Life Along the Streetcar with Tom Heath from The Heath Team Nova Home Loans

On this week’s show, we’re going to speak with Elise Lauer. She’s the Brewer for Iron John’s Brewery and she came to this by way of burgers and ballet. We’re going to hear all about her fun journey in just a few minutes.

Today is March 13th, my name is Tom Heath and you’re listening to “Life Along the Streetcar”.

Each and every Sunday our focus is on Social, Cultural and Economic impacts in Tucson’s Urban Core and we shed light on hidden gems everyone should know about. From A Mountain to the U of A and all stops in between. You get the inside track- right here on 99.1 FM, streaming on DowntownRadio.org- we’re also available on your iPhone or Android using our very own Downtown Radio app.

Reach us by email contact@lifealongthestreetcar.org — interact with us on Facebook at LifeAlongTheStreetcar and follow us on Twitter @StreetcarLife

Our intro music is by Ryanhood and we exit with music from Bill Monoghan and the Celtic Pride, “Beer, Beer, Beer.”

Transcript

Tom Heath
Good morning. It’s a beautiful sunny in the Old Pueblo, and you’re listening to Katy deepti Tucson. Thank you for spending part of your brunch, our with us on your downtown Tucson, a community sponsored rock and roll radio station.

Tom Heath
On this week’s show, we’re going to speak with Elise Lauer. She’s the Brewer for Iron John’s Brewery and she came to this by way of burgers and ballet. We’re going to hear all about her fun journey in just a few minutes.

Tom Heath
Today is March 13th my name is he’s and you’re listening to Life along the streetcar each and every Sunday. Our focus is on social, cultural and economic impacts and Tucson’s Urban core. And you get the inside track right here on 991 FM streaming out downtown radio dot org, also available on your iPhone or Android with our very own Downtown Radio Tucson app, which you can get at your app store or Google play, or wherever you go to get that fancy stuff for your phone. And if you want to get us on the show, our email address is contact at Life along the streetcar dot-org. We are on Facebook and Instagram. Some people find our past episodes where they listen to their podcast, some find it on Life along the streetcar dot-org. And some, if your fancy can just ask their smart speaker to play Life along the streetcar podcast.

Tom Heath
Well, it is marked. We talked about this last week, all kinds of things happening yesterday. We had a couple of events in the urban core. We had the st Patrick’s Day parade, and the grand Fondo, both of which involved a little Libations, I believe. And the weather is fabulous. Today is this weekend is also the Festival of books. And you may remember, we, we mentioned that we are going to have a booth at the festival books. It’s 4:03. If you’re out and about today and stop by the University of Arizona Mall, the festival is free to everyone, and you’ll see us over Booth 403. Also want to give a shout out to the team over at the Monica. We interviewed Ray Flores a couple of months ago about that concept. If you want to know more, you can head over to our website lifelong streetcar, dot-org and just plug in the Monica and the search engine there to pop up that story. But they opened for breakfast, lunch and dinner last week in downtown. So we’re happy to have them for another fine dining option.

Tom Heath
And another one of our fancy options in the downtown area for beer is iron John’s Brewery. They open up their Taproom just a few weeks ago, February 10th I know, because I was there, and we have on the show today, they’re Brewer. Her name is EliseLauer, and she has a very interesting Journey from where she began in ballet to where she ended up now in brewing. And coincidentally, she started her dancing career in Milwaukee, which is also known for for Brewing. So I think there’s a good correlation there. We had a chance to sit down with her last week. I believe it was, and did this interview by phone. And I think you’re going to enjoy our conversation today with Elise Lauer

Tom Heath
All right. So it’s a Elise Lauer And there’s, there’s so many different titles that we could use for you. What is, what is your current title with like iron John’s, for example,

Elise Lauer
I am the Brewer, I would say, I’m definitely in The Apprentice mode right now, because we’re working with a brewery consultant that’s basically teaching me what I need to know. And yeah, so right now, I am the Brewer. I’m a actively doing all of the brewing with some assistance from the other business partners.

Tom Heath
So how do ya? How did you hear an apprentice? Then? So how did you get in to the role? Did you just wake up one day? And like man, I really like beer. Let’s go make some

Elise Lauer
well that kind of ended up happening, sort of, naturally with the merge of monkey, burger and iron. John’s back in. Actually, the murder happened on January 1st of 2020. And and we merged. We had this whole plan of merging the two businesses, remodeling, building a whole new restaurant Brewery concept and reopening as iron, Jon’s kitchen and Taproom. And this was all prior to knowing that covid-19 was going to be a thing.

