Thursday, June 27, 2013

My First Week At Modern Times!

Already two days into my summer working at Modern Times, so I thought I'd share a few photos I took yesterday. Wort production is on a 30 bbl (930 gallon) Premier brewhouse. They are known mostly for brewpub systems, this is as big as they get.

Yesterday and today head brewer Matt, and brewer Alex knocked out 30 bbls of Blazing World, our amber IPA. Both batches are currently sharing space in a 60 bbl fermentor. They've shown me the basics, but I'm a long way from having any idea what I'm doing. The first batch was a bit darker than we wanted, so the brewers eliminated the Carafa from today's batch to compensate. Below you can see the color differential from the first runnings to the final.

Many of the Modern Times beers are bittered with hop extract (to improve utilization and minimize loss to hop absorption). Plenty of ACTUAL hops later in the process though, although Matt is threatening a test batch of a "synthetic" IPA.

One place we add hop aromatics is in the hop back. Here I am breaking up the 12.5 lbs of Simcoe and 10 lbs of Mosaic for today's batch. In a few weeks we'll be receiving our 2013 harvest Nelson Sauvin (which is the only hop in the whirlpool and the primary dry hop). Some of it will be whole leaf, which will makes us the only American brewery using it in that form!

 Jacob hard at work in his makeshift office.

Here is the coffee roaster, which Amy uses to heat and cool 3.75 lbs of beans per batch. It takes awhile for her to produce the more than 20 lbs of coffee (Sumatra/Ethiopia blend) that is added to each batch of Black House, our oatmeal stout.

Yesterday was the soft launch for the four core beers. To celebrate the six of us visited three local bars after work. We started at a bar on a pier on Shelter Island. Fortunate Islands (the hoppy wheat) is my favorite so far, it has a huge nose from the Citra and Amarillo, really fresh and bright.

Followed by two more stops. Drinking beers at some of the world's best beer bars that a few months ago I was brewing in my five gallon cooler mash tun and serving on the kegerator in my living room is a bit of a weird feeling.

Matt, Alex, Derek, Jacob, and Amy have done a remarkable job turning what I sent to them into four really solid beers. There is still work to be done on each, but from what I have tasted of the second batches, we're headed in a very good direction! I'm especially happy with the progress of Lomaland saison. The batch on tap now was the first batch brewed. Knockout was too cold (~60 F), which caused a lethargic three week fermentation with 95% Dupont and 5% Westmalle. The result was a character that has hints of a hefeweizen's banana and cloves. The batch in the tanks now was knocked out in the mid 70s, fermented in 6 days, and has the classic earthy character of Saison Dupont.

In addition to the hard work being done on the beers, Derek and Amy have taken charge of making the tasting-room as excellent as the beer. Here they are in action, using Post-It notes to create a "satirical" rendering of Bubbles and his owner. Tasting room should be open in the next month or so; the draft system (including two counter-pressure growler fillers) was installed today! That big stack of old books will be turned into the bar. Cans will follow sometime after the tasting room is up and running. It'll be a busy summer!


Shawn said...

Nice! Keep these posts coming!

Any chance that cans will be sent to New Brunswick, Canada in the near future?

I kill me.

Kyle T said...

Welcome to San Diego! I would love to buy you a beer sometime while you're here.

David said...

Pretty exciting! Hope you enjoy every minute!

Mark said...

What an awesome journey! I don't know when I'll get a chance to try Modern Times, but I'll jump on it the next time I'm in SoCal or you guys start distributing to Colorado. Hopefully the 30bbl will allow for solid and steady growth.

Pat said...

Like Kyle said, welcome to San Diego.

Looking forward to trying your beers -- especially the ones I've made at home.

Like Kyle said, would love to buy you a beer as you try out some of the "competition"... many of us owe you one :)

Unknown said...

Really pumped for you and MTB! Jacob really seems to know how to be bringing all of these elements together.

Opening a successful brewery seems to be as much about marketing, branding, capital, team assembly, etc.. as it is about the actual beer being produced.

Looking forward to updates Mike! Cheers.

benjamin said...

YES! Looks great! Hoping we get some cans down east in boston/cambridge too!

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Thanks for all the well wishes! To answer the most frequent question: unless you live in or around San Diego, it'll be a long time before you can buy our beers at a local store/bar. Also, when the barrel-aged sours come out, they'll be available almost exclusively at the brewery's tasting room.

For any of the locals that want to hang out, I'm in Ocean Beach and don't have a car. So if you want to grab a pint at Pizza Port or one of the other local places, shoot me an email.