Modern Times Beer is in the midst of its second year, and is maturing into an iconoclastic, risk-taking brewer. Its rye IPA, Aurora, is excellent and shows Modern Times' brewing skill. Aurora is bitter and complex, with the spicy, front-of-the-tongue zip you expect from a well-made rye IPA. It is smoother than many rye IPAs, which makes it enjoyable to drink, but it has enough kick so you don't forget about it. Not all brewers handle rye properly, but Modern Times mastered this prickly grain in Aurora. Aurora is available in draft and in 22 oz bottles.
Modern Times' new saison, Universal Friend, is on draft at its brewery. It was brewed with must from Pinot Grigio grapes. Universal Friend has a bit of funk, giving it a slight farmhouse ale quality. It is a sweet saison, and the Pinot Grigio must brings in a level of sophistication, which smooths out the beer. Modern Times' core saison, Lomaland, is a classic saison, and while Universal Friend is brewed with the same yeast, it is a more adventurous beer that remains approachable and drinkable
One of the things I like most about Modern Times is that I don't like all its beers. I have not cared for most of its IPAs and some of its other beers, but I will keep trying Modern Times' IPAs in anticipation of finding a winner like Aurora. Modern Times is not afraid to try new hop varietals or unusual ingredients like grape must, to make its beers unique. I'd much rather visit a brewery that can create beers I find personally polarizing than a brewery producing safe, mediocre beers that inspire nothing but ambivalence.