The craft beer industry has grown a lot — like, a lot — over the past 25 years. All over the country, including here in Pennsylvania, the industry has ballooned from a handful of renegade “microbreweries” in the 1990s to there currently being a brewery in pretty much every small town. In PA, that adds up to over 350 breweries! And craft beer is everywhere, from airport bars to grocery stores, from corner pubs to high end restaurants. This explosion in the number of breweries means an endless parade of new brands and styles to try, and for consumers, that can be a lot of fun.
But for the breweries themselves, it can be tricky. How do you stand out among all the competition? How do you stay relevant when trends and consumer demand are shifting and changing every day? For legacy breweries, those that have been around since the beginning of the craft beer movement, those questions are even more complex. Being in business for 25 years is a feat no matter what, and especially if those decades have been a time of rapid, culture-shifting growth.
Iron Hill Brewery is one of these breweries. Since its founding in 1996 in our neighboring state of Delaware, it has surfed the waves of change, not merely surviving, but thriving. This brewpub chain now boasts 19 locations, with eleven in Pennsylvania, and others in New Jersey, Delaware, South Carolina and Georgia. In January of 2021, Iron Hill opened a new concept in Exton, PA, the Iron Hill TapHouse, a laid-back, fast casual eatery with 26 taps. This location is also the site of the brewery’s new large-scale production facility, as the brand will begin to produce more beer for wholesale, in four-pack cans as well as draft for other bars and restaurants.
At the helm of this new production facility is Doug Marchakitus, Iron Hill’s Production Brewery Manager. He is tasked with helping this iconic local brand transition its model.
On a snowy afternoon, we were able to meet and talk with Marchakitus, about what this responsibility entails. We also got to learn more about his longtime passion for brewing, and his journey from a server at an Iron Hill brewpub to his current position. Learn more about the who behind the brew with this Q&A with Doug Marchakitus: