An interested observer recently emailed me with a few questions about what I have planned for Modern Times in the short and medium term after we open. With his permission, I’ve chosen to answer here on the blog since others might be interested in the answers too.
Our inquisitor starts off by saying, “I’m rather curious where you foresee Modern Times after the honeymoon period,” which immediately made me think, “We should be so lucky!”
I’m constantly amazed and flattered that anyone cares at all about Modern Times, especially at this stage, and that some people even care enough to show up at a bar on a weeknight to taste a few homebrews or a construction site on a Saturday afternoon to hear me ramble about the build-out. So if we are indeed graced with a “honeymoon period” after opening, in which we’re quickly forgiven for our inevitable slip-ups and beer moves briskly out the door, I’ll be immensely grateful and utterly relieved.
So I don’t want to get to far ahead of myself, but at the same time I think it’s important to have some dreams. Dreams, of course, are different from plans, which at this point, consist of nothing more than getting the damn place open.
1) Are you planning on one-off annual releases?
There’s something nice about the ritual of an annual release, but at the same time, I’m hesitant to create a rigid schedule for special releases. My guiding motto for all our beer releases is this: “No clunkers.” I want every beer we put out to meet an unreasonably high standard for deliciousness, which in my mind requires lots of test batches, recipe revisions, and a willingness to write-off ideas that don’t pan out. So while no firm decisions have been made on this subject, I’d say I’m inclined to just release things whenever they achieve the requisite level of dankness.
2) Are you going to initiate a program like The Bruery’s Reserve Society?
I’ve talked to Patrick about the Reserve Society, and he’s a big fan of the model (clearly, since he’s expanded it repeatedly), but he also cautioned that it takes a lot of work and planning to get right. Since I’m generally a fan of under-promising and over-delivering, I’m definitely not going to do the full Reserve Society model right from the get-go because there are too many unknowns at this point.
However, I really want to start building a core group of folks who are deeply involved in Modern Times. I’m not so much interested in just creating a subscription service for special releases as I am in creating a group that’s part of our internal process. So while there’ll undoubtedly be a consumer component to the group, I’d like for folks to offer feedback on our test batches, help us evaluate new hop varieties and whatnot, and participate in decisions about special releases. Obviously, I’m still thinking this through, so feel free to let me know what you think in the comments. Also, it needs a name.
3) Seasonal beers?
Yes. The plan is to have 4 rotating seasonal beers in cans (meaning we’d have 5 total beers in cans on the shelf at any given time). Not sure exactly when we’ll roll out the seasonals though, given that the minimum can order is 11 pallets.
4) Are you going to branch out to a brewpub or similar hybrid type?
The restaurant industry frightens me because so many restaurants fail. I also have no real experience in the restaurant business. So there’s a reason I’m opening a production brewery and not a brewpub, but I also deeply love food and cooking. I’m a longtime vegan, and I think it would be really cool and unique to do some kind of brewing/food thing. But I have no idea if that will ever happen, and if it did, it would have to represent a small capital risk. It’s just not worth it to me to risk the whole business in order to sell food. I’d much rather open a small facility just for sour/funky beer production than a brewpub.
5) Or a can/bottleshop separate from the tasting room that showcases Modern Times, but also highlights other breweries?
Probably not. There are already a bunch of really great bottleshops in San Diego, and for whatever reason, this idea just doesn’t light my fire.
Now, a little sour brewery up in the Laguna Mountains surrounded by orchards, with a coolship and a barrel cave carved into the hillside…that’s something I daydream about.