Tom Heath
So this was January of 2020. And then two months later, all of those plans were put on a shelf. Yeah. Okay.

Elise Lauer
Yeah. And so we were very quick to like execute things start construction when do all of that. And in that process, we ended up shutting down our old Brewing space with the intention of being able to basically live on the amount of beer we had on hand until the new burying space was built later that spring and then covid hit. And it completely shut everything down. We couldn’t get equipment in nothing. So we were left without a brewing space. At that time, we actually had a different head Brewer, who was then you still on payroll and all that. And he had some kitchen experience, and we still kept a monkey Burger opens ended up working in the kitchen during that time. So that way he could continue to be paid. And a lot of things happened, but basically ended up that he ended up not working for us anymore. And it was not planned that way. So very suddenly, we were without a brewer when the Partners came together and they’re like, we got to come up with something real quick. And we were already working with dr. Paul Farnsworth, who he’s just like National. He recognized Brewery consultant. He taught at a university in Texas, like brewing and fermentation. He was part of the opening of this company in Florida called Brew Hub, which is basically this large-scale Brewing space that supports other breweries and being able to make up what they can’t do in their own space. So if they need to be able to brew more barrels or can or do anything like that, Brew Hub was there for that, and he’s consulted for hundreds of breweries around the country, one of them being Four Peaks up in Phoenix. So he’s pretty noted. If you just search his name, dr. Paul Farnsworth, you can find a lot of information about him. So we’re really, really lucky to have him. But his backstory kind of led to this, where he basically talked to the guys that we just need to find somebody that can, you know, manage time. Well, the understands, inventory organization understands processes and can to them isn’t going to make up their rule own rules on anything, because it is a very meticulous process. If you skip a step. If you’re not as clean on one part, you’re going to ruin your beer. So my name came up in that. And at the time, actually, like between ballet and Brewing, I worked for Starbucks, and I was a store manager. And my job as a store manager was inventory following processes making sure other people were following processes, food safety, all that stuff. And so they kind of felt like it was a perfect fit, even though I had never brewed beer before. They said, you know, nobody goes into beer, knowing how to make beer, even homebrewers, when they upscale to like commercial. It’s doesn’t translate the same way. So even on our system, which is a 5 Barrel, which is relatively small for commercial Brewing, if we were to upscale to a 50 barrel system, it would be the same thing would be a whole new learning curve, starting from the beginning, out what needs to go where how much quantity is of what he’d go in? And so, yeah, it kind of happened that way. And so I ended up leaving my store manager position, and that was May of 2021. And we officially started brewing in November of twenty Twenty-One. So I’ve been a practicing for coming up on a year in May. We’ve made several beers, and they’re getting really good reviews. I heard that you came and tried some.

Tom Heath
So so both you have iron John’s now has two locations. There’s a Tap Room downtown. And then a larger facility will talk about both of those. But I did go to the tap room, and I had your shower. It was absolutely fabulous.

Elise Lauer
Oh great. I’m glad you liked it.

Tom Heath
So your apprenticeship is working well. And The Taproom, if you’re familiar with downtown, this is this was open previously, and it’s a great facility to go and have a beer. But you did with this merger with monkey. And that’s this is you came from the monkey Burger side. And with this merger, if I understand correctly, the original sort of not the original one, but the, the, your local other location downtown in Armory Park area that became a the restaurant and and Brewery, correct?

Elise Lauer
The with the Brewing space that we have is actually on its on 1800 kobus. And there’s a tap room there. And we also share the space with Americana Indoor Sports, which is a soccer field facility. And so there’s indoor soccer fields here. And so it’s a really unique space that we have, and there will be a restaurant here. Eventually it’s in process. But right now, our main focus is obviously, we just got Congress back opened. But we have a third location that is being remodeled right now, which is actually the old monkey burger. And that’s on Broadway and Craycroft.

Tom Heath
Okay, that was another question, which was monkey. Burger was still in existence, but that’s that’s all be coming under the iron. John’s brand,

Elise Lauer
correct. Yeah. So we’re actually reopening with a lot of the same Foods. So the burgers specialty fries all the stuff that monkey Burger was known for. But we’re also adding in Pizza. We’re really excited about that. We’ve never done pizza before. So I’m really excited to kind of tap into that.

