Our Visit to Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant
This post made possible by Iron Hill and The Motherhood. We’re two very picky beer enthusiasts and foodies – All opinions are 100% our own. #BrewLife
‘Tis the season to be jolly! And where else would be a better place to celebrate the holiday season and be jolly than at a craft brewery?
Christmas is one of our most favorite times of the year. We get the house decorated from top to bottom long before Thanksgiving even arrives – yes, we are “those people.” We make wishlists of beer and beer-related gifts. We plan get togethers with friends and family that include good brews, all the foods and memorable conversation. We search out seasonal and holiday-themed beer releases. Celebrating the holidays and life in general is what we’re all about!
Lucky for us, we have so many craft breweries in Pennsylvania to enjoy. Lots of variety in beer styles where there’s something for everyone. This past weekend, we made a visit to Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant in Ardmore, PA. It’s just one of a total of 12 locations in 4 states: Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and now South Carolina. More locations are coming soon including one in Rehoboth Beach, DE – one of our favorite beercation destinations!
Each Iron Hill location is festively decorated making it a perfect place for holiday gatherings with friends, family and co-workers. You can also pick up Iron Hill gift cards and craft beer sets to start tackling your gift shopping. So spread the holiday cheers with our recommendations on how to make the most out of your visit to an Iron Hill location near you.
Scrumptious Food & Beer Pairings
From the very start over 21 years ago, Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant made it a priority to serve high quality, made-from-scratch food that pairs impeccably with small batch, craft beer. Each location has an on-site brewery. So you know the beer is fresh. And with the kitchen and brewery in close proximity, the brewer and chef can collaborate with each other and get creative with Iron Hill’s beer and food offerings. We love it when a brewery has excellent food at fair prices and lots of variety!
We decided to start our Sunday Funday at Iron Hill with a few items from the Appetizers & Shared Plates menu. First up: Artichoke & Goat Cheese Dip. Tangy, creamy goat cheese with scallions, lemon, fresh herbs and served with toasted Vienna Red Lager bread. They put beer IN the bread! You read that correct. Many of Iron Hill’s dishes incorporate their beer in the recipe.
Derek paired the appetizer with ‘Madrugada’ Saison dry hopped with Callista, Huell Melon and Amarillo hops. The tart saison complimented the tangy goat cheese very nicely. You can expect flavor notes of honeydew, lemon, peppercorn and funk – complex and unique. It’s the glass of beer on the left shown in the photo below. Isn’t it a beautiful color? And that haze! We love haze.
I opted to try ‘Juicy IPA.’ The deep orange colored beer with moderate haze on the right in the photo above. It’s a grapefruit forward India pale ale with bold flavor notes of sweet tangerine, bitter grapefruit peel and resinous pine. It also paired nicely with the artichoke and goat cheese dip – especially the earthy, slightly sweet bread that came with it.
PRO-TIP: Iron Hill offers several glass sizes when ordering your beer. Derek and I both went with the 8 oz pour and shared each selection. We knew we wanted to hang out for awhile trying a bunch of different beer offerings. We’re #BeerCurious all the way. It’s a smart strategy to pace yourself and not over indulge.
Next up: Housemade Soft Pretzel Sticks served with Vienna Red Lager cheese sauce and Ore House IPA mustard. It’s not your typical salt covered soft pretzel. Iron Hill seasons each with their secret ‘malted barley everything spice.’ The cheese sauce was savory and creamy. While the mustard was a nice contrast with its hot bite that reminded us of horseradish. We couldn’t decide which we loved best as we kept dipping and sipping. Consider the soft pretzel sticks a ‘must do!’ Beer + Pretzels is always a win.
Our server, Alyssa, recommended that we pair the shareable dish with Vienna Red Lager and Ore House IPA. The lager was clean with hints of caramel up front and toasted bread flavor in the finish. Very nicely done. The IPA was completely approachable with a malt-forward sweetness and mild hop bite. It, too, was crisp and clean.
Keeping on the “let’s share some more” track, we ordered Baja Style Fish Tacos. What a visually-lovely dish! Being the photography nerd that I am, I think I snapped like 30 photos from every possible angle. The colors and textures of the tacos plated on the stark white plate were dreamy. It was at that point of my obsession that Derek gave me that look. The look of “we’re going to eat that at some point, right?!” I put down the camera and we dug in to the Vienna Red Lager-battered haddock topped with pico de gallo, red cabbage slaw, pickled red onion and chipotle aioli. My taste buds were glad that the photography session for this dish had finally ended. I kind of wish I had these fish tacos all to myself. The crisp coating around the generous portion of meaty, flaky haddock was just as it should be.
And, the flavorful taco toppings were the inspiration for the beers we chose to pair it with: ‘Rising Sun’ coconut IPA and ‘Reindeer’s Revenge’ American Tripel an American-style Belgian golden ale with flavor notes of grapefruit, pine, white raisin and funk. Beers 2 and 4 shown below.
