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Unwritten Lager, anyone?

Thr3e Punk Ales bubbles onto the scene

Thr3e Punk Ales is finally coming out of the plastic wrap.
  • Thr3e Punk Ales is finally coming out of the plastic wrap.

For the moment at least, another brewery has joined the craft-beer ranks of Santee. Thr3e Punk Ales debuted December 12th at the New Kids fest, an event dedicated to San Diego's newest breweries. Thr3e Punk got in under the wire, receiving its TTB license just in time to brew its Needle in the Hay double IPA for the occasion.

That beer was brewed in Santee, on the seven-barrel system at Butcher's Brewing. Thr3e Punk cofounder Kevin Lewis has been working as a brewer there for the past year, which he'll continue to do. But for three brew days a month, he'll now be joined by a longtime homebrew partner and fellow Thr3e Punk founder and brewer John Marshall, as they work to round out a roster of core offerings, including a pale ale, stout, and barley wine.

In the meantime, the third punk in the trio, Steve Garcia, has wasted little time distributing beers to select local tap rooms, including Chula Vista's La Bella Pizza and Manhattan Bar. Marshall and Garcia grew up in the South Bay and want to support its burgeoning craft scene. Chula is on the short list of places they're looking to eventually establish their own brewhouse.

"The next project for Thr3e Punk Ales is finding our own home," says Garcia, who handles sales and business development. But these guys don't rush. He points out Thr3e Punk Ales has been well more than a year in the making. They issued a couple of collaborative brews with Del Cerro bottle shop Knb Cellars but have otherwise been diligent about starting out right, beginning with a sound knowledge base.

Upon deciding to start a brewery, Garcia and Lewis signed up for the first class to complete SDSU's Business of Craft beer program, while Marshall attended the UCSD brewing certification program.

"It was important that we learn the business side, the marketing side, and the actual application of craft brewing," says Garcia, who also studied brewing science and technology at Chicago's Seibel Institute. "It could have been a really crazy ride," he adds, "but these guys sort of provided a blueprint on how to get it done."

It's a pretty methodic approach for guys with punk associations. Marshall and Garcia became friends in high school, eventually forming the band Three Piece Scandal, which was active in the late-’90s/early-oughts, including coveted slots on a couple of Warped Tours.

While their focus is now beer, they still want to keep music a part of the business. "We've been reaching out to a lot of the bands we grew up listening to and making collaborations with them," Garcia tells me. First up, an IPA with Ernie Longoria, the drummer of Sprung Monkey. Next will be a black lager with vocalist Scott Russo, of Unwritten Law (tentatively named Unwritten Lager).

Actually, Garcia says, the first venue they're looking for isn't for a brewhouse, it's for their launch party — someplace that can accommodate punk bands and craft beer.

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