In today’s choppy economy, many new business owners wonder if they have a leg to stand on. If that makes you think of flamingos, read on.
For the Mauer family, success has come over the last five years in measured steps as they remained committed to opening a business—the Iron Flamingo Brewery. Iron Flamingo opened December 27, 2014, and the Mauers feel a great sense of pride in being part of the fabric of a growing group of small but successful Corning businesses. As in other small towns across the country, growth is happening organically in Corning—with long-time residents taking the lead.
Enter the Iron Flamingo.
What do flamingos, iron or otherwise, have to do with beer? Company founders Mark and Nadia Mauer, partnering with sons Adam and Ben, explain that the Iron Flamingo has become a symbol of family unity and the business—their logo is an iron flamingo. Iron represents strength and “contributes to the brown color in beer bottles, protecting the beer from light. It’s also very important in preserving that awesome flavor so unique to Iron Flamingo beer,” explains Adam, who oversees marketing, brand integrity, and events for the brewery.
And the flamingo itself?
“They are strong, elegant, and monogamous creatures, staying together for life,” Adam continues. “They get their food by straining it from water through a unique mechanism only flamingos possess. It is very similar to making wort for beer (in essence, wort is the beer before the beer—unfermented). Taking the “I” and “F,” the abbreviated “IF” led us to wonder, ‘what if?’”
Mark and Nadia grew up in Scranton, working in family-owned restaurants. They met at the Greenwood Inn (formerly owned by Mark’s family) and learned of one another’s lineage in brewing.
“Brewing beer has long been a passion on both sides,” says Nadia. “Grandpa Mauer came from Germany and was primarily a butcher. He made his own beer and wine for his bar and restaurant. Grandpa Stec was a family doctor and was quite the entrepreneur who also owned a brewery. We have the original stock certificate hanging in our brewery.
“Mark and I came to Corning in 1990 from Rome, New York, where Mark served in the U.S. Air Force. We settled here because of the family atmosphere, good school system, and the small town feeling we found. Corning is supported by both Corning Inc. and the tourism industry—this makes it an ideal place to start a brewery.”
What you’ll find at Iron Flamingo Brewery is a relaxed family-friendly atmosphere with exceptional customer service. Given the day of the week, you’ll be greeted in the tasting room most likely by Adam or Mark, though Mark is a family medicine physician, so look for him more on weekends. Tours are encouraged so you can see where the beer magic happens. You’ll discover a unique collection of craft beers brewed by Ben, with ingredients sourced from the fertile Finger Lakes growing regions. From their full-bodied Mocha Coffee Porter to the brooding Dark English Ale to something clean and crisp like IF’s Blonde Ale or the mellow and hoppy American Amber Red, they’re all exceptional. And, there’s always a creative seasonal special or two, like Sweet Potato Stout, milky and sweet, with the added depth of roasted chocolate, coffee, and caramel.
IF is located in a great neighborhood just five minutes across the Chemung River from the historic Gaffer District. After searching for the perfect spot for about a year and making sure the zoning was right for the brewery, the Mauers began a twelve-month renovation project on a building that had sat vacant and unused for thirty-two years, doing a lot of the work themselves.
“Owning and operating a brewery has been a lifelong dream. Good fortune led us to the 196 Baker Street location, formerly a fruit distributor and the Becraft Tire Company,” says Nadia. “It was truly a labor of love! From removing walls, scraping and painting ceilings and walls to putting together an indoor cooler it was, and is, a big family affair. We’ve transformed this unique location into Corning’s first brewery to bottle and distribute beer. With off-street parking, outside seating, and a uniquely designed tasting room, the brewery has become a meeting place for beer lovers throughout the area and numerous visitors to our community.”
As staunch supporters of Corning, the Mauers invite patrons to order food in from local restaurants, and they regularly host food vendors for tastings or events. There is a spacious game room for families and groups. During the summer, folks relax under the big tent, at picnic tables, or play lawn games in the generous yard. Working to keep their community a healthy place to live and raise a family, they are proud to incorporate green energy in the brewery, using solar power for the brewing process.
Now in its fifth year of operation, goals for IF include becoming a premium craft beer brand in the northeast, while maintaining its high quality and core values. That involves reaching into other markets, increasing production for bottled and kegged beer, and distribution facilities.
When asked what patrons love most about Iron Flamingo, Nadia says she believes it is a combination of “our laid back atmosphere” and the fact that “we are small and very friendly with awesome beer!”
“And,” she adds, “who doesn’t love flamingos?”
Iron Flamingo is open Monday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturdays, and from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays. Call them at (607) 936-4766 for tour scheduling. And, be sure to save the date for this year’s “#EXPLORECorning” event, March 4-8. The Cabin Fever Craft Beverage Tasting, designed to get you out of hibernation, is Friday, March 8, from 5 to 8 p.m., and features more than twenty of the region’s top wineries, breweries, and distilleries. For details visit gafferdistrict.com/events/cabin-fever-2019.