Pro Beer Brewing Startup with Modern Times – BeerSmith Podcast #54

by Brad Smith on January 28, 2013 · 2 comments

This week I interview Jacob McKean and Michael Tonsmeire who are involved in a cross country beer collaboration to build a new brewery in San Diego called Modern Times. We walk through some of the challenges in going from home brewer to pro brewer!

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Topics in This Week’s Episode (45:50)

  •  Jacob McKean and Michael Tonsmeire are this week’s guests. They are in the middle of collaborating on a new micro brewery called Modern Times Beer in San Diego. Jacob and Michael are in a unique situation where Michael is developing recipes for Jacob from the opposite side of the country! Michael also runs a blog at
  • Jacob starts the discussion out with his decision to become a professional brewer, and why he decided to make the leap from home brewer to pro-brewer.
  • Michael joins in to describe his role in developing the recipes (aka creative director) for the new brewery, and his unique situation being on the other side of the country!
  • Jacob shares some of the steps involved in creating your own brewery – most of which have to do with being an entrpreneur/businessman and not home brewing.
  • Michael tells us about some of the challenges involved in perfecting a recipe for commercial brewing and how it is much different than developing a home brew recipe for fun.
  • Jacob joins in to tell us how you scale recipes up from small pilot batches to something much larger. We also have a detailed discussion on late hop additions, hop oils and whirlpool hops.
  • Michael shares some considerations in choosing styles of beer they want to brew commercially, and how market considerations play a role in choosing which styles to brew.
  • Jacob tells us how style choices and brewing equipment choices are closely related. In fact some large decisions like step mashing can require $20-50k in additional costs! Even dry hopping decisions require equipment modifications in many cases.
  • Michael talks about the challenges of being the pilot brewery from across the country – including trying to match San Diego’s water, determining hop schedules and more.
  • Jacob shares his thoughts on what will make Modern Times different from other small breweries.
  • I’ve invited Jacob and Michael back to come on the show again after their grand opening next summer and give us an update on their brewery and share some lessons learned from their first pro batches!
  • We spend just a minute talking about tips for making better beer.
  • Here are two recipes Michael provided that we mentioned at the end of the podcast: Blazing World and Black House – They intend to brew these commercially!

Thanks to Jacob McKean and Michael Tonsmeire for appearing on the show and also to you for listening!

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