WORTHINGTON — After five years of dreaming and planning, Cheryl and Brent Droll of Okabena will host a grand opening at 4 p.m. Thursday for their new business, Forbidden Barrel Brewing Co., at 900 Third Ave. in downtown Worthington.
The name "Forbidden Barrel" comes from Worthington's history. Some of the town founders were members of the temperance movement. As an homage to this heritage, the Drolls have built a "forbidden wall" into the decor of the brew pub featuring items that have been forbidden at certain times or places.
The Drolls wanted to retain as much of the original structure of the building as possible, including the brick northeast wall and the ceiling beams. The brewery has a unique, modern, rustic aesthetic that showcases local history and art.
On the wall hang some old fire axes and photos of the Worthington Fire Department from 1924 and 1938, which were donated by Worthington Fire Department Chief Rick von Holdt. The centerpiece of the sitting area is a coffee table made from reclaimed wood and resin, and it's lined with Minnesota-shaped windows filled with various ingredients Brent has used in beers.
The Drolls like the local feel and try to source as many ingredients locally as they can, such as honey from Laker Honey in Heron Lake, berries from Schumacher Berry Farm and farmers' market jalapenos.
"Everything should always be real that you put in it," Brent said.
Brent explained his process for making beer in-house. First, grain is crushed and mixed with water. A rake separates the grain to avoid clumps, and the water draws out the grain's natural sugars.
After all the sugar is extracted, the mixture goes into the boil kettle, where hops and other specialty ingredients are added. The mixture comes out of the boil kettle at 210 degrees, and is cooled by running next to water in the heat exchanger. From there, the liquid passes through the oxygenator and into one of four fermenters, where yeast is added.
"Yeast is what does all the magic," Brent explained.
Finally, the fermented liquid enters the bright tank for carbonation and is placed into kegs.
A lot of people don't understand the different varieties of beer, the Drolls said. They plan to hold "beer school," perhaps specifically for women, where people can come and learn about flavor profiles.
"Beer tasting is like filling up your cup with orange juice and getting milk," Cheryl said. People may expect a "hoppy" or "malty" beer to taste a certain way and then be disappointed when it isn't like that at all. She hopes beer school can help people become more confident in ordering the kinds of beer they like.
The Drolls have trained their staff to give recommendations and administer samples of any beer requested. They also offer a few non-beer and non-alcoholic options so everybody can find something to enjoy. Food includes pretzels, a meat-and-cheese plate and chips and dip.
For the grand opening, Forbidden Barrel will also serve bratwurst.
"You don't get more German-Minnesotan-beer-drinking than having a bratwurst with it," Brent said.
The event will begin at 4 p.m with a ribbon cutting and then be open for business.
"Going from a nurse and a computer programmer to brew pub owners is quite a leap," Cheryl said of their new venture. "We really have had a lot of support."
And their dream is not complete yet. As Forbidden Barrel grows, the Drolls hope to host trivia nights and live music nights, as well as other special events.
"We hope to be a cornerstone for building the downtown area," Brent said. They plan to team up with other local businesses to revitalize Worthington's business district.