Thursday, February 07, 2008

The Path To Philly Beer Week 2008 - A Profile of Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant

One of the most decorated breweries/brewpubs in the Delaware Valley. I count up the GABF and WBC awards won over the years and I get 29; Stoudt's has 29 too. Then there's a big dropoff of more than 50% before you find the next ranking brewery. Not that it's really a competition. Sure, you could argue that they're a "mini-chain" with 7 current locations and more on the drawing board. But, you can't argue the fact that they attract some of the best brewing talent around.

And, it starts from the top. Brew buds Mark, Kevin, and Kevin got into the business over a decade ago and survived the fallout of the 90s by going head strong into the turn of the century cooking up good family fare from the kitchen and flavorful suds from the brewhouse. The love for well-crafted beer pulses through the organization and out to the customers. I've yet to run into a bartender at any Iron Hill location (haven't been to Newark) who can't give at least the basics about each beer and table servers who can't at least list the names and styles by memory.

The management is so concerned with the customer experience that they were giving out $10 credits last year simply for taking part in a 15 minute survey about the Iron Hill brand and customer experience. Also, the West Chester location hosts the local BUZZ Off homebrewing club meeting and even provides yeast and wort for the asking. In a recent issue of Zymurgy, an article profiled a competition that they support whereby each homebrewer receives five gallons of wort to create their homebrew. The homebrewers return later with the finished product for judging.

That chain thing? Don't even think it. Would a local coffee brewer go across the street to get a cup of Starbucks? You know the answer. But, the Big Bottle Bonanza in North Wales and the Belgium event in West Chester routinely draws many local brewers, either there to showcase their own brew or to simply partake in the camaraderie of Iron Hill events.

As you ready yourself for Philly Beer Week 2008, study up on some background notes on Iron Hill and consider yourself lucky to be part of such a vibrant and rich beer region that PBW 2008 will celebrate.

Name: Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant
Location 1 (Justin Sproul): 147 East Main Street, Newark, DE 19711 Phone: 302-266-9000 Opened 1996
Location 2 (Chris LaPierre): 3 West Gay Street, West Chester, PA 19380 Phone: 610-738-9600 Opened 1998
Location 3 (Bob Barrar): 30 East State Street, Media, PA 19063 Phone: 610-627-9000 Opened 2000
Location 4 (Brian Finn): 710 South Madison Street, Wilmington, DE 19801 Phone: 302-658-8200 Opened 2003
Location 5 (Larry Horwitz): 1460 Bethlehem Pike, North Wales, PA 19454 Phone: 267-708-2739 Opened 2004
Location 6 (Tim Stumpf): 130 Bridge Street, Phoenixville, PA 19460 Phone: 610-983-9333 Opened 2006
Location 7 (Paul Rutherford): 781 Harrisburg Avenue, Lancaster, PA 17603 Phone: 717-291-9800 Opened 2007

Kevin Davies, Mark Edelson (head brewmaster), Kevin Finn; founders & owners
7 on-location brewmasters (see above)

House Brands
Anvil Ale (retired 2007); Ironbound Ale; Light Lager; Lodestone Lager (retired 2007); Pig Iron Porter; Raspberry Wheat; Vienna Red Lager; Belgian Seasonal Ale (varies)

Large Brewpub of the Year
GABF 2005

Abbey Dubbel
Bronze, WBC 2006

Bourbon Ivan
Bronze (Wood- & Barrel-Aged Beer), GABF 2006

Bourbon Russian
Bronze (Wood- & Barrel-Aged Beer), GABF 2004

Framboise de Hill
Bronze (Belgian-Style Sour Ale), WBC 2004

Ironbound Ale
Bronze (American-Style Pale Ale), GABF 2005

Kriek de Hill
Gold (Belgian-Style Sour Ale), GABF 2005
Bronze (Belgian-Style Sour Ale), GABF 2007

Lambic de Hill
Gold (Belgian-Style Sour Ale), GABF 2003

Lodestone Lager
Gold (Munich-Style Helles), GABF 1997
Bronze (Munich-Style Helles), GABF 2000

Gold, GABF 1999
Bronze, GABF 2000

Munich Dunkel
Bronze, GABF 2003

Old Ale
Gold, WBC 2004
Bronze, WBC 2002

Pig Iron Porter
Bronze (Robust Porter), GABF 2002

Russian Imperial Stout
Gold, GABF 2003, GABF 2006
Bronze, WBC 2006

The Cannibal
Gold (Belgian-Style Pale Strong Ale), GABF 2005
Silver (Belgian-Style Pale Strong Ale), WBC 2006

Bronze (Belgian-Style Abbey Ale), GABF 2002, GABF 2003, GABF 2004

Bronze (Vienna-Style Lager), GABF 1999

Wee Heavy
Gold (Strong Scotch Ale), WBC 2004
Bronze (Strong Scotch Ale), GABF 1998, GABF 2001

On-site Brewpub sales only in 22oz. & 750ml bottles

Roughly 5,700 bbls/year

History & Tidbits
  • Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant takes its name from an historic Revolutionary War landmark in Delaware, where Generals Washington and Lafayette battled against General Cornwallis to ensure American liberty.
  • Iron Hill was formed in 1994, when two award-winning homebrewers, Finn and Edelson, teamed up with Davies, an experienced professional in restaurant operations.
  • Opened their 7th location (Lancaster, PA) in late 2007

  • Major Yearly Events
  • Belgium Comes to West Chester (January)
  • Brandywine Valley Craft Brewers Festival (May)
  • Iron Hill Twilight Criterium (July)
  • Brewer's Reserve Big Bottle Bonanza (multiple times annually)
  • War of the Worts Keystone Hops Homebrew Competition, North Wales location
  • BUZZ Off Homebrew Competiton, West Chester location

  • Where to Find Iron Hill During Philly Beer Week
  • Russian Imperial Stout will be featured at Joe Sixpack's event on Friday the 7th
  • Will be pairing their beer with food at The Brewer's Plate at the Constitution Center on Sunday the 9th
  • Hop aboard the Brewers Self-Guided Tour with the Vienna Lager at Jose Pistola’s on Wednesday the 12th
  • On the 13th @ White Dog CafĂ©, their 2007 GABF success will be celebrated along side other regional winners
  • Beer & Cheese Pairing with Chris LaPierre on the 14th at Di Bruno Bros.
  • Included in the Michael Jackson: The Man and His Legacy event on the 15th

  • No comments: