When Worthington, Minnesota, was settled in 1872 by professor and Prohibitionist Ransom Humiston and A.P. Miller, it was meant to be a town free of alcohol. But then, as the town residents tell the tale, Civil War veterans moved to town with a thirst for beer. Next thing you know, Humiston is destroying a keg of the veterans’ beer during the town’s very first Fourth of July celebration. They gave the keg a soldier’s burial before another one was tapped.
“That name [of the brewery] is in that story,” says Brent Droll, co-owner and head brewer of the Forbidden Barrel Brewing. Though the town is no longer flirting with temperance, Droll is both worried and excited to open what will be Worthington’s first brewpub at the end of August.
“It’s great. It feels great,” Droll says. “It’s scary at the same time. In a rural community, there’s not always a lot of options for people to go on an evening when they want to go, sit back, and relax. We saw a need for that here and fill that void. But it’s scary to be the first one to do it in this general area.”
While the physical construction began this January, four years of serious thought and work have gone into the brewery, including navigating the time-consuming licensing and permitting process.
“Every brewer I talked to said you’re about to get set on a journey with the licensing that is going to be the most miserable months of your life, but that day that you open and the first customer comes through, you kind of forget about that,” he says. “I’ll be darned, but that was pretty much spot on (for the soft opening). You forget a lot of those difficulties you experience in the eight months. It’s worth it and I’m seeing that now.”
Droll first took up an interest in brewing when his wife bought him a homebrew kit about 12 years ago.
“She’s regretted it ever since,” Droll says with a laugh. “Over that 12-year period, I took over the house with kegs and vessels and brewing equipment. The garage, the basement, the hallways.”
The two would host yearly summer events where Droll could share his beer with the intent of making room to make even more. His wife thought enough people liked it—and thought it might be nice to make some money back from what was becoming an expensive hobby.
Now, instead of a homebrew setup, Droll brews beer on a 5-barrel system with four 5-barrel fermentors. The brewpub is located in a building from the 1930s that was once an auto shop before it was a sporting goods store. A fire in 2001 decimated it and it remained vacant for years. The Worthington Investment Network, a coalition of private, volunteer investors, began buying real estate in 2018 and then leasing it to businesses such as Forbidden Barrel or existing ones in a bid to boost the local economy.
Being a brewpub means Droll will have other local and regional taps—never Bud Light or Miller Lite, more like Summit’s Slugfest. He expects that his own beer will be an eclectic mix. They’ll have some food including a plate of meat and cheese, chips and dip, bread pretzels, and bratwurst.
“I like to brew all different kinds, but the favorite ones I have are Belgian quads, porters, and stouts,” Droll says. “My wife likes IPAs, honey wheats, and different fruited flavors. We try to source ingredients locally, and are working with a local honey bee farmer. I make a jalapeño beer, we get those from a local farmers market when we can. That’s kind of our premise with everything—keep things local when we can.”
And the beer names are either personal or local. For example, the Paycheck Honey Wheat Jalapeño is named after Paycheck, a turkey that happens to race another turkey down Main Street from sister city Cuero in Texas during Worthington’s King Turkey Day.
“And nothing goes faster than a paycheck,” Droll says with a laugh.
The IPA, named Why Be Sad When You Can Be Hoppy, is named as such because Droll’s daughter used to ask him, “Why be sad when you can be happy, Dad?”
“It’s a darn long name but has a lot of meaning to the family, and she pretty much lives by that.”
Droll might take that saying more to heart with his brewery now up and running—the pints flowing as swiftly as the heralded Paycheck.
Brewer: Brent Droll
Beers: Why Be Sad When You Can Be Hoppy IPA, Paycheck Honey Wheat Jalapeno, Prohibition Blues Honey Wheat Blueberry, Third Avenue Coconut Porter.
Address: 900 3rd Ave, Worthington, MN 56187
Hours: Mon & Thu: 3:30pm–10:30pm; Tue–Wed: closed; Fri: 3:30pm–midnight; Sat: 11am–midnight Sun: 11am–10:30pm
Opening: August 29, 2019