By Brian Martucci
One of the metro area’s most ambitious brewery projects is on hold, and may need to find a new home altogether, after a waterlogged hillside above the brewery space in Jordan, Minnesota, gave way this month. Roets Jordan Brewery had been slated to open in the historic Jordan Brewery building later this summer, but the slide tore through the exterior wall of a third-floor apartment, forced the evacuation of the building’s five residential tenants living above the brewery, and raised serious concerns about the future stability of the hill.
“It’s a very expensive problem at best, and would take at least six months to fix, if it could be fixed at all,” says Tim Roets, the brewery’s president and head brewer. The building’s owners estimate the cost of stabilizing the hill at $1 million, which wouldn’t be covered by insurance or federal assistance—landslide insurance isn’t available in Minnesota. Frustratingly, the building itself is structurally sound with the only serious damage confined to the third floor.
Thankfully, no one was hurt in the slide and Roets didn’t lose much expensive equipment. But he and his family will need to rethink every facet of their plans for the space—and the brewery itself.
Asked whether he had lost any historic brewing equipment, Roets quipped, “The historic piece of brewing equipment that we lose is the building itself, which was an integral part of our brewing plan…its location in the hill made for constant indoor temperatures in the 50s, and 40s in the old lagering caves [deep in the hillside].” Roets had envisioned a low-tech style of brewing in the historic brewery—”a turn-of-the-20th-century approach with modern equipment” utilizing ambient temperatures and cave water in the chilling process, and smaller (3BBL) equipment that would function efficiently in a subterranean environment. Longer-term plans had included a seasonal barrel-aging program, and possibly fermenters, in the deepest recesses of the lagering caves. If Roets is forced to relocate that all goes out the window.
That said, the show will go on—in some form. “My family and I are still committed to opening a brewery,” says Roets, “and the next few weeks will determine how we do that.” In the increasingly likely event that Roets does relocate he’ll need to invest in larger brewing equipment that’s better-suited to a more traditional space. While he’s waiting to make a formal announcement sometime in July, a Kickstarter campaign may be necessary to defray those costs. The City of Jordan, meanwhile, is working with Roets and property owners around town to find a backup location for the brewery—although it will probably be weeks or months before a new site is finalized.
It’s not quite a silver lining, but some good news has come out of Jordan in recent weeks as well. Roets is working on a sister project, Minnesota Harvest Winery, that recently cleared the federal approval process and looks likely to receive state licensing within a few weeks. It would have been sooner, but road closures due to flooding in the area made it impossible for inspectors to get to the winery site. A formal announcement at Minnesota Harvest will happen as soon as that’s set, and folks who crave homegrown ciders, meads, and graffs can look forward to its first (liquid) fruits sometime next year.
UPDATE: July 23, 2014
Roets Jordan Brewery and the Jordan City Council have approved a plan to execute a lease on the vacant library on Broadway Street in Jordan, Minnesota. This clears the way for Roets Jordan Brewery to resume operations immediately and puts them back on track to begin brewing by the end of the year.