Not even a 40-ton landslide of mud, rock, and tree roots could keep Tim Roets from opening his brewery in Jordan, Minnesota.
In his shoes, many would have been discouraged when heavy rains in July 2014 caused the hillside to slam into the historic Jordan Brewery where Roets was working to open a three-barrel brewery. Most would have thrown in the towel altogether after learning of the multi-million dollar price tag to stabilize the bluff. Instead, Tim Roets headed to the northwoods with his family to process the incident and to muster the spirit to start the search for a new location.
“We really thought we were going to move to a more traditional, higher-volume type town,” remembers Roets. The prospect of moving the brewery out of Jordan was a bitter pill for Roets, who had envisioned bringing brewing back to the small, but storied beer town. The historic limestone brewery building was built around 1861 and produced beer through 1948, with a brief interlude during Prohibition. At one point it was the largest brewery between New Ulm and the Twin Cities.
From his first visit to the iconic sandstone structure, Roets—a 30-year homebrewer who grew up in Milwaukee surrounded by family in the beer industry—was engrossed by the concept of reopening the brewery doors and using the lagering caves dug into the hillside.
“My wife always held out [hope],” continues Roets. “She’d say, ‘Wait until the City of Jordan talks to you because they might have something up their sleeve.’” Sure enough his wife Steff Sanders was right: The City offered to renovate the city-owned library building on the town’s main thoroughfare, Broadway Street, to Roets’ needs and specifications if Roets’ would move the brewery there.
Roets signed the lease in December 2014 and began drafting a plan for a 95-person taproom, 40-person beer garden, and a three-barrel electric brewing system with eight fermenters and three brite tanks in the 1,950-square-foot basement. In a nod to his original plans of using the ambient temperatures of the historic brewery caves to lager his beers, Roets has installed four of the fermenters into a cold storage room on the main floor to experiment with lagering beer ambiently.
“We were going to be buying equipment the week after [the landslide] happened, so we were somewhat lucky in dodging a bullet because there would be no way I could put gas-fired equipment in this building,” says Roets. The narrow stairwells in the library building limited Roets to a three-and-a-half-barrel brewing system, but for Roets, who always finds a silver lining, it’s an opportunity to offer a wide range of styles to patrons.
“With a small system I’m not trying to do a flagship. I mean, we’re going to experiment, experiment, experiment, experiment,” Roets emphasizes. The beer list at Roets Jordan Brewery will constantly rotate, but it will always span the color wheel from dark porters to light sessionable lagers to offer patrons the wide gamut of craft beer styles.
The brewery is a family venture with Tim, his wife Steff (insurance and legal), and his sons Dylan (general manager) and PJ running the brewery and taproom, which they hope will become a gathering place for the town’s growing population of young families.
This January, two and a half years after a natural disaster struck, Roets Jordan Brewery will open the doors in downtown Jordan, serving craft beer by the pint and growler to thirsty patrons that thanked him for staying and ringing in a new era of brewing in town.
Photos by Aaron Davidson
Brewer: Tim Roets
Beer: Rotating selection including stouts, pilsners, fruit beers, and pale ales
Visit: 230 Broadway Street South, Jordan, MN