​Why It’s Important to Pete Corbett to Have an Educated Front of House at Iron Hill

This is a part of a continuing series of Q&As with members of the brewing community from across the U.S.Brewe​r ​Magazine will share business and personal insights from Brewmasters,​ ​Head Brewers, Brewing Managers, Sales Directors, QCQA Managers and​ ​others each weekend to help you get to know each other better in the​ ​industry and learn more to better develop your own brand.

Pete Corbett​, ​Senior Head Brewer​, Iron Hill Brewery — ​Newtown, Pennsylvania

​BREWER: ​Why did you enter the craft beer industry and what makes you love being a part of it and staying in it?
​CORBETT: ​I was looking to make a career change after 20​-plus​ years working in restaurants. I also wanted to utilize my degree in Culinary Arts towards creating something, so why not apply knowledge to creating some tasty fermented beverages? It’s an awesome industry we’re in​, craft ​b​eer. There’s so many brewers and vendors I’ve met in the industry, and we all share one thing in common, passion for our products and great beer.​ ​Everyone loves their jobs, I can’t imagine doing anything else.  

​BREWER: ​What do you feel have been new challenges in your position that have helped push you and make you better at your job?
CORBETT: I’ve been playing around with water chemistry the last few years, and that has made a huge impact on the quality of my beer. Water represents 90% of its mass. It’s critical to understand the basic technical information about the water that flows through our pipes. It’s pointless to add salts and adjust ions if you don’t understand the nature of your source water and its impact on the style of beer you’re brewing. Making these adjustments to fine tune recipes has paid dividends. It helped me win gold at GABF in American Pilsener.

​BREWER: ​How has the definition of growth for your company evolved and how have you adjusted to be successful in that new definition?
CORBETT: Iron Hill has a new CEO, Chris Westcott. His plan involves us playing small ball by doing the little things right to drive traffic; putting ​beer first. I’ve been working with the Front of House to implement this by being experts about our beer. I could make the best beer in the world, but if the staff isn’t talking about it, if they’re not enthusiastic about it, if they’re not educated; then it doesn’t matter. The beer is going to taste good, but if it’s not presented in the light it should be, delivering an experience to the guest, then it really doesn’t matter. So I have to thank them for their work, because I really couldn’t do this without them.

​BREWER: ​What strategic growth opportunity do you feel is still “out there” for your brand and how are you working on capitalizing on it this year?
CORBETT: I feel like Iron Hill has always had a connection to the ​homebrewing community, but there’s always opportunities to do even more. That’s where most brewers including myself got started. Iron Hill is a big league ​b​rewpub, the most award​-​winning east of the Mississippi actually. So getting them involved means the world to them. I’ll never forget my first time brewing on a bigger system. It’s really not that much different than some homebrew setups you see nowadays, just a little fancier and shinier. This year I plan on hosting Big Brew Day with our local homebrew club, The ALEiens. I was an ALEien myself, 10 years ago when I got started. It’s a great way to educate and inspire the homebrewers, and make it a fun competition. I’m working on making this a BJCP-sanctioned event, having the winner’s recipe scaled up to brew a Pro-A​m​ beer. Who knows? Maybe this beer will have a shot at GABF? That’s where King’s Gold came from; it was originally a Pro-A​m​ beer I brewed with homebrewer Matt King in 2018. That beer just won Gold in 2021 when I decided to give it another shot.

​BREWER: ​If you had one business strategy that you could implement to better the brewing industry, what would it be?
CORBETT: I’m hoping the industry gets back to brewing more traditional styles and a little less of the hazy and juice​-​ladened stuff. Don’t get me wrong. The new Hazy IPAs and Smoothie Beers have their place in the ​craft beer scene, but you see these styles crowding the beer shelves and tap lists way too often. If that’s what makes the current beer drinker happy, I’ll keep brewing them. But, I always get excited when I see crisp Pilsner on tap. And, hopefully they’ll be on the rise again. Ask any brewer, that’s what we drink!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *