Duluth-area beer production back on an upswing

When Perfect Duluth Day last took stock of regional craft beer production in 2020, the Twin Ports and surrounding region had generated roughly 50,000 barrels of brew — more than 1.5 million gallons. Pandemic production dipped slightly but has stabilized and started to rebound. The 2022 tally shows a production level of more than 61,000 barrels of brew as well as optimism that there’s still some untapped potential for growth.

Northeast Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin (the perimeter approximately 100 miles from Duluth) now boast 25 breweries and brewpubs. Two new Duluth establishments began brewing since PDD’s last count — Warrior Brewing Company and, more recently, Clyde Iron Works.

Industry veteran Dale Kleinschmidt is at the helm at Clyde. He was a pioneer in the state, helping to launch Lake Superior Brewing, Duluth’s original craft brewery. Kleinschmidt brewed there for 25 years until the business halted production in 2019. He said Clyde Iron Works owner Alex Guiliani called him days after learning the news about the Lake Superior Brewing closure. The pair have been friends for years and Guiliani recognized an opportunity. “He intended to have a brewery since day one,” said Kleinschmidt, “He studied brewing back in 1994 but at that time retail sales weren’t an option.”

When asked about Clyde’s expected annual production, Kleinschmidt acknowledged being in unfamiliar territory. “I have no clue, there’s no history here, I’m not familiar with the ebb and flow of this facility.” But he noted that the beer has been well received by customers. Crowlers are available for take out.

Round Man Brewing Company in Spooner quietly opened in 2018 and was admittedly absent from PDD’s previous coverage of regional breweries simply because it wasn’t on our radar. But the 5-barrel brewpub has seen success and there are plans to expand its beer production. “We’ve gotten really popular here around the northwoods,” said Keisha Churchill, general manager.

One notable deletion from this year’s roster is the Gunflint Tavern. Management cited COVID-related reasons for the idle brewery as well as the perpetual problem of finding a brewer willing to relocate to its remote Grand Marais location.

Lake Superior Brewing Company opened as a brewpub in 2022 serving beer from other area breweries. Owners Seth and Sarah Maxim bought the name, equipment and recipes from Duluth’s first production brewery. Sarah said they’re dedicated to “preserving and maintaining the legacy of what Lake Superior Brewing did well” such as the Kayak Kölsch and Sir Duluth Oatmeal Stout.

In the brewpub’s first year, brewing was delayed by backordered brewery parts. Plus, the Maxims have had their hands full getting the restaurant portion of the business operational. The plan is to start selling their own suds sometime in July, which will bring the count of regional breweries up to 26. For those who have been anxiously waiting the beer release, the brewpub is planning a celebratory event, “The Beer is Here” on Sunday, July 23. The 15-barrel brewery will supply about seven staple beers as well as a few rotators, with room for old favorites and new brews. Eventually the Maxims plan to make use of the old brewery’s bottling line for retail sales.

Beyond the Beer Buzz

Several breweries have found that diversifying their product portfolios is a sound business strategy. A few have added hard seltzer and, more recently, Blacklist and Bent Paddle added CBD/THC beverages to their lineups. Bent Paddle opened the Cann-A-Lounge and Market in its old taproom on Michigan Street. The space caters to customers craving (recently legalized) cannabis-infused products.

The Cann-A-Lounge sells CBD/THC sparkling water as well as edibles made by other companies. Bent Paddle has also delved into contract brewing cannabis water for several entities and businesses, even producing an exclusive line for the comedic stoner duo Cheech & Chong.

“We have a fun B2B client thing happening and it’s much easier than contract brewing beer,” said Laura Mullen, Bent Paddle’s co-founder and head of marketing and outreach. She notes that the brewery had the existing infrastructure to craft cannabis water and it’s faster than brewing beer. Rather than waiting two-to-four weeks for the final product, Bent Paddle can turn cannabis water out in the timespan of a weekend.

Movement and Growth

There were some significant brewery moves in 2022. Raven’s Breath Brewery, which focuses on classic rather than trendy styles, moved its operations and taproom in late 2022 to a historic building that brewer and owner Rick Sauer bought on Iron River’s main street. Blacklist Brewing Company nearly doubled its occupancy, augmented its brewing capacity and added axe-throwing lanes with a move to the old and expansive Carlson Book space at 206 E. Superior St. in June 2022.

