Photo by Beth Demmon
Andrew Schwartz and Tim Kamolz
Around-the-clock production means that you must be brewing something right. But with beer output of that magnitude comes the need for process synchronization. Production manager Tim Kamolz and special projects brewer and QC lead Andrew Schwartz at Modern Times sat down with me (and some fresh pints of Orderville) to talk about their crazy schedule and some challenges of brewing for 24 hours straight. Full disclosure: I occasionally work with Modern Times during special events and releases.
Is 24-hour brewing rare for craft breweries?
Tim: “A lot of production breweries like Coronado are on 20-hour brewing schedules. They come in at 3 a.m. and leave at midnight.”
When do you think you’ll truly be brewing nonstop?
Tim: “If our sales continue at the rate they are, likely in the next few months we’ll have to. One of the huge drivers of us going to 24-hour brewing is the launch of our three new year-round 22- ounce bottles: Orderville, Fruitlands and City of the Dead.”
What are some misconceptions about this level of production?
Andrew: “There’s a romance about craft beer. People think it’s this thing that’s handmade and each batch is crafted by a certain brewer. But the best beer is made exactly the same way every time. It’s a scientific process. It doesn’t take away from the artisanality of it, but it means that we have to be more precise about what we’re brewing, who’s brewing it and the knowledge they have.”
Who’s brewing now?
Tim: “The full-time brewers are Kyle Weigh, Keith Shaw and Vicki Rubenstein. We asked Kyle and Keith if they wanted us to hire an overnight-only brewer, or if they wanted to add an equal member to the team and rotate. They chose rotate.”
What are the benefits of brewing around the clock?
Andrew: “It’s an efficiency thing. You could stop brewing, but then you’d have to re-heat the mash tun.”
Tim: “Before we hired a third full-time brewer, Kyle and Keith were working extended hours and Andrew and I were filling in the middle of the day. Now it’s a lot more structured. By doing this, we never have a lag period.”
Andrew: “When you have to wait for the canning and bottling lines, it backs you up. So when the new lines get here at the end of April, we’ll catch up and do even more.”
Tim: “There’s zero downtime. If someone’s sick or something breaks, it affects everyone. Plus the expansion of the barrel program has put more pressure on the brewhouse to fill hundreds of barrels.”
How do you do it all?
Tim: “We couldn’t do this without our awesome people. Brewing, cellaring, packaging, sales…that’s the only way it happens. I’m just blown away at how much beer is going out the door.”
Andrew: “We’re young, we’re learning, and we’re interested in improving. It’s a great team. Literally every person here is doing a good job and is dedicated to Modern Times.”