It’s sobering to realize that there are Delawareans who’ve never known a Main Street in Newark without Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant. Admittedly, these residents are young. The brewpub opened in 1996.
But despite expanding in multiple states over the past 20 years, Iron Hill hasn’t been a staple on area retailer shelves. Until this week, that is.
Iron Hill has partnered with NKS Distributors to distribute its bestselling beers to retailers throughout the state.
“It was very important for us to launch in Delaware since it is our home state,” said Mark Edelson, who founded Iron Hill with friends Kevin Finn and Kevin Davies. “We are looking at Southeastern Pennsylvania and South Jersey soon.”
Why now? The pandemic, for one, acknowledged Edelson, who is director of brewery operations.
Although Iron Hill has long sold packaged beer to restaurant guests, sales spiked when eateries were limited to takeout last spring. Meanwhile, retailers also have seen an upswing in demand for packaged beer.
The uptick continued even after Iron Hill opened its dining room doors.
“We were thinking strategically about our revenue streams — COVID is out there, for now — so maybe it’s time to jump into the retail market,” Edelson said.
Previously, the company hired a third party when it needed canning. A new production space near Exton, however, could handle a full-time canning operation.
The former supermarket offers plenty of uninterrupted space with a loading dock. It will also host a taproom with casual counter service.
The released brands include the best-selling beers across the chain: Sweet Leaf IPA, Hipster IPA and Philly Phavorite IPA. The four-packs have a suggested retail price of $11.99.
Iron Hill will also introduce a rotating selection of IPAs, including Kryptonite Double IPA, and seasonal beers, such as Reindeer’s Revenge.
While the pandemic may have spurred the retail operation, the founders have more than two decades of experience under their belt.
“We did not jump into it lightly,” Edelson said. Iron Hill also has credibility, thanks to a treasure trove of medals from national and international competitions.
As for marketing, Iron Hill will be available in the markets in which there are Iron Hill brewpubs.
“All of us in the restaurant business have been saved by loyal customers,” Edelson said. “There’s a lot of desire to support local businesses that are struggling. We are the local beer for a lot of people.”
For a location near you, go to ironhillbrewery.com/beerfinder.