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New brewery ready to open

ABOVE: Fairmont Brewing Company’s owner, Joe Reimann, holds up one of their beers that customers can soon try when the new business opens on April 30. The brewery’s logo can be seen in the background. It was designed by Joe and inspired by the city's logo, but created by area residents Michael Kutch, Char Kahler and Helena Johnson.

FAIRMONT– Those who have been patiently waiting for Fairmont Brewing Company to open can mark their calendars. The new business, located at the end of Downtown Plaza, will open for customers at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, April 20.

Owners Joseph and Lea Reimann moved to town from the Twin Cities area in the fall of 2020. They were seeking a safer and slower-paced place to raise their family and fell in love with Fairmont and its lakes.

When asked why they wanted to open a brewery, Lea said, “We didn’t. The people of Fairmont did and they convinced us it was the right direction. It ended up being the right fit for us and I think it’s the right fit for Fairmont.”

“There was a lot of energy and support for wanting a brewery in town. There hadn’t been a brewery in Fairmont since 1879,” Joe added.

There was a Request for Proposal out for the former Senior Citizen Center at 414 Downtown Plaza. Lea said the city was looking for people who were interested in enhancing the community and bringing people into the downtown area.

While the process was long, the Reimanns finally closed on the building at the end of May 2021. Then, they got to work on renovating the space.

They ended up tearing down the drop ceiling, removing the plaster walls and wood paneling and ripping up the carpet and the tile underneath it. They also gutted out the kitchen because before it was a senior center, it was a diner. Finally, they added an all new bathroom.

Along the way, they ran into quite a few hiccups that they hadn’t anticipated, but none that they couldn’t handle.

“It was the kind of stuff that you would expect with an old building,” Lea said.

As for the vision they had while renovating, Joe said, “The lake town vibe– laid-back, easy-going– that’s the vibe that we tried to carry throughout the building process.”

He said they got the furniture, which includes retro booths and an old church pew, at an auction.

“We liked a lot of the historical aspects. There was a brewery in the 1800s and this building used to be a diner. So the booths and the dine-in sign that we scrapped reflect the history and give a nod to how this space was used for decades and decades,” Joe said.

He said no matter what the space was, it was a gathering spot and that goes along with the kind of brewery they want to bring to the community.

Lea added that they want it to be an environment that people can come to with their school-aged children or with friends from work.

Along with finishing renovations, getting the brew tanks was an important piece of the puzzle that took longer than expected.

“Towards the end of the summer… we discovered that China was shutting down its port where our equipment was waiting. It was a six month wait and they finally got to Vancouver and the truck convoy happened so that was another two months wait getting it out of Canada. We waited a long time for those babies,” Lea said with a laugh.

The large tanks were finally delivered at the beginning of March and set up with help from community members.

Joe pointed out that despite the setbacks, they still got everything done and that the brewery will open less than a year after they started on the project.

“I’m very proud of the work that we did and we definitely had support and encouragement from the community,” Lea said.

When it comes to the menu, Lea said that while it’s a craft brewery, they noticed a lot of people in the community prefer a light beer or lager so they wanted to be considerate of that when selecting what they offer at Fairmont Brewing Company.

“We wanted to have a simple, approachable lager that’s going to be a step above what you’re getting at the bar simply because it wasn’t made six months ago,” Lea said.

Joe added that they wanted to start with beer that’s familiar and approachable so that everyone can feel comfortable and find something they like.

Items that will be seen at some point on the menu include Hall Lake Ale, an Extra Pale Ale; Interlaken IPA, a low ABV session IPA; Gideon’s Revival, an English Porter whose name is a nod to Gideon Smales, the owner of the first and only brewery in Fairmont.

“Budd Lake Pier is our wheat beer. Budd Lake Pier is a special place for our family. We like to go to that little pier,” Lea said.

The Reimanns said they’re open to seeing what people like. They can only carry their beer, as per their license, but they’ll have some non-alcoholic drink options.

Joe said they’ll also have growlers and crowlers available at some point so that people can have the option of staying to drink inside the brewery or taking it to go. They will also have gift cards.

While the brewery won’t be offering food to start, Lea said they’ll have menus available for downtown restaurants and will welcome delivery. She said they’re also having conversations with several food trucks that are interested in swinging by from time to time.

“We will have all of the liquid bread that people want. Barrels and barrels of liquid bread,” Joe said with a laugh.

The brewery will be open Wednesday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Updates are typically posted on Fairmont Brewing Company’s social media pages and on its website: fairmontbrewingco.com.

“We’re really excited to have another spot for folks to gather,” Joe said.

“It’s been too long for a town this large, in this environment, to not have had a brewery. This is meaningful for Fairmont and I hope it will be a place that’s valuable to the community,” Lea said.

She also said she hopes it can be a “third place” for people.

“You have home and you have work. Where else do you go when you want to hang out and enjoy yourself?” Lea said.

The Reimanns said they know people have been waiting for the brewery to open and while it’s been a challenging process to get to this point, they’re looking forward to seeing people finally come in and try it out.

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