Northland Craft Beer

Bolstered by Beer

Lee Witte - Sunday, March 25, 2018


We’re very excited for Bent Paddle’s new taproom opening April 12th at 1832 W Michigan St. in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Duluth, MN. They have moved into a refurbished historic space a ½ block to the east of their present location. There’s a farewell to the old taproom celebration the weekend of April 6th.

We want to point out how much of an impact we’ve seen the BP Brewery make in this community. The same neighborhood, where we happen to live. The Lincoln Park neighborhood has been considered by many locals for some time the armpit of Duluth. To be fair, we recognize that many people have been working hard improving the neighborhood, like the folks at Ecolibrium3 and the non-profit Lincoln Park Business Group. However, we write about craft beer, so we will focus on the impact Bent Paddle has made. They came to the community in 2013, at the inception of the turn-around. We then began to see other complementary businesses pop up, like Frost River Outfitters, OMC Smokehouse, and Love Creamery. We’re also seeing local artist studios like Duluth Pottery and the Duluth Folk School moving in. All this new activity is helping a number of the existing adjacent businesses bottom lines. Bent Paddle is the cornerstone.


Here are some of the highlights:

    • • The plan is to have 18-20 unique brews on.
      • • Three serving stations / 60 taps total.
        • • 7 bbl pilot system that will allow for more experimental small batch brews, headed up by brewer Neil Caron.
          • • Much larger taproom at 5,500 sq ft.
          • • Games area.
          • • Kids nook.
          • • 40 ft Maple Bar with two growler filling stations to expedite flow.
          • • Three 12 ft. openings with folding accordion doors between the inside and out.
          • • Event space for up to 70.
          • • Outdoor area with seating for 75.
          • • A greatly improved retail space.
          • • Local food delivery, 3 to 4 options.
          • • Outdoor deck seating for 75.
  • • Live music space with state of the art sound equipment.



We love that they crafted the new digs with local connections with taste and feel of place in mind. Check out Bent Paddles press release & website for the extensive list. Our favorite local connection is the rescue of timbers from the 4th street construction project. We use to live across the part from 4th street and passed by these majestic giant silver maple trees every day as we headed to work each day, biked and walked to the store. The huge old silver maple trees arched overhead forming a canopy. When they were cut down it made a shockingly stark change to appearance and feel of the street and neighborhood. So when we heard that some of those trees were being rescued and being put to good use it made us feel warm and fuzzy.





Shouldn't we be drinking green beer year round.

Lee Witte - Monday, March 12, 2018

                         CLICK HERE FOR MOBILE VERSION


There are many craft breweries that are just as dedicated to making beer that you can feel good about drinking as there are to creating unique & delicious taste experiences.


Ideally, purchase your beer directly from local breweries with a focus on Eco-Friendly Practices.


Buy local: Locally produced beer doesn't travel as far as the big brand domestics & regional brands.


Sustainable packaging: As a rule of thumb, refillable vessels are greener than single use and recyclable ones like cans & bottles. Per, an industry packaging trade journal: "Measuring the environmental impact of beer doesn't start with the beer itself but with the non-consumable raw materials. Non-consumable raw materials are the things used that won't become the beer itself. This includes the glass bottles, paper labels, paperboard holders, cardboard cartons, steel crowns, wood pallets, adhesive, and plastic wrap. Altogether, the production of packaging materials results in around 850g CO2e."


Enjoy it at room-temp: Much of the carbon footprint from beer-drinking is associated with storing and serving your beer cold. Per “Up to 50% of the carbon footprint associated with beer consumption is generated by keeping it cold. "In 1960, 99% of beer drank in Britain was an ale, which is served at room (or cellar) temperature. Since then, lager has become increasingly common and now stands at almost 75% of the British market. Lagers, and increasingly, ciders, are served ice cold. The shift from cellar-temperature ales to ice-cold lagers, ciders and white wines has had a huge impact on the energy consumption of pubs and restaurants but also increased the energy consumption at home. Beer fridges are now becoming a more normal commodity."


Use common sense: In many instances, the locally produced beer in your neighborhood could be the greenest beer available to you. Even if it's brewed in a conventionally powered brewery it may have a lighter carbon footprint than the regionally brewed "Eco-steward gold medal winner". The brewery that you can walk to, ride to, or that you drive by on the way home could be a greener option than beer from a brewery that uses all wind and solar power but is shipped a thousand miles to a specialty beer store that you drive 10 miles to get to.



