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The legend of Iron John is an initiatory tale that presents a scenario of a child’s path through life to find his place in the world. It serves as a store of knowledge about self-realization. The tale was written down by the brothers Grimm around 1820 but is believed to be more than 10,000 years old. It was passed down by storytelling as a reservoir of experience to guide new generations into what we could become. It centers on a child deciding to use a key to unlock the cage holding a wild man who represents a worldly, shamanistic mentor, Iron John. The child follows him, growing and learning of the world from this mentor. The choice to use the key is a necessary first step.


My discovery of the Iron John story coincided with my introduction to brewing during a period of changes in my life; marriage, graduation, career change, loss of a parent. I had managed restaurants and put myself through college to become an accountant but felt unfulfilled. I chose to make a change and embraced brewing as an artistic outlet while taking opportunities to gain professional training and experience. Like the rest of the craft beer industry, I began creating more expressive, interesting beers that would lead people to cross over the threshold from the limited choices they had grown up with. I saw this transforming effect as a reflection of the process of self-realization. I chose to adopt the persona of Iron John for my beers as a way of honoring the story. In my twenty-year path to bring the Iron John Brewing Company into being, I have continued to celebrate the spirit of transformation that drinking great beer represents. I hope you will join me in celebrating great beer and transform yourself a little bit in the process.

- John Adkisson

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