sumatran coffees.

Floating World IPA
February

Floating World is an IPA prominently featuring incredibly rare & delicious South African hops. After spending two years sourcing the super elusive J-17 & Southern Passion hops for this unique IPA, we couldn’t be more stoked with its profoundly tropical aroma and otherworldly tangerine & kiwi flavors. A bone-dry malt body keeps the focus squarely on these superlative hops and their amazing complex aroma and flavor. For those of you who remember the draft-only version of Floating World we tapped in  August, this version will include a bit of Yakima-grown tropical hoppiness as well to up the radness factor.

Hooloomooloo Double IPA
March

Hooloomooloo is our vehicle for featuring amazing new hop varieties we’ve painstakingly sourced from all over the world. The result is this dry, intensely hoppy double IPA exploding with tropical aroma and flavor. Hooloomooloo is named for a fantasy island populated by exiles in Herman Melville’s first work of fiction, the story of an American who abandons his whaling ship to explore the South Pacific.

Iron Sunrise
April

Iron Sunrise marries the robust hoppiness of an IPA with the lush, easy drinking qualities of a lager. Featuring a collage of rare and unique hop varieties we sourced while brewing a collaboration beer in New Zealand and on a hop-hunting expedition to Yakima, this beer sports a poppin' aroma and a complex hop flavor layered atop a cracker dry lager body.

Mega Black House
May

Back for a second year because it was just too damn good not to re-brew. An imperialized version of Black House loaded with our house-roasted, 94-Point Black House Blend coffee (the, ahem, #2 Blend in the World in 2015 according to Coffee Review).  Thick, chewy, and bursting with coffee aroma & flavor, Mega Black House is a complex sipper that showcases the brilliant interaction of dark roasted malt and light roasted coffee.

Universal Friend
June

Universal Friend is a Saison brewed with grape must and fermented with our house Lomland yeast blend. This year's version will be brewed with Pinot noir must, a deeply purple version we had on draft in our tasting rooms this summer. Universal Friend is loaded with complex fruit and Belgian yeast character, while remaining crisp and refreshing; it makes a great food beer. The nose is clove, grape, citrus, and a little sweetness that all carry into the flavor.

And there you have it-- part one of our 2016 onslaught of unrelenting extravagance. Stay tuned for the devastatingly tasty agenda for July-December, which will be hitting the blog tomorrow.

A LOOK BACK AT 2015

On Dec 14, 2015 - 5 Comments -

With the end of 2015 approaching, it feels more like we built a time machine than a brewery. The last two and a half years have been nothing short of mind-blowing, and it’s probably a good idea at this point to take a few moments to look back at some of the staggering feats of brewing, engineering, event planning, and general badassery that our team was able to accomplish over the last twelve months.

Beer Sales

Discriminating Modern Times fans bought 16,000bbls of our obscenely delicious beer in 2015, absolutely crushing last year’s mark of 6,500bbls. Per the Brewers Association, we have officially gone from being a 'microbrewery' to a 'regional craft brewery.' Nifty! We also expanded our distribution into San Francisco and Bakersfield this year, where we were warmly received by the beer loving locals, whose tremendous support has warmed the cockles of our collective heart.

Team Growth

Modern Times’ roster of brilliant and infinitely capable team members more than doubled this year, as we amassed a terrifying arsenal of talent for next year’s all-out assault on your tastebuds. New hires included sales reps, a coffee production assistant, cellar assistant, production manager, packaging manager, expansion manager, administrative assistant, people operations coordinator, packaging specialist, barrel program assistant, and many more. We also rolled out some radical employee benefits to reward our badass team and hopefully help set progressive new standards in the craft beer industry, including a $14/hr minimum wage, dental, vision, chiropractic, acupuncture 401(k), unlimited paid time off, transportation credits, and a two-month paid sabbatical and eligibility for equity distribution at 5 years. On top of that we offer awesome beer and gear perks and as much free fruit, coffee and kombucha as you can put in your face. Full list here: http://bit.ly/1NqXzAa

Brewery Expansion

This year we added 8,000 square feet to the existing Lomaland Fermentorium, including a packaging hall and gorgeous new (and desperately needed) office space. We also added another 4,000 square feet of storage across the alley and 4,500 square feet at our barrel warehouse, which brings us to a grand total of over 30,000 square feet! We also brought in a ton of new equipment, adding 3 more 120bbl tanks, a new canning line, a 55,000 lb. grain silo, mash mixer, whirlpool, and countless other key pieces of production equipment which will allow us to produce more year-round releases as well as facilitate a considerable increase in our special release and barrel programs. On top of all that, we recently broke ground on a $2.75 million expansion that will double our capacity immediately and set the stage for another massive increase in 2017.

Monthly 22-Ounce Releases

Our first year of monthly bomber releases went shockingly well, providing a format for us to indulge our creative impulses and explore some new and extremely exciting flavor profiles. City of the Dead, our groundbreaking stout brewed with barrel-aged coffee, was a definite highlight for us, as was Mega Black House, ​Fortunate Islands w/ grapefruit zest, Protocosmos, Fruitlands, Black House w/ coconut & cocoa nibs, and the current tropical madness of Mega Fortunate Islands.

