Finding Comfort, Cheer at Three Spirits Brewery

Wouldn’t you find comfort in knowing your beer was created and brewed by a former Emergency Medical doctor? Tabu Terrell traded his medical profession for the business of beer and opened Three Spirits Brewery just shy of three months ago in the South End off Old Pineville Rd (or get off the Light Rail at Woodlawn and it’s a short walk).

With the holiday season now in the rearview mirror, it can be nice to be reminded of that festive time of year when you say or hear the name, ‘Three Spirits Brewery’. The brewery’s name comes from Terrell’s love of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and how his former career path was much like that of Scrooge, leading him away from quality time with his family. Add the fact that the brewery’s entrance has a classic, colonial look to it, you can’t help but want to see what’s inside (hint: there’s an arcade game with all the classics and pinball tucked in the corner near the entrance).

We’re thrilled to welcome Three Spirits to its first QCBF and they look forward to introducing you to their “comfort beers”, including a new beer, King Rassafassa Ale.


You were encouraged by an adviser during your medical school residency to take up a hobby to reduce stress and help occupy wintertime in Indiana, and he suggested homebrewing. What if you had found a different hobby? Do you still think brewing would have found its way into your life?

I do. I actually wanted to get into brewing two or three years before I started residency. During medical school there was no time to brew so I knew that if wanted to get started, I had to buy a kit because there was no way I was going to buy something and not use it [laughs].

It’s kind of funny because when I was a kid I begged my parents to get me one of those chemistry sets you’d see advertised on TV where you get to mix the chemicals and create experiments. Well, I never got one of those, so later in life the homebrew kit was my answer to that [laughs].


(Photo courtesy the Daily Feed)

The King Rassafassa Ale sounds like a beer that has to be tried. How have your beer recipes been influenced by your family and heritage?

My family’s influence has been more about them not being big beer drinkers and developing recipes that would appeal to them. That’s where the notion of comfort beers came from; beers that are approachable, generally lower ABV and you know exactly what you’re getting which generally means you’re inclined to drink more of it.

I grew up in the Midwest and we drank a lot of light beer. My goal is to brew beers that you can drink a lot of but are much more flavorful. My dad, for example, was a big Stroh’s drinker so getting beer drinkers like him to try beers with more flavor was where the comfort beers phrase came from.


What role do your family members serve at Three Spirits Brewery? Did we hear your son called dibs on game room manager?

They keep me sane and they reel me back in. When I’m getting too stressed or just fixated on some kind of work problem, they make me realize what’s most important and that’s why I love having them here. The last three years when I was a stay-at-home Dad, that experience gave me that base that I never would have had in any other situation. My wife has been a tremendous help; my son wants to be the bar manager and my daughter is ready to be the snack manager so it doesn’t get any better to have the family so involved.


(Three Spirits Brewery Tap Room Manager, Debbie, and Owner/Brewer Tabu)

It looks like you already have a couple bottled offerings planned. What else can we expect from TSB in its first year, and how do you hope to stand out among several new and established Charlotte breweries?

One thing we’d like to do, and we’ve been complimented on this on a few occasions, is to reintroduce some styles that other craft brewers haven’t focused on like our Northern English Brown as well as a couple lagers we have on tap.

I will say that our beers are not meant to be overpowering. We like to take beer styles that might otherwise be considered bland and add a subtle flavor or ingredient to bring it altogether. For example, the apricot in our Southern Bliss Golden ale brings out a wonderful aroma to go with its light body, the coriander in our cream ale really makes it pop or the delicious citrus notes that come from the spices, orange and lemon peel in our Saison.


You’re leaving Three Spirits with a filled growler, which beer did you select?

It depends on what my wife wants that day [laughs]. I’ve taken everything home; it really just depends on the day. If it’s a nice, bright cheery day, it’s going to be something lighter like the Southern Bliss or Helles Lager. If it’s a just been a grind of a day, it’ll be the Honey Porter.

When it comes to creating recipes, I’ve always started backwards I guess you’d say. I’ll think of a taste that I want a beer to finish, get a sense of its style parameters and then create a beer in that style. I love trying new beers and it’s the label art that really influences which beers I try. But the brewery that most inspired me? It’s actually Miller and Anheuser, as they make such non adventurous beers [laughs].