This past Saturday the Beer Fusion team, which was made up of G and myself, ventured to Iron Horse Brewery in Ellensburg, WA. Now, many of you have probably seen reviews of Iron Horse Beer on this website, and I believe they are the only brewery to have two beers reviewed for the beer of the week (don’t quote me). So, Iron Horse shouldn’t be a brewery that is a mystery to most of you, but regardless of G’s and my opinion on Iron Horse (we really like their beer) we wanted to go in with an unbiased, professional mentality. Now, in order for to have that mentality we felt it necessary to make a detour and stop for a beer at Yakima Brewing Co. It was at Yakima that I decided to write some questions down so I could do a proper professional job with this interview. I hope as you are reading this you are starting to sense some sarcasm, and to be honest I was going to be professional as possible, but I got this feeling it wasn’t going to be one of those interviews even before we met Greg.
Initially, G and I were suppose to meet Natalia Parker, but due to some child care issues we met with her husband Greg. G and I showed up a little bit early to Iron Horse’s taproom, which is a bit off the beaten path in an industrial business park. The taproom had some personality as you can see in the photo, which I really liked. It had a real relaxing fun feel that made me want to drink some beer and “shoot the shit” as you could say. G and I had no idea what Greg looked like, so we sat hoping that we look just enough out of place that he would know who we are. Well, my hope came true, because Greg seemed to know exactly who we are. After we all introduced ourselves, Greg asked us my favorite question, “you guys want some beer right?”. I had a chance to try a couple of the brews from Iron Horse that I’ve yet to taste, which are 509, High Five Hefe, and their IPA. All were up to par, and I’ll mention a bit more throughout the post.
Once we got our beer, we started to chat with Greg, and I tried to stay to my questions and make our conversation structured, but that lasted about 5-10min. The conversation quickly became relaxed. All the seriousness went out the door, and it quickly became about the love of beer. This is what I hoped this trip would be, and this is what I want to share with all of you, because I feel that our chat strongly represents the identity of Iron Horse Brewery.
Iron Horse was founded by Jim Quilter (which Quilter’s Irish Death is named after) in December of 2004. Greg and Natalia (I’m assuming they were married at the time) bought Iron Horse in July 2007. I asked Greg what got him into brewing, and he told me, “fun”, he started brewing in Montana with a coworker. The Iron Horse mentality is rather personal, they make beer for themselves, and it just so happens to be craft beer that a large amount of others like. It’s that kind of philosophy that I’ve noticed is consistent with quality craft breweries. As he tells me this, the ginger and honey of the High Five Hefe was really standing out to me, and was the most unique hefeweizen flavors I’ve ever had - it was o’so satisfying
I mention to Greg about how surprised I am about the strength of the ginger, which steered the conversation into people like G and I - beer reviewers. He told us that, “there are beers I love and beers I like”, and for those of us that “rip” certain beers apart there sometimes seems to be a maliciousness to it. Greg expanded by saying that unless there is something wrong with the actual quality (skunky, flat, etc) the beer might not be bad, just not for you. I agree with him to an extend, and for me to hear an owner of a brewer say that it makes me very happy, because he’s willing to make beers that are uncompromising. That is what’s important for craft beer. He finished up his opinion on beer reviewing by mentioning how the palate and nostrils change throughout the day and day to day. Greg told us some days he has some of his beer and thinks there is something seriously wrong, and others it’s like the nectar of the gods.