Since opening in December 2014, Josh Stylman and his crew at Threes Brewing in Brooklyn have created more than 170 beers. After the 2016 election, they decided to try a new ingredient: activism. “We tend to have a predisposition toward human equality,” he says modestly of the philosophy behind Threes.
It all started on Inauguration Day 2017 with a brew called Courage, My Love, with 10% of proceeds going to the American Civil Liberties Union. Later that year during Pride Month, they launched a brew called Gender Neutral to benefit the LGBTQ community through the NYC Anti-Violence Project (and did it again in 2018).
For this Fourth of July, Threes is diving back into the fight to defend civil rights with the ACLU through a beer called People Power, named for the new and first-ever grassroots initiative in the agency’s 100-year history. “Typically, they’re not a volunteer organization, but [People Power] was inspired by a lot of people desiring to be more active,” says Stylman.
“I’m really passionate about the fact that they’re doing work that is protecting all of our liberty in a non-political way. This is not about the Red Team or the Blue Team — our hope is that people with really broad political ideologies join this cause.”
Signing up for People Power puts you in touch with community protests and other activist gatherings in your neighborhood. In that spirit, Threes is also not brewing alone. They reached out to all of their fellow brewers and friends of friends — and when you’re an upstart brewery in Brooklyn, that includes big names like Mikkeller, Bearded Iris and Kent Falls Brewing. To date, they’ve been joined by 55 breweries from Massachusetts to Hawaii all making their own People Power beers.
“Our thought is that we don’t want to impose a style [of beer], particularly in a ground-up movement like this,” Stylman says. “Expression comes in many shapes and sizes, or in this case flavors. And our feeling was, every brewery should put forth the style that best represents them.”
The brews will be released between Independence Day (July 4) and Election Day (Nov. 6). For each can sold and pint poured, 10% of proceeds go to support the ACLU. Any American craft brewer who wants to take part can still sign up.
At Threes, Stylman and his team chose one of his favorite styles of beer: lager. His brewery is becoming known for them, with their Vliet pilsner winning Best in Show at the 2017 New York State Fair out of more than 700 entries.
The People Power Pilsner is “a really easy-drinking beer, particularly for this time of year.” With an ABV of 5%, it’s the kind of light and not-too-strong beer you want to bring to the beach. “Beer is very context-dependent,” Stylman says. “Pilsner is a beer that, if made right, can be complex. I’m more the kind of person who wants to drink a few with my friends and just enjoy it.”
And for the people who will inevitably chime in with “stick to making beer,” the People Power pledge that brewers are asked to sign says it best: “We brew beer for the moments we celebrate and the way it brings people together. Throughout the nation, breweries are pillars in local communities, creating gathering places in our neighborhoods. As we are uniquely positioned to raise awareness and bolster civic engagement, we feel a moral imperative and a patriotic duty to act.”
Sounds like a perfect toast for the Fourth of July.
Threes Brewing will launch People Power with a July 4 cookout from 2-10 p.m. at their Gowanus location, 333 Douglass St. There will be barbecue and classic grill fare by their in-house restaurant Meat Hook, plus live Americana and Western swing music by Blue Steel.