I next had the 509 Style, which was crisp, clean, and refreshingly balanced - a great session beer. I don’t exactly remember what question led to this answer, and Greg you said I could let this out. Greg let me know one of his favorite cheap beers or guilty pleasures is Coors Banquet, which led all of us to confess our own guilty pleasures (if you want to know G’s or mine feel free to ask).
After hearing about the Coors Banquet, I was really curious about Greg’s thoughts on what makes a good beer. Greg told us that he thinks bold flavor and an interesting interpretation are very important. Iron Horse strives to create quality flavors that are balanced, yet complex like a 10%+ ABV beer, but are a low enough ABV to almost be session beers. We joked that Iron Horse is doing a service, because they provide complex flavor beers that allow someone to still drive home (drinking and driving is bad though people). Quality of beer inevitably led to a conversation about lost product, and Greg stated that the quality control at Iron Horse has been great. They haven’t had a large batch loss, or if a batch does go wrong they’ve gotten creative, e.g. Mocha Death. I hope I can retell this story correctly,
A batch of Irish Death didn’t turn out right, I can’t completely recall whether it was the yeast or something else, but Irish Death wasn’t tasting like Irish Death. So, instead of dumping this large patch of near Irish Death, but not quite, but still close enough, they decided to throw coffee and cocoa at it. The end result is the delicious Mocha Death.
I moved on to their Iron Horse IPA, which was surprisingly balanced for a west coast made IPA, smooth and tasty. The hops didn’t attack me (which I like normally, but here it was just right), and because of that I was able to enjoy the subtle flavors. I’ve noticed that balance is something consistent throughout Iron Horse beer, and Greg informed me of his thoughts on the importance of balance - it’s important. But, he mentioned that bold flavor should be over balance, but a marriage of the two is great.
I’m always interested hearing about the struggles of owning a brewery/pub, and Greg surprised me with his answer. He told me that his biggest struggle is the balance between retail and distributors, and that he finds it’s too easy to neglect the retailers, which he doesn’t like doing. Distributors tend to be more vocal upfront, and demand attention, but retailers aren’t pushy/vocal. Greg did make sure to mention that it’s important to him that quality product makes it to everyone, but besides the quality - if it isn’t liked - it isn’t about them. I like this attitude. If the popularity is the sole goal - big beer is what you get.
After hearing about the struggles, I got to hear the best part, which I have to admit would be mine as well - free beer. Not only free beer, but free beer and a place to drink.
Lastly, I asked about anything special or new coming out soon, and it looks like the Loco Imperial Red will be coming out. If you see it with the name Red IPA that’s my doing.
I get excited about trips, which normally leaves me disappointed, and I really felt that I got a bit too excited for this one. I’m happy to say that everything surrounding the experience at Iron Horse lived up to the hype I created, and I feel as if I could have had a similar experience without Greg. I say that, because the warmness and friendless of the taproom really made G and me feel as if we weren’t outsiders, which a lot small close knit establishments make you feel. I have nothing but nice things to say about this brewery and its employees. If you have a chance to visit Iron Horse Brewery do it - plain and simple. If you see their beers give them a try, and once you’ve had enough of the Irish Death try some of their other offerings. I would like to thank Iron Horse, Greg, and Natalia for the hospitality and the fun time. Keep making great beer with a great attitude!