|First bright tank off the truck|
At least it wasn't raining or snowing. Pretty gray day, but the team was already at work when I got there, just taking the first bright tank off the truck. "The team," by the way, is all Iron Hill brewers. They get certified on the equipment, and rig it all. They knew I was coming, greeted me, got me in a hardhat and blaze yellow vest ASAP, and I was introduced to the new head brewer, Pete Corbett.
|Pete was pretty stoked|
It's not the first time he's worked here, either. Pete originally trained as a chef at the Restaurant School in Philly, and did his apprenticeship at the Brick Hotel here in Newtown. He also tended bar at Marita's Cantina (where El Barrio is now), which means he probably served me a few beers over the years. Funny how things work out. Anyway, after some more cooking ("I still like to cook, but I don't know how chefs do it. I burned out.") he turned to bartending, which is how he wound up at Iron Hill, six years ago.
|Loving that mash/lauter vessel!|
Pete started sticking his head in the brewery whenever he could. His homebrewing was getting better, and he won an award with a Belgian type ale he did, Blame It On The Dog (and that's a homebrew name, right?). Iron Hill encourages homebrewing by giving employees free grain, hops, and yeast; "All I had to provide was the equipment, water, and propane," Pete said.
Then Iron Hill had a contest: the server who sold the most mug club memberships got to brew a batch on the house system, to be sold at the brewpub. Pete was motivated, sold like mad, and won. When brewer Doug Marchakitus told him they'd have to come up with a recipe and formulate it, Pete handed him the recipe for Blame It On The Dog, already scaled up. Which kind of made today inevitable, in a way.
Because today is the day that Pete Corbett takes over as head brewer at Iron Hill Newtown. He's running the brewery now, and no longer making the commute to North Wales. "It's only 15 minutes, and no tolls!" He told me with positive glee.
The Iron Hill menu will be largely the same -- all made from scratch at the Newtown kitchen -- but there will be some changes. The menu's gotten a bit long, and they'll be trimming a few items. There will be a beer garden behind the brewhouse (away from the plaza), and roll-up windows in the bar area, which sounds wonderful.
Pete said they're currently on schedule for an April 29th opening, just two months away. If you're looking for a job, be aware that Iron Hill standards are high, and the training program for servers is intense. It works, though: service levels at Iron Hill are high. "That's the Iron Hill Way," Pete said. "Don't cut corners, no doing anything half-assed. Quality is the most important thing."
I'm looking forward to opening day. Cheers!
I haven't written this kind of "a new brewery is opening in our town!!!" story in decades. I realize it won't be of much interest to most of my readers, but I'll tell you: after 30 years of waiting, it's pretty exciting for me.