Jacob McKean

What’s your current position at your brewery, and how did you get started in the craft brewing industry?

CEO/founder/Darth Executive [at Modern Times Beer in San Diego]. I was a homebrewer for six years while I was working as a freelance writer. I wrote a few articles for craft beer publications, and then I ended up working at Stone Brewing Co., which was the best industry education I could’ve asked for.

What’s new at Modern Times?

We were just named one of the Top 10 New Brewers in the World by RateBeer, a pretty exciting honor for us. We’ve only been selling beer for seven months, and our cans have only been available for a little more than three. We hit capacity (about 4,500 bbls/year) at the start of the year when we rolled out in Los Angeles, and we’re now just trying to squeeze as much beer as we can from our current setup until we double fermentation capacity in April. Hopefully that will allow us to return to making one-offs and to start our seasonal program, which we’ve had to shelve in order to keep up with demand for our four year-round beers. We’re planning to open a second tasting room in early summer, which will give us a spot right on 30th Street, the epicenter of San Diego’s craft beer culture. I also expect that we’ll have two batches of red wine barrel-aged sours (a Flanders red and an oud bruin) ready sometime in summer.

What’s the best part of being a part of the craft brewing community?

Having incredibly innovative, boundary-pushing peers. The creative process is the most fulfilling aspect of running a brewery for me, so I love being part of a group of folks that is constantly creating new things and striving to improve. It’s what keeps us, and the work, interesting.

What do you like to do in your time away from the brewery?

Travel, read, write, garden, go backpacking, ferment foods, cook, drink beer, make cocktails, party.

What’s your favorite food and beer pairing?

Pretty much anything paired with a dry, complex, sessionable saison. Saison is the premier food pairing style, bar none. If I had to pick a dish and a beer, it would be vegan jackfruit tacos with Lomaland, our year-round saison.

What’s your biggest accomplishment unrelated to your job?

I honestly don’t think anything else I’ve done compares. Starting the brewery was, without a doubt, the biggest, craziest, most ambitious undertaking of my entire life. We’re a 30bbl brewery—a fairly large operation—and I don’t have any partners. It’s been completely insane, but I’m incredibly proud of where the brewery is so early in its life.

What’s your favorite beer that your brewery does not produce?

Hoppy Birthday from Alpine. It’s right in my wheelhouse: aromatic, sessionable, hoppy, tropical, complex, delicious.

What’s the most memorable travel destination at which you’ve had a chance to sample the local beer?

I fell in love with craft beer in Chicago. Over the course of many trips to The Hopleaf, I drank countless pints of outstanding Midwestern craft beer. That liquid education laid the groundwork for everything we brew at Modern Times.


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