Three Sisters stepped up from winning Champion Microbrewery in 2021 to be this year’s champion small brewery, even though they hadn’t really increased their volume output.

As founder-brewer Joe Emans explains, the awards criteria asked breweries to come up with a projection on volume and after a successful crowd-funding campaign last year, in which they raised $520,000, Three Sisters have just installed a new brew kit.

But the first brew into the new tanks came just a few days after the awards.

“Up until today our production has been micro. We’re small from today,” Emans said on the Tuesday after the awards.

The new capital went into key growth priorities — bigger tanks, a new canning line, more chiller storage. But there was also a luxury spend: more comfortable seats.

 “We’ve got those Oktoberfest style seats at the moment, and we frequently hear that people don’t come to the bar because the seats aren’t that comfy, so we’ve got some booths on order.”

The canning machine will arrive later this year, locally-made from start-up Kiwi company Zanz.

The brewery, based in one-half of the old New Plymouth (later TSB) Savings Bank building, has taken the lease on the next-door portion of the building and will expand both the bar and fermenter footprint into that extra space.

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Three Sisters is located inside an old bank. Photo / Brett Atkinson

Three sisters on rapid growth curve

For Emans and his wife Sarah Markert-Emans it’s been a rapid growth curve — they were brewing in their home basement just three years ago and an initial, modest, crowd-funding campaign that raised $45,000 was enough to get them set-up in a new space in 2020.

From there it’s been a case of demand “pulling” them towards growth.

Emans says the demand has been for their dessert style beers: Milkshake IPAs and the dessert sours in the Sour Plooms series.

“Pastry sours and milkshake IPAs, we like making them, but I don’t drink them much, they are not that well-balanced shall we say, but people seem to like them.”

Of all the beers that won medals, Emans was most impressed with the Kaitake HB hazy pale ale. It was Top-100 winner at the New World Beer & Cider Awards judged in March, a silver medallist at the Australian International Beer Awards in May and now a gold medallist — all from the same batch of beer brewed to celebrate the triumph of a local football team.

three sisters