The owners of Three Rings Brewery in McPherson are drinking to a year of success in business.
Ian Smith, with his father Brian, have owned the craft brewery at 536 U.S. Highway 81 in McPherson since spring of 2016 and have developed an impressive lineup of both classic and original brews.
“We’re getting a bit more creative, trying new things and seeing where we can go from there,” Ian Smith said. “I was surprised by how much we’ve grown in the first year. We weren’t planning on that, we were just going to take it slow, but everyone thought differently and we’re at the point where we’re keeping up with demand, but just barely. That’s a great place to be in your first year.”
Each of Three Rings Brewery’s beers, which are named after classic rock songs, feature distinctly Kansas flavors, ranging from the Bulldog oatmeal stout to their grapefruit Vertigo IPA.
Specially for the summer, the Smiths debuted Earthshine Wheat, a seasonal American wheat beer that offers a simpler take on what hot weather drinks should taste like. It is brewed with New Zealand Motueka and Falconer’s Flight hops, which give it a slight lemon note, with a 4.1 percent alcohol by volume. It’s available in growlers from the brewery, or on tap at area restaurants upon request.
“It’s a wheat beer that’s easy to drink, good for summer and it’s different than a Boulevard wheat. We use an ale yeast and we don’t use the popular wheat beer flavorings that are dominating the craft beer market, like coriander or orange peel. You’ll recognize it, but it’ll be a little different than everyone else,” Ian Smith explained. “We think about what we like to drink — something light and flavorful for summer — and develop a beer going off of that.”
In the past year, the Smiths traveled the craft beer festival circuit and expanded production capabilities. They also offered several limited-time-only selections, like a peanut butter and jelly smoked stout at River City Brewery’s “Kiss my Cask” event and a special firkin barrel tapping at the Fieldhouse in McPherson.
“We experiment with small batches. We put our Bulldog stout in a 15-gallon oak whiskey barrel that we had available last week and it sold out in two days. Everyone came in, liked it, and we ran out really quick,” Ian Smith said. “Locally, everyone has been extremely supportive. Even distributing in other areas like Hutchinson and Wichita, we’ve been pretty well received. We’re just thankful that we can make beer for everybody, and everybody comes out and supports us.”
Now, the brew masters have another oak barrel batch going, which will be ready anywhere from August to December this year, depending on what the Smiths think of the taste.
“We’re aging an imperial smoked stout. We’re not sure when it will be ready, this is our first go-round, so we’re just tasting it and we’ll release it when it’s done,” Ian Smith said. “My dad and I both have full-time jobs and there are times where we need to do something and it would be great to do today, but we’re busy, so we have to do it a few days later. Time is a big constraint, but we’re able to get through it and keep up for now.”
Success has brewed success for Three Rings Brewery — they’ve expanded their operations more than expected, and sooner, in their first year.
“The first year has gone better than we thought it would. We got two new fermenters in December, so even six months in, we had to expand our capacity,” Ian Smith said. “This new tank holds more than all the others put together. It’s a 20-barrel fermenter and the others are 7-barrel fermenters, and a barrel is 31 gallons, so there’s a lot of beer in there.”
As for the future of Three Rings Brewery, the Smiths are headed in the same direction as many other craft brewers — cans.
“We’re working with some suppliers and looking at some machines, so we’re hoping to start putting our first beers into cans by the end of the year,” Ian Smith said. “Cans are better for the beer — they don’t let any light in and light damages your beer quickly — and they’re also very portable so you can take them anywhere and not worry about the glass. Canned craft beer is also a huge part of the market. A few years back, the owner of Boulevard said he would never put his beer into cans and now they’re canning beer. People are understanding the benefits and they like it so that’s where we’re headed.”
For more information, visit http://threeringsbrewery.com, call 620-504-5022 or visit their Facebook page at Three Rings Brewery.
Contact Cheyenne Derksen Schroeder by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter at @MacSentinel.