Tom Heath
And so you’re going on are to say, we’ve never done these things. But I’ll tell you if the if the quality of the beer is any idea, you’re learning very, very quickly, but you said something, and we have to touch back on this, because you of glossed right over it. But you said in between ballet and Broening. Yeah. So let’s start with that. But you’re actually talking about ballet, not some metaphor for for dancing around all of these activities. You actually are professional ballet. Dancer. Correct?

Elise Lauer
Yes, I was I. So all my life growing up, I started dancing just recreationally, when I was like four or five became really serious about it when I was like 11 or 12 years old and had kind of reached the max of where I was going to go with it. And I wanted to dance professionally. I wanted to be on the stage and have it be my job one day. And I ended up going to for my last two years of high school and ended up going to Virginia School of the Arts in Lynchburg, Virginia. And that’s actually where I met my husband. He used to dance to, and then we found our way back to Tucson. But that’s there’s a lot of steps in between there. But basically, after I graduated from Virginia School of the Arts, I got first professional job in the second company at Milwaukee. Ballet in Wisconsin was there for two years, and then ended up moving to Tucson to dance for ballet Tucson, which is still a company today. It’s a professional company in Tucson. They put on many works every single year, and we spent about. Well, I spent about seven years dancing professionally with them. During that time. I also had a part-time job at Starbucks, where I was just working, you know, just to get benefits health insurance, that kind of thing. And I ended up really falling in love with Starbucks and the company. And the culture that they created was getting a little bit burnt out on ballet and decided it was time for me to make a career change before I ended up resenting ballet, because I never wanted to do that. I spent my whole life up until that point, making sure I could do it. And then I did it for seven years. And I thought, you know what, even if it’s just seven years, this is seven years more than a lot of people get.

Tom Heath
We’ll be back to the second half of that interview with Elisa lower in just a moment. First, I do want to remind you that you’re listening to Life along the streetcar on Downtown Radio 991 FM and available for streaming on Downtown Radio, dot-org.

Tom Heath
And we are back going to start the second half of that interview with Alisa Lauer from Iron John’s. We’ve heard her journey as you got from the east coast and ballet here to Tucson. We’re going a little bit more about Brewing iron John’s and how the role of women in this field is growing with a lot more opportunities than just even a few years ago.

Elise Lauer
So then I transitioned to just working at Starbucks. Full-time worked really hard a year after I retired from ballet. I was promoted to store manager, ran many stores around Tucson, actually over the course of seven years. And then when this opportunity came up with iron, John’s to brew for them. I jumped right at it. I love learning new things and being challenged, and I don’t like to be the expert in the room. I always want to be the one that learn something new.

Tom Heath
So where does monkey Burger fit into this timeline then? So it’s some point. Yes, your husband, your husband’s name is Stuart. You guys were both professional dancers and ended up with ballet Tucson. The how do you get from that to Monkey Burger to iron Jones?

Elise Lauer
Yeah. So he while he was dancing here in Tucson, he was working part-time at Monkey. Burger was under different ownership at that time. After he retired from dancing, he became the manager of the restaurant. And and the opportunity came up to purchase the business owner at the time decided that they didn’t want to do it anymore. And we’re looking to close down and Stuart, found a business partner to go in and purchase it together, took a huge leap and bought a restaurant. And a year after that, it didn’t work out with the business partner that we chose. So we parted ways with them and became full owners of monkey burger for five years of owning it. And then we were approached by iron John’s. And actually, there are contact that, like the connection that made monkey, burger and John’s come together is actually George Larsen from Larsen and Baker. They own a lot of properties around town, one of our business partners, Chris’s friends with him. It just so happened that they were chatting one day. And Chris, who was one of the co-owners of iron John’s at the time, or still is, I should say, said that they were looking to expand on food, and they kind of connected the two of us. And that was late 2019. And then January first 2021 we were one business.

Tom Heath
First of all, I get some kudos for not jumping in with a horrible pun when you said, make a giant leap. So I get credit for keeping quiet on that one, but I couldn’t keep quiet too long. So now you’re in this dude. You’re doing this role as the Brewer for iron John’s, which I’ve talked to other breweries in Tucson. And it seems to be, although this is changing, it still seems to be pretty much a male-dominated field. Is that an accurate statement, or is it? Is that changing so much that it’s no longer accurate?

