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Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2013

3 Sheeps’ Distinctive Craft Beer

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Home brewing isn’t all that hard, really. Anybody with the right supplies and ingredients and the discipline to follow directions should be able to make a fairly satisfying beer on one of their first attempts. Recreating that exact same beer, however, is a different story. “There’s a saying in beer circles,” shares Grant Pauly, founder and brewmaster of Sheboygan’s 3 Sheeps Brewing Company: “It’s easy to make a good beer once—now make it again.”

Yet for Pauly, the challenge of recreating the same beer each time was his favorite part of home brewing, a hobby he’d picked up after his wife gave him a kit as a gift. He became so good at recreating his beers that, with his wife’s encouragement, he decided to quit his job at his family’s concrete business to take a stab at running his own brewery.

3 Sheeps Brewing Company began selling its product last spring, entering a craft-beer market that’s growing more crowded by the month. To carve out a niche for itself, the brewery has focused on developing beers that put unconventional twists on fairly traditional recipes. “I’d never really enjoyed making your typical ambers or porters anyway,” Pauly explains. “There are already so many good ones being made throughout Wisconsin that I didn’t see the need for any more. Instead, we like to do beers that are one off from the normal.”

The brewery’s Baaad Boy Black Wheat beer, for instance, is darker than almost any wheat beer on the market, nearly as black as many porters or stouts. Blackened wheat malt gives the beer a roasted flavor with hints of chocolate, but none of the bitterness you’d expect from a beer that pours so dark.

3 Sheep’s Rebel Kent The First amber ale, meanwhile, follows the template for a standard Belgian Abbey, except the recipe is balanced with rye malt, which imparts some surprising spicy notes. The brewery’s IPA, Really Cool Waterslides, is much more conventional by comparison, though it’s brewed with three types of hops, which lends it an understated complexity and a distinct citrus aroma.

“When you go to the bar, you want to try something different,” Pauly says. “So basically, we want our beers to have the shock and wow factor, but we don’t want you to be sick of them after half a pint.”

3 Sheeps’ uniquely conceived brews have helped open doors around the state, where the company’s products have gradually worked their way into liquor stores and on to bar taps. This year they’ve begun to take on a bigger presence at Milwaukee-area beer bars—no small feat for a brewery that, though only 60 miles away, isn’t quite considered local by the standards of many Milwaukee beer buffs.

“In general, the further away you are from a location, the harder it is to get on tap there,” Pauly says. “That’s one of the great things about Wisconsin; people really do care about how local products are. We’ve had good luck expanding, though. Usually when we go to a bar and talk to an owner and let them sample a beer, they’re willing to give us a try.”

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