Holy crap, do we ever have a lot of expansion projects happening right now. I haven’t announced “an expansion project” because we’ve more or less been in a state of constant expansion since opening. It’s been a crapload of work to manage, along with everything else we do, but we’ve succeeded at keeping up with demand locally, brewing a plethora of new beers, and growing modestly into a few more geographical areas, all of which I'm very proud of.
But that constant low hum of expansion has recently become a blaring foghorn. Here are all the things we’re working on:
1) First, the big news: we’re taking over the building next door. The adjacent building is a 7,800 sq ft warehouse/office space that was actually connected to our building when we moved it. We didn’t think we’d need it & I didn’t have the money to take it right away, so it was rented to someone else on a short-term basis. Well, now we need it. So starting August 1st, we’re going to start transforming it into our future packaging hall. We’ll also be moving our offices over there; we’re still deciding what to do with the current offices, but let’s just say that their location right in the tasting room creates some interesting possibilities.
2) We just added 3 new 120bbl fermenters. These hulking new tanks have increased our fermentation capacity by 50% and completely filled up our cellar pad. When I was building this place, if you had told me that our cellar pad would be maxed out after 18 months, I would have told you that you were all hopped up on goofballs. Alas, here we are. And you’re not on goofballs. The addition of the neighboring building will allow us to construct a new cellar pad for even gianter tanks.
3) We’re turning into a grown-up coffee roasting company. The coffee side of Modern Times started on something of a lark, with the purchase of a small roaster on Craigslist. A year and a half later, that little roaster can no longer handle the demands of what has become Modern Times Coffee. That is an incredibly cool thing that I never dreamed would happen. As a consequence, we are transforming that strange little vacant box in the tasting room into a gorgeous, showpiece coffee roasting area. It’ll feature a 15-kilo Giesen roaster (in our humble opinion, the finest roaster in the world & not something we ever thought we’d be able to afford), a cupping lab, green coffee storage, & room for our coffee barrels. This should be happening in about 2 months. Once complete, the new roasting area will allow us to offer kegs of cold press to interested bars & restaurants, many more bagged coffee options, wholesale coffee to cafes, and—perhaps at some point—canned cold press coffee (how frickin’ rad would that be?)
4) We’re installing grain silos. Believe it or not, every drop of beer we’ve made so far has been brewed with grain that was manually emptied from a 55lb bag by a hardworking Modern Times brewer. That brewer will now be replaced by a giant, tentacled robot that will do the job 10 times faster and never complain about “miserable, hellish days of dumping bag-after-godforsaken-bag of grain into a furiously whirring machine located spitting distance from an unbelievably decrepit adult bookstore.” We’re also installing a spent grain silo, which will similarly replace a sweating, grunting human with a tireless, unyielding machine that will pump spent grain with the kind of terrifying, dead-eyed efficiency we strive for in all of our operations.
5) We recently purchased two key pieces of quality control equipment: a seam camera and a dissolved oxygen meter. The seam camera allows us to constantly measure the effectiveness of our can lid applicator, which should prevent the occasional leaky cans we’ve seen. The dissolved oxygen meter will allow us to check our beer at every step of the process to see how evil, spoiling oxygen is getting in. This should lead to process improvements that will improve the shelf-life of our beer.
6) We got a new, advanced filter. We’d previously been using a plate and frame filter, which, while effective, is a bit of a crude instrument. The new filter should significantly reduce the amount of dissolved oxygen in our beer, which should make it taste fresher longer. We don’t filter because we’re obsessed with clarity; the only beers we filter are our hoppy beers, which receive such massive dry hop loads, that a filter is necessary to separate the beer from the hops. Anyway, the new filter is huge & expensive & came from Italy. It’s a Spadoni!
7) Miscellaneous things that are actually really big deals, but this is already a really long blog post: a) we’re finally installing the mash mixer on our brewing system, giving us 4 brewing vessels; b) we got a new ring machine (more on this in another post); c) we’re installing a new glycol chiller because the old one isn’t big enough for the new ultra-swoll Modern Times.
Whew. So much stuff. But it all means more beer & better beer.
Cheers & thanks,