There’s snow place like Iron Hill Brewery to warm your cockles during the winter chill. It’s truly the perfect place for a holiday get together or warm and cozy winter gathering with friends and family. Iron Hill shouldn’t need an introduction as they have been on the front lines of the craft beer revolution in our region for over 21 years. If you’ve been to one of their 12 locations in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, or Delaware, you’ll know how truly special this brewery is.
A pioneer in the brewpub or “gastropub” concept, Iron Hill is truly in a league of their own; a place where craft beer lovers and foodies alike will have an exceptional experience from the moment they walk in the door to the time they leave. Whatever you call it; it’s our regional gem. It is no surprise that they continue to expand — with three new locations on the horizon in Rehoboth Beach, Center City, and the first outside of the region in Greenville, SC.
Recently, we popped into the Maple Shade, NJ location to experience their “Winter Wonderland” holiday celebration. This marked the release of their annual Winter Warmer & Bourbon Winter Warmer seasonal brews. They’re also featuring 6 other seasonal beers on tap, including some local favorites, while they last, such as Sierra Nevada’s Celebration IPA, New Belgium’s Accumulation White IPA, Anchor Brewing’s Christmas Ale, Fegley’s Rude Elf, Sly Fox’s Christmas Ale, and Evil Genius’s Santa! I know Him! Before we get into the beer situation, let’s talk about this location.
Iron Hill Maple Shade is located at 124 East Kings Highway off Route 73. Although the building is set back from the road, you can’t miss it because of the large Iron Hill Brewery sign atop the building. A welcoming beacon to beer lovers in South Jersey.
The interior is warm and inviting with rustic, wood tones and contemporary design. The dining room at the front of the building receives ample lighting from large pane glass windows and includes several high tops and booths. There’s a large bar along the back wall with plenty of seating. It was packed during our visit. Don’t worry, there’s lots of seating inside elsewhere in the back. There are some wall-mounted flat-screen TVs throughout, but you won’t feel like you’re at a sports bar. A chalkboard on the side wall lists the various beers on tap. Don’t know where to start? Ask your friendly server for a recommendation or try a flight of 4 oz. pours.
Soaring ceilings and multiple private rooms with comfortably large booths will accentuate your dining experience. They can accommodate small or large parties, so don’t hesitate to book a private party here, too. The acoustics were fine. Sure, it gets loud — it’s a bar after all — but I never felt like I had to yell or strain to hear. People were having a festive good time, enjoying great beers and food. The atmosphere is rather infectious in that way. You can’t help but have a good time. We enjoyed the sounds of a live jazz group while we were there for the Winter Wonderland celebration. It was easy to get into the festive holiday spirit!
The brewery is quite the impressive sight. While tours are not required, they’ll be happy to tell you all about the brewing process. If you’re really curious to see the operation, Head Brewer Josh Ervine may even allow you to take a peek. There’s a lot going on in the back with tanks, fermenters, kegs, and all sorts of professional commercial-grade brewing equipment. They aren’t messing around; this is where the beer magic happens. Josh came to Maple Shade with over 20 years experience as a brewer, including stints as a head brewer for both Philadelphia Brewing Company and Yards Brewing Company. He runs a clean, tidy ship in the brewhouse. Just one of the many reasons to love this place. 🙂
Speaking of beer, let’s get on with it! I was eager to try the Winter Warmer. While I’m not the biggest fan of dark beers, I loved this beer. In fact, I could have sat there drinking it all day. A medium-bodied dark ale finished with classic winter spices served in a cinnamon sugar rimmed glass. It’s a perfect holiday brew sure to warm you up! I highly recommend trying this beer while it lasts.
Nope, I didn’t enjoy this beer at all. 😉
Iron Hill is not only passionate about brewing exceptional beer, but the food is also quite excellent. Think elevated bar food with some upscale twists. There are lots of familiar, traditional tavern fare items along with some fancier entrees. The menu is large and runs the gamut — appetizers & small plates, salads, soups, burgers, pizzas, sandwiches, entrees, and desserts. There’s truly something for everyone here, including those with dietary restrictions and food allergies. Not to mention a kids menu, too. So bring the whole family!
We were really impressed with the selection of appetizers and shared plates. If you like to gather your friends to socialize over apps and drinks for happy hour or any time, this is a great place to do it! Everything sounded so good so it was really hard to choose. We would have loved to try them all, alas we chose three — Nashville Hot Chicken Sliders, Housemade Soft Pretzel Sticks, and Moroccan Lamb Meatballs.
We were blown away by the beer-inspired Housemade Soft Pretzel Sticks seasoned with malted barley everything spice and served with Vienna Red Lager cheese sauce and Ore House IPA mustard. These are probably the best soft pretzels we’ve ever had. The IPA stone ground mustard was over the top delicious. Totally dunkalicious and perfect for sharing! You must try these — they are not to be missed!
Chicken sandwiches are all the rage these days, and Nashville hot chicken is becoming a popular menu item at many Philadelphia area restaurants. Such a smart move by Iron Hill to add Nashville Hot Chicken Sliders to the menu. These shareable sliders are very generous — 4 bites for each one easily! Great flavor on the chicken overall; not too spicy, though. I’ve had hotter “hot” chicken, but it’s definitely got a nice kick. If zesty fried chicken, bread and butter pickles, and mayonnaise served on brioche buns sounds yummy to you… get them!
