When you walk into 3 Daughters Brewing Company in St. Petersburg, the first thing you'll notice is giant 18,000-foot warehouse and all the games that are available for anyone to use. We're talking life-size Jenga and Connect Four here, people.
Named after three little girls, 3DB opened in December of 2013 and started off as a retail-oriented business. Two of the owners had backgrounds in business and marketing. They got their start working with an Italian restaurant and were constantly collaborating with the Head Chef as they remained on top of the latest trends. During that time, they were finalizing recipes and getting ready to distribute their beers to the public.
Keeping Up With High Demands
In order to keep up with market demands, they knew they needed to expand. They pursued their vision of growth and transformed their microbrewery into a 30-barrel warehouse located near the downtown area.
The warehouse is just off the beaten path located near the arts district. They chose the area specifically because they knew it wouldn't limit their opportunity to grow and expand; had they chosen a smaller space closer to downtown, it might have.
In their huge warehouse, they have the flexibility to house large groups of people and events. Apple Butter Express was performing when I went last Friday night and they had the crowd dancing and interacting - which was fun!
What Separates Them From The Rest
"Every brewery is a bit different, and when you look at us - our beers are true to a beer style," says Leigh Harting, one of the owners. "Each one is very balanced and smooth. There's no one ingredient that is too overwhelming."
During my visit to the brewery, I was given the opportunity to try as many beers as I wanted. See what's on tap here. My favorites were the Mission to Marzen and the Channel Marker Red Ale. I also tried the Cherry Cream Ale, but it wasn't my favorite.
"We can always find a beer for someone. We've got a broad spectrum to choose from - Which provides something for people who are new to the craft beer industry.
We have everything from light beers to multi-layered ones," she said.
Leigh said the management team and the staff all sit down and review tasting notes whenever they want to release a new product. "It's how we continue to learn - it's a process. For me personally, it's watching the market. We go on road trips and experience all that we can," she said.
The owners of 3DB took their entire staff on the Tampa Bay brew bus. As part of the deal, they chose to visit Cigar City, Rapp and Florida Avenue. "They were all fantastic," says Leigh. "It gave our staff and us, too, the opportunity to experience the local beer scene and learn about different styles of beer."
The Science Behind The Beer
Partnered with University of South Florida Saint Petersburg, they have interns that study the biology and chemistry behind the beer - which is a big, yet crucial investment to staying consistent. "If you like our beer today, you'll like it in 6 months," Leigh says.
Sometimes they'll taste a beer and realize it's not exactly what they wanted - so it's back to the drawing board.
Not only is it imperative to have enough beer so they don't run out - but the right kind of beer. All together, they have 25 recipes and have just brewed their first lager, the Mission to Marzen.
They're planning to launch a couple of canned beers - the Beach Blonde Ale and Bimini Twist IPA - which will hopefully hit the shelves by the second week of September.
With fall just around the corner, we can expect a pumpkin ale to fill our glasses in the near future. Pumpkin lovers, rejoice!
Now in their second phase of expansion, they've recently ordered two more fermenters. "It's going to double our brewing capacity and hold 12,000 gallons every two weeks. There's a lot of growth and we have a plan for the next round of fermenters," said Leigh.
When asked if they'll start serving food aside from the food trucks - maybe. "We wanted to come out as a craft beer manufacturer and be clear about who were are. It's not in the plans at this time - food will change the dynamic," she said. The food trucks seem to be working for now.
One downside of living in Florida is dealing with the summer humidity. While the Big Ass Fans help to provide air circulation in the warehouse, plans to install an air-conditioning system will be addressed at the beginning of next year.
Within the next 60-90 days, they will effectively distribute everywhere in Florida. Most of the time, they focus on their ales. As the recipes work through the tasting room, they put it on the 30-barrel system and look at putting them on a seasonal tap.
Over the next couple of months, they plan to expand outside the Florida borders. Towards the end of the year, they'll distribute the cans where they need to be - with hopes of being a household name by January 2015.
"I don't think the growing beer industry is hindering us - we've been having so much fun," says Leigh. "A year ago, I was doing marketing in an IT firm. A lot of this has been self-taught, with a lot of help, too."
The Brewers' Choice
"I really like the Chocolate Peanut Butter Stout from Rapp Brewing - but there are TONS of great ones! I like to try sours, but I tend to order Heffeviewsen, blonde ales and other lighter beers," said Leigh.
She also enjoys the breweries in her own neighborhood, including St. Pete Brewing Company and Green Bench Brewing.