Strong Like Goat

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I’m not the beer expert I probably should be. If you ask me about one of our beers, I’ll talk about it a little bit and then offer you a sample because I know I’m not doing a very good job of explaining things.

If you ask me about our new American strong ale, Miles to Goat, I’ll give you a blank look, tell you it’s 9% abv and then pour you a taste.

But as the great Vernon Wormer once said, “Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life.” So I have taken it upon myself to learn about American Strong Ale, and then to pass that knowledge on to you, the readers of the Imminent Blog.

It turns out the term American Strong Ale is sort of a broad one. As far as I can tell, in order for a beer to qualify as such it must be:
1.) American

2.)An ale

and 3.) (I swear to God) Strong

The folks at Beer Advocate describe an American Strong Ale like this:   “Catch all style category for beers from 7.0 percent alcohol by volume and above. Some may even be as high as 25% abv. Characteristics will greatly vary; some have similarities to Barley-wines and Old Ales. Barrel aging is certainly not out of the question.

Barrel aging, you say? Funny that should come up. Miles to Goat is a malt forward beer, with a little taste of maple in there. There’s not much more to say about it than that, except we offer it in 10 ounce pours because it’s 9%, and it’s very good. As it stands, Miles to Goat is an excellent compliment to the other beers we offer, sort of balancing our lighter, more seasonal offerings with a big tasting, slightly heavier ale.

But the real reason Randy chose now to brew this thing is to fill those whisky barrels you may have noticed in the brewhouse.

If you hadn’t noticed them, or if you haven’t been in for a while, they’ve been sitting there for six weeks or so, just off to the right as you face the brewing area. We’ve filled them with MtG, and that big, strong, malty ale is currently co-mingling with the bourbon and rye that was left in the wood of those barrels. Sometime around the end of September we’ll start tapping them. But that is a blog post for another time.

We should address the name, too, by the way. Miles to Goat is a little inside joke. A couple weeks ago – before we had to enact the moratorium on dogs in the brewhouse – a friend of ours and a beloved regular, showed up in the taproom with his goat, Miles. He hadn’t really given it a lot of thought. Goats are friendly and loyal companions, very much like dogs, but – well let’s just say they aren’t as domesticated as dogs are. Some wacky hijinks ensued, and Miles will not be coming back to the brewery. We named the beer to remember and honor him from afar.

So get in here this weekend and try a little Miles to Goat. Just remember that it’s 9%. Those who enjoy it, like all goat owners, should do so responsibly.

wait... WHAT????

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Yeah, I know. This is bad news.

One of the things Imminent Brewing is known for is being a dog friendly establishment. We’ve celebrated it. We’ve blogged about it. There’s even a jar of dog treats on our bar. It’s part of who we are. We love dogs. We recognize for most people who have dogs, they are a part of the family. This is a family friendly establishment, so dogs have always been allowed inside the taproom.

Um… yeah. About that.

This past week we had our annual inspection from the Department of Agriculture.

Before I go any farther we need to be clear about something: this is not about making the Ag Department, or, for that matter, our inspector, the bad guy. The Department of Agriculture does a lot of really great things for the state of Minnesota, and our inspector is a fantastic guy who has been very helpful to us in a lot of ways.

So, anyway, we had our annual inspection from the Ag Department this week, and it turns out that our license, as it stands right now, does not allow for dogs to be inside the taproom. Therefore, for the time being and until further notice, dogs are not allowed inside. They have to stay on the patio.

This is not necessarily a permanent situation. We can, and will, apply for a variance on our license to allow dogs inside. As it turns out, this is a relatively common thing. As the brewery/taproom thing has grown, more and more taprooms have wanted to be dog friendly, and the Ag Department has been willing to work with them. Many establishments have already applied for the variance we’re seeking, and it sounds like it should only be a matter of filling out some paperwork and all will be well.

For now, though, we want to apologize to all of you who like to come to Imminent with your dog. It’s an inconvenience. It’s a bummer. But there is a law on the books for a reason, and we need to dot all of our i’s and cross all of our t’s to make this work.

