Hops with #HeyLuke: Brewing with the crew at Third Nature Brewing Co.

Hops with Luke Laster

PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Craft beer is big in South Korea.

Did that catch your attention? When Third Nature Brewing Co. owner Troy Zitzelsberger told me, it certainly caught mine.

As a casual beer fan, this is something what was news to me, but it’s a great nugget of beer knowledge to have.

Zitzelsberger even said at one point, South Korea was the fifth largest importer of American craft beer.

He lived in South Korea for about 9 years. He also spent time living elsewhere overseas like Germany and Thailand, but it was South Korea where he owned a taphouse, which he sold to open a brewpub, which was also eventually sold.

All that led him to West Michigan to open Third Nature Brewing Co. with his brother and brother in-law.

Troy Zeitzelberger, his brother and brother-in-law and their families. (Courtesy)

On this episode of Hops with #HeyLuke, we feature three beers unique to this Rockford-area brewery. One in particular was inspired from the knowledge Zitzelsberger gained overseas.

To kick things off, we have the El Hefe Hefeweizen, coming in at a cool 4.9% ABV. Zitzelsberger said the name is an ode to his better half.

“It’s Spanish for ‘the boss,’ so I named it after my wife,” he said with a grin.

“This is kind of the beer that I would say introduced me to beer and probably my brother and sister as well after we went on a family trip to Germany,” he added.

Since the drinking age in Germany is much lower than it is in the U.S., Zitzelsberger says this beer is a nice throwback to that trip to Germany and of course his last name, which, if you haven’t noticed, is very German.

Second, we have the inspiration from South Korea, the Jeju IPA, 6.4% ABV.

“Jeju is an island in Korea that Koreans go to vacation at. On Jeju, there’s a native orange that they call hallabongs. The U.S. counterpart to that is a tangello, which is a hybrid fruit. Hybrid between a pomello (type of grapefruit) and tangerines and we use that here,” Zitzelsberger said.

He added it’s incredibly expensive to get hallabongs to the U.S. from South Korea.

Troy Zitzelsberger and his wife Donghee serve beer together in South Korea. (Courtesy)

Last, we have the Crew Brew. This isn’t a single beer; it’s one that is constantly changing. 

“One of our employees that’s doing a great job, excelling and whatnot, will choose to do a beer with us,” Zitzelsberger explained.

He said whichever employee is elected to help create a Crew Brew choses a type of beer they’re looking to create, comes in on a brew day and makes it happen. This time around, the employee chosen really enjoys sours, so they’re using agave and pineapple for flavors. The Crew Brew gets the #HeyLuke Certified Story — the highlight beer, or in this case story, of the episode — thanks to its unique way to recognize employees.

Photos of some of the past employees and their chosen beers:

For more Hops with #HeyLuke, head over to WOODTV.com’s Live Desk page. Also be sure to follow our Instagram page (@woodtv) for exclusive clips. If you would like your brewery featured on an episode of “Hops with #HeyLuke,” you can reach out to Luke via email at luke.laster@woodtv.com or find him on Facebook or Twitter.

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