Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Minnesota Faces: A pastor with prairie roots February 20, 2015

Portrait #8: Pastor Gordon

 

Portrait 8, Pastor Gordon Deuel at Little Prairie

 

This week, the beginning of Lent and Christ’s journey toward crucifixion, seems an appropriate time to feature a portrait of a pastor.

I met the Rev. Gordon Deuel several summers ago when he was still shepherding Little Prairie United Methodist Church, rural Dundas. He left in June 2013 to become the Elko New Market Campus Pastor for Lakeville-based Crossroads Church.

My introduction to this clergyman happened on a Sunday afternoon when my husband and I stopped at Little Prairie School, a former country school located kitty corner from the Little Prairie church. Pastor Gordon noticed us lingering, walked across the road and unlocked the door into the historic building.

Later, we strolled over to the church and poked around. That’s when I captured this portrait of the preacher in beautiful natural light.

While talking to Rev. Gordon, I learned that he, like me, is a native of southwestern Minnesota. He’s from Hendricks, which is about as close to South Dakota as you can get without being in it. I always feel a special kinship with prairie people. We are rooted deep in the land, appreciative of wide open spaces and big skies, fields and small towns. We don’t dismiss the prairie as the middle of nowhere, as some place to pass through en route to somewhere better. The prairie is home, whether we still live there or not.

With that commonality of place, I connected with Pastor Gordon that Sunday afternoon in August 2012.

Now, 2 ½ years later, after visiting the City of Hendricks website, I understand even more how people and place shaped the pastor. Here’s a snippet of well-crafted writing designed to draw visitors and new residents to this rural community of some 700 folks just a stone’s throw from South Dakota:

The residents of Hendricks have focused on creating a town which is a perfect place for children. Our school district is one of the best in the nation. Our weather is temperate and provides for four seasons of fun. We are well grounded in our past, as we continue to worship in a prairie church which is now on the National Register of Historic Places. We look to better our tomorrow through efforts such as our wind farm and organic farming. We believe you will find the Hendricks, Minnesota, quality of life second to none.

And I expect, as in Lake Wobegon, that “all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking and all the children are above average” in this “Little Town by the Lake.”

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This is part of a series, Minnesota Faces, published every Friday on Minnesota Prairie Roots.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Lake Wobegon quote is from Minnesota writer Garrison Keillor.

 

If only Jesse James had been a beer farmer September 8, 2011

Another craft beer, James-Younger 1876 Rye Ale, made right here in Minnesota honors the defeat of the James-Younger Gang during an 1876 bank robbery in Northfield.

CRAFT BEER LOVERS, here’s a new beer for you, James-Younger 1876 Rye Ale, a limited-edition beer selling this week during Northfield’s annual Defeat of Jesse James Days. Proceeds from beer sales will benefit the Northfield Historical Society.

Now I’m no beer connoisseur, but my husband and I like to try specialty beers such as James-Younger. He bought a six-pack a few weeks ago at Firehouse Liquor in Dundas. While this rye ale doesn’t suit our homogenized taste buds, I’m certain it will appeal to plenty of other folks.

That all said, if you pick up some James-Younger ale, I want you to turn the bottle on its side and read the small print: “Brewed and bottled for Bank Beer Co. by Brau Brothers Brewing Co. LLC. Lucan, MN

OK, then, about Lucan—it’s a town of 220 residents in Redwood County in southwestern Minnesota and about five miles from the farm where I grew up. I think it would be accurate to say that Brau Brothers Brewing has put Lucan on the map with its award-winning beers.

As for the Braus, they are three brothers and a Dad who produce craft beers like Ring Neck Braun Ale, Moo Joos, Hundred Yard Dash and my personal favorite, Strawberry Wheat.

Since I’m not too knowledgeable about beer stuff, I emailed Brau Brothers CEO and brewer Dustin Brau to inquire about the James-Younger ale. His family-owned business brewed the beer and co-packaged it for Bank Beer Company, a contract brewery based in Hendricks. That town of 725 lies even further west, in Lincoln County only miles from the South Dakota border.

Anyway, Dustin credits Jason Markkula at Bank Beer for the idea, recipe, marketing and distribution of the James-Younger ale. Brau Brothers brewed and bottled the beer.

And because Dustin clearly knows beer, I asked him to describe James-Younger 1876 Rye Ale: “Basically, a rye pale ale. Not crazy hoppy, but just enough. The spice from the rye comes through a bit, reminiscent of pepper.”

As for the rye, well, it comes right from the Brau Brothers’ fields. And, if you check the company’s Facebook page, you’ll read that the Braus tag this growing and harvesting of rye as “beer farming.” You just have to appreciate brewers who think that way.

Cheers!

FYI: You won’t find James-Younger 1876 Rye Ale just anywhere. Look for it in limited supplies in the Northfield area during the Defeat of Jesse James Days, which continues through Sunday.