Introducing Modern Times Beer (San Diego, CA)

Discussion in 'US - West' started by ModernTimesJacob, Aug 16, 2012.

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  1. ModernTimesJacob

    ModernTimesJacob Initiate (0) Apr 24, 2012 California

    Hi folks! I just wanted to introduce the brewery I'm starting here in San Diego: Modern Times Beer. I've been holding off on starting a thread until the financing was all lined-up, but now that this thing is actually, really, definitely, for sure going to happen, I wanted to share some of what I've got planned and get some feedback.

    A little background on me: until about 6 months ago, I worked in the media department at Stone, and prior to that I did a little writing for a few beer magazines. Became a beer geek about 6 years ago after a series of fortuitous visits to The Hopleaf in Chicago. Here's more info on me and the origins of the brewery project if you're interested.

    The brewery: the current plan is for a 30bbl brewhouse with a small tasting room, hopefully within the city proper. Probably 4 year round beers in 16oz cans, some seasonals, and a bunch of special release/one-off stuff. Distribution will probably be limited to San Diego/Southern California initially, but all that is yet to be worked out.

    The beer: probably one of the most exciting developments thus far is that I managed to convince Mike Tonsmeire, a.k.a. The Mad Fermentationist to help out with recipe development and sour/special release brewing when the time comes. His sours are absolutely among the best I've ever had, and the core beers we're developing are extremely promising.

    Potential year round beers: hoppy wheat (about 4.5%, mostly Citra hopped, nutty/dry malt character, pungent citrus aroma), oatmeal coffee stout (around 5.5%, pitch black, tastes like a chocolate covered espresso bean but drier), amber IPA (about 7%, mostly Nelson, medium body, very dank/floral), pale ale (about 5.5%, loads of Simcoe/Amarillo), saison (about 5%, using spelt and corn, kind of in-between a "table saison" and the bigger versions), and hoppy rye red (about 6.5%, mostly Cascade/Sterling, piney/peppery/spicey, this one's still evolving).

    We're completely open to new beer ideas, but if you wanted to let us know which of these you think would make a good year round line-up, that'd be awesome. And if you're in the San Diego area, shoot me a BM; I'd like to put together a few tastings of prototype batches in the next few

    Alright, feel free to fire away with questions and Mike and I will do our best to answer.

    Cheers & thanks,
    Jacob McKean
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  2. alexipa

    alexipa Disciple (396) Oct 7, 2011 Colorado

    Good luck to you!

    Personally I feel not enough breweries specialize on Rye beers. Every time I go to the Chicago area I stop by Two Brothers, mainly just for their excellent Cane & Ebel (Rye Ale). I think its a very underestimated style in general.

    With that in mind, your hoppy rye red sounds very promising and would be a very cool year rounder. Perfect that baby and distribute it to CO :wink:
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  3. Bay01

    Bay01 Initiate (0) Nov 19, 2008 Illinois

    Congrats, Mike is THE best homebrewing blogger out there and is partly responsible for all of the carboys that are in my basement now. I hope you consider sending some kegs to Hopleaf and maybe distro to Chicago? I think Koch and Bryndilson will tell you it's been a good market for them...
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  4. ModernTimesJacob

    ModernTimesJacob Initiate (0) Apr 24, 2012 California

    I love Chicago and The Hopleaf is my ancestral beer homeland, so if production allows, I'd be thrilled to get beer out there. We'll have to see how things go locally first, though.
  5. drgarage

    drgarage Disciple (393) Aug 19, 2008 California

    This is awesome. Definitely get distro to the Bay Area as soon as you can -- I like the approach you're outlining.
    KevSal and ModernTimesJacob like this.
  6. OldSock

    OldSock Zealot (575) Apr 3, 2005 District of Columbia

    I’m a big fan or rye beers too. We’ve talked about doing a not-too-big barrel-aged rye stout/porter as well.

