How Engaging Consumers with Innovation Can Drive IPA Sales

Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant has seen a lot of changes in the craft beer industry since opening in Newark, Delaware in 1996.

Mark Edelson, one of the co-founders, has dealt with the beer side since the start — starting as its first brewer and now helping lead its fleet of brewpubs across the Mid-Atlantic and East Coast.​

​Change has meant adapting to styles, and one such style has been the overwhelming dominance of the India Pale Ale in the past decade-plus. The brewery celebrated National IPA Day on August 1 by each Iron Hill Brewery having its own unique hoppy flight of IPAs.

​”IPA is a great American style with unbelievable room for experimentation with nearly endless combinations of hops,” Edelson said. “IPAs are the perfect foil for American ingenuity, that spirit of freedom and thumbing our noses at traditional beer styles.

“That being said, there are clear classics that have emerged over the years that are well-balanced and hop-forward start to finish.”

​Edelson pointed out that not that long ago, US beer was dominated by mass breweries producing Lagers that largely lacked flavor, and the import of European beers helped spur the craft beer movement.

“Back in the day, as home brewers like myself [who] turned professional, we were all experimenting and creating full-bodied, flavorful beers giving rise to the American IPA style,” he said. “As more breweries opened, more IPAs were produced, and an entire generation of craft beer fans grew up appreciating full-flavored beer as the norm.

“With this demand, the hop industry grew, adapted, and allowed to create almost endless flavor profiles and nuances with innumerable combinations of hops.”

Ore House IPA is one of ​Iron Hill’s six signature beers that are in all 16 locations. ​While the award-winning beer has many fans, one of the things that make Iron Hill special is that ​each brewery’s team of brewers have the freedom to create beer unique to their location.

​”​It keeps customers engaged, giving them reasons to keep coming back as well as serving as a fantastic ground for R&D with immediate customer feedback​,” Edelson said​. ​”​Our brewers have a level of freedom that is unparalleled in the industry.​”​

​He added that IPAs have developed on a sort of bell curve coming out strong with hop-forward flavors and then rising in hoppiness to develop a new style, DIPA, and now coming back down with the popularity of the hazy New England​-​style IPA which can showcase fruit and citrus tones.

​At Iron Hill, ​the brewery team is constantly experimenting and pairing ​its beer with menu items from ​its kitchen.

“​There is a great collaboration between the brewhouse and kitchen, drawing inspiration from each other​,” Edelson said​. ​”​Our chefs cook with beer and our brewers have menu items in mind while developing recipes and can use fruits and spices to complement.​”​

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