Modern Times Beer opens its Portland location, the Belmont Fermentorium, this Sunday, January 28th, in the space formerly occupied by The Commons Brewery. It’s one of our most anticipated new Oregon breweries of 2018. Though it looks like the space will be in construction/decoration mode up until the last minute (and even after the opening), we stopped by to try some beers and talk with the operations team for a preview of what to expect.
It’s strange to be inside the mostly intact bones of The Commons Brewery with totally different decor, but Modern Times is doing a good job making the space its own. For example, the two level tasting room bar is basically the same size and shape, with a lower level on the south side, but the bar top has been replaced by white marble and the siding is lined with old floppy discs.
The hall to the bathrooms is now a yarn hall, dark and mysterious with little repurposed interactive sculptures on the wall. Many of them with old toy figurines like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Some of these little installations are built inside things like old stereos and TVs and are interactive. You can turn a knob to make a turtle hit a mini pinata with the California Raisins in one. The whole space has an 80’s wrestling, pinata and cartoon vibe. I didn’t get a photo as it was just bare bones at the time, but there will be a giant Macho Man Randy Savage pinata hanging above the tasting room bar area, as if he is coming down to deliver a diving crossbody to everyone.
The former kitchen window that was the Cheese Annex might be the most controversial/mourned loss of the transition. Rather than gorgeous, well-chosen cheese boards, charcuterie, soups, and sandwiches, it’s now slinging an all vegan menu. The Modern Times team is quick to point out it’s not “healthy” vegan; the kitchen will have stuff like homemade vegan pop tarts and other delectable items that will make you forget they are dairy and meat-free.
The old Commons pilot 7bbl system that sat on display in front to the south of the bar has been replaced by a merch store with all of Modern Times cool shirts, hoodies, cups, bottles, and cans of both beer and cold brew coffee. The brewhouse in the back of the building is the same one from The Commons, but Modern Times has already filled out the tank farm and filled all those tanks with fresh beer. The Portland space will do limited canning runs and service the Oregon market for ultra-fresh Modern Times beer.
repurposed cigar boxes being laquered to be used as tasting tray glass holders
This is just Phase 1 of the Modern Times Belmont Fermentorium. For Phase 2 Modern Times will take ownership of the building behind The Commons, knock down a wall through the brewery, and have a walkway on the north side to a separate bar outside the brewery and construct a full-size kitchen in the adjacent space. The current tiny kitchen annex will then turn into a coffee roaster.
The Modern Times PDX Belmont Fermentorium opens Sunday. Hours are:
630 SE Belmont St.
Portland, Oregon 97214
Extremely tasty food will be on offer during all open hours. Merch, beer to-go (cans, crowlers, bottles, etc), and online sale pick-ups will also be available whenever open.