Highly-regarded Tucson homebrewer and owner of the soon-to-open Iron John's Brewing Company John Adkisson, showed us around his new brewing facility not long ago, as we talked to him about the State of Tucson Craft Beer. As we spoke, we couldn't help but wonder: Where did the name "Iron John" come from?
The answer is below.
If you can't listen, check out the transcript below the jump.
The whole Iron John story is an old German, Grimms' brothers folk tale. It's probably about 10,000 years old, passed down orally, and it's a tale about growing up and developing your value and place in the world.
A small boy is playing in a castle, and his ball rolls into the cage of this hairy iron man, or hairy wild man, who is kept by his father the king, because he's uncontrollable. The boy asks for the ball, and the man tells him "I can't give you the ball unless you open the cage, I don't have the key, the key is under your mother's pillow, you have to get the key from your mother," so you have to decide to take the key into your posession and use the key to let the wild man out of the cage. The boy then follows the wildman into the woods and learns his true value in the world and his true place in the world, and goes on to have adventures in another kingdom and save that kingdom and marry the princess. It turns out that, once that's accomplished, Iron John, the hairy man, comes out of the forest, and turns into this fabulous king who had been bewitched by someone for being selfish and greedy, and until he helped someone else learn their palce in the world, he was cursed to stay as the guy in the forest.
It's a tale about needing to go out int he world and find out who you are and what you should do. I came across this story back in the '70s, in the middle of a men's movement that referred to the story of Iron John. I liked it so much, that initiatory discovery, the self-growth idea, that I named a beer "Iron John's Oatmeal Stout." It was seen as a very manly concept, but it's about getting in touch with who you are and what's important about life. We decided to continue that idea to expose people to the concept that these beers should open your eyes and open the door to a bigger world, and see what's important.