To become a great brewery with a friendly taproom is a goal from many of the small breweries in America. Though becoming the first brewery to simultaneously be home to a Community Transformation Center, one that focuses on social change and dialogue to address the challenges of our times, is unlike anything we’ve seen before.
Founded almost 6 years ago, Imagine Nation Brewery’s mission from the start has been to become a rallying point for non-profit groups and local artisans – a true Public House where the beer and coffee that’s served are only the start of the conversation.
For over two decades, founders Fernanda Menna Barreto Krum and her husband Robert Rivers have worked with a wealth of organizations including the U.N.’s Office for the Prevention of Genocide, Doctors Without Borders, Doctors of the World, Nonviolent Peaceforce, and the Crisis Management Initiative. Working for these various causes took them to regions of conflict in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Lebanon, and South Sudan, among others.
While visiting Frum’s native Brazil, they strategized finding a more permanent locale where they could still be active conduits for community outreach and social change. They opted to settle in Missoula, Montana – an area known for it’s non-profit community outreach and near Robert’s hometown of Helena. They conceptualized a retreat center, a place to foster community education and share their experiences, which was discussed over a few beers. Frum recalls River’s revelation of creating a brewery: “It was the idea of opening a public house where people could sit around a table, enjoy sipping a beer but connecting and talking about the challenge that we as a society and humanity face, which is what is important to us.”
Robert got to work homebrewing and consulted with Helena’s Blackfoot River Brewing Company as he prepared to handle their on-site brewing operations at their new space. They created a Center for Community Transformation that includes a space of learning, a classroom setting complete with a chalkboard and projectors. Up until the pandemic hit, their community space has hosted around 3000 community events, booking 2-4 events in their space each night, around 6 nights a week.
In May of 2019, Fernanda and Robert were recognized by the Jeannette Rankin Peace Center, receiving their Peace Award for Imagine Nation’s work hosting social conversations and dialogue at the brewery. Last February, they launched Alchemy Coffee Bar in the same space, in coordination with another local entity, Black Coffee Roasting Company. This added more non-alcoholic means by which to discuss community endeavors, with the shop offering a variety of single-source beans from Ethiopia, Guatemala, and Colombia.
Since the pandemic hit, they’ve spent much of their time addressing the pandemic shortage of PPE. In mid-March they teamed up with Coaster Cycles, who shifted from manufacturing bikes and last-mile mobility solutions to utilizing their factory and re-hiring its team members to assemble face shields for first responders. The new co-operative of 5+ local companies assembled nearly 2 million face shields, which were sent to frontline hospital workers in over 45 different states, and offered a living wage to over 115 employees in the process.
In celebration of their collaboration with Coaster Cycles, they released Fighting Chance New England IPA, with each 4-pack sold resulting in the donation of face masks to regional public works and non-profit organizations. On average, Imagine Nation donates 25% of their net profits back to the community, including one of their newest releases, Frontlines, which is dedicated to the frontline workers who can purchase the beer at $4 off per four-pack.
In fact, Frontlines is part of the shipment Day One just received this week from Imagine Nation Brewing, who’re being distributed in Oregon for the first time! These first two beers have been landing in stores across the state since Wednesday and the second set of two beers will begin distribution starting the middle of next week:
- Changemaker ~ DDH W.E. Coast Double IPA ~ This is our original W.E. Coast (or West-East Coast) IPA we made a year ago to try to bridge the best of IPAs from both coasts. It’s hazy, but not turbid, punchy, but not bitter, and super juicy with highlights of honey dew, nectarine, and peach. Hops: 6lbs per barrel of Simcoe, Simcoe Cryo, Mosaic, Mosaic Cryo, Citra, and Citra Cryo – 7.8%.
- Frontlines ~ New England Triple IPA ~ We love the challenge of making big Triple IPAs. Something about NEIPAs over 9.0% start to become pretty magical. This, like the rest of our triples really hides the booze to allow massive ripe, dank, creamy flavors of cara cara orange, mango, and peach. Hops: 6+ lbs per barrel of Galaxy, Mosaic, Mosaic Cryo, El Dorado, and Idaho 7 – 9.6%.
- Flurries ~ DDH Mango Tangerine Milkshake New England Double IPA ~ We recently had a sour from Drekker that was Mango and Tangerine and loved that fruit combo so much that we decided to use it on our next milkshake NEIPA. With 6lbs per barrel of Citra, Citra Cryo, Simcoe, Simcoe Cryo, and Amarillo, then dosed with real mango and tangerine puree, this will be a beer to send the poor folks of Montana to a tropical paradise in the middle of the most brutal month of the year – 7.5%
- Bad Wallpaper ~ DDH New England Double IPA ~ Oscar Wilde’s final words were, “My wallpaper and I are in a duel to the death; one or the other of us has to go.” To honor one of our favorite wits, we brewed this brand new DDH double NEIPA, full of 6lbs per barrel of Galaxy, El Dorado, Mosaic, and Mosaic Cryo. We expect it’ll probably taste more like a triple than a double, loaded with big passion fruit, bubblegum, and dank citrus – 7.9%.
Content for this article was sourced from Imagine Nation Brewing, craftbeer.com, Craft Brewing Business, and two articles from the Missoulian (…launches coffee shop and Rankin Peace Award).