I know food, but beer is not my area of expertise. So I turned to my good friend Scott for his review of Broad Ripple’s new Thr3e Wisemen Brewery. You can expect to see him as a guest poster here from time to time. I’ll be putting in my two cents about Thr3e Wisemen next week.
I love a good micro-brew. The only thing better is a good local micro-brew. So I was excited to hear about the opening of Thr3e Wisemen Brewery (sorry folks, that’s how they spell it) in Broad Ripple.
Part of the Scotty’s group of restaurants, this is the first one that has a brewery onsite. It is clear from the moment that you walk in that there was a LOT of money spent here. From the specially inlaid plates to the iPads bolted to the tables to the huge brewery area, there is little doubt in my mind that this was a pet project of Scotty Wise first and a business second. Thr3e Wisemen opened its doors to the public on January 17, 2011 and eager to check out a new Broad Ripple location and potential source of tasty beer, a friend and I went that night to check it out.
The first thing you notice after walking in, besides the fact that they chose to keep the automatic sliding doors (a remnant of the grocery store that used to be in this location), is that this place is big and open. Glass walls separate the brewery area from the restaurant, which further lends to the feeling of openness. This is not what I would call an intimate venue. The general motif is concrete floors and warm woods everywhere else which might sound sort of rustic but actually has a clean and polished feel to it. Everything was shiny and new and there were plenty of flat screens around a la Scotty’s. I hope all the money put into Thr3e Wisemen isn’t going to come back to haunt it.
We got there around 6 pm and even though it’d only been open since 4, the restaurant was full. This may be partly due to the majority of the dining area tables being picnic table style that take up a lot of space but don’t really seat a large number of people, or opening night, or both. We managed to find a couple of seats at the bar which worked since we were there for the beer anyway. We ordered a couple appetizers and two beer samplers that consisted of three 6 ounce glasses arranged in a larger block of wood with the requisite insets for the glasses. (Games of giant Jenga come to mind.) This let us sample all but two of the in-house beers. We chose to forgo the Two Lucy’s Blackberry Wheat and the Golden Zoe IPA as they were the two we were least interested in trying.
So what beers did we try:
Centennial Martyr Double IPA – ABV: 8.00%, IBU: 92
This is a pretty typical Double IPA and was very hoppy just like I expected it to be. I did notice that it was a bit tastier after it had some time to warm up closer to room temperature. I’m not big on IPAs in general so I can’t fairly comment beyond this.
King Solomon’s Imperial Stout – ABV: 8.00%, IBU: 80
I love stouts, so unfortunately this was my first disappointment of the evening. While it was the darkest of the beers I tasted, it actually had very little of the flavor and general body that I’ve come to expect when I order a stout, much less an imperial stout. Its hoppy aftertaste also took me by surprise. We finished the 6 ounces of it with indifference.
Naptown Nut Brown – ABV: 5.00%, IBU: 28
The Nut Brown was okay. It tasted like a nut brown is supposed to taste and had a decent body. But it didn’t distinguish itself in any way from other nut browns that I’ve had. I did have another full pint of this after we finished the tasters, but I picked it because it was the best dark beer available, not because I was particularly crazy about it.
Snow Bunny Blonde – ABV: 4.00%, IBU: 16
After the porter and stout, this was a refreshingly tasty surprise. If lighter colored and wheat-style beers are your preference, give this one a try. Very drinkable.
Hubbard & Cravens Porter – ABV: 5.00%, IBU: 32
The porter had very little body and the flavor of it seemed almost watered down, similar to the stout but worse. I really wanted this to be the one I liked but there just didn’t seem to be any substance there. If you really like porters, I’m sorry, but don’t bother with this one.
Hoggy Style Amber – ABV: 5.00%, IBU: 28
This was my favorite beer of the evening. The first thing I thought when I tasted it was, “This tastes German.” It turns out it’s brewed with spalter hops from Germany (as is the Blonde). If I had been in the mood for this type of flavor, it would have been my second pint. This is also the only currently available beer that I’d be likely to purchase for carry-out. This one is worth stopping in for.
As you can probably tell based on my review of the beers, we were generally unimpressed with the offering. However, there’s still a glimmer of hope for this place: The brewmaster is still very much experimenting and trying out new recipes, so hopefully the beers will improve with new batches. Based on what they had available for carry-out from other breweries, they seem to have good taste in beer and hopefully this is an indicator of the quality of what they’re shooting for with the in-house brews. But I still can’t help but wonder how much tasting and comparison to similar beers was done prior to opening night, because overall, their beer can’t stand up to other local beers yet. And that’s never a good omen for a brewery.
The hostesses, wait staff, and bartenders were friendly and attentive (hopefully that continues beyond the first week of business). I asked our server what the “mofo” in the mofo mustard meant. She gave me a sly smile and said, “That means it’s hot.” Not my first guess, but she was right.
- Scott Brechmacher