No. 100: Imminent Brewing (sneak peek)

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For my hundredth blog, I wanted to do something special. I’ve spent a lot of time in taprooms over the last nineteen months, and I wanted to treat myself for all that hard work. I could think of no better place to celebrate than at the up-and-coming Imminent Brewing.

Though the brewery won’t open until the weekend of June 16th, I weaseled my  way in thanks to the graciousness of its four owners. Northfield—Imminent’s home—is near and dear to my heart already, and its ownership even more so.

I came to know the brewery through Randy Clay—a St. Olaf campus icon known for his replies to the caf comment cards and badass home brewing hobby. His dedication to his work and the students shone through everything he did while employed by the college.  Randy (and his wife Tonja—the brewery’s design mastermind) met co-owners and co-brewers Laura and Derek Meyers through their local home brew club.

Opening Imminent has been anything but a simple process for the Clays and Meyers. After crossing their fair share of bumps in the road, the foursome is eager to finally open their doors in the historic downtown armory.

The opening process itself demonstrates Imminent’s philosophy: appreciation for their community.

Everything these four have done in building their brewery has focused on doing something great in Northfield. Laura saw it even from the beginning: “When I started watching Randy and his interactions at Olaf, I thought This is exactly what we want to do. And what a joy it is to be able to do this! What a privilege to make beer for our friends and neighbors.”

Randy adds, “It’s ironic how hard we have to work to have a place where people can relax. That’s what I’m leaving behind at St. Olaf—the community and connection—but that’s what we’re building here, for everyone. There are also a lot of people in our lives who won’t be  here when we open, and we’re doing it for them, too.”

Through the whole process of acquiring funding, securing a location, and building their dream, Imminent’s owners showed Northfield their love, and the community supported them right back. Derek sees how this philosophy will take them far in the long run. He recalls, “The biggest inspiration for me as a brewery was always New Belgium in Fort Collins. I don’t think it’s a mistake that they’re successful—their heart was in the right place, and everything else followed.”

So, what’s in store for beer? A little something for everyone.

I got to try the Factory Setting, a light and crisp cream ale. But, Imminent won’t stop there. With half a dozen taps to fill, the brewers want you to have options. They also want you to have the best beer experience possible. Laura says she’ll find joy in learning about Imminent’s patrons and offering them styles she thinks they’ll love. The crew has yet to set their flagships, a decision they’ll make instead based on community response.

Imminent’s owners will focus on building their taproom community before anything else. Once that is established though, they’re planning to distribute in a territory yet to be determined.

Advice? Plenty of it.

The weeks before a brewery opens are a unique slice of an owner’s psyche. They’ve worked their tails off, and the light at the end of the tunnel is growing more clear by the day. They’re likely envisioning themselves sitting on the patio after closing, enjoying one of their own beers. This frame of mind brings advice steeped in nostalgia, yet focused and determined.

Randy told me—among a share of other gems, “Fond memories of the past are stepping stones for future happiness.” Randy’s nostalgia for St. Olaf is infectious, and he truly will be missed there. While he may not get to know the incoming freshman class this fall, Randy looks forward to seeing alumni of many years past walk through Imminent’s door.

Derek offered me a simple phrase that had great impact on someone in my position: “Life direction kind of whacks you in the face. There’s no reason I should be here, given my career path.” Apparently even the folks who seem to be living the dream had no idea how to get there. So, that’s promising, right?

Laura—a model I think all twenty-something women should follow—also reflected on her non-linear life journey. She said, “It all boils down to a couple things: generosity and gratitude. If you keep putting good intentions out there, it’s going to come back to you.

“Nothing is perfect, and it’s never going to be, so you have to let go of that shit first. But, when you put goodness out there, it flows back. Then you have to take a moment to be grateful for it, which can be hard. There’s a myth that we’re supposed to be happy all the time, which just isn’t true. But that doesn’t mean we can’t find joy. On the whole, this is so joyful.”

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