Saturday, August 27, 2016

Writing This Ship: Part 8 - Iron Hill still has more mountains to climb

(From left, co-owners Kevin Finn and Mark Edelson and Huntingdon Valley veteran Head Brewer Doug Marchakitus)

(A familiar front exterior visual for Iron Hill)

It can be difficult to say much new about the ever-expanding Iron Hill family. If you live anywhere in eastern/southeastern Pennsylvania, northern Delaware, or southern New Jersey, it's hard to think that you haven't at least heard of them. If you're from other parts of the country but have been to the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) in Denver, there's no way you don't know their name from either being called year after year on the awards stage or in the dozens of employees that descend upon the GABF to represent the company of nearly 1,300 employees.

They've become so good over the years at implementing their vision of beer and food that the expectation of failure, or even shortcomings, is not typically part of the discussion. From the first brewpub location in Newark, Del. back in 1996 to the most recent location in Pennsylvania having been opened in Ardmore in 2014, Iron Hill's high expectations are routinely met or exceeded in both the brewhouse as well as the kitchen.

Now with a bit more equity infusion, the objective thrown around slightly more-than-loosely is to have 20-25 locations by 2020, expanding the footprint even farther abroad in the northeast/mid-atlantic from its home base of Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. But even with its growth, Iron Hill's aim is to continue to please beer geeks hunting down a special one-off beer as well as families out for an evening meal.

(At the exterior of Iron Hill in Huntingdon Valley, an outdoor beer garden in the making with its own service bar)

Just this month (August 2016), the newest Iron Hill on the block is in Huntingdon Valley. In keeping with the company's model, some beers from the brewery and some plates from the kitchen will be standard across all locations and other beers and food options will be custom to Huntingdon Valley. The one most striking difference at Huntingdon Valley is the beer garden that just opened in the last week and is the first of its kind in the Iron Hill family. A convenient touch is the outdoor cold box and serving bar built for serving those seated in the beer garden.

Where next for Iron Hill? I've heard some places discussed but am not yet at liberty to share. They will, needless to say, be created in the company's mold that balances both standard and unique identity and be well received as usual by the hungry and thirsty local masses.

(Diverse beer menu meets expectations at Iron Hill)

(Interior seating in keeping with Iron Hill standards)

(Very well-made German Pilsner at Iron Hill)

(An all-time favorite - the "house" Pig Iron Porter at Iron Hill)

(Voodoo Shrimp with tri-colored pepper rice, green onion, spicy beer-barbeque sauce, and sour cream drizzle, served with garlic bread)

(Pan Seared Nantucket Sea Scallops with exotic mushroom risotto, asparagus spears with pecorino romano, and roasted tomato vinaigrette)

(Grilled Ahi Tuna Salad with mesclun greens, grilled red and yellow peppers, avocado, orange segments, toasted almonds, crispy wonton strips, and ginger-sesame vinaigrette)

(Nashville Hot Chicken Sliders, spicy-hot fried chicken, bread-and-butter pickles, and mayonnaise on brioche buns)

(Soft Pretzel Sticks with Vienna Lager cheese sauce and Ore House IPA mustard)

(Mark Edelson in the brewery ensuring all is good)

(Cans to go, yes please)

(Standing out on this marquee)

(Now Open, no doubt. We're gonna need a bigger sign.)

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