We were especially impressed to see Moroccan Lamb Meatballs on the menu. An unusually exotic item at a pub. But like I said before, Iron Hill isn’t just any brewpub. Head Chef Scot Seher Jr. is always willing to take chances and liven up the menu. Liven it up he did with these meatballs. If you’re looking for something spicy, this is the ticket right here. The spicy tomato chutney served on top will wake up your taste buds. I mistakenly thought that the chutney contained harissa in it since it is a popular North African spice, but after inquiring, I was told that it was simply cayenne. Either way, it imparted a wonderfully smoky-spicy flavor that was “cooled” down with a sprinkling of salty feta cheese. The meatballs were cooked just right to our liking – a little char on the outside and soft & juicy on the inside. They come served with warm pita. YUM!
At this point, I was quite “warmed” up and decided to go with a lighter, crisper beer to cleanse my palate a bit. I’m a Lager girl through and through. So it was a no-brainer that I ordered their signature Vienna Red™ Lager. It’s a European-style medium-bodied amber lager with a delicate malt aroma and slight underlying sweetness. It hit the right spot and was the perfect brew to go with my awesome “Brewski Burger.” 🙂
I heard a lot of great things about the burgers at Iron Hill Maple Shade from my buddy John Cohl so I had to order one! As usual, he was right. This is as classic as a burger gets. It comes with bacon, mushrooms, lettuce, and tomato with your choice of cheese. I chose sharp cheddar. It was cooked perfectly medium-rare as I asked for. I selected the sweet potato fries instead of regular fries. They were some of the best sweet potato fries I’ve ever had, they were more like wedges and were nicely salted. As if all of this isn’t enough, you can get a dipping sauce — smoked paprika aioli or their signature vanilla bourbon sauce. I had to try both, of course! 😂
Hubby opted for an entree on that day’s special menu — Pan-Seared American Sturgeon with herbed risotto and Bedotter (Abbey Tripel) tomato stew. Sturgeon is a fish you don’t see on menus very often. It’s a very tender, yet meaty fish that is an awesome alternative to steak — somewhat similar to swordfish in that regard. They nailed this dish. The fish was cooked perfectly with an immaculate sear on the outside, and a dense, yet flakey inside. The risotto was executed flawlessly and the tomato stew was luxurious. The Bedotter tomato broth had such deep flavor and pulled the whole dish together. This is a fine dining entree that puts the “gastro” in this gastropub. It really shows the range of cuisine they offer with a willingness and competency to accommodate diners with epicurean tastes. Bravo, Iron Hill!
As you know, I must have a dessert no matter how full I am. I was actually tempted to leave without dessert, but guess what? I saw Banana Cream Pie in a Jar on the menu and it was all over. Tis the season to indulge, after all, eh? Bavarian pretzel crumbles on the bottom with banana cream and real bananas, whipped cream, and a beer malt sugar cookie on top with more crumbled Bavarian pretzel sprinkled on top. While the apple crisp would have been more seasonal, I am so happy I tried this. A truly “sweet” ending to an incredible meal and experience at Iron Hill Brewery.
Such fun to finally meet Head Chef Scot Seher, Jr. We’ve been following each other on Twitter for a while. He puts the “craft” in the “Craft Kitchen” at Iron Hill Maple Shade. Also, a real pleasure to meet General Manager Vince DiVentura. While new to Iron Hill, he’s a restaurant hospitality veteran with over 20 years of industry expertise. It’s not easy to run an operation of this size, but these two guys are crushing it. The whole team at Iron Hill Maple Shade work hard to ensure you have the best experience possible. The staff will guide you not only through the menu and draft offerings, but how to best pair the two. Because that’s how their beer and food are meant to be experienced – together as one. So if you are unsure, just ask! They won’t steer you wrong. I promise.
It was such a pleasure to have Head Brewer Josh Ervine join us for a quick chat. We learned more about the brewing process, his history as a brewer, and about the various brews on tap. One part scientist, one part artist — and he gets to drink on the job? No wonder this guy is smiling. Heh. But seriously, he knows his stuff. He gave us a few recommendations based on our preferences that we plan to enjoy next time we go back. And trust me, we are going back!
Gosh, what more can I say about Iron Hill Brewery — great beer, fantastic food, outstanding service — it was the ultimate brewpub experience. It’s where award-winning beer and from-scratch food come together under one roof. And don’t worry if you’re not a beer snob or aficionado, there’s something for all levels of beer appreciation.
Other items of note:
They’ve got gift cards, craft beer sets, and more to give to the craft beer lovers and foodies on your holiday gift list. Buy $75 in gift cards for friends and family, get a $20 Snowflake Card for yourself. (Snowflake Card is redeemable from January 1st to March 31st, 2018.)
They’ve got 4-packs and growlers of seasonal beers ready to take to your next holiday party.
King of the Hill Rewards Club Exclusive: First 50 King of the Hill members to order a sampler will receive an exclusive Iron Hill holiday ornament!
Isn’t it time you visit or re-visit Iron Hill Brewery?
Special thanks to The Motherhood for arranging our visit. As always, our opinions are our own and therefore unbiased.
Food enthusiast. Travel lover. Social media maven.
Independent Journalist. Food marketing/PR expert.