Paul Von Hagen’s journey to craft beer showcases that this risk-taking brewer lets his passion lead the way. With a budding career in technology, Von Hagen found himself restless in Seattle and the Northwest-native soon left his desk job to join the bustle of Seattle’s bartending scene, where he continued to immerse himself into the world of craft beer. By 2015, Von Hagen packed up his life in the city and took a chance on the small college town of Ellensburg, Washington, where he quickly enrolled in Central Washington University’s craft brewing program.
Today, you can catch him fulfilling his dream of brewing professionally at Iron Horse Brewery. The Ellensburg-based brewery is a force to be reckoned with, stunting a broad, flagship lineup that includes the Irish Death, High Five Hefe and the new Beer Wolf IPA.
Von Hagen’s newest venture at Iron Horse includes The Hopping Hands Project, which launched in May — he brews a different single-hop beer that is released the third week of each month through August. All net proceeds from each keg sold are donated to Washington’s Veterans Conservation Corps, where former military work to preserve and restore Washington’s natural resources.
Iron Horse will be pouring Hopping Hands Project IPAs all summer long at the Ellensburg brewpub. For those west of the Cascades, worry not — several locations have teamed up to pour Von Hagen’s single-hop beers across Tacoma, Auburn, Bremerton and more.
1) Which of your own current offerings are you digging the most?
Our new flagship IPA, Beer Wolf, is my favorite beer we’re currently making, although some of our new pilot batches have topped it. Here’s to hoping we can produce them more for the market!
2) Any brewing pipe dreams you’re dying to make a reality?
I’ve had a pipe dream idea for a while now about a YouTube series that goes in depth into the brewers/brewmasters behind popular breweries. If the beer gets enough coverage, I’m always interested in learning more about the people that make it. As far as actual brewing goes, I’d love to [do a] collaboration with Mikkeller or Dogfish Head, two of my personal inspirations.
3) What non-beer beverage is in your glass most these days? What is your favorite way to enjoy it and where?
I’ve been actively trying to increase my water intake, but that’s a very boring answer. I love the world of liquor and cocktails; it’s probably in that realm if I’m drinking something that’s not beer. I enjoy going to cocktail bars with old friends in the industry. I’ve learned so much from them and continue to do so, usually over a glass of Fernet Branca, or three or four.
4) Favorite song, album or artist to jam out to while throwing a few down the hatch?
My music taste has a lot of variety to it; it changes so often based on my mood, the weather, who I’m with. I’d say recently the best answer is Childish Gambino’s new album. My friends can attest that I’ve probably overplayed it at this point, but I still love it.