Elise Lauer
Yeah, it is a very male-dominated field. It is changing a little bit. There’s actually several breweries in Tucson that have female Brewers, which I think is really cool. And there’s this group called pink boots Society. That’s a worldwide organization. And Southern Arizona actually has their own chapter that I’m a part I have I have yet. I haven’t been a part of a meeting it cuz I just joined it. It’s. All the people that are involved in Brewing fermentation, all that stuff in Southern Arizona, they do monthly meetings, and I think it’s really cool. It’s like women empowerment in the male-dominated industry. But it’s so funny that it’s male-dominated now, because originally, when Brewing first started, if you look at the history, Brewing originally was done by only women, and we were actually went by the name Brewster. There’s some history there that I read recently, and I can’t speak verbatim on it. But basically, women originally did all of the Brewing of the beer, and we are called Brewster’s. This was around the time when, like, witchcraft became a thing. And Men thought that like, oh, what women can do with this that might be witchcraft, that they can make this happen and eventually took it over and away from the women were slowly kind of getting it back. But that’s why it is like a male-dominated Industries just because of the history behind it, and how it transitioned from one to the other

Tom Heath
as people want to get involved with his men or women if they’re kind of starting out. And what are some steps like, how do you get me? You kind of there’s a lot of things that came together to put you in this position. But what’s up half someone can take to get there. That doesn’t have to start with dancing in Milwaukee.

Elise Lauer
Probably the easiest thing would be to get a job in a brewery, maybe not necessarily mean. It depends on what’s available behind the scenes. Generally, people go in having had some my experience. My experience is very unique. I’m very humbled by it that I actually get this opportunity, because I know how hard some people work to get exactly where I am. And so I don’t take it for granted one day. But I do know that the general way to get then is like, you get into a brewery. You work in The Taproom. You have basically have to like, pay your dues. And eventually you become the person that cleans the tanks, or you help on a brew day with the grinding or the Milling, or help with transferring beer, putting it in kegs, putting it in bottles. And it sort of has like a step-by-step process. And I’m getting a crash course of all of that all at once. So my brain is very full. Usually there’s a lot of players in it. And so I’m I’m really lucky that we have Paul for dr. Paul Farnsworth to lean on for this, because learning a lot.

Tom Heath
How about the other breweries in town is their collaboration, or you pitted against each other, or you are kind of working collectively?

Elise Lauer
It’s a very from what I’ve gathered. And what I’ve experienced is it’s incredibly supportive. I mean, obviously there may be some outliers. I have not experienced that everyone works together, because if One Brewery is successful, we’re all kind of successful. So if there’s one breathe out as a really good thing and gets notoriety, then it all seven puts this town on the map and makes all the breweries look really nice. It’s a very supportive environment from what I’ve experienced so far. And what I have, what I’ve heard from are places with breweries that they all kind of work together, even as far as like, especially during covid will the issues with shipping and getting ingredients

Tom Heath
is there any type of bruja be talked about your consultant, kind of working through that concept. We have something like that in Tucson, others rumors that people are going to start sharing resources like that.

Elise Lauer
Yeah, there’s actually not too far from us. There is a company called Voltron where I know Borderlands, fire truck brewing, and I think one more joined in, but it’s basically a large-scale brewing space. And I think it’s a co-op, I believe you. I may be misquoting that. But basically it’s a shared Brewing space where you can Brew on a larger scale to be able to meet the demand.

Tom Heath
How does Tucson fit in this, you know, sort of Craft Beer World because I, I looked just in the downtown Fourth Avenue area. And there’s it’s hard to go a block without seeing a different Brewery or taboo, or do we have, yeah, a lot per capita, or are we just sort of the norm?

Elise Lauer
Yeah, I don’t know the exact numbers on that. I know that it’s definitely growing from where it used to be, and a lot have popped up even in the last two years, which is really exciting, because, you know, we were in this Zone where businesses were not doing well because people weren’t going anywhere. I know Nationwide were not even close to the top per capita. I know Michigan has a lot North Carolina. There’s some cities where the I think there’s like a city in North Carolina that has like the most per capita in the entire us. Well, we see, yeah, we’re

Tom Heath
getting there. And

Elise Lauer
yeah, I don’t think we’ve saturated the market yet, but it’s definitely growing.

Tom Heath
Well, at least allow our this is going to be an interesting title. It’s who got the Brewer for iron John’s with the ballet and burger background? Yeah. And it kind of excited to see the locations opening back up that positive sign. And it seems like it took a little bit of a detour. But all the pieces are falling into place for you. And the team and I are John’s to create that. That ultimate Vision.

