On New Year’s Eve, Third Space Brewing, 1505 W. St. Paul Ave., launched a new juicy IPA that will join its lineup of year-round flagship brews.
The beer, called Nice Day – a named to complement Happy Place Midwest Pale Ale – is brewed with Mosaic Cryo, Citra Cryo, Idaho 7 Cryo and Talus hops for fruity mango, passion fruit and grapefruit notes. It’s 6.8 percent ABV.
Nice Day is balanced and fruity with a drinkable 30 IBUs.
The Menomonee Valley brewery’s flagship lineup also includes Heavenly Haze hazy IPA – which was added last year – and Upward Spiral West Coast-style IPA, which was among the first beers Third Space opened with in 2016.
It also brews a 4 percent Juice Fix seasonal and the Citra Fun Times IPA series.
“From our founding, we’ve made a commitment to innovation in brewing,” says co-owner Andy Gehl. “We are constantly analyzing the marketplace and changing tastes of craft beer drinkers, trying to come up with new styles or takes on styles that we think will be a hit with our customers.
“We recognize that just because a certain beer or style is popular now, that doesn’t mean it will continue that way forever.”
So, how to know when a new brew deserves to be a flagship?
“We don’t just add flagships or even seasonals on a whim,” says Gehl. “We go through a long process of recipe and brand development so we have to be looking forward and predicting what we think beer drinkers will want in the future.
“For 2022 we have predicted that there could be some movement back toward more traditional beer flavor profiles from the peak haze craze. However, we don’t necessarily see their tastes going all the way back to fully bitter IPAs. Nice Day fits a nice niche as a Juicy IPA (not a hazy), that fits in between a hazy ipa and a West Coast-style IPA.”
The new beer is available on tap and in 12-ounce six-packs beginning the first week of January, though it’s already available at the taproom.
Nice Day T-shirts have also been added to the brewery’s flagship merch lineup.
If there’s still not enough IPA for ya, Third Space released another juicy in its limited edition Beers About Nothing Series on Dec. 31. For now, City of Gold is only available in the taproom, but, says, Gehl, it is, “part of the development of another IPA series.”
The Beers About Nothing innovation series, which always offers an intriguing and changing array of styles in the taproom is made possible in part by the installation of a dedicated brewhouse, says co-owner and brewmaster Kevin Wright.
“In 2018 we installed a commercial grade pilot system which has allowed us to learn quite a bit as we develop new beers for the market, like Nice Day IPA.”
Like City of Gold, Nice Day underwent a similar development phase, beginning with an earlier version of the beer that was released in the taproom in 2021.
Back then it was one of Third Space’s fifth anniversary beers: the Rock the Green IPA. The recipe has been tweaked, however, so the brews are not the same.
“We pilot all new releases but typically give the beer a different name from the planned market release as we tend to make quite a few tweaks after the pilot and we don’t want to confuse people,” says Gehl. “It doesn’t always work like that because sometimes we decide to take a beer from the Beers About Nothing Series to market-wide simply because it was so popular in the taproom, i.e. Frog Weiss or Paloma Sour.”
“However, Nice Day IPA has been in our plans for some time now, we just wanted to make sure we got the recipe exactly right.”
I asked Gehl how many flagships seem appropriate for a brewery the size of Third Space these days.
“There really isn’t a magic number on year-round beers as long as you don’t dilute your lineup with too many options,” he says. “As long as your lineup is diverse and includes styles that people are looking for, you can afford to have an extended lineup.
“With the addition of Nice Day IPA, we will now have three IPAs in our year-round lineup but all three of them are distinct from one another and IPAs remain the No. 1 style in the market by far so we think it is a smart addition.”
But there are other factors, too, such as production capacity and the seemingly ever-tighter retail market where demand for shelf space and SKUs can be tough.
“Adding a new year-round beer is absolutely a challenge to our production team,” says Gehl, “but we have a really talented and organized team so we are confident they can make it work in this case.”
“In some stores it is definitely tough to add additional shelf placements without having to give one up but in other stores our beer sells so well that retailers are happy to add another placement, usually at the expense of a non-Third Space SKU that is not performing at our level,” he says. “Given our goal of constant innovation, we are comfortable giving up a lesser performing sku of our own if we think the replacement will do better but thankfully that doesn’t happen that often.
“We have some great retailer relationships and our beer sells well so typically they are willing to give us a chance when we add a new SKU. In fact, Nice Day IPA will be part of a first-to-market program with Kroger throughout Wisconsin that should give this new flagship a great kickstart with a key grocery store chain in the state.”
You should be able to find the new beer at retail and in bars by the time you read this. If you head to the taproom to try it, Third Space is also giving out coupons for free pints of the new brew – while supplies (of the coupon, not the beer) last – so you can gift a pint to a friend.
“Nice Day IPA creates a perfect harmony for beer lovers who want the juicy, tropical notes of a New England IPA but also want some of the more balanced characteristics of a traditional IPA,” says Gehl.
“Picture your favorite hazy IPA and your favorite west coast style IPA combined into one juicy package, that’s Nice Day IPA.”