“Hey? Why are those beer glasses so small?” At this point of our visit, we decided to share a flight of beers to get All The Flavor while also drinking responsibly. What exactly is a ‘flight?’ Simply put: Beer Samples. Generally, each glass is a 4-5 oz pour of each beer you choose. Every brewery does it differently in terms of how many beers you choose per flight. Iron Hill serves flights of 4 beers.
The holidays are all about celebrations and with celebrations comes indulgent splurging. You certainly could make an evening meal out of the shareables menu. But there are also tons of food selections to choose from: salads, soups, burgers, sandwiches, hearth-baked pizzas and entrees. We were drawn in by a few of the entrees. It really was hard to narrow it down.
Derek chose Jaegerschnitzel (aka pan-fried pork cutlets) topped with roasted mushroom Wee Heavy Ale sauce and served with herbed spaetzle (German style dumplings) and haricots verts (french green beans). Delicious! Here’s where I tell you how amazed I was that Iron Hill got Derek to eat his veggies. 😉
I stayed on the seafood path and went with Baked Eastern Shore Crab Cakes paired with old bay seasoned wedge fries and frisee (what Derek calls “weeds”) and sweet corn salad tossed with White Iron Wit viniagrette. Yum!
We selected Munich Helles (4th beer shown in the flight) as a classic option to accompany the crab cakes and the award-winning Russian Imperial Stout (1st beer shown in the flight) to go with the savory pork chops.
DID YOU KNOW?
Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant is the most award-winning brewery east of the Mississippi river? Yep. 72 awards and counting. And, from industry-standard, annual beer competitions: Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Cup. That’s serious street cred in the beer world. You can see the full list of their beer and brewpub awards on their website.
More About The Beer
With so many beer styles brewed fresh at each of the 12 Iron Hill locations, we got to wondering. How in the world something like this gets coordinated? Senior Head Brewer, Tim Stumpf, noted “there are 26 brewers in total. This includes a Head Brewer and an Assistant Brewer at most locations, plus 5 regional brewers and a bunch in transition. Each location serves 6 signature beers which are all the same recipe and at least 9 more beers at any time.”
Iron Hill encourages creativity among their team of brewers. It’s not just about the flagship beers. It’s also about innovation and new beer creations. Craft beer drinkers are becoming more and more demanding with their ever-changing preferences. And, not everyone loves the same types of beer. So it’s important for a brewery to continue to push the envelope with their beer recipes. “Inspiration is the art of what we do, and there is not a formula for that,” says Tim. “Each brewer is encouraged to propose 2 brand new creations he/she wants to brew. Our regional brewers have to approve each new creation. As Senior Head Brewer, I try to ensure that the resources and knowledge are available to all of the brewers I work with, so their inspiration continues to strengthen.”
You can even gift shop right from the convenience of your table. If you have friends and family local to an Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant, a gift card is a great option. If you buy $75 in gift cards, you get a $20 Snowflake Card for yourself. Win. Win. Note that Snowflake Cards are redeemable from January 1st to March 31st, 2018.
Then there’s the King of the Hill Rewards Club Membership for $25. It’s a 1 year membership to Iron Hill’s loyalty program. Each comes with 150 free points and a handmade signature mug. Members can earn points with each and every visit to Iron Hill. Points can be redeemed for sweet rewards. Oh! And, the member also gets a gift on their birthday and access to exclusive Iron Hill events.
You can give the gift of Iron Hill’s award-winning beer as well! Pick up 4-packs of the Russian Imperial Stout and the festive, fun ‘Reindeer’s Revenge’ American Tripel. Another no-brainer for holiday beer swaps, stocking stuffers and hostess gifts for Ugly Sweater or other holiday parties. Be sure to snag some for yourself to enjoy throughout the winter!
Don’t forget about the various gift packs available. We suggest the Gold Medal Package complete with 750 ml bottles of ‘The Cannibal™’, Russian Imperial Stout (Great American Beer Festival Silver Medal Winner) and Wee Heavy 2017.
There’s also a Belgian Abbey Package that includes 750 ml bottles of Abbey Dubbel, ‘Bedotter™’ (2016 World Beer Cup Gold Medal Winner) and ‘The Cannibal™.’
Not sure if the gift recipient likes Belgians or dark beers? A safe bet is on a Growler Gift Pack that comes with a 64 oz. glass growler, 2 pint glasses and a $20 growler-fill gift card.
Have A Safe & Happy Holiday
There you have it! More beer-related gift giving ideas from your friends here at ItsABrewLife.com. We’ve had fun sharing our beery adventures with you all throughout 2017. Here’s to more explorations in 2018. Stay tuned. 🍻