What's the carbon footprint of a beer? Per,

The carbon footprint of a pint of beer:

300g CO2e: locally brewed cask ale at the pub

500g CO2e: local bottled beer from a shop or foreign beer in a pub

900g CO2e: bottled beer from the shop, extensively transported


Imports emit 3 lbs of CO2 per bottle.

Domestics emit 1 lb per bottle.

Drafts at a local brewery emit 2/3rds of a lb.


The craft beer boom is sweeping the world of ales. Some independent breweries, however, are not only interested in producing unique and delicious beers: they are also especially conscious of their impact on the environment. From organic brewing practices to sustainable infrastructure, these eco-breweries are the perfect mix of green and amber.


The Craft breweries that lead the way:

The rise in interest and demand for beer from craft breweries shows how consumers are attracted to brands and products that have a low environmental footprint. Not only are craft breweries producing small batches of beer they are reducing their costs and waste footprint by packaging and opting for cans instead of bottles.


In the US many have signed up to the Environmental Protection Agency's Smartways program, which aims to reduce carbon emissions by introducing better logistics plans for companies.


Also by only choosing to distribute their products to a local region, craft brewers are cutting down on their transport footprints whilst boosting community ties at the same time.





The Brewers Association offers tools for brewers to measure how successful their sustainability efforts are. Through the benchmarking work and sustainability manuals, the BA Sustainability Subcommittee encourages conscientious brewing practices that will help ensure the long-term success of the craft beer industry.


Ale Asylum, Madison, WI: “Ale Asylum became the first Wisconsin brewery to sign a nationwide declaration for environmental protection in the beer industry. By signing the declaration breweries pledge to take steps to reduce their carbon footprints in ways such as using renewable energy, investing in eco-friendly technologies, and measuring greenhouse gas emissions. Ale Asylum utilizes a 100-kilowatt rooftop solar system.”


Bang Brewing, St. Paul, MN: “Bang Brewing is Minnesota's first dedicated organic brewery. The Bin, powered by solar energy, is just one step this brewery takes in ensuring a healthy environment both in and outside the taproom.”


Bent Paddle Brewing, Duluth, MN: “Bent Paddle Brewing Company's mission is to brew craft beer with a focus on sustainability, for the environment, the greater community, their business, and employees. With 20 different sustainability practices currently in place, Bent Paddle aims to make their craft beer a sustainable & positive experience for all. Customers can even recycle their six-pack containers at the brewery in exchange for beer.”


Central Waters Brewery, Amherst, WI: “Here at Central Waters, we're committed to being one of the most environmentally sustainable breweries in the nation. From upstream product sourcing to downstream management, we consider the implications of every aspect of our business in managing our environmental footprint.”


Dave's BrewFarm, Wilson, WI: “The wind generator is but one component of the sustainable aspect of the BrewFarm project, with geothermal heating/cooling and solar thermal rounding out the renewable energy mix. Greywater recycling will handle the brewery's wastewater, which will be used in the hopyard and orchards of Little Wolf Farmstead, the agricultural component of the project. The BrewFarm is an innovative demonstration project showcasing the latest in renewable and sustainable business practices and rural development. Our hope is that through "leading by example" other businesses will adopt these (and other) sustainable strategies, realizing that every effort helps the planet - and the bottom line.”


Insight Brewing, Mpls, MN: “Insight Brewing Company to become Minnesota's first brewery to offset all of its energy usages with solar power. The brewery is partnering with Innovative Power Systems to build a community solar garden. The process of brewing beer is energy intensive. Breweries use a lot of energy, be it boiling water, running coolers, forklifts, etc. Insight's efforts to offset their energy use should be commended.”


Northbound Smokehouse, Mpls, MN: “Northbound has understood that to be successful, you need to be part of the community. With the addition of solar energy by Forteva Solar, we have built on this philosophy. From the beginning of construction until the system went live, we had a definite community interest in the project. The social media responses were some of the largest that we've had to-date. This interest continues to this day, with customers and neighbors inquiring about the panels. With about an 18% offset of our electrical usage, the solar system is definitely a positive addition to the business.”


