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Kasson's Chaotic Good Brewing Co. to move out of founder's backyard

Kasson brewery owner has acquired a car wash he plans to renovate into a taproom and production brewery.

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Scott Stroh, owner and founder of Chaotic Good Brewing Co., stands outside the Ocean Mist Car Wash on Second Street Southwest in Kasson, Minnesota Wednesday, April 27, 2022. Stroh is renovating the building to be the new home for his brewery which he opened and operated in his backyard January 2021.
John Molseed / Post Bulletin
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KASSON — Scott Stroh is leveling up his brewing operation.

The Century High School teacher is leaving his teaching job to grow his year-old brewery. Stroh is moving the operation from his Kasson backyard to the site of the Ocean Mist Car Wash in Kasson.

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The car wash is a good spot, Stroh said on an impromptu tour of the future brewery. The building has a two-inch water line, a reverse osmosis water filtration system and floor drains.

“It’s got everything a brewer could want,” he said of the former car wash.

Well, soon-to-be former car wash.

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A man briefly interrupts the tour of the building looking for quarters to run his truck and trailer through the wash.

“You got change in here somewhere?”

“Yep, right on the wall,” Stroh answers.

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Chaotic Good Brewing Co. owner and founder Scott Stroh describes renovations he plans in the truck bay of the Ocean Mist Car Wash on Second Street Southwest in Kasson, Minnesota Wednesday, April 27, 2022. Stroh is renovating the building to become the new home for his brewery which he opened and operated in his backyard January 2021.
John Molseed / Post Bulletin

The self-serve wash will continue to operate until construction begins, Stroh said. It will be a temporary source of income for the duration of some of the construction.

Although the Minnesota Department of Agriculture granted Stroh a permit to begin building the project Wednesday, April 27, 2022, he won’t be able to apply for a state license to begin brewing until the project is complete and equipment is in place. It’s an expensive leap of faith for any start-up brewery.

He plans to add two seven-barrel fermenters in addition to the two three-barrel tanks he has now — more than tripling his production capacity his first year in operation. Stroh said he hopes to open in time for Kasson’s Festival in the Park in mid-August, but admits that’s an ambitious timeline.

Meanwhile, Stroh jokes he has plenty of car wash equipment for sale.

“Cheap,” he said. “You just have to haul it.”

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He jokes that air fresheners will be part of the taproom merchandise line.

“I’ve got cases and cases of those,” he said.

Order from Chaos

Stroh opened Chaotic Good Brewing Co. in January 2021. However, given that the brewery sits in a former garden shack in Stroh’s backyard, “opened” might be a generous term. Stroh would fill and sell crowlers — cans that typically hold about 25 ounces of beer — as his main means of distribution.

Most orders were requested online or by phone. Stroh would distribute the beer from a folding table set up in his backyard.

He also sold kegs to some area restaurants and craft beer bars including to Pete’s Repeat on Kasson’s Main Street. Through 2021, Chaotic Brewing sold about 30 barrels – more than 900 gallons – of beer.

“Which is pretty good coming out of my backyard,” Stroh said.

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The current location of Chaotic Good Brewing Co. in Kasson, Minnesota is in Scott Stroh's backyard pictured Wednesday, April 27, 2022.
John Molseed / Post Bulletin

How did Stroh embrace the chaos of brewing? He has been an enthusiastic home brewer since college. Over more than two decades he has cobbled together and improved his home brewing set up. Most of his equipment is repurposed from other equipment.

Stroh's brew kettle was a distilled water tank from a chemical company. His mash tun was a brewing vessel around the turn of the 20th century and was served multiple other uses before coming full circle to Stroh’s set up. While Stroh has never had much money to invest in equipment, he does have the skills to build what he needs.

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The stand his brew kettle sits on was made from an old bed frame.

“I didn’t have $6,000 for a custom brew stand, but I did have a welder,” he said.

The compressor on his coolant system went out recently. He repurposed the cooling coil from a mini refrigerator. The result? He was able to cool more beer in less time using less energy with that quick fix.

These types of efforts embody the name of the brewery.

Dicey endeavor

In role playing games, a character’s alignment is their guiding philosophy. For example, “lawful good” is someone who follows the rules with the intention of doing the right thing. Someone who is “chaotic evil” disregards rules and intends to do harm. In between those extremes is “chaotic good,” which is someone who disregards the rules in order to do the right thing.

A fan of Dungeons and Dragons and other role playing and fantasy games, Stroh named his brewery for how he has been able to do things.

“Do the right thing by whatever means to get there,” he said.

Many D&D games start with a similar set up – a group of adventurers meet a mysterious stranger over a pint of ale at a pub who hires them for a dangerous task.

“Every good adventure starts with a token brown ale at a tavern,” Stroh said. “This one included.”

John Molseed joined the Post Bulletin in 2018. He covers arts, culture, entertainment, nature and other fun stories he's surprised he gets paid to cover. When he's not writing articles about Southeast Minnesota artists and musicians, he's either picking banjo, brewing beer, biking or looking for other hobbies that begin with the letter "b." Readers can reach John at 507-285-7713 or jmolseed@postbulletin.com.
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