Ursa Minor vastly expanded its production capabilities, opening a 15-barrel production facility in May 2023 around the corner from its original taproom and 5-barrel pilot brewery in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. This move is a win for customers as it means more space can be dedicated to serving in the taproom.

The owners of Round Man are planning to open a second brewpub in Spooner in October that will be barbecue themed. It will include a 10-barrel brewing facility and also a canning line, amplifying Round Man’s brewing and distribution capabilities.

Warrior Brewing added a larger taproom in May. It’s located in the same warehouse but the original taproom is smaller, adjacent to the brewery and harder for customers to find, according to Matt Caple, co-owner and director of operations.

The expanded space gives Warrior Brewing additional room for gatherings and events. Caple noted that this business success means the company can focus more on its mission of supporting veterans, including providing workshops for them to learn the brewing trade. “It’s a really exciting time for us,” said Caple. “People have asked “when is the point of saturation?’ I don’t believe we’ve hit it yet.”

Below is a breakdown that includes 2022 stats. Producers are listed from largest to smallest. Note: Some businesses did not respond to requests for information in time for publishing. Numbers will be added as they come in.

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; Patrick McMahon, head brewer
2018 production: 23,500 barrels
2020 production: 22,950 barrels
2022 production: 30,075 barrels

Bent Paddle Brewing
Bent Paddle Brewing
30-barrel brewery and taproom with 7-barrel pilot brewery, founded in 2013
1912 W. Michigan St., Duluth
Colin & Laura Mullen and Bryon & Karen Tonnis, co-founders/owners; Bryon Tonnis, head of brewing operations
2018 production: 17,347 barrels
2020 production: 14,101 barrels
2022 production: 13,160 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, head brewer
2018 production: 2,180 barrels
2020 production: 3,586 barrels
2022 production: 4,400 barrels

Ursa Minor
5-barrel pilot brewery and taproom, opened in September 2018; 15-barrel production facility added in May 2023
2415 W. Superior St., Duluth
Ben Hugus, CEO and founder; Mike Franklin, head brewer; Amanda Agamaite, director of operations
2018 production: 270 barrels
2020 production: 1,150 barrels
2022 production: 2,460 barrels

Voyageur Brewing Company
20-barrel brewery and taproom, founded in 2015
233 W. Highway 61, Grand Marais
Mike Prom and Bruce Walters, owners; Bruce Walters, head of brewing operations
2018 production: 1,448 barrels
2020 production: 1,545 barrels
2022 production: 2,100 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
2020 production: not tallied, “too depressing,” according to owner Bo Bélanger
2022 production: ~2,000 barrels

Blacklist Brewing Company
Founded in 2012 as a 3.5-barrel brewery; upgraded to a 20-barrel system with taproom in late 2016, moved to a larger building in 2022
206 E. Superior St.
Mark Cool, TJ Estabrook, Tyler Kocon, owners; Brian Schanzenbach, owner and head brewer
2018 production: 1,400 barrels
2020 production: 1,500 barrels
2022 production: 1,800 barrels (there were two months of non-production in 2022 due to the move; Schanzenback said he’s targeting 2,500 barrels for 2023)

Warrior Brewing logo

Warrior Brewing Company
15-barrel brewery founded in 2020, opened in 2021; original taproom opened September 2022 inside the brewery; May 2023 second taproom opened
2711 W. Superior St.
Matt Caple, owner and director of operations; Ben Gipson, owner and head brewer
2022 production: ~1,500 barrels

Canal Park Brewing Co.
15-barrel brewpub, founded in 2012
300 Canal Park Drive, Duluth
Rockie Kavajecz, owner; Mitchell Alexander, head brewer
2018 production: 1,100 barrels
2020 production: 1,000 barrels
2022 production: 1,300 barrels

Fitger's Brewhouse
Fitger’s Brewhouse
10-barrel brewpub supplying three pubs, a cocktail room and a retail store, founded in 1995
600 E. Superior St., Duluth
Rod Raymond, owner; Dylan Ice, head brewer
2018 production: 1,300 barrels
2020 production: 803 barrels
2022 production: 1,005 barrels

