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Ursa Minor Brewing will stress variety, quality

The Ursa Minor Brewery team includes, from left, General Manager Andrew Scrignoli, Head Brewer Mark Hugus and Chief of Operations Ben Hugus. The brewery plans to hire 10 employees.

The newest brewery in Lincoln Park will feature a patio, a pizza oven and a plan to create adventurous, small-batch beer in a former cracker factory.

Ursa Minor Brewing announced this week it will open a five-barrel brewing operation, tap room and offices at 2415 W. Superior St. Brothers and co-founders Ben and Mark Hugus said they hope to begin serving thirsty customers by mid-summer.

The brewery announcement comes after a three-year search for a business location.

“We’ve got a pretty big area so we’re excited about all the things we can do with it,” said Operations Chief Ben Hugus, 26. “We want it to be a family friendly space … an all inclusive environment where people can come and relax and have fun.”

Ursa Minor will feature a 1,500-square-foot patio on the west side of its building. The patio will host music, games and food. The brewery space includes a wood-fired pizza oven and plans to work with a local chef serving Neapolitan-style pizzas.

But Hugus said the biggest attraction will be beer.

Head Brewer Mark Hugus, 25, said he has been homebrewing beer since he was old enough to legally drink. He said Ursa Minor will feature 12 beer taps and four non-alcoholic taps. The small-scale brewing operation will allow for experimentation, variety and high-quality beer.

An architect’s drawing shows the Ursa Minor patio on the west side of the brewery building at 2415 W. Superior Street in Lincoln Park.

“That’s how it is with homebrewing. We’ll always be making new stuff,” he said. “There will always be a nice variety of beers available to choose from.”

Duluth native Andrew Scrignoli, 28, will serve as Ursa Minor general manager.

Ben and Mark Hugus grew up in Wausau, Wis. and moved to Duluth after their wives landed jobs in the area. The two brothers can trace family back generations in Duluth and regularly visited the city as children.

Ben Hugus said the Lincoln Park Craft District was a natural landing spot for Ursa Minor.

“This is building number three,” he said. “We’ve looked at a lot of locations but we always wanted to be in Lincoln Park. The craft district and the vibe they’ve got going down … it really matched with what we wanted to do and we feel like we fit in here right from the very beginning.”

The brewery will lease and remodel about 4,500-square-feet of the 103-year-old building owned by David Marshall of Marshall Construction Services. Marshall bought the 11,500-square-foot property in the fall of 2014. The building originally housed a whole rye cracker factory, he said. It was also used by a church as a community center and most recently Horseshoe Bar and Billiards.

Marshall said he was looking for a tenant and was thrilled to connect with Ursa Minor Brewing.

“It’s perfect for the neighborhood,” he said. “This is going to be a destination kind of place. I think Lincoln Park has that ‘Power of 10’ thing going on now. If you’ve got 10 cool and interesting places you’re going to get more people trolling the neighborhood, going back and forth from place to place.”

Marshall will continue to run his construction business on the east side of the building. But he said he hopes Ursa Minor Brewing will eventually push him out.

“These guys are going to get bigger and bigger and will need more room,” he said. “We’re setting it up for them to take this building over. I can go somewhere else with my business. I don’t need the visibility. I don’t need to be on Superior.”

2 Comments

ginalarson

about 9 months ago

With craft breweries popping up every few months in Duluth, competition is growing for the public’s support. Which breweries are deserving? After all, anyone can brew beer and anyone can purchase a business license. The challenge in brewing beer is not only to develop premium beers; but then to consistently and repeatedly re-brew them. Ursa Minor isn’t attempting this challenge. They advertise a rotating tap house, or in other words, whatever flavor their kegs produce is the beer of the day. In my mind, this is just two guys making home brew at a cost of $.25 per pint and charging the public $6 a pint. Before I pay $6 for my neighbor’s home brew, I would like to see Ursa Minor receive positive reviews from craft beer taste competitions and beer magazines. The fact that Ursa Minor’s chief executive visited Duluth as a child doesn’t cut it for me.

Now Ursa Minor is advertising a mug club, selling mugs, or bar decorations for $100 each that will contain 4-6 oz. of more beer than their regular glasses. If they sell 1000 mugs, that’s 100k income without selling an ounce of beer. If you drank 2-3 beers a week at Ursa it would take about 6 months for you earn back your $100 investment and receive your first free 4 ounces of beer ... and the company’s mission is to give back to the community??? Funny!

John Keefover

about 8 months ago

Gina Larson I'm not sure if you'll see this post, but I wanted to leave you a reply just in case. I work with Ursa Minor. I came upon your comment after being redirected here from a recent article about the 2 new cideries opening up on either side of Ursa Minor. With that right there you couldn't be more right about the growing competition for the public support of these breweries and businesses. We don't see it as a competition though... Everyone here is so helpful in working together and seeing other each succeed. Though I respect your opinions, we at least urge you to try a pint or a pizza!

About the mugs: They are very limited in supply. We won't be selling 1,000 mugs. We only have 50 right now. They take a lot of time to make as each one is personally crafted by a local potter who we also pay for each mug. We even have something special planned for one of them to raise donations for a local charity. The mugs also range from 22-24 ounces. Our normal servings are 10 or 16 ounces depending on the brew. So if you get a 10 oz pour with your mug you're getting over double the normal serving. I do understand that $100 is a lot of money though, especially if you haven't even tried the beer yet. I bought one myself as the owners are incredibly nice people and are striving to make quality product.

We've been working with and collaborating with many local craftsmen and businesses trying to keep things local and in the community. Please just stop by and check out the space when it opens up, as well the new cideries, and other new ventures in the Lincoln Park Craft District!

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