A True Celebration of Dad

by | 11/29/2022

According to the history books, the first Father’s Day was celebrated in the state of Washington in June 1910. A young woman by the name of Sonora Smart Dodd had the idea of honoring and celebrating her dad after listening to a Mother’s Day sermon at her church the previous year. She thought mothers were getting all the attention but that fathers deserved some time in the sun as well. It remained a local celebration in various regions for decades despite President Calvin Coolidge pushing for a national day of honor in 1924 and Lyndon Johnson signing an executive order in 1966. Finally, in 1972, Father’s Day was officially recognized as a national holiday.

Through all of these years, fathers and children have formed deep bonds and shared personal passions together. This holiday has a different meaning for everybody, but for two now connected “souls” the bond through beer has never run deeper. In May of this year, Iron Hill’s Pete Corbett had the pleasure of meeting North Wales guest Bernie Heinze and formed a relationship they will now carry forward forever.

Pete, who started his Iron Hill career in 2013, became the Head Brewer in North Wales during the Summer of 2017. He had been a passionate home brewer for years and shared the hobby with his Dad. His father had a favorite Centennial Blonde Ale recipe that they had brewed together; light and crisp with a nice, sweet and spicy balance. In honor of his father, who passed away in 2017, Pete named the beer “Dad’s Favorite Blonde” and he is again making it available for all North Wales guests.

Enter Bernie Heinze, a North Wales regular who enjoys coming into Iron Hill with his wife Martha for a weekly dinner. The first time he tasted “Dad’s Favorite Blonde,” he asked about the story behind the beer because it reminded him of the German Kolsch from Cologne and Hacker Pschorr Bavarian beers which had always been his favorites. When he was relayed the story of the beer’s origin, Bernie shared some of Pete’s Centennial Blonde Ale with his dad, who loved it as well. Bernie claims that he almost started a petition to have Iron Hill bring this crisp, sweet and fruity character beer back, after it ran out the first time, and he is beyond delighted to be able to enjoy it again.

Bernie, who lost his father last September at the age of 96 years young, says that “in life you only have one dad.” His father, Gunter P. Heinze, immigrated to the United States in 1951. Gunter was part of a secret CIA covert mission called “Operation Paper Clip,” which brought over German rocket scientists from Berlin after World War II. He had invented the guidance system for the V-2 rocket, and was recruited by both the UK and US to assist in starting the Space Program. Several of his father’s inventions and instruments helped fly men to the moon and back, continue orbiting the Earth in weather satellites, are in the Hubbell telescope, and are currently sitting in the exploratory rovers on Mars, Mercury and Venus.

During the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, Gunter was the personal ambassador to US Olympic Track & Field champion Jesse Owens. Bernie was able to arrange for them to meet again and have lunch together in 1977, and they remained friends after that until they both passed away. In 1972, Bernie and his father started brewing beer together in their basement back home in Buffalo, NY. This was Bernie’s first experience with beer; a love for the sophisticated science, patient process and tremendous taste that he feels was replicated in his favorite Iron Hill Signature and Seasonal offerings. According to Bernie, “Dad had more instruments, dials, gauges and lines attached to the brew kettle than mission control.”

He adds, “To have the respect and reverence of a beer named after all dads is a wonderful way in which to bring the notes of their life back to life in this special manner.” Recently Bernie stepped into the brewery with Pete, and after sharing some stories, he was honored with labeling the beer on the fermenter as “Our Father’s Favorite Blonde” to recognize both the men who had such an influence in their respective lives.

Bernie added, “My dad was every bit as great as the taste of the beer Pete has created.”

Iron Hill would like to thank Bernie for sharing is personal story with us and we look forward to seeing him over Father’s Day weekend for a celebratory toast in honor of his dad.