Three Floyds to Expand Production, Distill Dark Lord Whiskey
UKRAINIAN VILLAGE — It's a Three Floyds spring — and obviously that's got nothing to do with the weather.
Ukrainian Village brewer Nick Floyd recently scored the financing he's been waiting for to expand his namesake craft beer empire and give beer geeks exactly what they want — more Three Floyds tasty brew.
"It's an exciting, but really stressful time," Floyd said.
"It's been a lot of CEO s--- and I hate that. I'm more of a punk-rock, wizard-metal CEO anyway, and the brewery is more of a kingdom than a corporation. But we shopped around and gave local bankers a tour, showed them our new brew lab, how we come up with our art and they said, 'Wait, you're Three Floyds … we'll give you the dough.'"
DNAinfo Managing Editor Shamus Toomey stops by DNAinfo Radio to chat about the Three Floyds Brewery expansion:
The proposed $10 million expansion calls for doubling the size of the heavy metal-inspired microbrewery, which has been rated among the top breweries in the world for seven years in a row by RateBeer.com.
In three years time, Floyd says the expanded brewery in Munster, Ind. — complete with a German-made, robot-run "Porsche of bottling lines" — will nearly triple its production to 100,000 barrels a year and get your favorite beer to your favorite bar in half the time.
For years, die-hard Three Floyds fans in Chicago have complained that they can't get enough of its vast lineup of craft brews, including its Russian Imperial Stout Dark Lord — "the most wanted beer in the world" that's only sold one day a year. (That's Dark Lord Day — and this year it's April 26.)
For Three Floyds fans, the good news gets better — especially for beer drinkers who also like the hard stuff.
The brewery expansion includes a five-story distillery to make craft spirits with room to age whiskey at "Texas temperatures" to age the booze quickly.
"This is something I've wanted to do for nine years. Distilling has always been the next step, and as brewers we know we can still do it. We know half the process already," Floyd said. "I know we can make it with the same quality."
Floyd said he's banking on the idea that the mashes they use to brew their signature beers will be just the stuff to make a viable style of "Indiana whiskey, as sought after as our beers."
Three Floyds master brewer Chris Boggess and his crew already plan to — get this — distil Dark Lord into a unique high-quality spirit that appeals to both beer and whiskey drinkers.
"Beer always will be my thing, and I can always grow in the brewery creatively," Boggess said. "But distilling is just different. It's the alchemy, the science of it. It's just cool."
And, following Three Floyds' motto, "It's not normal," the brewery's "wizard CEO" plans on making a version of Maotai — a rare Chinese spirit that sells for more than $300 a bottle.
"It's basically a Chinese moonshine," Floyd said. "You go to Chinatown and they'll tell you it's 50 to 200 bucks. It tastes like model glue. Maybe there's something wrong with me, but I like it. And when we make ours it's going to be f------ good."
It'll take a couple years before the additional beer and the new spirit line make it to a Chicago tap near you.
While making more beer will certainly help make more drinkers happy, Three Floyds still probably won't be able to meet the current demand for its beers at Chicago bars and liquor stores.
"We're still making the same beer the same way. That's important. We're just getting a little bigger. We're still minuscule compared to places like Bell's, which is at 300,000 barrels," Floyd said. "Someone will probably complain that it's not enough, but it's what we can do."
Next week in My Chicago: What's new about the most wanted beer in the world.