Interview: Modern Times Beer founder Jacob McKean

Craft Beer San Diego

Jacon McKean, Glorious Leader of Modern Times Beer, who also dubbed himself Darth Executive, previously spent two years working for Stone Brewing Co. in Escondido before striking out on his own in San Diego. He shared several craft beer insights at the 2013 L.A. Beer Week gala inside Union Station.

Was it a given that you would work with beer for a living, or did you consider other careers?

I was originally going to be a history professor. That was my first game plan. Then I decided that was going to be really boring. I looked around at a lot of different things and ended up being a freelance writer. While I was a writer, I started homebrewing. That became an increasingly intense obsession, so I started writing for some beer publications and got more and more into that. I ended up applying for jobs at different breweries and worked at Stone for two years in San Diego. A little less than two years ago, I left to start Modern Times. It’s definitely been a circuitous path, but I’m very happy to end up where I am.

What does a beer have to be for you to brew it at Modern Times?

Generally, I like to describe us as an aroma driven brewery. A beer has to have a really interesting and exciting aroma for me to consider it exciting enough to scale up and do on a big scale. I like to think we focus non monogamously on session beers, beers that are a little bit lower strength, but still have a lot of excitement, a lot of aroma, a lot of flavor, and allow people to drink more of them, essentially. We’ll be putting all our beers in 16-ounce cans, so I really wanted to do beers that were great for drinking by the pint.

Is there a beer or style that you always have to have on?

We have four year-round beers. For me, I pick those four year-round beers based on what I would be buying cases of on my own. We do a saison, Loma Land, 5.5%, really complex and refreshing at the same time. Fortunate Islands is our hoppy wheat beer. 4.8%, a cross between a wheat beer and an IPA. We give it a big Citra dry hop, so it’s really tropical, really fruity, big aroma. Then we do Black House, our oatmeal coffee stout. We’re one of the only breweries in the world that roasts our own coffee in-house. It’s for the aroma. We do a big coffee aroma, and we wanted it to taste like a chocolate covered espresso bean, and I just love coffee, so it was important to me that was a year-round beer. Then we do Blazing World, which is a hoppy amber. I’m in love with Nelson Sauvin hops from New Zealand, so that’s our big Nelson-y beer.

How do you go about naming your beers?

All of our beers are named after real or mythological utopias. Modern Times is named after a utopia founded in New York in 1850. Loma Land, our saison, is named after the founding colony in Point Loma, which is where our brewery is located, also a utopian community. This draws from my past as someone who was interested in history, the eccentric, cuckoo corners of American history.

What are some of your most satisfying moments of working with craft beer?


Address: 3725 Greenwood Street, San Diego, CA 92110

Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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