The end of the calendar year marks almost 6 months in operation for Modern Times. Since everyone loves lists and this milestone seems like a reasonable time to take stock, here are 5 things we accomplished in 2013.
1. We opened the brewery…Holy crap, that was a lot of work. I left my job at Stone on January 13th, 2012 to start working on Modern Times. A little less than 18 months later, we kicked off our launch week on July 8th, 2013. By that point there were 5 of us, and I had aged 1,000 years.
2. We opened our tasting room. Much gluing, Post-It applying, book sorting, comic book wallpapering, and contractor rangling went into opening the Lomaland Fermentorium tasting room, but the results exceeded my wildest gonzo day dreams. We held the grand opening on Sept. 7th with an epic sold-out party. It’s since become a super fun place that seems to attract a lot of really cool people.
3. We launched our cans on October 21st, 2013. This was a logistically complex operation (read: massive headache) due to the enormous number of moving parts, both literal and figurative. But the cans have changed our world: they now account for over 60% of our total volume, and the pace of can sales is increasing rapidly. With only 2.5 months of experience under our belts running the canning line, we continue to have a potpourri of annoying challenges, but we’re getting the hang of it. Cans are clearly our future.
4. We brewed good beer. There have been a couple of minor hiccups, but on the whole, I'm incredibly proud of the beer we're putting out. I think we’re offering an original perspective and executing well for a brewery that’s only 6 months old. Two of our year round beers (Fortunate Islands and Blazing World) are tricky hybrids that show you can do more with hops than just brew sledgehammer IPAs. Our saison, Lomaland, fulfills my longtime dream of drinking a legit farmhouse ale out of a can, and I would happily put it up against anything from Belgium in a blind tasting. Our oatmeal coffee stout, Black House, is making good use of some of the beer industry's only house roasted coffee beans (and greatly exceeding sales expectations in the process.) On top of that, we brewed three 100% Brett Trois beers, which were met with some head scratching from folks unfamiliar with 100% Brett ferments, but developed a solid following by the time the last beer was released. We brewed a handful of one-offs (Oneida, City of the Sun, Lost Horizon) that I believe show great promise for our forthcoming seasonal program. And a minor victory: we proved you can make good beer in any style with CO2 extract, which we use to bitter all of our beers.
5. We didn't completely lose our minds. There's a lot that's fun about making beer and working in the craft beer industry, but it's hard to convey the enormous stress and pressure involved in starting a business as complex and ambitious as a 30bbl craft brewery. Everything is a challenge when you're doing it for the first time, and we did an unfathomable number of things for the first time. That led to no shortage of anxiety, as we tried mightily to make Modern Times the best possible version of itself while overcoming a slew of unexpected problems and unintended slip ups. These struggles were, of course, balanced a bit by the incredible but brief highs of success. It was—and continues to be—quite the roller coaster. But here we are, 6 months into brewing and selling beer, not yet completely insane. A true victory.
Cheers & thanks,