Brett’s in the Air at Threes Brewing
“Anytime you push an extreme flavor profile, it gets one-dimensional. If you push alcohol in wine, it becomes the dominant flavor profile,” said Greg Doroski, the head brewer at Threes Brewing in Gowanus. “If you push hops, it becomes about hops. I think there’s a place for extreme everything. It helps set the terms for flavor profiles. Beer is going through a maturation process that’s been pushing the extreme. We’re trying to explore that place in the middle.”
Since the craft beer movement has spread across the nation like brush fire, its predilection towards overly hopped, high ABV brews shares some resemblance to winemaking in the New World. But thankfully, much like wine, there are a number of brewers who are scaling back, and considering how beer pairs with food.
Enter—stage Brooklyn—Threes Brewing, the brainchild of Josh Stylman, Justin Israelson and Andrew Unterberg. Four years in the making, it took nearly that long to find a location to house a brewery/pub/restaurant/coffee shop/event space, and eight months to negotiate the lease. Which is perhaps why NYC has lagged behind the rest of the nation in terms of the number of local breweries. “You’re building a manufacturing plant and the city has regulations for that,” said Greg. And because the space previously supported a furniture fabricator, the trio behind Threes needed to upgrade the water, gas and electric lines. “We started construction in March and just finished one month ago,” he added.
Originally brought on as a consultant, Greg joined the team full-time from Greenport Harbor on the North Fork, where he held a position as Second Brewer. With similar philosophies, the four men share a love for Saison beers. “As we dug down, we said the beers pair well with food and we should be doing a few,” said Greg. “We want beer to compliment food not compete or dominate or destroy the palate. As much as we experiment with wild yeast during primary fermentation,” he continued, “we still create beer that’s balanced and nuanced.”
Working with brettanomyces while also crafting pilsners requires a second set of hoses, clamps and pumps, along with a strict cleaning regimen to avoid contamination. “Brett’s in the air,” he said, “but it’s all about containing it.”
Inside the barrel, he lets it all hang out.
“We just started putting beer in barrels,” said Greg. “We’ve got beer aging on raspberries and tart cherries. We’re co-fermenting beer with chardonnay juice and with cabernet franc juice. We’ve got barrels from Raphael and Macari [on the North Fork]. This year worked well because everyone had record-breaking harvests, so we could pick up juice from them all. And wine makers love beer,” he added and laughed. “We had extra cabernet franc juice that I fermented completely with brett. All of this stuff is in barrel that we’re bottling in spring.”
With 17 taps in constant rotation, Threes currently has five of their own beers on tap, but they’re aiming for 10-12. “And even these will rotate,” said Greg. “Having other people’s beers on tap rounds out the beer list. We think of it as friends and heros.” Beers made by friends, like Other Half, Greenport and Peekskill, and beers that inspire, like the amazing LoverBeer from Italy, and Cuvée des Jacobins Rouge, brewed by Brouweirj Bockor N.V. in Belgium.
Along with rotating kegs, Threes Brewing has a revolving door in its kitchen. “It was a natural progression,” said Nina Woolf the General Manager, “the guys liked the element of having fire in the space, so they brought in a woodburning stove.” Wanting to focus on fresh foods that are healthy with a Mexican slant, “it was difficult to find someone,” she added, “so we thought, why don’t we bring in people we really like. Roberta’s [Pizza] was our first natural choice, but we had a fire [on opening night] between the walk-in and the back of the stove…We called Delaney Barbecue and they came up with something in six hours and were here for ten days.”
With Roberta’s Pizza in the kitchen until January 25th, slinging piping hot, cheesy pizza at its Brooklyn best, Threes Brewing has Mile End Delicatessen lined up next. “Then we’ll have The Meat Hook coming in for Beer Week,” said Nina. “Andrew is spearheading the schedule. They love coming in and playing with the space and drinking beer. It’s interesting to see who brings in what crowds. There’s so much great food in New York. Come summer, the game will change a little because we’ll be able to use the backyard [for BBQ].”
Backyard. Performance space. And Ninth Street Espresso. The range of community reach doesn’t end there.
TEW hosted our launch party for Michelberger Booze at Threes, which they stock at the bar. And, unlike most beer-centric establishments, Threes has a killer, if short, wine list, perhaps being the first and only brewery to sell Billecart-Salmon Champagne by the glass. “I love wine and Anna [Assistant GM] also loves wine. We come from restaurants and that’s our training. I wanted people to come in and order a glass of wine and be surprised. We have a small list but we want to explore more, to keep it funky. Greg came from food and wine, so he’s behind it. It’s funny to see everyone’s reactions. They come here and expect to see crappy wine like Yellowtail.”
And while there is an interesting offering of spirits behind the bar, including Industry City Standard Vodka, Michelberger Mountain and Michelberger Forest, Threes also opts to barrel age a few spirits at a time for their cocktails. “It falls into the same category with everything else we do here, wanting to create the best product for our customers,” said Nina. “It’s an ongoing experiment. We haven’t yet made the perfect Manhattan or Negroni, but the Long Island Ice Tea,” she added and laughed. Folks love it, and just can’t get enough.