Microbrewery. Craft Beer. Two terms that, until the last decade, weren’t all that common in the world of Beer. Growing up, our parents and grandparents savored the pale, yellow brews of Anheuser-Busch, Schlitz, Pabst, Coors, Miller, and Hamms…the lighter, the better! (see beerhistory.com for stats)
Fast forward to 2012. The same major players are still in the game and going strong, but the beer scene in America has gone through a major facelift. Despite the best efforts of the “big boys” to introduce new gimmicks in their packaging and marketing, beer drinkers in America aren’t settling for the transparent, tasteless beers of yesteryear. Consumers want more. Enter: the art of brewing beer.
Microbreweries and Craft Breweries have emerged on the scene with a new attitude towards the production of beer. By definition, microbreweries and craft breweries produce A LOT less beer per year than their well-known counterparts in St. Louis and Milwaukee. This smaller output gives these “little” guys more time to put into the quality and uniqueness of their product. Microbreweries are able to experiment with new recipes and combine new ingredients in smaller batches. The standard beer recipe of yeast, water, malt, and hops has been vastly diversified to include things like fruits, nuts, herbs, spices, and to use a variety of yeasts, malts, and hops from all over the world. Brewers have also started aging their beers in different types of barrels-whiskey, bourbon, wine-giving the beers an even wider flavor profile and increasing the alcohol content in the process. The result-a seemingly endless number of combinations that stops only with the brewer’s imagination and ends with exactly what the beer drinker of today wants-More.
That shortened history of the microbrew (Lauren’s Version 1.0) brings me to the main topic of my post-3 Floyds! Three Floyds Brewing Company is a small craft brewery in Munster, Indiana-just a hop, skip, and a jump from Chicago.
Mike and I first discovered Three Floyds several years back when we started wanting more from our beers and 3 Floyds was emerging in the Chicago market. I actually remember the first time I tried one of their beers-it was at dinner in Lincoln Square and the beer was Gumballhead-their ever popular wheat beer with a smoking cat on the bottle-still one of my favs to this day.
Since Three Floyds started back in 1996, they’ve grown quite a bit, both in production capacity and popularity. Now distributing to Chicago, Indiana, Milwaukee, Madison, Louisville, and occasionally Ohio, and operating a Brewpub at their production facility in Munster-Three Floyds hasn’t let this boom in popularity negatively affect their product-even with lines like this when they open on Saturdays…
Along with their year rounds beers (Alpha King, Robert the Bruce, Pride & Joy, Gumballhead, Dreadnaught, Jinx Proof, Arctic Panzer Wolf, and Zombie Dust), Three Floyds also puts out seasonal beers (usually releasing one each month) and other special, limited release beers such as collaborations with other breweries. These are the beers you can buy for at-home consumption, if you’re lucky. They’re also always brewing small batches of new stuff that is only available to sample at their brewpub…this, along with their fantastic food menu, is what brings us to Munster, IN whenever we get the chance (it helps that most of my family lives out here -more opportunity to visit!).
Yesterday I stopped in at Three Floyds on my way to my grandparents’. I arrived right at noon when they open and found the line in the picture above waiting for me. It took about 30 minutes to get to the door, where I was seated at the bar right away.
The first beer I tried was, of course, one of their only-available-in-house beers-Zes Zes Zes (666 in Dutch, they’re a tad bit dark here), a saison. I LOVED this beer!
I also tried the RisGoop-a collaboration with Mikkeller, and Busy Boyz-a Dortmunder-style lager. Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed both (I even brought home 2 bottles of the RisGoop, along with a 6-pack of Zombie Dust!).
I also tried a couple of their small bites-their Scotch Egg is always a favorite of mine and the Whitefish Croquette was a new and exciting plate for me. I’ve tried LOTS of dishes at Three Floyds over the past few years and have never been disappointed. Fun fact: they have their own herb and vegetable garden out back!
The bottom line is this: if you’ve never tried Three Floyds’ beers, or worse-you’ve never even heard of them (gasp!), I highly recommend making the trip to Munster, Indiana to see what all the fuss is about. Fight the crowds and take one of their brewery tours on a Saturday or stop by for lunch during the week for a little more breathing room. Try as many beers as you can, ask your bartenders and servers for recommendations, and just take it all in-if Three Floyds is one thing, it is definitely UNIQUE!
Once you’ve crossed Three Floyds off your list, branch out and give some of the thousands of microbreweries out there a try-exciting things are happening in the world of beer and you don’t want to be left behind!