Unfortunately, we don’t know exactly how long this is going to take. We’ll send in the paperwork this coming week. When it gets to the Ag Department it will be on the bottom of a pile. Once we get to the top of the pile, we’ll be considered and hopefully everything will go right back to the way it was.

Thanks for your patience, everybody. We promise, once we get the approval, you’ll be the first to know.

know your bartender: Tessa Rogers

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My favorite way to describe Tessa Rogers is that she is a warrior.

While at St. Olaf Tessa played on the rugby team. Last fall, legend has it, she separated her shoulder in an afternoon match, but still made it to the brewery that evening, on time, to work her shift.

If I separated my shoulder, not only would you not see me at the brewery that night, it might be a month before I showed up again. But that’s Tessa: this woman is as tough and determined as they come.

But she’s also much more than that. She’s a great bartender and an even better co-worker. Tessa has this uncanny ability to anticipate the mistakes I’m about to make before I make them. Once, when somebody gave me a $20 for a round of beers, I started making change for a $50. Tessa, standing right next to me, but talking with someone across the bar, stopped in mid-sentence looked at me, said “That was a twenty,” and went right back to the order she was taking.

She does things like this all the time.

She graduated from St. Olaf in May with a degree in Chemistry, and has been quickly scooped up by Randy to help with the quality control in the brewing process.

So, how has she enjoyed the transition from student with a part-time job to helping out in the brewhouse every day.

“I’m tired,” she said.

“I never hit a reset button. I just sort of eased from living on campus to living in town part time and on campus part time. This was while I was still in school. Then I graduated, so then my family was here (from her home town of Bellingham, Washington) and then Wyatt got here. And then I went straight to work. There was no summer. There was no break.

“I’ll do that later,” she said. “I thought I could totally pull this off and so far it’s fine.”

Wyatt, by the way, is her partner Wyatt Parks. “It’s been two years of long distance for us,” she said. He moved to Northfield as soon as Tessa graduated. With a strong background in farming operations, he quickly found a job as a manager with the Main Street Project.

“They’re expanding their operations and they needed someone with a commercial farming,” she said.

So, now she has her degree and is working as a chemist in the brewhouse. Her favorite person has come to Northfield to join her, and he’s found gainful employment in his field of choice. It all sounds pretty good. So what’s next?

“Uggh,” she said.

“Everyone always asks what the plan is. I don’t know. It’s still developing itself

“Figuring out my role in the brewhouse is still kind of a thing. Metabolically I understand what’s happening with the yeast; that’s my niche. But, I haven’t been exposed to too many different styles of beer; just what we have in the brewhouse. We have our flagships – our ales – versus using things like Wit yeast or Caisson yeast.”

That experience will come, however.

“Eventually I’m hoping to use this experience, either with the team here or with another team or, with my own team (who knows?) to branch out from the norm in terms of things like yeast and hops and temperature use.”

She mentions having her own team. One of her goals is to be a part of – if not operate – an all female brewing operation.

“Yeah, I do think that’s important. There’s lot’s of things like Pink Boots Society that are doing good things for females.  But more can be done, on more of a ground level thing.”

The microbrewing/craft brewing industry is much more entrenched in Washington than it is in Minnesota. Part of the reason Tessa chose to stay in Minnesota after graduating is because she has found it isn’t easy for a woman to get involved in the beer industry out there.

“Because the industry is still growing here, there is still room for females. Back home, it’s so ingrained [that this is a male dominated thing.] You must have a beard. You’re a Beer Bro. That’s not to say your company isn’t doing awesome things; there are tons of breweries that donate and participate in the community and do wonderful things for LGTBQ youths and the homeless and whatnot, but getting my foot in the door is next to impossible.

“And here I can learn and grow with everyone else, which is awesome. It’s unlike anywhere else, and why go anywhere else and start over when I’ve already got everything I want to start with?”

