In Part 2 of my conversations with Ian Smith at Three Rings Brewery in McPherson, KS, he tells me about their beer selections, how the process is going and when people in the area can expect to be able to taste the great beer they will be making! The retail space and brewery have started to come to life and they are planning for a May 2016 opening to be able to make great beer for great people.
G&S: What types of beer (styles/names) will you be starting with?
IS: We'll start with 4-5 beers: Blonde Ale (Yankee Rose), IPA (Vertigo & if we can get the hops for it), Pale Ale (Misty Mountain Hops), Stout (Bulldog) and Weizenbock (Foggy Dew).
G&S: What is your favorite type of beer?
IS: I'm not too picky when it comes to beer. I really enjoy sour styles and IPAs. Dad leans more towards the barrel-aged stuff.
G&S: Would you produce a style of beer that you wouldn’t choose to drink?
IS: I think we would produce a beer that is a style we wouldn't prefer. If anything, to make them and see how it turns out. I think we find ourselves not home brewing anything we wouldn't drink, so making something we're not used to would be good for us to experiment with.
G&S: Will you be creating things you have made in the past as a home brewer?
IS: Yes, all of our current recipes are home brewed beers.
G&S: What is the process for determining what you would brew?
IS: It comes down to what we want to experiment with and what we've tasted. We like experimenting with different styles and combining styles. I try to think of something that I haven't seen before (doesn't mean it hasn't been made before) and Dad tends to stick more to style guidelines. We also try to make beers we have tried that we really like. Not make a clone of it, but make something that has the flavors we like, but is also a little different that will make it unique.
G&S: And on a personal note, any sours coming out?
IS: We have plans for a sour or two, but nothing right away. Dad made a Gose recently that turned out really well, we've experimented with a Berliner Weisse and played around with some bacteria.
G&S: I saw that you want to create some styles people are familiar with, but also creating things people haven’t seen before. Who is more creative, you or your Dad?
IS: I'm going to say I'm more creative when it comes to ideas, but Dad is better at putting the recipes together. He's better at doing the research and figuring out how to put everything together to make it taste great.
G&S: Are you working with someone to create logos, labels, beer names, etc. or are you doing all that yourself?
IS: We have ideas for logos and labels, but we are working with a local graphic design company (Atelier, Inc.) to put those ideas on paper. They have done a great job creating great works of art for us.
G&S: Is it different working with your family?
IS: I haven't really worked with my family before, so I can't really pinpoint a difference yet. It's nice to have business meetings at your house over beer and a home-cooked meal.
G&S: So far, what is your favorite thing about being employed by yourself?
IS: We're both still working for others and plan on doing that until we can focus on the brewery full time. What I'm looking forward to most about being self-employed is being able to make the big decisions and also be completely hands on with whatever we're doing. Not really having to listen to anybody else but yourself and being able to follow your own gut on decisions that need to be made and what you want. Also looking forward to drinking at work.
G&S: How did you select your brewing equipment?
IS: We received a number of quotes from different manufacturers and chose ABE (American Beer Equipment) because of their quality work, customer service and location. Working with them is great and we haven't had any problems. They're very friendly and willing to help with anything and everything.
G&S: What stage are you on in setting up the brewhouse?
IS: The brewhouse is set up, we're just connecting power, water, etc. to it so we can get it running.
G&S: What has the most challenging construction piece been so far?
IS: Putting the steam lines in and, oddly, the bathroom. Luckily we have had great help from my my uncle and grandfather that have figured out and pretty much installed the steam lines. Without them, we would be in huge trouble. There is nothing I can say or do to thank them enough for their help. Thanks Dean & Poppy!
We've been working on this bathroom for what seems to be since we first started renting the building last August. It's always under construction and there always seems to be something we need to update or add to bring it up to code. The issue we are having now is getting the toilet to stop leaking. We've probably spent 10 hours on this toilet and it still won't work right!
G&S: Where are you at in the licensing/permit process?
IS: Waiting for federal approval. After that, I think we'll be able to get state approval pretty quickly.
G&S: Are you still on track to open in May?
IS: That's still the goal. It will still depend on when we get our permits & licenses, but we should have the brewery ready to go by then.
G&S: If things go as planned, I see that your taproom is about three years in the future, do you still see it taking that long?
IS: I think that's still a good goal we have. It might happen sooner, but some things need to fall into place in order for that to happen.
G&S: What does a successful first year look like for you?
IS: I'm hoping we have a lot of growler sales. I think we have a good location to get people leaving work, so we're hoping to draw in that crowd. In addition to that, we'd like to be in a lot of bars and restaurants in McPherson and the surrounding areas.
A successful first year, for me, would also include simple things like people just talking positively about our beer, people wanting to drink our beer and providing a positive image in McPherson and throughout the state.
Read the original story here.
Check out their website! www.threeringsbrewery.com