Brewing beer in Duluth and Superior

Topic #1: According to a story from the Associated Press, a Minnesota House panel will consider a bill today that would make it legal to brew beer in basements. The story specifically references home brewers. Personally, I have brewed beer in at least two different Minnesota basements, and I had no idea it was illegal to do so.

Reading what I think is the overview of the bill, however, it seems to have nothing to do with home brewing. It’s about producing “beer or other beverages for commercial sale.” Am I missing something?

Topic #2: The local micro brewing industry sure seems to be taking off. In addition to Lake Superior Brewing Co., Fitger’s Brewhouse and Thirsty Pagan Brewing, Carmody Irish Pub began brewing beer recently and a brewpub is in the works at Clyde Park. Further into the future, another brewpub could be popping up in Canal Park at the old Duluth Spring Co. location. I wonder how the total gallons produced in the area will compare to 50 years ago.

24 Comments

Dan Haugen

about 10 years ago

I read that AP story and was equally confused.

flateric

about 10 years ago

As a homebrewer and Minnesota resident... there are multiple people in the Twin Cities area that brew in their basement using natural gas.  Thankfully, within our homebrew club, we have a guy that has years of HVAC experience and another guy who happens to do air quality control for the city of St. Paul...so they have a wealth of knowledge when it comes to having a proper basement setup.   

The biggest problem with indoor brewing (and using natural gas / propane as fuel) is your ventilation hood & fan.  The fan cannot be too powerful and it cannot be too weak.   Not to mention you also want another source of fresh air (e.g.: an open window on the other side of the basement).

Is it illegal to brew in a basement?  Maybe.  Is it illegal to brew more than 100 gallons of beer (for 1 adult in a household) or 200 gallons (for 2 or more adults in a household) per year?  Yes.  Does that stop people from brewing more than they should?  Nope.    Not that I've ever done anything like that...

davids

about 10 years ago

My comment isn't necessarily going to be about home brewing. For a (currently mothballed) novel I've worked on set temporally just prior to and after WWI and geographically in Duluth and the Texas Hill Country, I did a fair amount of research into the state of beer brewing and distribution in that era, and the small-scale breweries that served up beer back then offered definitively regional inflections of suds preferences. Seems like, with possible commercial basement brewing and the proliferation of brewpubs, we are getting "back to the future" on this front. 

Similar stuff seems to be happening with food, possibly energy and other areas of concern collected together under the banner of "relocalization." 

(Although yesterday in the co-op I saw a family shopping and when the adult female of the family held up a chunk of cheese to the adult male of the family and said, "Should we buy this one instead, it's more local?" The adult male said, "I don't give a shit about local," and prompted the woman to toss said cheese back into the cooler.) 

Sorry, Paul, I seem to have talked my way off into a threadjack.

Lithis

about 10 years ago

I just saw an interesting presentation on the history of brewing in Minnesota and Wisconsin  by Doug Hoverson, author of Land of Amber Waters: The History of Brewing in Minnesota (and author-to-be of a book on the history of brewing in Wisconsin). It would probably be helpful in slaking your curiosity in topic #2.

flateric

about 10 years ago

Davids:  I think you're right with the "back to the future" notion.  

The complete and utter failure of a program known as Prohibition ruined what was a great beer culture in this country. It paved way for big corporations to start buying up the little guys (or at least, the few that made it through Prohibition) to get a hold on the beer market.

However, more and more people are finding craft beer, and some people are finding homebrewing.  Some of those people go on to start brewpubs or work in breweries, or they start to research old styles that have long died off.  

I'm happy to see more brewpubs / breweries around the city open up... hopefully their beer quality is a lot better than a certain other brewpub around the twin ports.

dbrewig

about 10 years ago

Carmody is brewing in a basement.....

