Reflecting On Our First 2 Years

On Jun 28, 2015 - 4 Comments -

With Modern Times coming up on our 2nd Anniversary, it seems like a good time to reflect on how far we’ve come. And holy shit, have we ever come far.

I started working full-time on opening the brewery in January of 2012, but we didn’t open for business until 18 months later, in July of 2013. That first year and a half was spent raising money, finding our location, building a brewery, hiring brewers, and the countless other tasks both large and small that go into starting a business. Even though it felt like an absolute pressure cooker at the time—with ungodly sums of money being spent and none coming back in—compared to actually running a brewery, it was a relatively easy time. I never dreamed I’d say that.

When we officially launched on July 8th, 2013, I was totally overwhelmed with relief. The interminable months of preparation were finally, mercifully over. It was totally surreal to see our tap handles on an actual tap tower at a real live bar. I can’t possibly explain what it felt like to see all of that work and stress and passion boiled down to a handful of taps. It was an amazing and disorienting feeling. I couldn’t stop staring at them.

By that point, Modern Times consisted of 4 people, including me. Today, there are 47 of us. I’m immensely proud of the fact that this company, which was just a stack of papers a few years ago, is now providing a livelihood to 47 hard-working people. That’s incredibly gratifying, and made even more so by the fact that many of those people have been promoted, sometimes multiple times, since starting here. Those conversations have been some of the most rewarding experiences in this whole crazy process.

And we certainly brew a lot more beer than we did at the start. The brewery itself has been transformed by our growth: what started as a handful of tanks and a big empty warehouse has become a giant tank farm and multiple very full warehouses (with more to come).

But in general, I’m not a fan of trumpeting how many barrels we’re making or how much our revenue has grown. The reason is simple: I don’t think success is self-justifying. Plenty of successful things are garbage, and impressive accounting statistics do not make them any less so. Certainly it’s nice to succeed and I’ve taken a lot of pleasure in solving the many riddles involved in growing this place, but making lots of beer and money is not an end unto itself for me. If there’s anything that frightens me about the future of craft beer, it’s the proliferation of people in the industry who view financial success as the goal, rather than as a reward for creating something awesome.

The success I’m most proud of is the quality of our beer. Without that, this whole thing wouldn’t be worth it to me. When I taste Fortunate Islands or one of the Rum Barrel-Aged Monsters’ Park bottles or any of a dozen other beers we currently have on-tap, I know I’ve accomplished what I set out to do. The satisfaction of building a successful business cannot compare to the satisfaction of tasting our sours after 18 months of hard work and waiting. For someone who is deeply passionate about beer, that is the absolute pinnacle.

I’m also deeply proud of the way we’ve pulled it off. Modern Times is a very collaborative place, and the quality of our beer is a reflection of the dozens and dozens of people who have contributed to making our beer awesome. We’ve created a place that is greater than the sum of its parts, which is harder than it sounds.

As usual, I still feel like the best is yet to come from us. There are major pillars of Modern Times that are just starting to be built. I’m excited to be creating a vehicle for supporting kickass charities (details to come on Monday). I’m excited to build more locations that embody our weirdness. I’m excited to be building a badass coffee roastery from the ground up. I’m excited to release more funky saisons, 100% Brett beers, fruited sours, barrel-aged beasts, hoppy experiments, stylistic hybrids, coffee mash-ups, and a lot more.

And I’m excited to get back to leading something approaching a more normal life. The last three and half years have been the most challenging of my entire life. It’ll be nice to (hopefully) normalize things a bit over the coming year, and maybe—maybe—even get a normal night’s sleep.

Cheers & thanks,
Jacob McKean
Modern Times Beer

2nd Anniversary Bottle Release!

On Jun 17, 2015 - 1 Comment -

EDIT: Due to overwhelming interest in this sale, we are placing a ONE BOTTLE PER TICKET HOLDER LIMIT on this sale (meaning one version or the other, not one of each). Designated driver ticket holders may not buy bottles.

So we thought it would be fun to do something super special for the folks attending our 2nd Anniversary Party. That special thing is this: we're releasing two one-of-a-kind bottlings of Barrel-Aged Monsters' Park.


Here's the story: a certain highly-lauded wine, beer, & spirits store with locations in Los Angeles & the Bay Area that the Wall Street Journal once described as having "the best wine website in the U.S." (we're prevented from mentioning them by name due to ABC rules) hooked us up with some extremely special used bourbon barrels. These barrels contained 10-year old Four Roses & 12-year old Single Barrel Elijah Craig, both of which were personally selected by their spirits buyers for exclusive house bottlings.

When we received these barrels, we were all blown away by how incredible they smelled. We promptly filled them with Monsters' Park and time did the rest. Unlike most of our barrel-aged releases, which receive 6 months of aging time, these got to spend a luxurious 9 months mellowing and meshing with the barrel.

The results are sublimely delicious. The Four Roses/10-Year Old Bourbon displays a pronounced rye spiciness along with big notes of burnt sugar, sweet cinnamon, and rich chocolate. The Elijah Craig/12-Year Old Bourbon edition is loaded with classic bourbon traits: caramel, floral vanilla, oak spice, and toasted bread. Fun fact: Elijah Craig Single Barrel has been discontinued, so these are some of the last barrels to ever come out of the program.

We will have 336 bottles of the 10-Year Old Bourbon and 155 bottles of the 12-Year Old Bourbon available for sale, spread across all sessions of the 2nd Anniversary Party; they will be $28 & $30 each respectively. Regrettably, there are fewer bottles than there are tickets available for the party, so not everyone will be able to get them. They will be available at the merch booth at the start of each session.

In the event that you are unable to attend the party or miss out on bottles, some will also be available through the retailer that provided us the barrels.


Modern Times Cup of Dankness Freestyle Homebrew Competition Winners!

On Jun 10, 2015 - 1 Comment -

We held the first annual Cup of Dankness Freestyle Homebrew Competition on May 22nd. There were 67 entries from all over California, with lots of really great beer entered. A cadre of Modern Times brewers and staff narrowed down the field to about a dozen beers, and then argued at length to come up with a top three beers. Without further ado, here they are:

Third place was a delicious coconut dubbel from Paul Brown. The malt, yeast character, and coconut addition all blended beautifully, with a result that was both exceptionally flavorful and utterly unique.

Second place goes to John Mazurco's explosively flavorful peach sour. We found ourselves going back to this beer again and again. We were very impressed by the clean, fruit-saturated sourness and absolutely lovely aroma.

And first place goes to...Miles McLennan with his Rye IPA! This was a very, very well-made beer with a unique, bright, delicious hop profile. Our brewers in particular were very impressed by this beer and it's marvelous balance of flavors. 

Miles' rye IPA will be brewed and served in our tasting room, and then sent to GABF for the Pro Am competition. Miles will also get to wear a pretty sweet winged helmet every time he comes in to our tasting room for the next year.

We'll see you next year at the second annual Cup of Dankness!