Clay brewery imminent

“So we’re sitting around talking about a name, and somebody said, ‘You know, there’s going to be a brewery in Northfield imminently,’ and it was just kind of like ‘That’s it – Imminent.’”

Bon Appetit Board Manager Randy Clay is planning to open Northfield’s first brewery. Imminent Brewing is currently on track to open in spring of 2017 and Clay will serve as its Brewing Operations Manager.

“I’ve been homebrewing for 18 years and I think that anybody that homebrews at some point entertains the idea of doing it professionally,” Clay said. “But usually, most of us snap back to reality and decide that that’s a bad idea, so I decided about four years ago to seriously pursue it.”

The Imminent team – Clay and his wife Tonja, along with Laura and Derek Meyers – has secured part of the old National Guard Armory as their space. The building sits right on Northfield’s main drag, Division Street, and Imminent will use the garage and shed for its taproom and brewhouse, respectively. The main building of the Armory is being turned into a special events space – a place for live music, weddings and banquets – and Clay sees this neighboring venue as a bonus for Imminent.

When it came to location, Clay and his partners didn’t consider anywhere else.

“I think that the competitive advantage that we have is being local,” Clay said. “My wife is a townie, my wife is an Ole, I’ve been here almost 20 years and we never considered looking elsewhere, looking at another town to have a brewery. This is always where it was going to be.”

Details for the taproom and brewhouse are still in the works, but Imminent hopes to start construction within a few weeks.

Imminent isn’t the only brewery coming soon to Northfield. Tanzenwald Brewing Company is also working on a similar timeline and will most likely open within a few months of Imminent. Despite obvious competition, Clay values the camaraderie between the two businesses during the long approval and construction process.

“It’s more of a collaboration,” Clay said. “It’s such a long process, first of all, to actually get open, there’s so many government entities to go through and approvals and things like that. We can kind of commiserate with them because they’re having the same experience we are. It’s also collaborative because it is a scary enterprise to go into, and making that leap to being a small business owner is not something to take lightly, and since there’s another couple in town who’s doing the same thing, we have more in common than not.”

The Imminent team launched an IndieGoGo fundraising campaign a couple of months ago to raise money for the new space. At press time, they had seven days left and had reached 65 percent of their goal of 40,000 dollars.

“One of the reasons we did a fundraising campaign was to give local people, especially friends and family, the opportunity to chip in, because everyone’s been talking about how excited they are about it,” Clay said.

As a thank you for donations, Imminent is offering a variety of perks, including T-shirts, growlers, mug-club memberships and, for the most generous donors, an opportunity to spend a day brewing with the Imminent crew. For those still interesting in pitching in, the campaign runs through Nov. 9.

“One of the really cool things, honestly, is seeing the number of Oles – current and former – contributing to the campaign. It’s awesome,” Clay said.

Students should note, however, that the brewery will consistently check IDs upon entry to the taproom and that donors under the age of 21 will not be able to redeem any alcoholic perks.

whitfo1@stolaf.edu

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