Friday, September 13, 2013

Modern Times Beer

Modern Times Beer is now open, joining the crowded San Diego craft brewing community.  It was founded by Jacob McKean, who formerly worked as Stone Brewing's communications specialist and blogger (hey, what the heck does a blogger know about beer?), and it had a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign last spring, raising over $65,000.  The pedigree and capital are all good and well, but don't mean anything if the beers stink. I've tried two Modern Times' beers, the Lomaland Saison and the Neverwhere 100% Brett IPA, and they definitely don't stink.

Lomaland, which I think is brewed with the same strain of yeast as Saison Dupont, is a solid, drinkable saison, and a great everyday beer.  Saison is a wide-open style, and Modern Times chose a conventional approach, which makes sense, in my opinion, for a core, year-round beer from a start-up brewery.  Outside of The Lost Abbey's Red Barn, I am not sure of local breweries distributing a saison on a regular basis, and Red Barn is not that widely available.  I don't know why more brewers haven't jumped on saisons, I'd much rather drink a saison than some wheat beer or pale ale.  Lomaland has enough flavor and complexity for the beer geek, yet is approachable enough for the casual beer drinker, which may allow Modern Times to build a niche for itself with this beer.

Modern Times steps into San Diego's competitive IPA jungle with the bold Neverwhere IPA, which is brewed with 100% Brettanomyces yeast.   It is a dank, earthy IPA, with a refreshing jolt of bitter citrus juice.  Modern Times lists Neverwhere IPA as a special release, so you can't get a growler fill.  Neverwhere needs to move into the year-round line-up, because I want it as a take-away option.

I plan to try more Modern Times' beers in the near future and hope they are as good as Lomaland and Neverwhere.   And yes, I will try to keep an open mind on its Blazing World amber ale.  (If it'd been classified as a red ale, I'd have already tried it.) 

The airy tasting room is unique and stylistically campy (compliment).  It is dominated by a huge mosaic mural of Michael Jackson and his pet chimp Bubbles, made with what looks like are two-inch square Post-Its.  One of the other walls is covered with pages from old books and pictures that look like they were acquired at thrift stores, and another with pages from old comic books.  The bar sits on stacks of books.  The tumble weed chandeliers that sway in the open space are as fascinating to me as the Michael Jackson mural, and the strings of lights gives the space an outdoor patio feel.

The tasting room is open every day from noon to 9:00.  Modern Times is located in an industrial area near San Diego's Sports Arena, which is now named for a casino, or maybe an Indian tribe.  I have been to Modern Times twice and it wasn't too crowded either time, the first late on a Friday night about a half-hour before closing time, and the second on a Monday evening, which may be the perfect time to visit a brewery tasting room.  The staff was friendly and knowledgeable, but we'll need to check on their attitude some Saturday afternoon when the beer tour buses show up.

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