Regan Rinker

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What’s your current position at your brewery, and how did you get started in the craft brewing industry?

I am retail manager [at Iron Horse Brewery in Ellensburg, Wash.], with a hand in event planning and local outreach. We currently have two retail locations, the Iron Horse Brewery home base, open about six years, and the Micropub, open almost a year. I have been involved in the retail experience at both of these stores since their opening. I initially got involved with the craft brewery experience through Natalia and Greg, the owners of the brewery. I applied to a child care ad and was hired to watch their two children, Wyatt and Julian. I got to know their family well through this experience, and was excited when I was offered even more hours being the first hired serving hand in the new tasting room. What started as a part-time infant and toddler care job turned into a full-time craft beer job. Once I stepped foot into the brewery, I have yet to leave it, for more than a day or two at a time at least.

What’s new at Iron Horse?

Iron Horse Brewery is really growing. After opening our second retail store, The Micropub, it has been so thrilling and exciting to watch the old retail norms break, and new, higher records soar. Every day is a new, exciting chance to share my love for craft beer with customers, help hire great people who feel the same, and be a part of fun promotions, events, and specials that help get our wonderful beer and name out into the public even more. Currently, we are working on moving locations and upgrading to a larger barrel system. Increasing our capacity will be huge for us, and will allow us to provide more beer for our thirsty customers.

What’s the best part of being a part of the craft brewing community?

Everyone is excited! Consumers love drinking and purchasing great beer, and I love promoting and being a part of that educating process. The competitive force and surge of many new brewing companies keeps us on our game, always creating great beer and paying attention to our product. I also love participating in events where we can reach out to new and existing markets and connect with the consumers through our product. It is always so exciting to hear someone say, “I have never tried your beer.” In my head I instantly think, “Awesome, I can’t wait to show them what we have.” It is constantly thrilling for me to be so confident about our product and know that we have a beer that will appeal to everyone in some way. The excitement on both ends of the spectrum, from the consumer and the workforce, keeps the craft beer market a thrilling and growing environment that is awesome to work within.

What do you like to do in your time away from the brewery?

I really enjoy being active. I have been especially into running lately. Running gives me a chance to clear my head and think about my day. I also love hiking. Something about the combination of crisp air, sunshine hitting your back, and sweat trickling down your brow along with the thrill of reaching the top of your destination peak always makes the day a little brighter. Cooking with beer or pairing my prepared cuisine with different beer is also a fun hobby I really enjoy. I have always loved cooking, and beer adds a whole other flavor dimension and profile to your already creative dish. Plus, what’s better after a long day than a cold one to cap it off with?

What’s your favorite food and beer pairing?

I have to say one of my favorite ones to date has been a spicy peanut curry with a crisp, clean Iron Horse IPA. The curry was rich and zesty with a spice-charged flavor throughout, and the IPA has a perfect hoppy citrus zest with a malt backbone to cleanse your palate and mellow the spice while adding a certain richness. It is amazing. I never thought the IPA could possibly taste better, until I had it with this curry.

What’s your biggest accomplishment unrelated to your job?

Graduating college with a couple degrees while working full-time, and completing five half marathons to date. Along with just completing the half marathons, my time has improved every time. I like to push myself and test my limits, even though sometimes this scares me because I am like most humans who enjoy comfort. I love setting new goals, reaching them, and setting a new one I never thought I would have the guts to reach or accomplish. It is crazy to me what we are capable of, if we just allow ourselves.

What’s your favorite beer that your brewery does not produce?

Believer Double Red by Ninkasi. They have great noble beers that are strong in hop and malt profiles. This particular beer is rich, high ABV, and finishes smooth on the palate. One 22-ouncer of this is a perfect nightcap, or start to your day, whatever you want!

What’s the most memorable travel destination at which you’ve had a chance to sample the local beer?

I really enjoyed Bend, Ore. last time I traveled there. They have a great emerging brewery market including Cascade Lakes, Bend Brewing, 10 Barrel, Deschutes, and Silver Moon. These were just some of the breweries we hit up. Each brewery was very busy, and had a beer that was definitely worth drinking and talking about. Along with the good beer, a few of them had wonderful food including dishes featuring their beers. I love to see breweries that are passionate about their beers. So many of these breweries had awesome apparel, fun creative seasonals, and inspired dishes.

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