Odell Brewing Company, Fort Collins, CO: “Brewing beer is a water, energy and natural resource-intensive process, so financially it makes sense to reduce our use. However, we are also responsible for our community and our environment. While payback is considered in all investments we make, we place a higher value on what we're accomplishing for the environment in which we live. At Odell Brewing, we always strive to be better: to better our environment, our community, and, of course, our beer. A top green brewery, Odell's utilizes energy from rooftop solar panels. To conserve energy they use a smart sensor-based lighting and cooling system which automatically turns off lights and air conditioning when the area is unoccupied. They utilize biodiesel delivery trucks, food, and paper waste is composted.”


New Belgium Brewing Company, Fort Collins, CO: “NEW BELGIUM Is a certified B Corp is to business what Fair Trade certification is to coffee and USDA Organic certification is to milk. B Corps are for-profit companies certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. New Belgium has received a certification of the highest level from U.S. Zero Waste Business Council for their efficiency in reducing, reusing and recycling waste.”


Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Chico, CA: “Our Chico, CA, Brewery houses one of the largest privately-owned solar arrays in the country. The 10,752 panels cover enough rooftop space to span 3.5 football fields and supply 20% of the brewery's electricity, the equivalent of powering 265 average households for a year. In Mills River, NC, we have a comparatively modest collection of 2,200 panels including freestanding "solar trees" in our parking lot. There is an extensive list of additional sustainable practices and technologies in use listed on their website.”


Ska Brewery, Durango, Colorado: “Wind-powered and solar-lit, the brewery in Durango also utilize sustainable energy in their vans. They use environmentally friendly aluminum cans and recycled packaging materials and donate tens of thousands of dollars to charity per year. Customers can even recycle their six-pack containers at the brewery in exchange for beer. It's reported that the building is largely recycled and the insulation is made out of old jeans.”



Besides buying from these green breweries, you can find local green breweries in your area by asking them about their processes, frequenting those that provided informed answers and encouraging those that don't by asking questions like these:


What efforts have been taken to reduce your carbon footprint & environmental footprints?


Do all your employees receive a living wage? (Roughly $15/hour).


What proportion brewing ingredients are from locally grown & sourced and what percentage are regionally sourced? We're defining "local" as within 100 miles of the brewery and "regional" as within 250 miles of the brewery.


For ingredients that cannot be sourced locally, what efforts have been made to purchase from sustainable sources?


  1. Does your brewery repurpose spent grains & or compost its biodegradable waste?

Nothing Personal

Marissa Saurer - Tuesday, October 03, 2017



I guess you could consider us bi-city, splitting our time between Duluth and St. Paul. I believe that this gives us a unique perspective on the variances between these two craft beer markets. A glaring difference we’ve noticed is the reluctance from brew pubs and taprooms in The Twin Cities to fill legally compliant personal growlers. Now we’ve written on this subject in the past see “Pain in the Glass”, which outlines the benefits and ecology of reusing personal growlers. To be fair, this is not meant as a blanket statement, as The Twin Cities does have a handful of more progressive venues that do so. Tin Whiskers, Barley John’s, are tuned into this trend to eliminate waste, while four out of eleven craft beer outlets in St. Paul still do not. In contrast eight out of nine in the Twin Ports do honor this trend, with Bent Paddle changing their policy when new taproom comes online. Therefore, soon it will be all breweries.


On the other hand, in The Twin Ports, the vast majority of craft beer venues DO indeed fill our growlers. Could it be that those of us here in the North Country care more about the environment? We’d like to think that perhaps our persistent lobbying may have something to do with it. But through questioning staff from venues who refuse this more convenient and Eco-friendly policy, I believe it boils down to one thing... hubris. The go-to explanation is almost always “We need to control the quality of our product all while judgingly inhaling the air of my vessel .” As if putting their beer in our clean stainless steel double walled legally compliant Stanley growler is somehow going to denigrate the awesomeness of their cerveza. We feel this explanation is disingenuous, as most growlers on the market actually do a better job of protecting the quality of their contents than does glass. Personally, I feel the truth has more to do with the need to display “Their” logo on “Their” growler, and basking in the satisfaction that this is “Their” product. Now as a marketing professional, I get that. It’s about being seen and displaying their brand. However, the branding advantages fall far short in the argument of freshness, sustainability and convenience.


If you own a personal growler, chances are you’d like to utilize it. Fortunately, more and more breweries are adopting this more sensible policy. See below a list of breweries that see the value in this practice. If you come across a brewery that does not comply, we suggest you question their policy and explain to them the benefits of personal growler filling.


Hoops Brewing Opens!

