Three is the Magic Number
The post-COVID slowdown of new Connecticut breweries was allayed a bit in August 2022 by Rule of 3 Brewing in East Hampton. And of course I’m here to write about my experiences at the corrugated steel clad brewery. The usual “I had these beers and here’s the positive qualities and here are the negative qualities and the playlist seemed to have been borrowed from the 90’s bros at the Crossfit gym next door…” the usual stuff.
But I’m so hung up on the name of this place I just can’t focus. To which “Rule of Three” are they referring? There are lots of them, but I’m pretty familiar with… three. Seriously. Three.
And none of the three have anything to do with brewing or beer or East Hampton or… let’s see what they say:
Rule of 3 brewing is the brainchild (the beerchild?) of veteran brewer Scott Cross and John Vitale.
They were shaped by their past experiences, developing a set of rules to brew by. The first one? Great beer should never take itself too seriously. That’s one of the observations that helped them cultivate a shared sensibility that resulted in the Rule of 3 ethos.
That’s one rule. And it’s a rule I certainly agree with, and I’m happy to report that into their second year of brewing at the time of this writing, they are “keeping beer fun” but not “making beer stupid.” Their use of adjuncts is within bounds of normalcy, and they brew several classic true-to-style beers.
But I’m still stuck on “the rule of 3.” Let’s see what else they have to say…
It goes beyond great beer (though that’s really important). It’s about approaching life with wit, wisdom and passion. And it’s reflected in John and Scott’s innovative spins on classic beer styles that will activate your taste buds and your sense of humor without making you think too hard about what you just drank.
Hm. So… never take beer too seriously, make great beer, and… don’t think too hard? No, that’s not it. I’m stumped.
Which leads me to think about the rule of three in writing. This is a writing principle that suggests that a trio of entities such as events or characters is more humorous, satisfying, or effective than other numbers. This covers a wide range of things but includes sentence ending lists of three to emphasize an idea.
Like, “It’s about approaching life with wit, wisdom and passion.” Is that their “rule of 3?” For a brewery? I think that actually works.
The rule of 3 I use professionally is in statistical analysis. There, it states that if a certain event did not occur in a sample with a number of subjects (x), the interval from 0 to 3/x is a 95% confidence interval for the rate of occurrences in the population – as long as x>30. (In other words, if 3000 people say y, I can say with 95% confidence that only 1 in 1,000 people will say y.
Are they using this in their brewing? I doubt it very much. I just wanted to flex some big brain stuff on y’all.
The other rule of 3 I know is when it comes to survival in the elements. It’s a rule of thumb that I hope none of us ever have to invoke, especially at a small brewery in East Hampton, Connecticut.
You can survive three minutes without breathable air (unconsciousness), or in icy water.
You can survive three hours in a harsh environment (extreme heat or cold).
You can survive three days without drinkable water.
You can survive three weeks without food.
As I said, there are a whole bunch of these from fields as diverse as Wicca, aeronautics, C++ programming, hematology, diving, and so on.
This is what I thought about while drinking four generous samples here and – oh wait. I just found their rule of 3:
Have a thirst for knowledge, a passion for living, and a never-too-serious view of the world. Which is different from having wit, wisdom, and passion. (Yes, I know I’m the first person to think about this for more than five seconds.)
Like many breweries, they started out with a definitive plan. A theme. A vibe.
In medieval times, it was the court jester’s job to keep the ale flowing, the good times rolling and any bad vibes at bay (plague? What plague?). His witty barbs spared no one — the king himself might get a royal roasting. At Rule of 3 Brewing, we’re guided by that jester’s spirit.
When I visited, 5 months after their birth, all of their beers had names that flowed from the above weirdness. For example, my beers were 3rd Rule (pale ale), The Jester Effect (NEIPA), Knights of the Square Table (English bitter!), and Exception to the Rule (Kolsch). Others available were Heckyl’s Revenge, Yule King, Secret Rule, Simple Rule… you get the point. As always happens, they’ve moved on from this whole theming thing to a large degree.
I had received a tip from a friend that the NEIPA here was one of the worst looking beers in the state. You can see it here, second from left, and I have to say I’ve seen worse.
The head brewer(?) here, Scott Cross, was with Fat Orange Cat Brewing when they got buzz and got a bit too big for their suburban East Hampton britches. (They closed their taproom in 2021 and moved to contracting elsewhere.) His murky and turbid NEIPAs were Connecticut beer darlings for a while, so he knows what the people like when it comes to these things.
Cross also was signed on to helm the brewing operation at the new Steady Habit that was (not) to be in the Higganum section of Haddam. Once that project fell through, I guess he partnered up with another guy and they got Rule of 3 off the ground.
The pale ale was pleasantly bitter, and the bitter was more bitter than than English bitters are supposed to be. But you know what? I like that. In a world with overly sweet beers with all sorts of sugars added, jester’s hats off to Rule of 3 for keeping things bitter. The kolsch was entirely forgettable, but that’s fine. That just means it wasn’t bad.
Rule of 3 is fine. I don’t think it will ever reach the heights of Fat Cat Craziness, but that type of frenzy just doesn’t exist in craft brewing anymore. Looking at their social media, they have tons of fun happenings every week and hey, they promoted World Cup viewing so I like them that much more than the next brewery. The goal isn’t to get FOC crowds, it’s to make good beer, have a nice enough taproom to draw customers, and to sell enough beer to make a few bucks.
See what I did there? Another rule of 3. And I think this particular Rule of 3 is fulfilling that Rule of 3.