As someone that works within the Portland brewery world, I was at first very hesitant of the arrival of Modern Times Brewery, a company that hails from San Diego, and has since worked its way north. Anyone living within Portland has felt the disdain for California more times than one, as a frequent red cursive on white background license plate cuts in front of them whilst merging on I-5 - just as Modern Times has merged into our own territorial freeway of beer.
I have tried to feel this same disdain towards the California-born brewery, I really have. But as I become more and more frequent at their Belmont Street location, the stronger my love for them grows. There are various expanding reasons why I now whole-heartedly support this California transplant and I'm really having a hard time organizing my thoughts into just one blog post, but I will try my best.
Number one on my list, is their extensively knowledgeable staff. They are an order-at-the-bar establishment, but that doesn't prevent their employees from reaching out onto the floor to interact with guests. Johnny and Marisa were working the bar while I was there, and I learned an incredible amount about Modern Times, and also about beer in general.
However, despite the personable staff, I didn't notice any regulars here. Maybe that is a downside of being an outsider in a beer-snob town, but I think it can also be beneficial to a staff to know that all of your guests are new, so your approach of information is never unwelcome.
I was also happily surprised to find they have a completely vegan food menu. I am not a vegan, but much of my family is, and my general admiration of the diet causes me to be more attracted to places that cater to this particular lifestyle. It wasn't until the second time I visited that I was even aware that the whole Modern Times chain was vegan - both beer and food. (And yes, I am aware that the vast majority of beer is vegan - but they actively avoid any sort of cream/milk/lactose styles of beer that would cause them to falter from this reputation). I also appreciate that they don't aggressively advertise the fact that they are strictly vegan, as there is nothing I like more than tricking non-vegans into enjoying unbeknownst plant-based meals.
Veganism aside, my favorite part about the whole place is that their entire vibe is actually sarcastically un-modern. Think '30-year old design student living in his mom's basement'; a splattering of comic book pages on the walls, a bar covered in floppy disks, mismatched furniture from the 80's, all complete with a foosball table.
I am just overall, unapologetically happy with this brewery. Try to fight me on this, Portland, but I stand by Modern Times.
Pro-Tip: Their menu lists which of their locations has brewed that particular beer, so just be sure to make note and choose wisely.
Take-Away Vibe: Retro Basement
Beer: 5/5, extensive list with a wide range of options