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Blacklist brewery expanding to downtown Duluth

Blacklist Artisan Ales partners

Jon Loss, Brian Schanzenbach and TJ Estabrook, the partners behind Blacklist Artisan Ales

One of the smaller Twin Ports breweries, Blacklist Artisan Ales, is earning big media attention this week after its announced expansion into the building that previously housed the infamous Last Place on Earth head shop.

Federal authorities seized the building at 120 E. Superior St. in 2013 when Last Place owner Jim Carlson received a prison sentence of more than 17 years for selling synthetic drugs. The structure was built in 1908 as a hotel and had fallen into disrepair in recent years. Titanium Partners, a Duluth-based commercial real estate investment firm led by Brian Forcier, bought it at federal auction in August for $70,000.

Titanium has invested in extensive renovations and Blacklist has plans to move into the historic building this summer as the flagship tenant. The move represents a big expansion for the brewery.

Blacklist began in 2012, launched by a Kickstarter project where backers got a new beer and related piece of art each month. The business later expanded to the former Dubrue brewery space at 211 E. Second St.

Blacklist specializes in Belgian-style beers. Its champagne-style 750 ML bottles can be found in many area liquor stores and restaurants. The company also has tap beer accounts around Duluth, but the new space allows for a production upgrade from a 5 to a 20-barrel system. A taproom is also in the works.

“This move allows us to expand production while continuing to experiment with new ales, in a setting that leaves us more accessible and better connected to our customers,” said Brian Schanzenbach, founding partner and head brewer.

Once a blight on the block avoided by passersby, the restored space that will house the taproom is in a prime downtown location in the middle of Duluth’s recently designated Historic Arts & Theater District.

We couldn’t be more proud to welcome Blacklist to this revitalized part of our vibrant downtown,” Duluth Mayor Emily Larson said in a news release from the brewery. “Blacklist embodies the spirit of Duluth’s craft culture. Whether we’re talking about better beers or better neighborhoods, we come together to make things better.”

18 Comments

StrangeDamage

about 2 years ago

Confirmation that Duluth is the coolest place on earth.

Herzog

about 2 years ago

Almost mental how it always comes back to the awesomeness of Duluth. If you say it enough times and click yer heels. Love Belgian beer though.

Ramos

about 2 years ago

But when people line up outside to get their fix of a hip, socially acceptable, middle-class drug, who will call the cops?

Special K

about 2 years ago

That scenario will only play out if cheap booze is abolished, and people are willing to pay $12 for a pint and a half of a "legal" alternative. The line of flannel and beards would stretch for miles. Arguments about detrimental societal effects of alcohol vs. drugs and income inequality aside, it's good to see the building being put to use again and I love their Tripel for special occasions.

vicarious

about 2 years ago

Yes, Ramos. I look forward to seeing those Smartwool and Patagonia-clad moms lined up with their toddlers at 8:30am for their needed IPA. The comparison to synthetic weed is so clear. Regale us with more of your class fantasies.

Ramos

about 2 years ago

Hey, did you know that 21 percent of Duluthians (as opposed to 15 percent of people nationally) have an excessive drinking habit? And that 42 percent of traffic deaths in Duluth are alcohol-related? That's 11 percent higher than the national average! No wonder the mayor's so excited.

Ramos

about 2 years ago

Drug A: Hated, reviled, targeted by politicians, purveyed by greasy long-hair, purchased by poor people. Contributes to addiction and social problems. Public screams for prohibition. Drug B: Loved, celebrated, praised by politicians. purveyed by smiling well-dressed white people, purchased by the middle class. Contributes to addiction and social problems. Public swoons with delight.

Special K

about 2 years ago

Drug B: Loved, celebrated, praised by politicians. purveyed by people of all social and racial backgrounds through numerous venues, purchased by all classes. Contributes to addiction and social problems. Public swoons with delight. Fixed that for you. The very differences you point out reinforce the fact that the two cannot be compared like this. Perhaps if Blacklist were selling home brewed grain alcohol with ingredients to avoid FDA scrutiny, and that was the only place to purchase it due to a loophole in a legal gray area, you may have a comparison. But they're selling a high end beer available almost anywhere, if you can afford it. And while alcohol can lead to abuse and addiction, I would posit that those doing so, and most susceptible, aren't buying $12 bottles of small batch Belgians. I agree that gentrification of areas often leads to detrimental effects for the less fortunate who are displaced or underserved by the changes. However, I don't think anyone can reasonably argue that the Superior Street of 2012 was in any way...superior...to the one today.