Hoops Brewing
15-barrel brewery and taproom, opened in June 2017
325 S. Lake Ave., Duluth
Dave Hoops, owner, Bjorn Erickson brewery operations director; Casey Tatro, head brewer
2018 production: 1,500 barrels
2020 production: 1,000 barrels
2022 production: 1,000 barrels

Moose Lake Brewing Company
Moose Lake Brewing Company
15-barrel brewery and taproom, founded in 2016
244 Lakeshore Drive, Moose Lake
Shawn Wigg, partner and head brewer; Travis Anderson, partner and head brewer
2018 production: 379 barrels
2020 production: 560 barrels
2022 production: 750 barrels

Klockow Brewing Company
8.5-barrel brewery, opened in October 2017
36 SE 10th St., Grand Rapids
Owners: Tasha Klockow, owner and general manager; Andy Klockow, owner and head brewer
2018 production: 420 barrels
2020 production: 540 barrels
2022 production: 730  barrels

Rapids Brewing Logo
Rapids Brewing Company
7-barrel brewpub, opened August 2019
214 N. Pokegama Ave., Grand Rapids
Bill Martinetto, general manager; Darin Jensen, head brewer
2020 production: 340.5 barrels
2022 production: 419 barrels

Clyde brewing logo
Clyde Brewing
5-barrel brewpub housed at Clyde Iron Works, started serving beer in January 2023
2920 W. Michigan St, Duluth
Alex Guiliani, owner, Dale Kleinschmidt, head brewer
2022 production: n/a

Round Man Brewing logo
Round Man Brewing Company
5-barrel brewpub, opened in 2018
Jeff Churchill, CFO; Sue Churchill, CEO; Brian Sunderland, head brewer
234 Walnut Street, Spooner
2018 production: did not respond
2020 production: did not respond
2022 production: did not respond

Three-Twenty logo
Three Twenty Brewing
7-barrel brewery, founded in 2018
135 Fifth St. SE, Pine City
Nick and Cassandra Olson, owners; Nick Olson, brewer
2019 production: 362.63 barrels
2020 production: 350.89 barrels
2022 production: did not respond


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
2020 production: did not respond
2022 production: did not respond

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
2020 production: did not respond
2022 production: did not respond

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
2020 production: did not respond
2022 production: did not respond

Thirsty Pagan Brewing
2 and 7-barrel brewpub founded as Twin Ports Brewing in 1996; became Thirsty Pagan in 2006
1615 Winter St., Superior
Steve Knauss, owner; Rapids Brewing Company, contract brewer
2018 production: 259 barrels (brewery only operated from late May through December)
2020 production: 251 barrels
2022 production: did not respond

Block North Brewpub logo
Block North Brewpub
3-barrel brewpub, founded in May 2019
Rich Courtemanche, Peter Lowe Jr., Dake Olson, owners; Bo Martin, head brewer
302 Minnesota Ave., Aitkin
2019 production: 220 barrels
2020 production: 220 barrels
2022 production: did not respond

Adventure Club Logo
Adventure Club
2-barrel nanobrewery, opened May 2019, started brewing in October
35265 S. County Highway J, Bayfield
Matthew Gerdts, owner and head brewer
2019 production: 11 barrels
2020 production: 67.75 barrels
2022 production: did not respond

Raven's Breath Brewery Logo
Raven’s Breath Brewery
1.5-barrel nanobrewery, opened August 2019
68295 S. Main St., Iron River
Rick Sauer, owner and head brewer
2019 production: 24 barrels
2020 production: 31 barrels
2022 production: 25.5 barrels (down slightly due to moving the brewery)

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
2018 production: 89 barrels
2020 production: 17 barrels (Carmody was closed during 2020 due to the pandemic)
2022 production: Did not respond about production numbers but confirmed brewing has resumed

Cuyuna Brewing Co. Logo
Cuyuna Brewing Company
5-barrel brewpub, founded in January 2017
1 E. Main St., Crosby
Nick and Laura Huisinga, owners; Nick Huisinga, brewer
2020 production: did not respond
2022 production: did not respond

Source: Individual breweries.

1 Comment


about 10 months ago

Great write up. Interesting to see how beer scene is going. Wonder how much sales par on or off premise. 

Can Duluth add another brewery? Surprised there is not one on the hill or in Hermantown.

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