    We're trying to be really open with our recipe development process. The post about the first test batch of the India Red/Rye Pale Ale isn't up on my blog yet, but it will be on Monday. In addition to standard rye malt we added caramel rye and chocolate rye (plus some CaraRed, Melanoidin, and American Pale). I'm hoping to find time to keg and dry hop the batch over this weekend.
  7. Absumaster

    Absumaster Initiate (0) Jul 18, 2005 Netherlands

    I follow the Mad Fermentationist blog for a while now and most of the beers have some sort of addition of wild yeast or other bacteria. Why not develop an Orval-like beer. Moderate in alcohol and full of taste. As a runner-up I would choose the hoppy wheat. 4,5% and very tasty. If people come to the tastingroom they want to have a couple of beers. With beer of 7% and higher, this might be a problem.
  8. Carbon14

    Carbon14 Initiate (0) Sep 6, 2009 Maryland

    Finally! A brewery in San Diego. Good luck.
  9. OldSock

    OldSock Zealot (575) Apr 3, 2005 District of Columbia

    We are actually working on something very similar, a Belgian single bottle conditioned with Brett. The base recipe was actually inspired by a forum post by Homebrew42 on here a couple years ago. The version I did last year, with White Labs Brett B, recently reached the Mini-BOS in the final round of the NHC. Two weeks ago I bottled a test batch that was split five ways to try out four different strains of Brett brux (including two isolated by Jason of, along with Wyeast Brett B and White Labs Trois/Drie). Looking forward to that comparison!

    Not sure where it will find a spot in the lineup, but I've always thought it would be fun to have a canned low-alcohol tart/funky beer. We have a Berliner weisse test batch aging as well.
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  10. daryk77

    daryk77 Aspirant (251) Jun 16, 2005 District of Columbia

    Always enjoyed listening about your beers on BBR, was waiting for the official announcement after you mentioned it to James. Sounds like there will be some wild stuff coming out of the fermentation tanks here, Good luck!
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  11. Henamonster

    Henamonster Initiate (51) Feb 2, 2007 California

    Hey, glad to hear of the progress! I first caught wind of Modern Times via the Aleheads podcast and will absolutely keep it on the radar. It's been mentioned a few times in this thread already, but a good rye beer is underrepresented. I'll second OldSock and say that I'd love to see a rye porter or stout. I'm a big fan of rye IPAs, but they're more prevalent. A smooth rye porter sounds fantastic.

    Keep us posted!
    ModernTimesJacob likes this.
  12. hopsputin

    hopsputin Poo-Bah (2,763) Apr 1, 2012 New Jersey

    Good luck!

    If it were me, I'd think a little outside the San Diego mindset and try something like a Kolsch or Doppelbock
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  13. OldSock

    OldSock Zealot (575) Apr 3, 2005 District of Columbia

    We've been kicking around the idea of doing something between a Kolsch and a Czech Pils. Maybe do a combo of Saaz and Sterling, to boost the aromatics. Haven't brewed a test batch yet, but it is on the list.

    I'm not a big fan of doppelbocks usually (TOO sweet as Mrs. Skinner would say), but I brewed an oak aged one based on some notes from the Wheat Trippelbock that The Livery brews that I'd love to do on a larger scale. The oak tannins really help to cut the residual sugar, and the flavors melded beautifully.
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  14. hopsputin

    hopsputin Poo-Bah (2,763) Apr 1, 2012 New Jersey

    Well I'd be excited for either. Cheers!
  15. riko

    riko Initiate (120) Jan 18, 2008 California

    If you open in Bay Park I promise I will come to the tasting room.
  16. jamex

    jamex Initiate (0) Feb 13, 2010 California

    Please don't make some fancy schmany growler and sell it for $30. I have enough of these (at least my wife thinks so).
  17. ModernTimesJacob

    ModernTimesJacob Initiate (0) Apr 24, 2012 California

    Ha, we're on the same page here. I tend to be focused on practicality as this stuff goes. If the fancy growlers made the beer taste better, I'd be all over it. As it stands, we'll probably do the standard 1/2 gallon amber glass growlers, although I'd love to be able to do counter-pressure fills if we can afford the machine. Frankly, I wish California had more reasonable growler laws so people could just use generic growlers.
  18. pmarlowe

    pmarlowe Meyvn (1,363) Nov 27, 2010 Virginia

    San Diego could use some low alcohol but hoppy APA/IPAs, berliners, etc. Something good for the warm weather. We have plenty of options when it comes to 8-9% DIPAs.

