Greg Doroski, the winner of Brooklyn Wort in 2010, will return to the annual homebrewing competition for the first time in four years on Saturday, but not as an amateur from Bay Ridge—rather, as a judge and brewmaster representing the event’s host, Threes Brewing.
Threes, slated to open in November at 333 Douglass Street in Gowanus, is an ambitious multipurpose project. It’s firstly a brewpub—soon the borough’s third, joining Greenpoint’s Dirck the Norseman and Keg & Lantern—but the capacious 5,000-square-foot space will also house the first Brooklyn outpost of Ninth Street Espresso and an event space named Tiny Montgomery (an additional 3,000-square-feet backyard abuts Butler Street and will eventually have apple trees and a 16-foot-high trellis with hops and wisteria).
Doroski, who previously brewed at Greenport Harbor on Long Island, is responsible for the 15-barrel brewery at Threes—and his objectives are equally ambitious. His opening lineup, for example, includes three saisons and two beers fermented with Brettanomyces yeasts. He isn’t pressured to brew according to any paradigm, as the 24 drafts will also feature outside breweries—”Peekskill, Other Half, Greenport Harbor… breweries that the whole team admires,” says Doroski—to plug any holes. “If I don’t really feel like brewing a stout for six months, I don’t have to,” he adds. “The guest taps free me up and really allow me to create a model that’s fanatical about quality control. I’ll only release beer if I think it’s deserving.”
Before the opening of Threes, and prior to Brooklyn Wort on Saturday, I asked Doroski to discuss three of those upcoming “deserving” beers. He also provided three that influenced his beercareer—according to him, “They’re equally important.”
Three Beers That Influenced Me
1) Orval: Drinking Orval for the first time during my sophomore year in college was a transformative experience. I don’t think it’s too much to say it was an epiphany. Although I drank a lot of craft beer before then, until that point I don’t think I really understood what good beer was, or really what beer could be—layers of flavor and aroma, complex but not noisy or loud, well-conceived and executed, and probably more importantly, something that deserved a place at the table, that could compliment good food.
Probably more than any other one beer, Orval informs my brewing aesthetic and sets an example of the kind of beers I strive to brew: layered and balanced. Developing one-dimensional flavor profiles is relatively easy, but layering requires much more thought and attention to detail, process and technique; I think there is probably also more risk because there is much less noise to hide behind. Anyone can dump more of the hottest hop variety into a beer but it won’t necessarily make it good—at least to my mind.
2) Saison Dupont: As a homebrewer, I primarily brewed saisons, and at Greenport Harbor, we brewed one with rye that was modeled after my beer that won the first Brooklyn Wort homebrew contest in 2010. I love saisons, and we’ll be launching with three different ones at Threes. I think they pair particularly well with food, which I think is a good chance to also say that my love of beer runs directly though my love of food.
Saison Dupont is a modern classic. Sure there are more complex or more historically accurate examples on the market, but its impossible for me to think about my love of beer without thinking of its fruitiness, its perfect level of bitterness, its mild tartness, and its subtle herbal presence. Dry and refreshing, it’s the kind of beer I could drink by the gallon and either dissect or slug, depending on my mood.
3) Allagash Confluence: Another eye opener for me. Going back to the mid-2000s on the East Coast, mixed fermentation—or using traditional and wild yeasts together—was quite revolutionary, at least to me. The fruity and moderately funky flavors and aromatics Allagash got from using Brettanomyces in the primary for this beer were just amazing. We’re launching with two beers that feature mixed fermentations with Brett: Wandering Bine, one of the saisons I alluded to above, and Arboretum, a pale ale, which I’ll get to below. At least intellectually, these beers are informed by my early experience drinking Confluence.
Three Upcoming Beers for Threes Brewing
1) Arboretum: This beer came from trying to perfect a more traditional pale ale recipe. At the time, I was having difficulty getting the distinctive fruitiness I wanted from any mixture of hops or strain of Saccharomyces—traditional brewing yeast—I tried. When I decided to test a blend of a Sacch and Brett, instead, I knew I immediately hit it. I find that using Brett during primary fermentation imparts more fruity flavors and aromas than crazy funk. Almost immediately you get notes of pineapple and apricot in this beer that play nicely against a mild funkiness.The hoppiness is definitely on the lower end for a pale ale but it’s not needed with the added complexity the two yeasts bring to the table.
2) Table Beer: I brewed this saison about 15 times to get it exactly where I wanted it: a refreshing beer that is fruity, dry, relatively light in body, and balanced. Think of it as somewhere between a saison, grisette, and witbier. This beer features a bunch flaked wheat, which lends a grainy and almost musty character to the finish. Some of the difficulty in perfecting this beer is a function of its simplicity and lower ABV (around 4 percent). When you have a beer higher in alcohol, it’s somewhat easier to make it flavorful. With lower gravity beers, though, a slight tweak in the recipe can make a big difference. For example, at one point I increased the bitterness a little bit, which really allowed the dryness to shine through the sweetness.
3) Single Tree IPA: Everyone and their mother brews an IPA these days and there are some very good ones being made, with Other Half and Peekskill making some of the best local interpretations of the style. With our IPA, I tried not to make the hoppiest thing on the planet, but to reach for a multi-layered beer. There’s a base level of bitterness from the kettle hops and two different dry-hop additions to boost the aroma. Our IPA isn’t super-bitter at all; it’s more chewy, if that makes sense. It’s aromatically dank with a bunch of fruity notes. Because it doesn’t have a lot of bitterness it is especially susceptible to the negative effects of oxidation—a real threat to all IPAs. While we’re going to do some limited distribution with our other beers, our IPA will only be available on-site and only served at its peak freshness. If there is any left in the tanks once its past its prime the sewer rats will get their share when we pour it down the drain.