No April Fools’ Day jokes. They’re rarely even jokes and even more rarely funny. If I feel like taking a potshot at macro brewers or goofy beer trends, I’ll just write a cantankerous blog post on whichever day I’m running low on coffee. Like today!
People seem excited about Modern Times. I get lots of emails from eager strangers, and we’ve amassed an impressive number of Likes, Twitter followers, & email newsletter subscribers. Embarrassingly, I even get recognized at some local beer bars now. All without having beer to sell!
During tours of the Lomaland Fermentorium and at our pilot tastings, folks have told me that they like the transparency, honesty, and self-deprecating humor with which I’ve talked about the ups-and-downs of starting the brewery. So I’m going to keep doing it.
Something totally face-meltingly awesome happened the other day: someone poured me the very first homebrewed variation on a Modern Times Beer. Consider how remarkable that is given that Modern Times doesn’t even exist yet.
My goal for open source brewing is to create a community of tinkerers that are perpetually pushing us to evolve and improve. Publishing our recipes will certainly allow homebrewers to attempt clones if they want—and there’s some value in that, as far as dialing in your process—but modifying our recipes is the far more stimulating path, to my mind.
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!”
Note: some people seem to be confused about the tone of this blog post and are taking it entirely too seriously. Travis is a friend of mine and this is just me giving my friend shit because that’s how friends amuse each other sometimes.
Our beer will not be brewed with the finest all-natural ingredients, nor will it be made by hand. These are meaningless clichés trotted out when a brand has nothing to say. There is no “natural” or “unnatural” malt. “Finest” doesn’t mean anything. And the notion that commercial beer is made by hand—or that “handmade” is a positive attribute in beer—is a fallacy.
Let’s take it one word at a time.
What is gained by using “finest”? Nothing is gained. It cannot possibly make a positive impression on a single shopper. And the absence of “finest” does not lead one to assume that a product is made with shit ingredients. There are no grades of brewing ingredients, there are only the personal preferences of the brewer.
By now you’ve undoubtedly read the San Diego CityBeat cover story, “19 Places To Keep An Eye On In 2013”, in which Modern Times is listed #3 (above City Hall, as one commenter noted).
When I was contacted for the story, the email asked “What will set Modern Times apart from the other breweries springing up?”, to which I responded with a lavish five point dissertation on the brewery’s future specialness. Sadly, none of that brilliant content made its way into the article, so I will subject you to it here in serialized and expanded form.
So far I’ve done two public tastings of Modern Times prototype beers. Both have been exceedingly helpful because they’ve shined the unforgiving glare of public opinion on an otherwise insular process.
When a stranger takes their first sip of a beer at a tasting, they can’t hide their reaction behind a computer screen. That is what has made the tastings so useful, if a bit anxiety inducing. Even though the whole purpose of the tastings is to receive constructive criticism, I can’t help but want people to like the beer. I like the beer, so I want them to like it too.
In my last post, I mentioned that we’re going to be completely open with our recipes. To that end, I provided links to all of the posts on Mike’s blog detailing what we’ve done so far, and I also mentioned that we’re going to put a bounty on crowdsourced improvements to our recipes. This is what I call “open source brewing”, and I’m going to flesh it out a bit right here and now.
Here’s the Wikipedia (itself something of an open source project) definition of ‘open source’: “In production and development, open source is a philosophy, or pragmatic methodology, that promotes free redistribution and access to an end product’s design and implementation details.”