RateBeer talks to Three Floyds president and head brewer
March 13, 2003
Written by joet
Nick Floyd is president and head brewer at Three Floyd’s Brewing Company in Munster, Indiana.
Recently, he was able to take a moment to talk to us about the brewery’s recent success at
RateBeer and plans for the future among other things.
RateBeer: What do you think of RateBeer?
Nick Floyd: I think Ratebeer.com is a
great site. I’ve always envisioned a Website that connects beer enthusiasts, homebrewers
and professional brewers . There are many small message
boards and forums
about beer and homebrewing in general but Ratebeer goes far
beyond what I’d ever imagined.
A great phenomon at Ratebeer.com I think
gathering and sampling, chatting and exchanging brews person to
Yeah, a package of beer sitting on your doorstep and meeting up with other beer enthusiasts are two great experiences no one should without!
Tell the readers who don’t know yet, who are the Three Floyds? And what’s
your role at the brewery now?
Three Floyds Brewing Co. is a medium-small microbrewery in the greater Chicagoland area. Our
brewery was founded in 1996 as a garage brewery initially only making draft beer for the
Chicago/Northwest Indiana market. We originally had a
5-barrel brewhouse with wok burners, 10-barrel open fermentors (Swiss cheese
dairy tanks) and other random vessels.
Three Floyds Brewing Co. got its name from
myself, Nick Floyd, my brother Simon Floyd, and my father
Michael Floyd. My role at Three Floyds Brewing Co. is as President/Head Brewer .
Rumor has it that you sold that original brewing equipment on eBay for $25,000...
We almost sold our old brewery on eBay. The parties that
tried to buy our brewery didn’t really understand the business, they were
surprised they needed operating capital and recipes to run the brewery.
(LoL) They were also shocked that they would need someone to sell the beer, so to
protect ourselves we opted not to sell the equipement.
You’ve got a new, bigger facility in Munster, Indiana...
Yeah, the most important thing we gained when we moved was modern brewing equipment. It gave
us the ability to dial in our recipes and make better beer.
Our old Hammond brewery was charming and inspiring but inconsistent.
Consistency. That’s a big one when you’re building brand, isn’t it? Tell me, you
were formally educated as a brewer at Siebel Brewing Institute and
endured an apprenticeship at the Florida Brewing Company. You’ve also
been brewing full time at Three Floyds making great beers for
I’ve had some valuable experiences
working at the Florida Brewery and the Weinkeller breweries. The Florida
Brewery is a regional brewery in Auburndale, Florida that makes adjunct
lagers and malta for the US, Caribbean and Central American markets.
I went to brew in Florida when I was 22 years old and it was great experience
brewing on a 300 barrel system.
A bit different than 10 barrels at a time.
Kirby Nelson from the Capital Brewery in Middleton, Wisconsin
also had brewed lagers there before me. Another valuable
working at the oposite end of the spectrum -- the Weinkeller
breweries of suburban Chicago. The Weinkeller breweries where great
experience because I got to brew doppelbock, Berliner weisse, hefe weisse, ESB
and any style I wanted to in general. The Weinkeller had huge employee turnover. Many
talented people got their training there and went on to
bigger and better
our head of sales John Freyer, for example, our brewmaster Jim
Cibak and myself.
The most important thing I learned so far from working at other
breweries: You must work for yourself to be happy.
That’s some good advice. Your Robert The Bruce Scottish Ale and Alpha King Pale Ale
both won some
early attention here at RateBeer, but it’s your really big
beers -- your
Lord Imperial Stout, Behemoth Barley Wine and Dreadnaught
Imperial IPA --
that have pushed Three Floyds way up our brewer charts.
You’re currently the
fifth highest rated brewer in America according to RateBeer
and number one in
the fiercely contested Midwest. You also have two beers in
our top three.
Something’s going very right for you right now, Nick. What is it and
what’s inspiring it?
I may be the frontman for our brewery but our high
ratings are largely due to our team of employees:
John Mish, Vice President
John Freyer, Marketing & Sales
Jim Cibak, Brewmaster (who is meticulous in the brewhouse)
You’re a modest man, Nick. Here’s a minor gripe:
why is it your big beers are only sold in kegs and consequently very hard for us beergeeks to get?
We are currently
getting our bottling line assembled and into operation. You’ll see
Dreadnaught in 22 oz. "bomber" bottles in the next 4-5 weeks. Behemoth
and Darklord will be bottled in 12 oz. 12 packs later in the year. Other
Three Floyd beers will be bottled seasonally like Rabbid Rabbit Saison,
Alpha Klaus X-Mas Porter and GumballHead Wheat.
[Readers: I hope you’re taking notes. He just said 12x12s of DarkLord
will be available later this year!]
You’re a young, focused and very successful brewer --
you’re in a great
spot right now. I’ve got to ask the ’girlfriend’s dad question’: "Son, where do see yourself in five years?"
A large part of our puzzle is still incomplete. When we’re
bottling our own beer and running our own Three Floyds Brewpub, I’ll be
Who else in your mind is really pushing the envelope? Who
else is making great
There are many great breweries in America right now and let me qualify this by saying
I’m a hophead, so off the top of my head, I’d say... Piece Brewery & Pizzeria (Rainbows & Unicorns),
Flossmoor Station (Imperial Stout, Wheat Wine), Pizza Port (Hop 15),
Russian River (Pliney the Elder), Victory, Ommegang, Bells, Stone, Bear Republic and
various Rock Bottoms like Rock Bottom, Warrenville.
Cool. Do you remember the first beer that really struck you as
The first beers I ever tried were warm Budweiser and Old Style in
high school. I couldn’t figure out why people liked that stuff and stuck to Jim Beam.
Then one night I tried a Newcastle Brown Ale (this was the ’80s)
and it had way more flavor than the macro lagers. The first
incredible beers I tried at the time were Bitburger, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale,
Anchor Liberty, Wurzburger, Optimator and Celebrator.
Sean Henne wrote an article at RateBeer describing that kind of <a hrefhttp://www.ratebeer.com/Story.asp?StoryID=38>evolution... So what do you live for? When do you get the most satisfaction out of what you do?
I get the most satisfaction converting scared light beer
drinkers from swill to hoppy American ales -- and it doesn’t even have to be a
Three Floyd’s beer.
I can very much understand your perspective there my friend.
Any news for us on new beers, new markets or 3F events?
Three Floyds Brewpub will be selling ownership shares at the
end of March.
Beer enthusiasts will have a chance to be a part owner of our
that purchase a thousand dollars get a free pint a day! A
business plan will be available at 3floyds.com for interested
parties. Also ,
look out for Alpha Kong Quadruple at the end of the Summer.
Rocking. And look for ratings of Alpha Kong Quadruple at RateBeer several minutes thereafter.
Thanks for talking to us, Nick!
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I get the most satisfaction converting scared light beer drinkers from swill to hoppy American ales
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