Duluth-area beer production nearly tripled from 2014 to 2018

A bevy of craft breweries and brewpubs have found the Arrowhead region of northeastern Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin to be fertile ground for growth. Five years ago, area craft breweries produced almost 20,000 barrels of beer. By 2018 that number nearly tripled to roughly 57,000 barrels.

To put that into perspective, one barrel = 31 gallons. The Twin Ports and its surrounding region produced more than 1.7 million gallons of beer last year, or about 14 million pints. And suppliers of local suds show no sign of slowing down.

Twenty breweries and brewpubs are now aiming to quench the thirst of area residents and attracting beer tourists, too. Five of them opened in the past two years: BoomTown Brewery & Woodfire Grill in Hibbing, Hoops Brewing in Duluth, Earth Rider Brewery in Superior, Klockow Brewing in Grand Rapids and Ursa Minor in Duluth.

The latest national statistics from the Brewers Association, a trade association for independent breweries, show microbreweries — those producing fewer than 15,000 barrels per year — as contributing to 80 percent of craft beer growth in 2018.

National stats show larger brewery growth as static, but that’s not yet the case in the Duluth area. Heavyweights Castle Danger Brewery and Bent Paddle Brewing are both now categorized as “regional breweries” rather than “microbreweries” by the Brewers Association because they surpassed the 15,000 barrels per year mark. Castle Danger has seen the most significant growth of all area breweries since its expansion in late 2017. Output increased 155 percent from 2016 to 2018.

The two regional breweries might soon have to contend with a state law that prohibits breweries producing more than 20,000 barrels per year from selling growlers or crowlers for customers to take home from the taproom. Efforts to revise this legislation are in the works but a recent attempt to amend it wasn’t successful.

Sidenote: One area brewery closed since the 2016 tally. Ken Thiemann of Borealis Fermentery shuttered his strawbale, Belgian-style nanobrewery in Knife River and moved to Houghton to pursue a PhD at Michigan Tech. He’s now a professor for first-year engineering students there who are — appropriately enough — designing a microbrewery as part of their program of study. Thiemann anticipates this curriculum could turn into a brewing minor.

Below is a breakdown of the 2018 stats.

Castle Danger Brewery
30-barrel brewery and taproom; brewery founded in 2011, taproom opened in 2014
17 Seventh St., Two Harbors
Clint and Jamie MacFarlane, owners; Lon and Mandy Larson, owners; Bjorn Erickson, head brewer
2018 production: 23,500 barrels

Bent Paddle Brewing

Bent Paddle Brewing
30-barrel brewery and taproom, with 7 bbl pilot brewery, founded in 2013
1912 W. Michigan St., Duluth
Colin & Laura Mullen and Bryon & Karen Tonnis, co-founders/owners
2018 production: 17,347 barrels

Earth Rider Brewery
20-barrel brewery, opened October 2017; taproom next door at Cedar Lounge
1617 N. Third St, Superior
Tim Nelson, owner; Frank Kaszuba, director of brewing operations; Allyson Rolph, lead brewer
2018 production: 2,180 barrels

Lake Superior Brewing
15-barrel brewery founded in 1994 (oldest in Duluth); taproom opened in 2014
2711 W. Superior St., Duluth
Lisa Blade and Lars Kuehnow, owners; Dale Kleinschmidt, consultant; Ryan Woodfill, head brewer
2018 production: 2,000 barrels


South Shore Brewery
Founded in 1995; 10-barrel brewery in Ashland; 15-barrel production brewery, tasting room and event center added in Washburn in 2016
808 W. Main St., Ashland; 532 W. Bayfield St., Washburn
Bo Bélanger, president, owner, production manager; Justin Bohn, head brewer; Joe Bélanger, brewer
2018 production: 2,000 barrels

Hoops Brewing
15-barrel brewery and taproom, opened in June 2017
325 S. Lake Ave., Duluth
Dave Hoops, owner and master brewer; Casey Tatro, head brewer
2018 production: 1,500 barrels

