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The team at Threes Brewing
Issue 36: On the Threes origin story, how they think about growth, their cause beers, and what’s next for the brewery.
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Threes is a New York-based craft brewery with spots in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Long Island. They are known for their approachable beers like Lagers and Pilsners, but I am a huge fan of their Saisons and other experimental/mixed-culture brews. The Threes team collaboratively answered my questions on the Threes origin story, how they think about growth, their cause beers, and what’s next for the brewery.
Brianna Plaza: What’s the Threes origin story?
Threes: Threes started with the idea of reimagining a brewpub. We wanted to build a great gathering space in the heart of Brooklyn that was open to all, had everything to offer in the beverage world from coffee to wine, spirits, and beer, hosted live music and year-round events, and served great food. With the help of incredible staff and partners, such as Ninth Street Espresso, The Meat Hook, Greenpoint Fish & Lobster, and many more over the years, we’ve been able to bring this vision to life.
Brianna Plaza: Was the intent always to be in Gowanus?
Threes: Gowanus was always a priority for us. We’d been fans of the area for some time. Back in 2008, not much was going on here, but there were places we loved to hang out, from Canal Bar to Halyards, to Black Mountain Wine House, Lavender Lake, and Brooklyn Homebrew. Just walking the streets of the neighborhood was really exciting, especially the abundance of street art and day-to-day activity.
Brianna Plaza: Do you do all the production on site or do you have other locations that you brew at?
Threes: Initially, we did all of our production in Brooklyn. Our Gowanus brewhouse remains the spiritual hub of our operation and where a lot of our R&D takes place. Our expansion and growth have led us to establish brewing arrangements with our friends at Industrial Arts and SingleCut (North) as well. Our Head Brewer, Matt Levy, spends time at each of them to oversee production and cellaring.
Brianna Plaza: How do you think about growth considering the neighborhood and borough constraints?
Threes: We embrace organic growth at Threes Brewing. Growth is healthy, but only if it feels natural and warranted. Our goal is to be the right size, which led us to add Greenpoint, Governors Island, and Huntington along the way. Several members of our team are originally from Long Island, so Huntington was a natural fit and a homecoming of sorts. We just added Moynihan Station, and stay ready for new opportunities as they arise. Our choices are always intentional.
We operate by the principle that growth should never come at the expense of quality, freshness, or the creativity of our brew team. It’s important that each beer is sold and consumed as intended at peak freshness. We focus on brewing beer that tastes great, as well as styles we’re passionate about, and hope that they resonate with our audience.
Brianna Plaza: How did you factor the digital aspects of COVID into how you grew in 2020/2021? How will you carry those tactics into this year as we (maybe) come out of this?
Threes: We always aspired to launch an online beer shop, but the pandemic obviously moved that to the top of the list of priorities. COVID created some ups and downs, but one of the blessings in disguise was that it drove us to build this business (which we call Threes To You), with one goal: retaining and re-hiring our hospitality staff. Employees who were running private events, public events, and our owned and operated bars and restaurants, pivoted to becoming delivery drivers, supporting our pickup/to-go business, and overseeing related logistics. We decided to hire an in-house e-commerce team who remain part of our company today. We love that we were able to do this and are continuing to figure out how to grow this side of the business.
Brianna Plaza: Threes Brewing makes a lot of saisons and fruit-forward sour beers. Is that a market-driven choice or a style choice?
Threes: Our approach has always been to brew what we want to drink, styles that excite us, even if they aren’t where the trends are headed. Being lovers of food and having some of the best restaurants in the world at our fingertips here in New York informed our decision to focus on quality, balanced beers that lean more toward lagers, Saisons, and hoppy styles. Saisons are about 15% of our portfolio. We have a few that we make regularly, but many of our mixed culture beers and barrel-aged beers are definitely passion projects. We love to experiment with the similarities between beer and wine here and enjoy working with local farms to source ingredients for our fruited mixed culture saisons. We relish the potential of these beers to turn even non-beer people into believers. We enjoy watching people taste these beers for the first time, like they’re gaining an entirely different perspective on the experience of beer.
Brianna Plaza: New York City has seen a boom in breweries in the last few years. What role do you think Threes Brewing has played — if any — in the resurgence of brewing in New York City?
Threes: We consider ourselves very fortunate to be a part of an awesome brewing community in NYC. We’ve been a part of this craft beer scene since the early 2000s and have witnessed our fellow local brewery friends go from homebrew competitors to business owners. It's really a pleasure to be growing this category alongside people we truly love (Finback, Grimm, Other Half, Interboro, KCBC, to name a few). Threes Brewing is just one of many in this continuing movement.
Brianna Plaza: Tell me about the “cause beers” like People Power and how they got started.
Threes: Being a part of and giving back to the community has always been a priority. When we were starting Threes Brewing, we had some close friends who were working with the Red Hot Organization, a not-for-profit dedicated to fighting AIDS through pop culture. They’d planned to make a Grateful Dead cover album with a bunch of friends in the music industry and to donate the proceeds to Red Hot. This inspired us to brew a collaborative beer and donate 10% of the proceeds to Red Hot. The approach of brewing benefit beers has stuck with us since, which led to the release of Gender Neutral (LGBTQ Community), Courage My Love (ACLU), People Power (ACLU), Public Property (Governors Island Trust), and Gowanus Gold (Gowanus Canal Conservancy). We continue to host fundraisers in our bars, donate beer to certain charitable causes (and to partners who support certain charitable causes), and have set up opportunities for our team to volunteer their time at some of these organizations. We are proud of our community at large and love to do what we can to support it.
Brianna Plaza: In the last year, you opened locations on Long Island and at the Moynihan Train Hall. What’s next for Threes Brewing?
Threes: Moynihan Train Hall is what’s next! We’re so excited to be opening our first permanent Manhattan location in what will surely become an iconic NYC building (Threes Brewing also has a seasonal summer outpost on Governors Island). We want to do much more, and we’ll start by making 2022 an epic Summer of Pils (we’re releasing a limited-edition lager), and look forward to seeing everyone at the bars.
Other things ~
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This is an unpopular opinion, but I don’t really like ice. Eater looks into, arguably, the worst kind of ice: pellet ice.