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Ask a Vegan Brewer

Renee Willoughby cruelty free vegan vegan beer

ask a vegan brewer about delicious vegan beer

If you are no stranger to delicious, quality beer, you are probably familiar with Modern Times Beer.

If not, here’s a little background info; they are a San Diego based brewery that offers up some of the most enjoyable and dankest (yes, that’s a good thing) beer. They focus on complex, flavorful beers as well as hybrid styles, combining characteristics from various beer styles to create one-of-kind awesomeness. They also brew special release and one-off batches, making it possible for them to experiment...a la Dr. Frankenstein. And since beer and coffee go together like almond butter and jelly, they roast their own coffee beans; the coffee made from them is used in some of their beers like Black House coffee stout.  They are the first brewery and coffee roastery in one.  When visiting the brewery, I often find myself with a beer in one hand and a cold brew coffee (on draft!) in the other.

As if Modern Times couldn’t get any better, founder Jacob McKean is vegan, as well as lead brewer, Keith Shaw, also known as @theveganbrewer on Instagram, who was kind enough to do a little Q&A session with me.

Lead Brewer of Modern Times, Keith Shaw, with his pup Portland.

Lead Brewer of Modern Times, Keith Shaw, with his pup Portland.

Gang's all here! Keith's crew: From left to right, top to bottom, Portland the Golden Retriever, Gracie the Pit Bull mix, Victory the mini Aussie, and Guinness, the cat.

◊Was there a certain event or moment in your life that turned you to veganism?

I would have to say when I visited a farm animal sanctuary back when I lived on the east coast.  Wait, let me rewind.  I went VEGETARIAN first, right after I turned 30.  I had a gluttonous weekend with a bunch of my buddies from the Marines (yes, I was in the Marines for 5 years), and I felt like garbage.  I LOOKED like garbage.  I thought something had to change.  My wife had already been vegetarian for a couple months and I thought to myself, "Hey, I love potatoes and vegetables.  I think I'll go Vegetarian too."  3 months later, we visited an animal sanctuary. I saw cows, chickens, pigs and more, and they acted just like my dog.  I wouldn't eat my dog, and then it clicked.  I've been Vegan ever since.

Are there any animal rescues or organizations that are significant to you and would like more people to know about?

There are so many!  I love Animal Place in Northern California so much, they do great work!  So does The Gentle Barn in Santa Clarita.  On the smaller side, there is a life after labs sanctuary called "New Life Animal Sanctuary" that is fairly new in Lake Elsinore that I volunteered at once.   I've also been to Chimpanzee Sanctuary NW which is in Cle Elum, Washington that rescued 7 post lab chimpanzees that now get to live their lives out without fear of being tested on.  There's also a bunch I follow on Instagram that I haven't been to (yet!), like Preetirang  Sanctuary, Buster's Barn, Skylands... there are so many now!

What is one of the highlights about being a brewer for Modern Times?

I love what I do.  I love making a product that excites people.  It's great to hear the feedback on something that you had direct contribution in making.  I was able to go to GABF (The Great American Beer Festival) this year and hearing all the praise about our beer from everyone that came to the booth was very flattering.  I also ate a lot of vegan food when I was there.

What is one of your favorite food and beer pairings?

I love a good IPA with some spicy Indian/Thai food.  I feel like the bitterness and floral notes complement the spiciness of the food.  I also have a weird palate.

I appreciate, as I’m sure many others do, that Modern Times prints on the cans, “This beer is vegan.”  Why is it important for Modern Times to brew beer that is vegan friendly and advertise it as such?

I love it too!  It was one of the first things I noticed before I started working there, and I was amazed that it was on the can, clear as day.  I honestly can't speak for the company itself, but I believe it's important for a product that is vegan to be  easily identifiable.  Making Vegan beer is easy, you don't have to do much of anything different.  Just don't use milk sugar, don't use gelatin or isinglass (as a fining agent), and you pretty much have vegan beer!

Can you give any insight to the vegan eats that will be offered at your future Los Angeles location?

Nope. :)

Why do you think vegan beer festivals like Vegan Beerfest (started in Los Angeles and expanded to Portland) and Vegan Oktoberfest are so successful?

Veganism in general is on a positive trend.  Just because we are vegan, doesn't mean we don't like beer!  The beer selections at these festivals are pretty amazing in and of themselves, but when you add a gluttonous amount of vegan food as well?  It's a no brainer, it's a beer nerd/ vegan foodie crossover dream.  These festivals are also in highly populated vegan dense zones (veg restaurants, veg boutiques, veg everything) with open minded people that don't scoff at the idea of eating/drinking plants only.

When you are not busy brewing delicious beer, what do you enjoy doing?

Drinking delicious beer!  I also enjoy hanging out with my 3 dogs, Portland (A golden retriever), Victory (an Aussie), and Gracie (a pit mix).  My cat, Guinness is pretty cool too.  You'll often find me scarfing down food at the local vegan establishments as well, as I love a good buffalo chik'n sandwhich and a soy milk shake.  Every now and then, I enjoy a good hike/bike ride, or I'll watch some movies or netflix binge.

If you are having a less-than-stellar day, where is your go-to happy place?

In my bed, snuggling with my pups, watching star wars. :)

  To learn more about Modern Times Brewery (or even plan a trip!), follow this link: Modern Times Beer.♥

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