Since its launch in mid-2013, Modern Times Beer has been in a constant and never-ending state of growth. After opening the doors to its production facility in the Point Loma area of San Diego, the company quickly began making plans for a separate off-site taproom in the craft-centric neighborhood of North Park. That location opened in 2014, all the while, Modern Times was regularly installing new stainless steel fermentation vessels at its original space. In two short years, capacity grew fourfold. Now, the company is getting ready to embark on its most ambitious expansion yet.
Financed by Opus Bank, Modern Times plans to invest an anticipated $2.75 million in a series of projects that will not only dramatically increase its production capacity, but also streamline its packaging, storage, and quality testing capabilities.
While previous expansions have still left the brewery with capacity constraints, especially as demand for its beer has risen, this time around, the company plans to buy itself “a little wiggle room.” In a blog post, the company said it will install four 240-barrel fermentation tanks and two 360-barrel brite tanks, doubling total annual capacity to 47,000 barrels.
The brewery is on pace to sell 16,000 barrels of beer this year, according to company founder Jacob McKean, up from the 6,543 barrels it sold in 2014 (it sold 2,000 barrels in the six months after opening in July 2013).
Reached by Brewbound, McKean credited the company’s rapid growth to a savvy local consumer base — in San Diego alone there are more than 90 breweries with another 40 or so in planning, according to WestCoaster, an online publication covering the San Diego beer scene.
“Modern Times is a manifestation of very real passion and personality,” said Mckean. “It’s something that I deeply felt just absolutely needed to exist, and I’ve poured my heart and soul into making it happen, as have all of the incredible people who have joined us the last two years.”
Modern Times also plans to grow its barrel-aging program as part of the expansion and will move the majority of both “clean and funky” barrels a few blocks away into a new space dedicated to aging. To accommodate the increased number of packaged products it will have on hand at any one time, Modern Times is also expanding its cold and dry storage spaces, spreading into a couple of nearby properties and adding more than 17,000 sq. ft. of storage capacity.
As it grows, the company also plans to invest in quality control by building a dedicated lab inside the brewery, which will enable it to “greatly expand the range and frequency of QC checks,” it said.
Lastly, Modern Times has plans to occupy a neighboring building with its new packaging hall, complete with both a bottling and canning line, and a centrifuge.
And with more space comes broader distribution. The brewery is hosting a series of events this week in Bakersfield and Kern County to commemorate launches in both markets. McKean said he expects his company’s products to be available statewide by the end of 2016. Currently, 85 percent of its beer is sold in Southern California, though the company has a presence in San Francisco, the Central Coast and Maui, Hawaii.