Beer Safari: Three Floyd’s

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I went on beer safari in uncharted territory recently… Michigan. I’d never been to the state before, which is odd since I’m in Wisconsin, fer chrissakes. And Michigan ranks fifth in the nation in terms of breweries, microbreweries and brewpubs, so I’d been meaning to visit for some time. But to get there I’d have to go through Indiana. And though the prospect of driving through Hoosier territory chilled my blood, there was a bright side—I could stop by Three Floyd’s.

The brewer of fan favorites such as Alpha King, Gumballhead, and Robert the Bruce, Three Floyd’s has been around since 1996. The brewpub opens at noon on Saturdays, and we arrived around 11:45 to find a good-sized line already snaking through the parking lot. An imposing fellow wandered down the line, taking names for the brewery tours and carefully explaining the procedure. “We’ll seat you by party. Please don’t stand in the doorway. We’ll hold your table while you go on the tour, so there’s no need to slam your beer. No, you cannot buy beer and drink it in the parking lot. Got it?” He repeated this as the line steadily grew.

We signed up for the 1:30 pm tour and waited in the hot sun. The brewpub filled up with about five or six groups still ahead of us, so we knew that we were in for a wait. By 1:00 we were still waiting, but I amused myself by watching new arrivals walk in with hopeful expressions and then walk out with dazed expression of disbelief. “He said like three hours…” The sun, hunger, and lack of beer made me spiteful, and I took delight in their misfortune.

Finally it was 1:30, and we found ourselves on the tour. As brewery tours go, it was pretty basic. We wore protective eyewear while our guide Phil explained the basics of brewing and provided a brief history of Three Floyd’s. After 15 minutes or so he threw it open for questions. A perky blonde girl asked, “So what gives, like, different beers, like, different flavors?”

I winced. Phil took it in stride. “As I mentioned, there are varieties of malt and hops and yeast, and all contribute different to the different flavors of beer. So you’ll have sweeter malty beers, or citrusy hoppy beers, or roasty flavors, and so on. Make sense?”

It clearly did not. I got the impression that she was thinking less in terms of hop profiles and more Summer Shandy. A bro who may or may not have been in her group spoke up. “So what makes your beer different from, like, Bud Light?”

Admirably, Phil somehow resisted what must have been a powerful impulse to throw a barrel at the man’s head. “Again, we’re making primarily ales that have different ingredients…” He once more explained the brewing process, all for naught. Jesus wept. And this mercifully ended the tour.

Finally inside the brewpub, with metal blaring from the speakers and the execrable Tim Burton movie Mars Attacks! on the TV, we threw ourselves into the beer. There were a number of taps available only at the brewpub, so naturally these were what we sampled. They included the following:

  • Boom Over Pow, an “extra sexy bitter” with an ABV of 6.7%. It was an easy drinker with a floral hop aroma.
  • Yum Yum, a 5.5% ABV session pale ale with some serious citrus flavor.
  • Hank on Rye, a collaboration with Piece Brewery created as a tribute to Henry Chinaski. At 6%, it was nicely spicy with a bit of smoke flavor.
  • Permanent Funeral, a 10.5% pale ale brewed with the band Pig Destroyer. My tasting notes read simply, “Holy damn.”

All of the above were delicious and refreshing after our time baking in the sun. The entire experience was probably the finest time I’d had in Indiana since my first encounter with White Castle. But we couldn’t linger. Michigan beckoned. Northward!