Lee Witte - Tuesday, June 27, 2017


  • With the tide continuing to rise at the head of the greatest lake, Duluth’s title as Minnesota’s Craft Beer Capital. appears safe. Now with eight breweries, in Duluth and soon to be ten in the Twin Ports, you can easily walk to six of them via the scenic Lake Walk.

  • Hoops Brewing is sure to increase the already exceptional selection of craft in the Twin Ports, making for a plethora of thirst quenching brews.
  • Hoops with 25 years of experience, has an impressive resume equaled by few, even on the National stage, His experience includes his involvement with Bev-Craft, a craft beer think tank, after leaving Fitger’s Brewhouse after 16 years in the fall of 2015. He’s won six Great American Beer Festival medals (including three as the master brewer at Fitger’s), was a founding member of the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild, serves as a judge for the Brewers Association, and is a beer columnist. As well as 4 years as the Lead Brewer at Pyramid.
  • But he’s not the only one heading Hoops Brewing. Melissa Rainville, who worked with Hoops at Fitger’s, will be the head brewer.
  • Hoops told“She has a very similar philosophy to me, and I’m fortunate to have her” Renville began her career at Flat Earth Brewing Company in St. Paul is formally trained via the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and the Master Brewers Association of the Americas, the release reports.

  • Per Dave; during our sneak peak tour; Hoops Brewing will be brewer-driven with the maxim “Don’t brew scared.” Dave was proud to share that they will be brewing with equipment manufactured by nearby, Wisconsin-made, Sprinkman brewing equipment, adding jobs in additional supporting related industries in the region.
  • Dave has been quoted as saying his three favorite beer styles are Pilsner, pale ale and wheat beer. All are traditional, ancient styles, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love dozens of other styles. We’ll attest to that, as during our many trips to the Brewhouse during Dave’s reign as Master Brewer we could count on there being something new to try every visit. As I recall, they were turning out well over 100 beers per year.
  • Pepper beer, a favorite style of ours, we understand is also a favorite of Hoops. We’re betting it will be on the beer menu at along side the other 15 to 30 styles planned for their 30 tap tower. With so many tap lines, we expect a wide array of different styles at a time, with none of them considered a “flagship” beer. This will allow them to make something for everyone, from easy drinkers to beers with intense character. The beer hall will not include a restaurant but there will be take-in food options from neighboring eateries. Beer will be sold to-go in crowlers (the first Twin Ports brewery to do so) and there will be limited distribution to select Duluth and Minneapolis retailers. The beer hall is expected to serve as a popular pre and post-activity stop for those enjoying nearby attractions and events.

  • Melissa Rainville has been appointed as the Head Brewer, continuing a collaboration between the two that began at Fitger’s Brewhouse. She holds a General Certificate in Brewing from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling. In 2015 she received the Minneapolis-St. Paul District Master Brewers Association of the Americas scholarship and completed the MBAA Brewing and Malting Science Course in Madison, Wis. She also recently completed the MBAA Brewery Engineering and Utilities Course in St. Paul.
  • Hoops Brewing will be the ninth brewing operation to open its doors in the Twin Ports, but it’s the first beer hall style taproom in the area, and will be the second-largest in Minnesota, only surpassed by Surly Brewing Company’s destination brewery in Minneapolis. Dave shared that he believes there are plenty of breweries in the area and state already, and that the reason he chose to open another was because of this fantastic space was offered, and the vision he had for it.
  • Aside from both being exceptional brewers, Melissa and Dave are great high character people. Both pragmatic, personable, while passionate about the products they craft. Despite all his past success Dave remains humble and gracious, and always seems to take the time to chat with his interested customers and beer geeks. Melissa is quick to smile when talking about process, product and of course the future, which is sure to be bright with a team of this caliber.



A Pain in The Glass

Marissa Saurer - Sunday, April 10, 2016


With Earth Day approaching, as is the case with many folks, we are thinking about our global footprint and how we could do something that ties to our passion for supporting local. Specifically supporting the craft beer industry and what can be done to bring that passion into alignment with one of our other passions, living greener. The options are many, but we’ve decided to focus on one in particular, as we realized while doing some spring cleaning, we have been collecting a lot of GROWLERS. We asked ourselves; why is it that we have so many? Thus a story was born.