Paul Lundgren

about 10 years ago

I don't think Carmody is technically brewing in a basement. There is an exit onto Michigan Street.

flateric

about 10 years ago

It looks as if this bill is only for commercial production purposes only.  I don't know why any commercial brewery would want to brew in a basement anyway... it would be a pain to try to load in all the equipment!

dbrewing

about 10 years ago

The article is crap. Almost every brewing industry article I read in mainstream media is misleading or flat out wrong. 

Here's the thread from mnnbeer.com.

huitz

about 10 years ago

I think the original federal ruling for brewing in a living space was a cap on volume, and then allowing the states to change it up a bit as they saw fit.

The volume ceiling was probably a subtle way to keep people from trying to start their own businesses without a license.

Beer for sale out of the home is ridiculous.  The government can't properly regulate taxes on the liquor, and who would want an inspector in their home every month?  I suppose if you had an outdoor shed/garage or something.  So, I guess I still think a simple cap on volume is a good enough deterrent for the creation of ad hoc business.

Topic 2 gets me excited because I like good beer with good food.  I hope we see more so there's a little competition.

Calk

about 10 years ago

I sampled Carmody's beer, it was good

carla

about 10 years ago

I would also like to start brewing for Chester - need somebody to be the honcho of it if anyone is interested.

edgeways

about 10 years ago

Had three of the beers at Carmody, two were decent to good, but I didn't like the Potato (I think it was) Stout at all.

baci

about 10 years ago

@carla, I'd love to work up an endion esb for ya.

Spanky-G

about 10 years ago

I read the article in the paper and laughed at the way in which it was written, the law has nothing to do with home brewing as far as I can tell. I don't brew in my basement (it's too cold for ales), I find the upstairs hallway is a more sustainable and proper temperature for fermentation. Although if they made storing beer in your basement illegal I'd be in trouble, the 45 degrees in the winter eliminates the need for a beer fridge.

flateric

about 10 years ago

Since the majority of the readers here are more than likely Duluthians... I have a simple survey / question:

How willing are you to drive over the bridge for good beer / food?  If Superior had a couple more brewpubs (along with TPB), that had food and beer on par with the brewpubs in Duluth, would you make the trek across the bridge, or would you be more apt to stay in Duluth and visit a brewpub there?

edgeways

about 10 years ago

Flateric, it seems like what you are asking is: "if everything was equal would you drive further for the same thing?" (I'm not being snarky I swear.)

Overall I would say in general I would drive the least amount of distance possible for decent food and good beer. Then sometimes drive longer distances to try the slightly different thing. If a brewpub in Superior offered something markedly better or something distinctly different I'd be more apt to visit more often for that specifically.

Lithis

about 10 years ago

I would go to Superior for food and beer if there was evening bus service between Superior and Duluth. I want to go to TPB—I've only been once since the name change—but taxi fare is too expensive.

I would still be more likely to go to brewpubs in Duluth, but I wouldn't avoid Superior like I do now.

adam

about 10 years ago

Taxi to and fro runs ~$40 with tip.

Carla

about 10 years ago

Baci - give me a call

flateric

about 10 years ago

edgeways:  tis a good point.  I didn't want to specifically say that one place in Superior would be better than one place in Duluth (as everyone has different tastes)... but I was hoping to make it a fair-and-balanced question.

I guess what I should've asked is if Superior had a brewpub with some distinct differences (e.g. better food or better beer)... would people be willing to make the trek?  

I can understand why not with $40 taxi fares and pretty much no bus service.

Spanky-G

about 10 years ago

The only brewpub I frequent is my own home ... sorry Souptown, the better beer is here.

rnarum

about 10 years ago

@flateric - i generally agree w/edge... however, i do go to TBP perhaps once per month on average... why? great pizza. good food. good music. they hit the mark having some of the best pizza in the community. if there isn't anything unique in the offering, then it's not likely that i take time away from TPB... and unless it was fantastic and unique... duluth is alright by me.

Paul Lundgren

about 10 years ago

The House has approved the basement brewing bill, which, again, has nothing to do with home brewers.

Story from Minnesota House of Representatives Public Information Services.

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