Ramos

about 2 years ago

"And while alcohol can lead to abuse and addiction, I would posit that those doing so, and most susceptible, aren't buying $12 bottles of small batch Belgians." Well, it was all the ragged poor people gathered together in plain sight that most offended the citizens, so maybe you have a point.

Ramos

about 2 years ago

I was sort of expecting Baci to pop in here with an impassioned defense of the children, but then I remembered he was spending a year in prison for criminal sexual conduct with one of his high school students, so he probably can't get to the Internet.

Claire

about 2 years ago

Ramos, that was a low and petty shot re Baci. Leave the personal attacks out of it. You know what my objection to LPoE was? My teenaged daughter was afraid to go near that area of downtown because of the men congregated in front of LPoE at all hours who thought it was OK to harass her as she walked by, a young woman minding her own business not looking for trouble or negative attention from strangers. If people standing outside Blacklist were to pull the same kind of shit on my daughter, I would have a big problem with that too and go on the warpath. Maybe if Carlson and company had exercised some crowd control, the community wouldn't have vilified him as much as he was vilified. No sympathy from this Mama Bear for LPoE's poor deprived former customers.

Ramos

about 2 years ago

Well, we better conduct a police-state raid at Lake Superior Bottle on First Street, then, because the same people are doing the same thing up there. Oh, wait. Good middle-class citizens don't walk up there, and it's out of sight of the tourists, so never mind. If you think it's a low blow to point out that someone who constantly attacked Carlson for corrupting youth was himself a corrupter of youth, that's fine. I think it's emblematic of the double standards that have pervaded this issue from the beginning.

yoniohno

about 2 years ago

@Ramos Hear, hear! Keep doing your thing. I appreciate your courage to stick a pin in the balloon of this idea that craft alcohol is nothing but good for Duluth and that brewers are our shiniest beacons. I'm not against it, it's just tiresome how it is trumpeted at every turn. That said, I wish Blacklist all the best.

Herzog

about 2 years ago

Are you kidding me, another svengoolie? Man there is some serious den of iniquity shit going on here with Duluth and schools. No wonder those places give me the creeps. Every time I see a photo of some greasy English prof with long hair, my bird goes into hibernation. Here I thought it was just the whole rat race/cinder block aspect. There's got to be some better way to pass off the blame. His argument he wasn't in a position of authority just doesn't hold much water seeing as how he was a counselor and all.

Claire

about 2 years ago

Ramos, as you know, I used to work across the street from the liquor store you are referring to -- and I have shopped there. Never been harassed by the people who hang outside it. The pro-life activists though ... that's a different story. One "pro-life" activist chased six-months pregnant me into the Building for Women once, shouting that "the blood of my unborn child was on my hands." I just hate assholes of all kinds who think it's ok to harass other people who are minding their own business in public spaces.

Herzog

about 2 years ago

Just like Baci was minding his own business as a counselor, and this young girl comes along and coerces him into a relationship. Claire, I think we all know the real devil in the Duluth school system has been none other than a man by the name of Art Johnston, whose morals so corrupt, tried to steal millions back from Johnson Controls for his own glory. As you've long pointed out, he's the one we should be taring and feathering.

Herzog

about 2 years ago

Wait a second, wasn't this thread about belgian beers? You guys get more off track than I do. Ah, Belgian beer... That would've been nice seven years ago. Better late than never I guess. To have a truly authentic belgian beer though, you need to have about 500 years of batshit and dust on the ceiling, with open fermenters. Maybe they have a way of speeding up that process. What a tale this has been.

Paul Lundgren

about 2 years ago

Blacklist announced this week it has signed a distribution agreement with Clear River Beverage Company, which will distribute Blacklist products to 17 counties within and surrounding the Twin Cities market.

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