by Dave Warner
After four long years of hard work, Ironrock Brewing Company at 56 West Mill Street in Canal Place is officially ready to open its doors this Friday at 3 pm. They had a soft opening on Friday, September 18th that went extremely well, according to the staff and owner Mike George.
For George, he says he’s both relieved and excited and a touch apprehensive. “We have an awesome team that we’ve assembled here. My manager Carolyn has done a fantastic job and really taken the lead with things, and I think we’re going to be ok with everything.”
He said that he came back to his family’s business (George Lumber) in February of 2016 and that he started working on the brewery eight months before he had even done that. “Everyone who knows me knows that I lay awake at night thinking about things. I have a drive and a passion and love just doing stuff. I put a lot of that passion into this.”
George also said that he’s very thankful for his wife putting up with the number of hours that he has put into the project. “She’s a saint,” he stated. He also said that there were a lot of people that have contributed to the project, including the City and his dad, who has worked many hours alongside him. “It’s one of the reasons I love Little Falls so much.”
“I had a lot of volunteers. My dad worked with me all day and then came down here for a good portion of the summer and helped with plumbing, building, construction, and hooking things up. He really put in a lot of hours. I give him a lot of credit for that.”
The building is about 5,000 square feet of space for brewing, serving, and eating, and is a massive space for brewing in Little Falls. “We have two dining or seating areas, then we have our actual brewing facility. It consists of everything involved in the process – our mash tun, our boiling kettle, our cooling capabilities and a separate room for our fermentation tanks, and lastly our own walk-in cooler and storage,” he stated.
“In our seasonal area, which is about 2,200 square feet, we have ample seating even during the COVID situation. We have an 18-foot bar and because we’re doing table service with everyone, I think we can handle things in here. As long as people don’t mind a little cold weather, we’ll keep it open as long as we can. We may even look at putting a little temporary heat in here,” said George.
He said that when you come to the brewery, he feels that the seasonal area is going to be the real attraction. When the weather turns bad though, they have a smaller seating area that has an L-shaped bar, with plenty of seating. “The look of that room ties in with what you see over here. We tried to unify everything from the colors to the scheme.”
They have also incorporated a lot of historical elements into the facility, from when it was Andrew Little & Sons Lumber Yard. “It’s a little bit smaller, and a more intimate space. So far, everyone who has seen the facility loves it,” he said.
Of course, it’s a brewery, so it’s all about the beer that they are going to have available. “That’s kind of the whole focus of things, right? We do small-batch artisan ales, with slight inconsistencies between batches. We’re essentially working with some home-built equipment, and that’s kind of the way I want it,” said George. “5,000 years ago they used to brew beer in wooden vats, and they brewed some pretty good beer from what I understand.”
They have a spectrum of beer from light to dark, all ales, and they’ll be doing one or two seasonal beers as the seasons come and go. “Right now we have a blonde, an apricot mango wheat beer, a chocolate porter, an English style brown which is a little bit on the sweeter side, and we have an IPA, and then a pumpkin beer that’s in the fermenter that should be out hopefully in another week or two,” said George.
A stout is on the menu for inclusion later on and they also have cider, from 1911 Cider Company, a small variety of wine from Thousand Island Winery, and a small amount of Saranac soda and water for the kids. “We tried to put together a very broad range of drinks to please every palate,” he said.
COVID regulations dictate that they have to reduce their capacity to 50%. “We’re actually a little bit under that. We have everything spaced out six feet or more, all of our servers and employees are wearing masks, and we’re going to do the best job we can to enforce the rules with our customers as well. I’m asking for everyone’s help.”
They’d also love to have live music, as soon as the COVID restrictions are lifted. “Obviously right now, it’s a little tough to do that. We may enlist some smaller acts, or if we get some locals who want to pick on a guitar some night just to add a little background in, I’d welcome anyone who wants to do that to contact us.”
This Friday when they open, they are planning on having a K-Dogs BBQ truck out in the parking lot. “I’d like to do more food trucks on a regular basis. We do have a gentleman that is building one to keep down here on a more permanent basis, but he hasn’t finished with it yet,” stated George. “I want to try and get food here all the time.”
George said that not only do they have a lot of ideas, but they’re open to any that might come from the public. “Once things free up a little bit, you’re really going to see the place come to life.”
Hours of operation are Thursdays & Fridays from 3 – 9 pm, Saturdays from noon until 9 pm. You can find out more information by visiting their Facebook page. Masks are required and they ask that you respect all social distancing requirements when you visit.