Three Taverns Craft Brewery

Location 
121 New Street
Decatur, GA 30030
United States

About the Brewery

It all began with a European road trip. The summer of 1994 found three friends rattling around the continent in an old Peugeot, affectionately dubbed “Hotel Le Car.” An improvised itinerary landed the trio unexpectedly in Belgium, on the night of Brussels’ Ommegang festival. It was here that Brian Purcell—today Three Taverns’ founder—first discovered the wonder of beer brewed by Trappist monks. It was in that moment a seed was planted, though it took many more years to take root.

Two subsequent moments of serendipity continued to tug at Brian’s heart. In the late ’90s, an unexpected stop at Decatur’s Brick Store Pub and a glass of Le Trappe beer stirred his dormant memories, reawakening the wonder that first surfaced in Brussels. Shortly after that experience, Brian would travel to Portland, Oregon for the wedding of another member of that road-trip trio. 

Experiencing this friend’s home-brewed beer in the context of Portland’s legendary craft beer culture inspired the purchase of his first homebrew kit… which spent the next few years gathering dust.

It wasn’t until 2002, after Brian moved to a Decatur neighborhood within walking distance of his now-favorite pub, that the homebrew kit came off the shelf. With the first batch, Brian marveled that brewing satisfied something in his soul that he didn’t know was missing—and a love affair was born. This revelation became an obsession. Eventually the conviction that this hobby could be his vocation took root and strengthened. So after years of brewing and planning, a return trip to Belgium, an inspired idea of hiring a Belgium brewer, and finally finding a perfect location, Three Taverns Craft Brewery was born. The first official beer was poured to a welcoming public on July 19, 2013.

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Our Name

Three Taverns was a real place some two thousand years ago on the Appian Way,  just outside of Rome. It was a traveler’s rest and is mentioned in the book of Acts. We don’t know much about it, but from stories we’re told it was a place of thanksgiving and communal hospitality. The Latin phrase for the place, Tres Tabernae, could also be translated “three shops,” which historians say would have been the blacksmith, the general store and, of course, the refreshment house.

We imagine Three Taverns as a place weary travelers in the ancient world found rest, community, and conversation—centered around food and drink at the table. Though the world has changed immensely since days of the Roman Empire, the culture of the table has been a constant throughout the ages.

At Three Taverns, we believe, as we gather at the table and share our lives together over good food and drink, we are formed at our best as humans.

And beer is often a participant in these moments—from thousands of years before Roman times to the present day. Our conviction is that the beer served at the table should be worthy of the moment, not just compatible with the culture of the table, but something that elevates it… because our human experience deserves it.

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Our Craft

The mission of Three Taverns is to unlock and inspire the pursuit of a more transcendent experience of life, inviting our friends and neighbors to join us at the table of discovery and raise a glass in gratitude and merry celebration. From inception, the slogan for Three Taverns has been transcendo mediocris, or “surpass the ordinary.” It is deeply woven into our very being and expresses itself in everything we do.

To be truly artisanal, we must first learn to taste beer with our taste buds and our hearts, combining the evidence of our eyes and our memories and our imaginations with the experience of our salivary glands. Our effort to craft beers that amaze and inspire requires us to be deliberate about each and every thing we do.

Artful care defines the styles we brew and the glasses we use, the stories behind the names and the label designs, the way we mash grain and produce wort, our selection of hops, the spices and sugar sometimes added to the boil kettle, and finally, the careful, almost spiritual attention given to the fermentation process where yeast transforms wort into beer.

While the advances of modern science and technology allow us to see how the living organism called yeast actually turns sugar into alcohol, there is still a mystique to the creation of beer—as humans, we are dependent on something outside of ourselves for the fermented drink. Little wonder that throughout history, beer has been understood as a gift and associated with the divine, leading monastic brewers in the dark ages to give yeast a name, “Godisgood.”

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The Belgian Way

What do we mean when we say “Belgian inspiration?” To us, and many others, “Belgian” connotes complexity, experimentation, artful refinement, and openness to possibility. Unlike its northern European neighbors such as England and Germany, Belgium’s beer culture has been one of wide-ranging experimentation and innovation. From the wild ales brewed in Brussels with yeast literally drawn from the open air, to bottle-conditioned monk-brewed ales with candy sugar-aided fermentation, this tiny country has been a hotbed of brewing variety and artful refinement for hundreds of years.

We have found it both inspiring and humbling to stand on the shoulders of this brewing heritage, which still has new things to teach us. Yet it gives us the courage to attempt our own experiments. In many ways, America’s freewheeling brewing culture is the philosophical descendent of the Belgian tradition. Like Belgium’s monks, wild-eyed entrepreneurs, and scions of famous brewing families centuries ago, American craft brewers approach their work thinking “hmm… what if?” We at Three Taverns are no exception.


BOTTLE CONDITIONING

Every 750 ml bottle we ship contains “live beer.” This means, just before bottling, there is an addition of yeast and candy sugar that allows the beer to slowly and naturally carbonate in the bottle, producing effervescence and ensuring more depth of flavor over time. This practice, common at the Belgian breweries that inspire us—particularly those run by Trappist monasteries—rewards patience and makes for more complex beer. We begin this process of secondary fermentation in the brewery’s warm room, under conditions that allow the yeast to thrive. It’s time consuming and labor intensive, but it’s central to our craft and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Barrel Aging

We barrel age some of our beers to bring about additional flavor, aroma and greater complexity. Whether aging in spirit barrels or fully fermenting in wine barrels, as beer seeps into every crevice of these wooden barrels over time, it absorbs the flavors and adopts the character of the wood, including remnants of what was present before. These residual flavors and lingering microflora from the previous tenant can enhance and deepen the beer’s aroma and taste. Throughout the process, some of the beer is lost to evaporation, a portion called “the angel’s share” by our forebears.

This concentrates the flavors inherent in the beer and makes for a richer drinking experience. Whether producing beer matured in bourbon barrels, or wild ales fermented and aged in wine barrels with yeast cultivated from the air, barrel aging is an enormous gamble, and it’s impossible to predict what may happen when a living ale spends months or even years in a wooden vessel under constant temperature. That said, we think it’s a risk worth taking.

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-1.pngBRIAN PURCELL
Founder

Before there was Three Taverns, there were Brian Purcell’s backyard gatherings. Brian’s invited guests were the only ones who had the privilege of tasting his homebrewed offerings. For Brian, who ran an incentive marketing company at the time, brewing was an opportunity to do something with deeper meaning. His brews had as much to do with his heart, soul and passion as they did with barley, hops, yeast and water. For him, it was only natural that beer and hospitality would go hand in hand, and his guests agreed.

After years of dividing his attentions, helping clients market themselves during the day, and brewing increasingly complex, Belgian-inspired recipes at night, Brian began to entertain the idea of knitting the two pieces together. What if he could extend the same culture of warmth and hospitality as a professional brewer, and also use his marketing expertise to help make the enterprise a success? This idea was the seed of Three Taverns.

It took many more years of brewing experimentation, careful business planning, and capital fundraising to turn the idea into a reality. Yet Brian arrived in the promised land of professional brewing uniquely prepared for the role, having launched and run two other successful businesses. In between, he joined The Coca-Cola Company’s marketing division.

Strangely enough, it was church that encouraged Brian to embark upon a life making and selling beer. After taking on a leadership role in his local congregation, he was energized by work that came from his heart. After that, though previously he’d thought the idea of professional brewing “far-fetched,” he first began to wonder if he could marry passion to vocation and make it work.

Three Taverns Brewery is the answer.