Anaheim's Brewery X Set To Acquire San Diego's 9-Year-Old Modern Times Beer

June 17, 2022

Following an auction, Anaheim's Brewery X emerged as the winning bidder for San Diego's 9-year-old Modern Times Beer. 

In April 2022, less than two months after announcing the closure of half its locations, San Diego-based Modern Times Beer announced that the company's lender had commenced litigation that would inevitably lead to a court-ordered sale of the craft brewery. During an auction of qualified bidders that took place on June 17, Anaheim-based, 3-year-old Brewery X was the winning bidder for $20 million, more than twice the $7.62 million bid made by Maui Brewing. Modern Times will be acquired as a "going concern" rather than being liquidated to pay back its loans. 

The team at Modern Times Beer continued on an aggressive growth path since founder Jacob McKean started the company in San Diego's Point Loma in 2013. In addition to being California's first employee-owned brewery, the craft brewery expanded greatly in its nine year tenure, including opening a North Park tasting room dubbed the Flavordome, a downtown Los Angeles restaurant and tasting room named The Dankness Dojo, a tasting room and restaurant in Encinitas named 'The Far West Lounge', a full brewery operation in Portland, Oregon named 'The Belmont Fermentorium', the Invigatorium coffee shop in San Diego's East Village in partnership with Consortium Holdings, the Modern Times Academy of Recreational Sciences tasting room and restaurant in Santa Barbara, The House of Perpetual Refreshment in Oakland, and a 33,000 square-foot Leisuretown project in Anaheim, CA. All of this is in addition to operating the company's original brewery and coffee shop in Point Loma, which was in the process of being expanded into neighboring buildings to add a restaurant before COVID-19 took the world by storm.

In spring 2021, the founder of San Diego's Modern Times Beer Jacob McKean issued a public apology and announced he resigned as CEO following continued revelations detailing allegations of harassment and discrimination against members of the craft beer industry, including many directly implicating Modern Times. The following January 2022, Modern Times announced its new CEO, Jennifer Briggs, formerly of New Belgium Brewing. Briggs had been trying to sell the company to cover debts, but the court-appointed receivership took control of the sale away from the company and its executives.

At the auction, Brewery X beat out North Carolina-based TRU Colors beer company in a back-and-forth bidding. The results of the auction still must be confirmed at a court hearing on Monday June 20, and once finalized, there will still be a transition period before the sale closing. 

"The final bid was wonderful, and it is a testament to the work of the Modern Times Beer employees and the work they have done over the past months in a very constrained business," commented Modern Times Beer CEO Jennifer Briggs. "And, of course, the work they’ve done to create the Modern Times Beer brand over the past years. I am looking forward to working with the company confirmed on Monday to make a successful transition. I realize our fans and distribution partners are waiting for specific communication and we are going to honor the process and wait until next week for final details. Regardless of any specific companies, it has been quite the experience to work through since late last year. And, I’ve been honored to meet so many interesting people who are committed to the art of brewing beer and coffee. Craft brewing is a wonderful community. I am grateful to the professional advisors who helped us through this process."

Brewery X was founded in 2019, originating from a project of University of Southern California's Master of Science in Entrepreneurship and Innovation program. The company is owned by sisters Paige & Carley Pennington, Clayton Wellbank, and Chris Pennington, father to Paige and Carley and owner of Rancho Cucamonga's Penwal Industries.