    Also, I may be alone here, but I think 1L growlers are a great idea.
  19. ModernTimesJacob

    ModernTimesJacob Initiate (0) Apr 24, 2012 California

    Totally agreed on the ABV front. The hoppy wheat, pale ale, oatmeal coffee stout, berliner weisse, and saison are all under 6% as they're currently formulated (am I forgetting any others, Mike?) I'm sure we'll do a DIPA at some point, but we're much more focused on making more, er, sessionable beer. I love the beer selection in San Diego, but I do feel like there's room for more super flavorful, moderate ABV beers.

    Hadn't given much thought to 1L growlers, but I do kind of like these.
    pmarlowe likes this.
  20. tyrsis

    tyrsis Aspirant (213) Mar 13, 2009 California

    I'd love smaller growlers. I think it'd be more likely that I could get growler fills of the more limited beers, etc.
    ModernTimesJacob likes this.
  21. grilledsquid

    grilledsquid Zealot (573) Jul 10, 2009 California

    May I suggest 12 oz bottles over bombers and 750s when and if you do start bottling? Cali needs more six packs!
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  22. ModernTimesJacob

    ModernTimesJacob Initiate (0) Apr 24, 2012 California

    The current plan is for 16oz cans in 4 packs (that's 64oz of beer vs. 72oz in a six pack of 12 oz bottles), and any age-worthy beers in 22oz glass. Given our focus on moderate ABV beers, I really feel like a pint is the right serving size. I'm sort of following Surly's lead on this one.
  23. drgarage

    drgarage Disciple (393) Aug 19, 2008 California

    This is my favorite growler format:
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  24. robL

    robL Initiate (137) Oct 22, 2010 California

    Always eager to try a new brewery on my annual trips down to SD. In terms of styles, I love seeing what breweries can/are doing with the classic English Mild. Definitely try for some tap takeover nights here in LA as the craft bar scene is seemingly ever-expanding. I'm sure there's a place looking to cross-promote with an up & coming brewery.
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  25. grilledsquid

    grilledsquid Zealot (573) Jul 10, 2009 California

    I can dig it!
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  26. SageO

    SageO Aspirant (201) Jul 13, 2010 California


    Double yes.
  27. tjensen3618

    tjensen3618 Disciple (396) Mar 23, 2008 California

    In addition to your own printed growlers, you could make growler stickers that you could slap on any, customer supplied, blank growler.
  28. ModernTimesJacob

    ModernTimesJacob Initiate (0) Apr 24, 2012 California

    The issue I have with those is height. I find it difficult to fit them in my fridge because they're so tall.
    Lee Chase is the local master of the English Mild and a buddy of mine. I'll see if I can talk him into brewing some guest batches/collaboration beers.
    I'll have to check on the legality of that. I've heard otherwise.
  29. drgarage

    drgarage Disciple (393) Aug 19, 2008 California

    Good point. These are a cooler shape, anyway:
  30. tjensen3618

    tjensen3618 Disciple (396) Mar 23, 2008 California

    I'm positive that you can use stickers to mark a growler.
    This would be helpful, as I refuse to buy any more growlers from CA breweries.
  31. ModernTimesJacob

    ModernTimesJacob Initiate (0) Apr 24, 2012 California

    Either way, the CA Small Brewers Association has a committee working on drafting new growler legislation, so the law may be different by the time we open anyway.
  32. nanobrew

    nanobrew Initiate (0) Dec 31, 2008 California

    I second the notion for a Berliner Wiesse to be out regularly in cans and on tap. I will also push for you to be in the Point Loma/OB area that way I can visit a lot (maybe lend a hand?)