Voyageur Brewing Co.
20-barrel brewery and taproom, founded in 2015
233 W. Highway 61, Grand Marais
Mike Prom and Bruce Walters, owners; Stuart Long, head brewer
2018 production: 1,448 barrels


Blacklist Artisan Ales
Founded in 2012 as a 3.5-barrel brewery; upgraded to a 20-barrel system with taproom in late 2016
120 E. Superior St., Duluth
Brian Schanzenbach, partner and head brewer; Jon Loss, partner and marketing director; TJ Estabrook, partner and general counsel
2018 production: 1,400 barrels

Fitger's Brewhouse

Fitger’s Brewhouse
10-barrel brewery supplying four pubs and a retail store, founded in 1995
600 E. Superior St., Duluth
Rod Raymond, owner; Alex “Coke” Chocholousek, head brewer
2018 production: 1,300 barrels

Canal Park Brewing Co.
15-barrel brewpub, founded in 2012
300 Canal Park Drive, Duluth
Rockie Kavajecz, owner; Austin Clem and Benjamin Gipson, co-head brewers; Dan Aagenes, brewing advisor
2018 production: 1,100 barrels

Angry Minnow Brewing
10-barrel brewpub, founded in 2004
10440 Florida Ave., Hayward
Will Rasmussen, general manager; Jason Rasmussen, brewer (both are owners)
2018 production: 1,000 barrels

BoomTown Brewery & Woodfire Grill
7-barrel brewery, opened in January 2018
531 E. Howard St., Hibbing
Owners: Erik and Jessica Lietz; Dennis Holland, head brewer
2018 production: 650 barrels

Klockow Brewing Company
8.5-barrel brewery, opened in October 2018
36 SE 10th St., Grand Rapids
Owners: Tasha Klockow, owner and general manager; Andy Klockow, owner and head brewer
2018 production: 420 barrels

Moose Lake Brewing Company

Moose Lake Brewing Company
7-barrel brewery and taproom, founded in 2016
244 Lakeshore Drive, Moose Lake
Shawn Wigg, partner and head brewer; Travis Anderson, assistant brewer
2018 production: 379 barrels

Boathouse Brewpub & Restaurant
3.5-barrel brewpub, founded in 2012
47 E. Sheridan St., Ely
Mark Bruzek, owner; Ben Storbeck, head brewer; Joe Colarich, assistant brewer
2018 production: 300 barrels

Ursa Minor
5-barrel brewery and taproom, opened in September 2018
2415 W. Superior St.
Ben Hugus, chief operating officer; Mark Hugus, head of brewing operations; Andrew Scrignoli, general manager
2018 production: 270 barrels (opened September 28, 2018)


Thirsty Pagan Brewing
2 and 7-barrel brewpub founded as Twin Ports Brewing in 1996; became Thirsty Pagan in 2006
1623 Broadway St., Superior; moving to the historic Soo Line Depot at 1615 Winter St. in summer 2019
Steve Knauss, owner; Kathleen Culhane, head brewer
2018 production: 259 barrels (brewery only operated from late May through December)

Gunflint Tavern & Brewpub
5-barrel brewpub, restaurant founded in 1998 with beer production starting in late 2014
111 W. Wisconsin St., Grand Marais
Jeff and Susan Gecas, owners; Paul Gecas, head brewer
2018 production: 225 barrels


Dubh Linn Irish Brew Pub
2-barrel brewpub; bar opened in 2006 with beer production starting in 2011
109 W. Superior St., Duluth
Mike Maxim Sr. and Mike Maxim Jr., owners; Seth Maxim, head brewer
2018 production: 100 barrels 

Carmody Irish Pub & Brewing
5-barrel brewpub; bar founded in 2006 with beer production starting in 2009
308 E. Superior St., Duluth
Liz Gleeson, brewery owner; Ed Gleeson pub owner; Bob Blair, brewer (Rick Boo owns the Two Harbors location, Carmody 61)
2018 production: 89 barrels 

Source: Individual breweries.

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