A year and a half of planning and hard work has come to fruition. Hoops Brewing is set to open on Tuesday, June 27.
Dave Hoops, a godfather of the Duluth beer scene, is behind the eagerly anticipated destination brewery and beer hall in Canal Park.
“I feel a real sense of accomplishment and gratitude,” Hoops said. “The many people that helped to make this dream whole are numbering into the hundreds, I also feel that this project has had hard work in stages and now that we are opening there is a new stage of work to do.”
Hoops has earned multiple medals at the Great American Beer Festival, was a founding member of the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild and is a certified beer judge. In his 17 years as brewmaster at Fitger’s Brewhouse, he set a lofty quality standard for brewing in the area and trained dozens of brewers.
Hoops has nearly three decades of experience in the industry, having worked as lead brewer for Pyramid in California before the Brewhouse. But this will be his first foray into brewery ownership.
The business model for the 9,000-square-foot brewery is unique to the area. The majority of beer will be sold direct to consumers in the taproom, similar to Twin Cities breweries like Dangerous Man and Steel Toe Brewing. There aren’t plans for distribution, though patrons can buy crowlers (25 oz. cans) to go and beer will eventually be available at select tap accounts around town. Food won’t be served, though customers will be encouraged to order takeout or delivery from the many neighboring Canal Park eateries.
Beer takes center stage at Hoops Brewing. The brewery is a cerevisaphile’s dream, with the capacity for up to 30 taps. Staff are Cicerone certified beer servers, which means they’re trained on the best practices in beer serving as well as distinctions between styles.
Beer will be served in a variety of glassware. Customers will be able to concoct their own flights, with 5 oz. samples at $2.50 a piece. Proper pints will run $7. Liter-sized mugs of beer will also be available. The beer hall will be open daily from 11 a.m. to midnight.
Melissa Rainville worked under Hoops at the Brewhouse and was chosen to be head brewer of the new operation. She says they’ll have 8-10 beers on tap for the opening, including a wheat ale, pale ale, hefeweizen, dunkelweizen, summer ale and blonde.
In addition to producing several mainstays, Rainville looks forward to experimenting and has plans for a honey lilac ale in the near future. The Hoops Brewing mantra is: “Don’t brew scared.” The smoke and hot pepper beers Hoops created at Fitger’s Brewhouse are testaments to this philosophy.
The massive beer hall can seat 250 people. The main room adjacent to the bar has lengthy picnic tables, in Old World beer garden fashion. One end of the taproom looks out onto the William A. Irvin and features a ping-pong table and board games.
The brewery is expected to serve as a popular pre and post event stop for those enjoying nearby attractions like the Great Lakes Aquarium and Bentleyville as well as activities at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center, Amsoil Arena and Bayfront Park. Hoops also plans to set aside space in the beer hall for viewing televised hockey games and sporting events.
Rainville has been working behind the scenes on the brewery since November and is giddy about the prospect of opening. “It’s been a long haul,” she says. “I can’t wait to have other people experience this space and get the beer into people’s faces.”
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