Photo by Beth Demmon

Modern Times has become a globally known name for its beer as much as its hip aesthetic, but it's the brewery's cultural ethos that resonates with craft beer fans and employees alike.

"Probably the most direct thing [that sets us apart] is the $15 minimum wage that we voluntarily adopted," says Modern Times Founder Jacob McKean. "I've continued to view that as the most important benchmark for operating an ethical business."

It's not simply a living wage that McKean emphasizes. Employee benefits include unlimited paid time off, cutting-edge healthcare, monthly allotments of beer, team building events like Padres games and encouragement to travel to collaborate with breweries anywhere. From the start, McKean felt a "moral obligation" to make prioritizing perks standard practice.

"One of the [first] benefits that I offered was a two-month paid sabbatical after five years. That was something that...managed to communicate to people what type of company they were going to work for."

McKean hopes to expand benefits to include equity for long-term employees and more partnerships with groups like BikeSD. And for small business owners who squirm at the thought of higher costs, McKean dismisses that fear.

"I believe in doing all this stuff because it is the ethically appropriate thing to do, but I also think it happens to be a good business decision," he says. "By having people who are deeply qualified, who don't leave and who are satisfied with their work, I think we save a lot of money."


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