After starting his beercareer with Greenport Harbor Brewing Company—a nearly three-year period where he gained invaluable professional experience making the recipes of its seasoned brewmaster, DJ Swanson—Greg Doroski is now captaining a highly exploratory aleboat navigating west of the North Fork: in Brooklyn, as brewmaster of Threes Brewing.
Threes, which opened in the borough's Gowanus neighborhood in December, is easily the most ambitious and layered operation to involve a brewery in New York City. It's a beautiful, coiling space totaling 8,000 square feet—3,000 of that is dedicated to an undeveloped backyard—that demands attention and attracts exploration. There is a bar with 20 drafts; an early-opening coffee shop from Ninth Street Espresso; a pop-up restaurant with rotating tenants (think: Roberta's and Mile End Deli); and an event space named Tiny Montgomery.
At the helm of its 15-barrel brewery is Doroski, who is making beers defined as "complex and multilayered through our exploration of yeasts, many of them wild. We're driven by farmhouse ales; hoppy, aromatically bright pale ales and IPAs; and not to mention a not-yet-unveiled component of barrel-aged, fruit-driven beers coming soon."
After a few months of keeping production in-house, the brewery has slowly started to distribute its liquid to some of the city's most revered bars, amassing 15-20 accounts since February. (Blind Tiger Ale House, Tørst, Alewife NYC, and Proletariat are a few examples.) Threes' footprint will be decidely smaller on Long Island, according to Doroski, with only two accounts to start: BBD's in Rocky Point and Hoptron Brewtique in Patchogue. The former, which has garnered considerable praisefor its burgers since opening in 2013, also deserves recognition for its great and often-growing beer program, one that currently offers 28 rotating drafts, an intriguing and partly vintage list of 100-plus bottles, and a newly installed cask beer engine. This dedication, along with the restaurant's friendship with Greenport Harbor, influenced Doroski to launch here first, beginning with a six-beer event on Saturday.
"I really like the things [BBD's] is doing, food-wise and beer-wise. Their crew has been visiting us in Brooklyn for months and they've always supported the Greenport guys by putting them on tap. It seemed like a no-brainer," he says.
Before the on-Long Island launch of Threes this Saturday, Doroski aptly chose three of the beers appearing at BBD's to discuss further:
Vliet Pilsner // 5.1% ABV
For me, Vliet is one of our most important beers—if only because for a brewery of our size, it doesn’t make much sense to brew it. Drinkers can understand paying $8 for a double IPA because a bunch of hops go into it and it definitely tastes like a lot of hops (and more hops equals more flavor, right? and a double-whatever also gets you more drunk, right?). Drinkers have a harder time spending that same $8 for a pilsner that spends three times longer fermenting (because what does time taste like anyway?). But it’s a similar scenario. For every barrel of pilsner, we can make three barrels of any IPA—we can turn IPA in under 2 weeks, while Pils takes at least 6. It's kind of funny too because IPA also sells faster. But this pilsner is the kind of beer that the brewing team wants to drink and the kind of beers that we feel are important to our identity. It was one of the few beers that I knew we were going to brew going into this project.
This is the second batch of Vliet that we’ve brewed. I love how the maltiness and hop character played off each other in the first batch, but we changed the yeast strain to attenuate more to make it a touch drier this time around. But it’s largely the same beer: a nice malt base with great noble hop character: grassy, spicy and floral. I wouldn’t call Vliet one of core beers—we’re trying to stay away from flagships—at least for now. Think of it in the same light as Wandering Bine or Arboretum, a beer that will float in and out of the picture although it is central to our identity. Expect this to be around in the summer, though: I look forward to drinking gallons of it in our backyard in Gowanus, but don’t dare call it Gowanus Gold.
Hereyago Pale Ale // 5.5% ABV
Although my boy DJ [Swanson, Greenport Harbor’s brewmaster] jokes around that five years ago this would have been labeled an IPA, this is one of our American-Style Pale Ales. While Arboretum is a rejection of pale-ale-as-IPA-light, Hereyago embraces that identity. The malt bill has about 30 percent wheat to give a smooth, delicate mouth-feel and good head retention, and the rest is all hop aromatics. This beer is 85% hops and 15% malt. This version was hopped with Simcoe and Mosaic, so you’ll notice a lot of tropical and piney aromas. The first time, we used Simcoe and Amarillo. Although we’re not labeling it as a hop project, this is the beer you’ll see us experiment with hops. Not only is the base great to showcase hops, we needed some place to use new and emerging varieties, or different combinations, and see what the results are, and this beer happened to be it. The next one will likely be Citra and Calypso, and maybe we’ll also do a classically styled batch with Cascade and Centennial. If people start complaining we’ll brew a batch with all English Fuggle.
Wandering Bine Saison //5.3% ABV
I’m very happy with the current state of Bine, but since its creation, it’s been guided by a greater vision. From the beginning it’s been clear that eventually this beer would be released in a more evolved bottle-conditioned form, with more pronounced funk. After we opened, we decided that the draft version would continue toward the intersection of fruity and funky. Although we intended to blend Bine from batch to batch we never intended—at least intellectually—for the draft version to showcase some more of the funky elements of Brett fermentation. I think it’s something unique to us having a serving tank here that we continually blend into. As a production brewery, you need to constantly rotate your tanks. To keep a blending tank full, only blending in a certain portion of the new beer into the old is financially inefficient. But again, it’s about the vision of the brewery team, the vision of the owners, and the allowance for creativity and the pursuit of a common vision. We’re taking a blending mindset and letting this beer evolve and change purposely, to see where it takes us. I’m very happy the way the beer is right now. But there’s always this thing that’s out on the horizon, the motivating force to see where it can go. And that’s what we’re exploring now.