Elise Lauer
It’s been stressful, but also really exciting the last couple of years. We’re really looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish. You know, once we have everything fully open,

Tom Heath
lots of projects happening there. You know, the ownership we talked about, that Eliza and her husband, Stuart. There’s Chris and Rose Fetch and letter mccusker. These are all people that are working together to get this place up and running. I’m not just as a Taproom in downtown, but their facility down there and Armory Park area, and also the one which I just learned about in our interview, Broadway and crafts with the little monkey Burger space there. So lots of things happening. Lots of cool people involved with that. And of course, we’ll keep tabs to make sure if there’s any updates, we come back and share those with you. Well, my name is Tom Heathen. You were listening to Life along the streetcar on Downtown Radio 991 FM, and we’re available for streaming on Downtown Radio dot-org

Tom Heath
Lots of reasons is to head over to downtown a radio dot or guy. I know some of the shows now are starting to come out with their own swag. I feel a little behind. There’s some cool hoodies out there from a couple of our DJ’s. Anyway, we’ll get some swag up there so that you can have some Life along the streetcar merchandise and support Downtown Radio along the way. Also, check out that schedule, you know, we’re an all-volunteer run radio station. If you listen to this at all during the week, you know how fabulous our DJ’s are, how much they love their music, and always feature different types of, of mostly a rock mix Monday through Saturday. And then on Sundays. It’s just a very wonderful eclectic. Diverse lineup starts off every Sunday with mr. Nature, literally, for radio, very family friendly, somewhat children oriented show. But I tell you, is, music gets me, it’s my favorite shows on downtown radio, and Then followed by DJ bank, which is probably my favorite show overall, the art of easing great way to spend a Sunday from 9 to 11 we have the talk shows where we come in, Ted Purcell ski with words and work follows us. And then it’s Ty Logan at the top of the hour with heavy mental. Let me get back into the music with speaker box X and the Soul Vibe Sunday. I got to tell you, those those two shows are been somewhat eye-opening for me, because I get introduced to music that I don’t normally listen to and huge, huge fan and appreciate the work that they’re doing, along with all of our other DJ’s. So if you get a chance in around 1:00 and you’re licking, looking for some cool music, listen to speaker box x with the riv, and then Soul Vibe Sundays with Melle Mel, you’re going to enjoy. Of course, we get into our nightly lineup after that. Well, we are wrapping up here for the day. I’ll be at the festival of books before three, if you want to stop over and see us. And the reason we’re at the festival of books is because we have a book took us like 20 years to write. But it’s done in a huge shoutout to James Portis, who is our photographer and helped with the layout. And really was the energy that kept us going. And Julie Bonner did our cover art. She’s the one that did our original show poster in the cover art is very much similar. The same lines, fabulous artist she will be with us at our booth today before with three, if you come out and she’s got her own art collection for sale, they are her. She got flashcards from her desert dwellers, as well as other fantastic Creations. Well, thank you to Our Guest today. Elise allow Earth iron, John’s Brewery, ballet, Burgers & Beer. It’s kind of, kind of a rare combination. Glad we had a chance to speak with her. If you ever have a top like you want us to cover our email address is contact at Life along the streetcar dot-org. You can hit us up on Facebook and social media. We love to be tagged and things, or, you know, should just share something on our page so that we can dig a little bit more into it. Recently came across a posting. We were mentioned a with the seal Peterson, and I just let me down that path of we’ve never featured her on the show. I don’t quite know how to do that. So I’ve reached out on Facebook. And if you know, we could interview to highlight her life, her Legacy, we would appreciate that introduction. But this is a community conversation. A lot of our shows are inspired by our guests or by you. So please continue to feed us that information. Well, we’re going to wrap up today. Yesterday was kind of a beer day here in the Old Pueblo with a grand Fondo and St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Of course, this week

Tom Heath
we’ve got st. Patrick’s Day coming up. So we’re going to leave you a little Irish music today. It’s from a band. So Bill Monaghan and the Celtic Pride, Celtic pride. And this is off a live album on st. Patrick’s Day in 2011 the album is called kiss the BS, which I think is Blarney Stone. And the song here in honor of Our Guest is beer beer beer. I hope you have a great week and tune in next Sunday for more Life along the streetcar.

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