    One thing that came to my mind when seeing the brews you have planned for year around is the availability of hops. Would it become a problem to acquire all of the Nelson and Citra you would need for those two beers? I love those hops, but it could be a problem if 3/4 through the year those hop sources dry up or prices grow really high. Good chance you guys have already thought about that, but it was just something on m mind.
  33. tjensen3618

    tjensen3618 Disciple (396) Mar 23, 2008 California

    This is good to hear, and I look forward to your opening!
  34. OldSock

    OldSock Zealot (575) Apr 3, 2005 District of Columbia

    I was just trying to talk Jacob into doing a ~4.5% malty brown porter featuring some brown malt. It would take a few test batches to find a combination of grains that give a distinct malt character, there are just so many mediocre/bland brownish English ales out there (and most of the distinctive ones are strong).
  35. robL

    robL Initiate (137) Oct 22, 2010 California

    Completely agree about that. Eagle Rock Brewery up here does a decent mild that certainly is kicked up a notch when they brew batches with vanilla bean added. It's a draft-only offering but very close to Stone's Smoked Porter w/ Vanilla, only at about 2/3rd the abv.

    Would be very interested to see what you guys could concoct given enough trial & error --- if I was closer, I'd volunteer to taste & evaluate for you! :wink:
  36. ModernTimesJacob

    ModernTimesJacob Initiate (0) Apr 24, 2012 California

    We're certainly not making it easy on ourselves by doing it this way, but the hoppy beers Mike and I really love tend to use these hops (which are also considerably more expensive, btw). Within the next week or so, I should have most of our contracts locked down for 2013, then once we have a better idea of what demand is like, we'll start planning 3 years out (this is part of why I wanted to get feedback about the year round line-up). While we can't control for the possibility that not all of the hops we've contracted show-up, locking in contracts is the best we can do. Hopefully, if we do run into a supply problem, people will be understand and start drinking more oatmeal coffee stout, saison, and India/red rye.
  37. Eriktheipaman

    Eriktheipaman Savant (972) Sep 4, 2010 California

    Alesmith and New English both have pretty kick ass ones though.
  38. blacklabelbrewer

    blacklabelbrewer Initiate (0) Jan 27, 2011 California

    I have been following Mike's blog for a while now and I'm stoked to hear this officially on BA. I will def support you guys and your career in california. I can't wait to finally taste a beer by oldsock. Cheers!
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  39. ModernTimesJacob

    ModernTimesJacob Initiate (0) Apr 24, 2012 California

    I wanted to try Mike's beers so badly, I traded him some pretty crazy commercials beers for a box of his sours. That was years ago, and the beers were mighty impressive back then. He's only gotten better since, and his cabernet sour blonde that I tried a few months ago is one of the best--if not the best--sour I've ever had. I'm incredibly excited to get our barrel program going, although it'll be a while before those beers make it out into the marketplace.
    blacklabelbrewer likes this.
  40. blacklabelbrewer

    blacklabelbrewer Initiate (0) Jan 27, 2011 California

    It's been fun watching all of the new and interesting ways Mike brews, and his follow ups are even better. it's easy to get lost in his blog for hours. The solera idea was awesome, he taught me about kvass which was awesome, and I love how open he is with his techniques and procedures for brewing. He taught me the all about lacto, brett, pedio, sacch, the importance of yeast health, aeration, temperature control, I mean I can go on for days. Mike's blog has def help correct a few bad habits formed from bad advice given by my LHBS. I am looking forward to his book too, I hope that all works out soon.

    will you guys be doing a kvass at your brewery? I have been dying to try the kvass and the berliner weisse with no decoction.
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