Meet the Brewer-Iron Horse Brewery
Greg Parker: Self-described as the Chief Bosshole, Iron Horse Brewing of Ellensburg, Washington.
Hometown: Born in Bremerton, raised in Silverdale, a proud, third-generation Washingtonian.
Favorite Beer: Greg fondly remembers a beer he brewed back when he was a homebrewer. It was an English Pale Ale, brewed using Burton yeast. “It was so flavorful,” he says. “Fruity esters for days, yet very subtle and nuanced. No punches to the face, just so tasty that I couldn’t stop drinking it and never wanted to.”
Brewing Pedigree: Mostly, Greg is self-taught. He started out by brewing 31 batches of homebrew over the course of 18 months. He also did lots of reading (forums and books) and now he’s brewed a whole bunch of commercial batches. “Ultimately, I’m not qualified to be a head brewer,” he is quick to point out. “That’s why I’m the Chief Bosshole, not the Head Brewer.”
Beyond the Beer: Greg is a smart guy with a dry, intelligent and often subtle brand of humor programmed into his DNA. He also has entrepreneurship and business acumen hardwired into his genes. Whereas many people might describe themselves as skiers, rock climbers, guitar players, or aficionados of some other mundane hobby, Greg says that he’s an enthusiastic fan of new organizational models based on self-management and self-organization.
Greg suggests that anyone reading this, who is also in charge of an organization that wants to move past the hierarchical model, should read Reinventing Organizations by Frederic Laloux. “It has clearly defined why I’ve always been uncomfortable with the top-down, ‘I am the boss and I have all the wrong answers’ model of organizations.”
Iron Horse Brewing, according to Greg, is carefully moving toward the self-management model. “We would be moving more quickly if it were up to me, but once you understand self-management and self-organization you realize that having the Chief Bosshole push a big change initiative is exactly what not to do.”
His Story: Greg says that, on the most basic level, he’s gotten to where he is today because he was fortunate and was born in the USA to attentive and thoughtful parents and a society that provides a lot of support and opportunity. In his own words, “Luck, privilege and hard work, which I wouldn’t have known if it weren’t for my parents, is the three-word story of Greg and Iron Horse Brewery.”
He spent a fair portion of his early adulthood trying to find direction, unsure of what he was supposed to do with his life and unsure of his ultimate purpose. “I figured out pretty early that it wasn’t auto parts,” he says, noting that his father was in that business.
After some soul searching, he planned to go back to college and get a degree in Land Rehabilitation. While waiting for that plan to come to fruition, he began homebrewing.
“I was hooked. The creative process that leads to the finest beverage in existence was absolutely addicting,” says Greg. “I also grew up in a small business family so my personal traits are more in line with entrepreneurship than working on government contracts, or in large groups to meet compliance standards, or who knows where else that path might have led me.”
Once he’d been bit by the brewing bug, it was all over and the rest of the story just needed to be written. He started looking for opportunities and opened conversations with his father about owning a brewery.
“He’s a business man at heart. He wants to play the game of real-life monopoly and, shame on me, I took advantage of that and my personal relationship with him to help turn a decent chunk of his retirement into a brewery purchase.”
In September 2006 they came across a listing for a brewery that was for sale. They entered into a one-year partnership with Jim Quilter, who owned and operated Iron Horse Brewery at the time. In 2007 the partnership part of the deal ended and they became the sole owners of Iron Horse Brewery.