There’s nothing quite like kicking back to quaff a cold beer in the summertime. The warmest season ushers in plenty of chances for those craving craft brews to get outside, sit back and sample suds. We’ve done the legwork for you and compiled a list of some of the top tasting events and beer festivals in the Twin Ports area.
WDSE-TV‘s recent documentary on the brewing history of northern Minnesota can now be viewed online … right here. Brew North: A Beer Story explores the many ways beer established a niche in the Duluth area and continues to leave its mark on the region.
Earth Rider Brewery in Superior has named Allyson Rolph and Tim Wilson as lead brewers. The craft brewery, founded by Tim Nelson, is expected to launch later this year. It will service bars, restaurants and liquor stores throughout the Arrowhead region. The project was announced in February.
At the end of 2016 there were seven craft breweries in Duluth and nine more across the region. Another six are in the planning or soon-to-open stages in 2017. In the two years since Perfect Duluth Day conducted its first tally of the region’s beer production the total barrel output has grown from roughly 20,000 to nearly 35,000. That equates to more than one million gallons of craft beer locally brewed in 2016. By other measurements, it’s about 70,000 kegs, more than 8 million pints or more than 11 million 12-ounce bottles and cans.
The largest contributors to the recent growth were Bent Paddle Brewing and Castle Danger Brewing. Bent Paddle doubled its output over the past two years while Castle Danger grew six fold. Meanwhile, Moose Lake Brewing launched operations, Blacklist Artisan Ales opened a taproom and started canning, and South Shore Brewery opened an additional brewery and tasting room in Washburn.
In the year ahead, the brewing landscape is set to shift dramatically with the opening of a half-dozen new operations in the region. Newbies in the immediate Twin Ports area will be Hoops Brewing in Canal Park, Oakhold Farmhouse Brewery in Midway Township and Earth Rider in Superior. The Iron Range, home to only one brewing business in 2016 — the Boathouse in Ely — could soon welcome three more. Rapids Brewing Company and Cantankerous Brewing are in the works for Grand Rapids, while Boomtown Brewery plans to open at the former Zimmy’s Bar and Restaurant location in Hibbing.
Below is a breakdown of the 2016 stats.
Bent Paddle Brewing
30-barrel brewery and taproom, founded in 2013
1912 W. Michigan St., Duluth
Colin & Laura Mullen + Bryon & Karen Tonnis, co-founders; Charles Brodell, head brewer; Brent Rowe, regional sales manager; Pepin Young, taproom manager
2016 production: 15,700 barrels
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
2016 production: 9,200 barrels (est. for 2017: 14,000 bbl)
10-barrel brewery supplying six pubs and a retail store, founded in 1995
600 E. Superior St., Duluth
Rod Raymond, owner; Ted Briggs, master brewer
2016 production: 1,862 barrels
Duluth’s Bent Paddle Brewing has announced a partnership with Dean Distributing of Green Bay. The relationship will expand the availability of Bent Paddle’s beer into the Wisconsin counties of Ashland, Iron, Oneida, Vilas, Forest, Langlade and Price.
Distribution to those areas will begin this week with events marking the expansion. On Wednesday, April 12, representatives from Bent Paddle will be offering samplings in Rhinelander at Trig’s Cellar from 3 to 5 p.m., followed by a tap event at Bucketheads Sports Bar & Grill from 6 to 8 p.m.
There will be more samples in Hurley on Thursday, April 13, from 3 to 6 p.m. at Town and Country Liquor and at the Ashland Super One Liquor from 3 to 6 p.m. on Friday, April 14.
The United States now boasts over 5,000 craft breweries as the thirst for quality beer continues. The Twin Ports are clearly part of the trend. Duluth and Superior are home to eight breweries, with two more planning to launch in 2017. Several others dot the north and south shores of Lake Superior. The great news for beer aficionados: there’s no shortage of local beer and opportunities to taste the latest batches. The next three major swillfests are highlighted here.
Hoops Brewing founder Dave Hoops and Head Brewer Melissa Rainville pose in front of recently installed equipment. Hoops Brewing plans to open in late May or June.
Seven stainless steel tanks and a catwalk preassembled with pipes and pumps were lifted off flatbed trucks and squeezed through the stone doorway of a former Canal Park restaurant on March 21.
The equipment, including four huge fermentors and two beer tanks, was hauled inside on heavy duty carts and laid on a new custom-built floor like tipped-over beer bottles. The massive move, which stopped traffic outside 325 S. Lake Ave., was a major step in plans by longtime Duluth brewmaster Dave Hoops to open Hoops Brewing, a beer hall that will match the largest in Minnesota.
Via WDSE-TV, enjoy the sounds of this Old English 600 ad. Peoples Brewery in West Duluth developed the recipe for Old English 600 in the 1940s. The company sponsored a radio show with old-time music and several pitches for Regal Supreme Beer and Old English 600 Malt Liquor.
Tim Nelson and his company Bev-Craft have announced plans to build Earth Rider Brewery in Superior. The new craft brewery will service bars, restaurants and liquor stores throughout the Arrowhead region.
The brewery will reside on the north end of Tower Avenue at 1617 N. Third St., just across Ogden Avenue from Bev-Craft’s offices above the Cedar Lounge. The building being redeveloped for the brewery is the former Leamon Mercantile Co.
Nelson expects redevelopment of the structure to begin in the spring with the first batch of beer brewed in late summer.
Earth Rider’s brewing operations will occupy a 16,300-square-foot facility, with a project budget to exceed $2.5 million in private investment with support from the city of Superior, Superior Choice Credit Union, Wisconsin Business Development, Douglas County Development Association, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, Northland Foundation, Northeast Entrepreneur Fund and APEX.
Back in the day it was sometimes tough work just to get a drink. Above is an undated stereoview reproduction from an 1875 McKenzie original. The reverse reads: “Duluth, Minn. in 1875. Mammoth Saloon, Jake Liedel, Prop. Lake Ave 2 blocks north of canal.”
Ted Briggs, the new brew master at Fitger’s Brewhouse
Just Take Action announced Ted Briggs as the new master brewer for Fitger’s Brewhouse this week. “Mr. Briggs will continue to build on the great legacy of quality Lake Superior craft beer first initiated by Dave Hoops and later, Frank Kaszuba,” the company stated in a news release.
South Shore Brewery was founded in May 1995 with brewing facilities in the basement of the Deep Water Grille in Ashland. It was northwestern Wisconsin’s first microbrewery and the state’s seventh. Bo Bélanger, South Shore’s original brew master and president, bought the business in 2004.
In February he expanded operations into Washburn, opening the Lake Superior Tap House, a satellite tasting room and retail outlet. The recent move of the brewing facilities to the Washburn operation was done with the goal to make the brewery more efficient and competitive while increasing output.
In addition to the expanded brewing facility, the Lake Superior Tap House features a tasting room with a variety of South Shore beers on tap, windows that look into the brewery, and a shuffleboard table handcrafted from a piece of bowling lane preserved from the old Super Bowl Lanes, which previously occupied the building.