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Imminent Brewing: good beer, friendly space

<ea for Imminent Brewing,Northfield’s newest craft brewery, had been brewing for many years before Derek and Laura Meyers went into business with Randy and Tonja Clay.

The Meyers couple was first introduced to craft beer in Ft. Collins, Colorado, where Derek was attending graduate school. At New Belgium Brewing Company, where they spent many nights, Derek “fell in love with good craft beer.”

After a brief stay in London, the two moved to San Francisco, where there was “amazing beer all over the place,” according to Laura.

Family brought the couple to Northfield. After visiting Laura’s brother in town, they fell in love with the small southeastern Minnesota town, deciding to move here in 2013.

Upon arrival they started homebrewing, ultimately joining the Milltown Mashers homebrew club in town, where they met other beer enthusiasts, including Randy and Tonja Clay.

The idea of opening a brewery was thrown around a lot among this homebrew club but never seemed to move beyond the conceptual stage. Nevertheless, it became a dream for Derek and Laura. Opening a brewery “was one of those little seeds planted that nobody can seem to get rid of,” remarked Laura during a recent interview.

It didn’t take long for that seed to germinate. Less than a year after the Meyers couple moved to Northfield, they had formed an LLC, formally starting their business venture.

Unfortunately, it would take roughly three years for the seed to blossom. Due to real estate setbacks and zoning requirements, construction on what is now Imminent Brewing didn’t begin until November 2016. Once these hurdles were passed, however, the business took off, opening officially in early June 2017.

First and foremost is the beer, of course. Derek emphasized that Imminent does not follow a specific brewing philosophy. “We just want to make beer that we enjoy and that we think others will enjoy,” he said.

Instead, they focus on using local ingredients and partnering with other local businesses.“We’re trying to bring out the flavors of this area as much as possible,” said Derek, although he cautioned that it is “tough to be full-blown organic or full-blown local” due to the European origin of some of the malt.This dedication to local flavors is best captured by the seasonal Honey Basil Ale, which uses honey and basil sourced from local farms.

It is an infinitely drinkable beer, with a savory aroma followed by enough hoppiness at the end to remind you that you are, in fact, drinking a beer. Interestingly, this ale gets better as it rests in the glass. Like a complex wine, it takes time to open up. As it warms slightly, the bold tastes emerge and unify into a flavor that is better than the sum of its parts. The rest of the beers, however, seem to fall short of the standard set forth by this unique brew.

None of the four proprietors have professional brewing experience. They are avid homebrewers (Derek and Laura have been homebrewing for six years; Randy and Tonja for 18) but are still tinkering with their commercialsized recipes. This shows in the final product. Every beer that I sampled was tasty, drinkable and interesting, but lacked the panache of other, more seasoned craft beers.This is not a structural issue, however—as the recipes progress, the final products will likely become bolder and more expressive, like the Honey Basil Ale.

Beer is just one component of Imminent. Almost as integral is the atmosphere that the Meyers have cultivated.“This is a gathering place,”
Laura said, “a place for connecting, a place for community to come either to get to know each other or get to know each other better.”With a large, inviting patio and comfortable trestle tables inside, Imminent beckons with open arms.

Students have already come to appreciate this communal atmosphere. Mary Kate Hall ’18,who spent her summer working in Northfield, noted the friendly environment as her favorite aspect of the brewery.“Being here is a nice way of seeing faces that you don’t know, seeing that they are also a part of this community,” she said. “I feel like Imminent does a great job of creating a sense of community.And that is something you don’t
get at other places.”

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