It’s not always easy for a woman – particularly a woman of color – to make a lot of headway in this industry, or, let's face it, any industry. But, that warrior spirit she has seems to thrive on the challenge.

Minnesota, and Imminent in particular, she says, has embraced her and given her some opportunity that would have been harder to come by elsewhere.

“You guys are the only group of people I know who could get a Washingtonian to move permanently to Minnesota.

“Put that on your resumes, kids.”

Jon Manners: Local Legend on Saturday Night

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There are many different, and some would say controversial, criteria that one must meet in order to be considered a Northfield “townie.” Some say you be a graduate of Northfield High School. Others say you must be have lived in Northfield for at least twenty years. Still other would say you must have at least three tattoos (with one at least partially visible when fully clothed) and, for men, you must have a beard that extends at least four inches below your chin.

I would add one more: you must have seen Jon Manners perform somewhere in town.

If you’ve lived in Northfield for more than five years and you don’t know who Jon Manners is, you’re just doing it wrong. But, don’t panic, we have a simple solution for you. Jon Manners is playing at 7:00 pm on Saturday, right here at Imminent Brewing.

If the Northfield Music Scene was Hollywood, Jon Manners would be Marlon Brando. If the Northfield Music Scene was food, Jon Manners would be Filet Mignon. If the Northfield music scene was history, Jon Manners would be Leonardo Da Vinci. If the Northfield Music Scene was Washington D.C., Jon Manners would be nowhere-to-be-found, because Jon Manners is far too good to be involved with that cesspool. The man is a National Treasure, but only known to music fans in Southern Minnesota, Connecticut and parts of California.

And, as is usually the case with all great men, his wife, Connie, is even cooler.

Jon’s been playing music for more than five decades. He wrote his first song in the late fifties, and joined his first band in the early sixties. Future guitar legend John Scofield, then a younger schoolmate of Jon’s, wanted to be in that band but he wasn’t even allowed to audition because the bass player didn’t think he had the chops to keep up with Jon.

Okay, I realize that this sounds like a lot of hype and superlative, but if you haven’t seen or heard Jon, then you really are missing something special. After nearly sixty years of playing music and writing songs, Jon has that most elusive quality in all of music - he has an utterly unique sound. His songs have elements of folk, jazz, soul, rock, pop and R&B embedded in their foundations. His lyrics are clever and poetic. His voice is an impressive baritone filtered through a little gravel and -probably, long ago - a cigarette filter or two. He even makes his own guitars. He is a true original.

I’ve known Jon for many years. I’ve listened to his music with utter fascination. I’ve watched him perform and been mesmerized by him. He works so simply on stage, with just an acoustic guitar, a stool and a board to tap his foot on. But the music flows out of him, almost lifting him up. He’ll sway back and forth on his chair, and when he’s feeling it, there’s a smile on his face as big as any you’ve ever seen.

I’ve also had the pleasure to interview him and listen to his stories. Ask him sometime about his experiences with Andrew Loog Oldham, who probably should have been Jon’s manager, except he was too busy working with a band called The Rolling Stones. In fact, if you talk to him long enough, you’ll come to understand the dark flip side of fate. Where some people walk into a record store and meet the person who will one day make them a rock star, Jon seems to have simply missed those events. It’s like if he had turned right instead of left on a random street corner on a random day in 1966, he’d be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame today. His music is that good. His talent is that strong. His abilities are that complete.

But fate’s miss is Northfield’s gain. Yeah, he’s not world famous, but since 1980, he has been a cornerstone of the of the Northfield Music scene. And when I say he’s at the top of our little mountain, I’m not kidding. Ask any of the people who play with regularity in this town and they will all tell you how much they love and admire Jon.

Jon, of course, will laugh this off. He’s a humble, unassuming man. But he loves music. He loves to play it. He loves talk about it. He loves to create it.

If you don’t love to hear him make music, than you’ve clearly never seen him. So come to Imminent on Saturday night and catch an essential piece of the Northfield experience.

We’ve got Jon Manners. That’s pretty awesome.