Outside-The-Box Thinking for Hard Seltzer From Threes Brewing

Josh Stylman went straight to a hipster music mentality when asked about the Threes Brewing team diving into hard seltzers recently.

“The band gets popular, so you don’t listen to them anymore,” he said with a laugh. “I think we’ve taken that approach, maybe to a fault. So much that we used to joke about hard seltzer, yet none of us had ever actually tried making it.”

Brewer spoke to the Threes CEO recently and the Brooklyn brewery will be featured in the “Last Pint” of the July/August print edition of the magazine. But Stylman shared his thoughts on how the​ ​brewery — which likes to focus on classic styles — is starting to branch out of its comfort zone.

Sidenote, which comes in two flavors — Lime, Ginger & Motueka hops​,​ ​along with Grapefruit, Mint & Citra — is ​just the kind of thinking that using a blank slate like hard seltzer can give to creating flavor palates.

“I think his feeling is if my [brewing] team is challenged creatively with this, I’m not gonna hold it back,” Stylman said. “It’s just another technique and another thing we can learn.

“In some ways, maybe this is going to be ​Threes ​alter ego​, and we’re going to do stuff we never would have considered.”

Stylman said that Matt Levy, Threes’ Head Brewer, likes to think about food pairings for its beer and this is translating over to seltzer as well.

“We don’t want the liquid to overshadow the food,” he said. “We sell a lot of beer, in a lot of nice restaurants and I think seltzer will be similar. This first one [with lime, ginger, and Motueka] is still pretty chill.

“I had some yesterday with Mexican food. It paired really right on with chips and salsa and the lime kind of hit the spot. We’re doing another one with lemon zest, elderberry, and oak. That’s the difference between using your home brewer mentality. We’ve never thought of that, like in a million years of how those things all pair. But so far, it’s good.”

READ MORE: Why Grant Pauly of 3 Sheeps Has Embraced the Technical Aspects of Seltzers

Instead of focusing on something like the traditional German history of beers, the Threes brew team is getting inspired by old-fashioned cocktails or wine.

“It is super interesting to me, just like being a fly on the wall and listening to a bunch of professional brewers talk about it,” Stylman said.

Right now, each of the five brewers get to create a small-batch seltzer brand and every other one is canned while the other is served in all of Threes’ New York locations. Eventually, it may branch to higher-end accounts or those that would be geared toward this kind of thinking. But for now, experimenting in-house and seeing how consumers there react is the first step.

​”Famous last words, but we’ll see if anyone buys it,” Stylman joked. “We’re gonna ramp it up slowly, but cautiously. We’ll see if people really like it. But for the most part, we’re kind of treating this as like an R&D thing, and we’re going to keep it in-house for the time being.”

One thing that he stressed was extracts — just like in the brewery’s beer-making process — is a non-starter. Working with a local farmer is key to creating ideal fruit flavors and adding in hops or wood is going to be a part that helps the brewery stand out in a very crowded seltzer market right now.

“We wanted to stay true to that with seltzer … especially because we’re getting out of our comfort zone,” he said. “We wanted to at least stay true to our moral compass on this.”

Photo courtesy Alex Bohn

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