More Fun Than a Barrel of FlamingosMay 01, 2022 09:00AM ● By Lilace Mellin Guignard
It wasn’t long after the Iron Flamingo Brewery opened in 2014 at 196 Baker Street in Corning that the Mauer family knew they wanted to get a foot in the Gaffer District. “Within two years we realized we needed more capacity than just a tasting room,” Nadia explains.
After years of searching, they found what they were looking for and opened the Iron Flamingo Barrel House at 54 W. Market Street in the fall of 2021. It was the weekend before the Wine Glass Marathon.
“Talk about baptism by fire,” she says.
When asked what her job title is, Nadia starts listing her tasks behind the scenes, but her son, Ben, interrupts with the answer: “She’s Mom.” He makes it sound like the most important job title there is. Nadia laughs. She clearly enjoys working with her sons, Ben and Adam, in this family business. Ben is the brewer but, as she says, “The Barrel House is Adam’s baby.”
Adam, the manager, can often be found tending bar. He says he and his brother “have a lot of the same feelings on the direction we want to take.” The building used to hold Holmes Plate 54 and, before that, Wet Goods Bar. It’s a perfect space for two brothers to share. Outside, two long black awnings with the name in large white letters perch over two large windows. Two front doors lead to a large U-shaped bar that stretches back on two sides, made from lumber salvaged from an old barn.
Tall tables made from barrels dot the floor, and industrial style stools line the wall. Other high-tops have glossy black walnut surfaces Ben and his father, Mark, repurposed. Building owners Edger Construction, from Elmira, did the renovation, keeping the original brick and feel of the place. The Barrel House harkens back to a former style of tap house, rustic and old-school. Below is a twenty-by-ten-foot cooler holding all the kegs, with tubes feeding the taps upstairs. The metal kegs are stamped with a big black IF, for Iron Flamingo, which echoes the T-shirt on the wall that says: What IF You Tapped It.
There are twenty-four taps with Iron Flamingo brews from light to dark, and there’s usually a sour available. You can buy a crowler (thirty-two ounce can) of any beverage on tap, six packs, and although they don’t sell any growlers they will fill yours. They’ve also begun making hard seltzers. The styles change, but Ben only adds 100 percent fruit purees. The mimosa-style My Bubbles, made with orange puree and champagne yeast, is Nadia’s favorite. The seltzers are a good alternative for those who need to avoid gluten—but be careful. Though they may seem lighter, My Bubbles is seven percent alcohol by volume. With a New York Farm Brewers License, they’re allowed to serve New York wines and spirits. Black Button Distilling came down from Rochester on a recent Friday night to hang out and share some of their craft beverages. Their bourbon, bourbon cream, and apple pie moonshine are some of the choices available there.
“We use local folks for everything we can,” Ben says. “I love collaborating.” His beers show it. Smooth Like Honey, a lager, uses honey from Herbee Homestead in Hornby. The Great White Buffalo is a hazelnut coffee Kölsch that uses beans from Market Street Coffee & Tea, and the Mocha Coffee Porter uses beans from Soul Full Cup—both in town.
Ben likes to collaborate with other brewers, too. He worked with Dave and Eric Shoemaker at Liquid Shoes Brewing two blocks away to create Sir Liquidious-Ironis, an imperial German chocolate cake stout. Ben has also joined forces with Lucky Hare Brewing Company in Hector, Rising Storm Brewing Company in Avon, and K2 Brothers Brewing in Rochester.
The Barrel House kitchen opened in January with fun air-fried snacks on the weekends—fried pickles, pub fries, popcorn shrimp, and other rotating options. The customer favorite seems to be Pretzel Nugs—nuggets of hot pretzels served with either cheese dip or spicy brown mustard. They also offer Bison Snack Sticks (pepper or hickory) from their friends nearby at Savona’s Mud Creek Bison Ranch. (It’s reciprocal—the spent grain from beer brewing goes to the bison.) The kitchen is closed Monday through Thursday, and on those days they welcome well-behaved dogs.
Aside from being dog-friendly collaborators, they express community through brews that support causes, like the Pink Lady dry-hopped Belgian wit beer that raised money for breast cancer research last year. In May they’re tapping StacheStrong, a traditional German style Kölsch; one dollar of every pint sold goes to the namesake foundation raising money for glioblastoma (brain cancer) research. They also did Pints for Polio in conjunction with the Rotary Club of Corning.
Most Thursdays are trivia night, and on weekends there’s often a band. They also rent out for small events, with the ability to block off half the space for private functions. The overall capacity is ninety-nine people.
“The next few months will be big for us,” Nadia says. “We’ll actually see what tourist season on Market Street is like.” It’ll kick off with Glassfest in May, just about the time Ben’s first baby is due. When asked what their goals are for the business, Ben says, laughing, “To make money. Lots and lots.” Nadia hushes him before saying, “We’d like to see Ben and Adam establish themselves and have a solid, secure future in Corning. To leave their footprint.” It might be a webbed, three-toed footprint, but it seems certain they’ll leave one.
The Iron Flamingo Barrel House is open seven days a week. Check Facebook or ironflamingobrewery.com for hours, or call (607) 936-4766.