Seas​onal Cans

We ​added quarterly rotating seasonal cans ​to our line-up this year, allowing us to bring you four distinctly awesome, hoppy offerings throughout 2015. From the Citra dopealiciousness of Booming Rollers, to the fruit-forward crushability of Oneida, to the spicy rye radness of Aurora, and the current tropical fruit ba-bomb that is City of the Sun, our seasonals are all utterly unique and delicious hoppy offerings. We couldn't be more proud of these puppies; expect more of all four next year.

Special Releases

Whales, bro. We dropped some serious sauce in 2015, including Funky Lomaland Aged in Red Wine Barrels, Bourbon Barrel-Aged Monsters’ Park (plus coffee & coconut/cocoa nib variants) Caribbean & Nicaraguan Rum Barrel-Aged Monsters' Park (plus vanilla bean, coconut & cocoa nib, & rum barrel-aged coffee variants), Devil's Teeth Aged in Mezcal Barrels, Funky Universal Friend (Pinot grigio & Pinot noir editions), Mostly Brett Dancing Plague, and--most recently--five incredible white wine barrel-aged sours. All in all, our barrel program is shaping up to be ridiculously awesome, but as usual, we feel like the best is yet to come. Expect an absolutely insane line-up in 2016.

​The League Of Partygoers & Elegant People

2015 saw the long-awaited return of the Modern Times League of Partygoers and Elegant People, our painfully chic membership club offering a staggering assortment of exclusive barrel-aged and specialty beers, pre-sale opportunities, sexy merchandise (including a special, League challenge coin that pretty much knocked our socks off upon seeing the finished product), and swanky event privileges. The original 2013 memberships were only available to our incredibly gracious Kickstarter backers, and thanks to their support we’ve been able to expand our specialty and barrel-aged line-up enough to add 400 new acolytes to our not-so-secret society. Having just hosted the inaugural League welcome party, we can confidently say that we’re off to a roaring start with this thing, and plan on making it even crazier next year. Cheers to our new League members for joining and for being super chill to hang with at the party.

New Mixed Packs

We released mixed 20-packs this year, featuring all four of our year-round offerings and a bonus, rotating seasonal can, all nestled in an impossibly stylish box. This magical mélange is currently available at various locations of ​a certain bulk-purchase big box store throughout Southern California (we’re not allowed to say the name, but think membership cards, buckets of red licorice​, and $1.50 hot dogs).

Modern Times Events

After this year, we think it’s safe to say that there can be no question about Modern Times’ commitment to partying. There was an outrageous abundance of good times to be had​, both at the Lomaland Fermentorium and around the state. The Modern Times Festival of Dankness, our first of what will soon be four yearly festivals, opened with a serious bang, with over 1,000 attendees, 37 breweries pouring a stunning array of irrationally tasty beers, and $10,000 donated to BikeSD. Our third installment of Black House Black Friday enjoyed a triumphant return, and the Modern Times Hella Tight Bay Area Beersplosion brought some ​of SF's best young gunz to San Diego​. 2016’s schedule of beer-soaked shenanigans is currently in the works, and will be posted here soon. Prepare to be brain-melted.

Accolades

SoCal's ubiquitous West Coaster Magazine asked its readers to pick their favorite brewery of 2015, and it turns out San Diego is seriously feeling the dankness. Winning "Brewery of the Year" from West Coaster thanks to our local fans was a killer follow up to being named one of the "Top 10 New Brewers in the World" by RateBeer's diverse international audience for 2013. While we certainly don't live for the accolades, it's always nice to get a scratch-and-sniff sticker on your spelling test.

Coffee

Our coffee program grew enormously in 2015. We constructed a beautiful specialty roasting area within our Point Loma tasting room, featuring a stunning custom Giesen roaster, a world class piece of equipment we never dreamed would be within our grasp. We took on the extremely ambitious task of introducing four seasonal blends, furthering our mission to prove that blending can produce incredible flavor profiles greater than the sum of their parts. We sourced & roasted some incredible single-origin beans, too, including three picked up on our first direct trade trip to Brazil (they should be available very soon). Our barrel-aged coffee program, which we believe is the largest in the world, has been a rousing success too, and has gone a long way to help build enthusiasm and appreciation for coffee amongst SoCal beer geeks. We were also incredibly thrilled to see Black House Blend not only awarded 94 Points on Coffee Review (the world's leading coffee guide), but also named their #2 blend in the world for 2015! Not bad for a little brewery/roastery behind a strip club!

Modern Times Los Angeles

Our plan to open a pilot brewery/restaurant/cafe in L.A. was received extremely well, and we’re super pumped to get things underway. Our timeline is still pretty nebulous, but if all goes as planned we’ll have a new spot open in 2016 to serve as a home base for our diehard L.A. fans.

This seems like a lot, but it hardly scratches the surface of the absolutely insane year we’ve had here. We can’t thank you all enough; your support, feedback, hi-fives, and incredible contributions to our tasting room have been unbelievably rad, and we plan on thanking you with a truly exceptional 2016. News on next year’s ferociously sexy agenda begins dropping tomorrow and continues throughout the week. Stay tuned.

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