While glass growlers are certainly reusable and recyclable vessels, we question the earth-friendliness of breweries that fill only their branded glass. Like many craft beer lovers, we like to frequent a wide and varied array of craft breweries. This has lead to a situation where we have accumulated 70 growlers in our basement and at least a half dozen rattling around in our truck, at times even breaking. Not a very green situation, not to mention incredibly inconvenient. In honor of Earth Day we have taken a stand. We now employ two reusable, personal growlers. We are finding this immediately eliminated the need to keep multiple glass growlers in our vehicles as we no longer need a specific vessel for each brewery. When you think about it, it’s really ridiculous to keep a designated growler for each place you patronize.

There are several reasons for this:


The Law
Most states require legal verbiage and warnings on the growler itself in the interest of public safety. Breweries like to have this information screen printed on every glass growler to ensure compliance. However, there are personal growlers on the market that do have this language, therefore making it a legal and legitimate vessel. Breweries could easily slap a sticker on any growler that included all of the required government warnings and legalities. We own a beautiful ceramic growler from the Portland Growler Company, and one of our favorite brewers did just that, making it a legal container.


The other legal aspect of growler filling is that some states like Minnesota, have laws on the books that take away a breweries ability to sell growlers all together, should they grow to the point that they are producing X-amount of beer.


So what if you don’t care to invest in your own personal growler? The recent change in Minnesota growler laws make it permissible to fill any legal growler. The branded glass growlers are still being filled by a number of breweries and brewpubs around the state. Not to mention the thousands of consumers living near state lines or traveling to neighboring states where growler laws have been more lax for years. In Wisconsin most will fill any growler. In Iowa the laws are pretty loose as well, although breweries can’t fill and sell direct to consumers, they have many options to get a fill at pubs and sometimes even convenience stores.

The Brewers
All legal aspects aside, some brewers/breweries just do not like filling competing breweries growlers. We’ve heard various reasons for this, one of which is the “reputation argument”. They wouldn’t want someone else’s bad beer to be mistaken for theirs. Many breweries fail to realize that the law requires the seal covering the mouth of the growler contains all the business of origin information. By relying on that logo on the glass and not also having the information on the seal, they are technically not in compliance with the laws. After all, besides great tasting fresh beer, the biggest advantage of a growler is the re-usability factor. In Minnesota, where we supposedly have this exciting beer scene where all the breweries see themselves as a ‘community’ instead of competitors, it only makes sense to us, to fill any legal growler.


To be green, and for your own convenience, encourage your local breweries to fill any legal growler.


Big business bullies local craft brewery with a call to boycott.

Marissa Saurer - Saturday, January 23, 2016



Fresh water is essential for a healthy life, and of course brewing great beer. Currently, there is a boycott by a group of Iron Range businesses targeting the local craft brewery, Bent Paddle Brewing, and the rest of the Downwstream Business Coalition, a concerned group of small local businesses.


What’s this all about? A few at the helm of a big international corporation are counting on most of us to be confused or unaware that their plan to make millions is at the expense of the vast majority of us. This corporate entity is using the typical weapons of choice; lobbyists, lawyers, and playing on the desperation of the Iron Rangers who are hungry for jobs. It’s them against anyone who gets in their way, which includes everyone that understands the importance of our clean water resources. In this case they’ve focused on Bend Paddle Brewing. This boycott, and tactic of pitting small businesses against small businesses alienates customers on both sides.


The above mentioned corporation, Polymet, wants to open a sulfide mine on the Minnesota Iron Range, on and near some very pristine public lands and popular outdoor recreational areas. Concerned citizens who live and play in the area as well as a number of local businesses who rely on the clean water resources in the area, including abundant fish and wildlife, are asking some hard questions and expressing concerns over how a mining process that is known to pose a serious risk of contaminating waterways is going to impact them and their quality of life. The Boycott is meant to apply pressure to the targeted companies in hopes they will change their position.


While it is true the Polymet project would create a few hundred short-term jobs on the Range, leading some to say it will have a positive impact on the local economy, it is also true that a major spill from the mine could lead to a vastly greater negative impact on the local and regional economies. Leaking toxins from the PolyMet project could end up in underground aquifers and the St. Louis River — and eventually Lake Superior which is world famous for it’s water quality for brewing. A failure like the Mount Polley mine disaster in 2014 would have a catastrophic impact on the region. It would devastate the fish population in the waterways around the mine, including the Embarrass River that feeds into the St. Louis River that feeds into Lake Superior. How much the fish population will be impacted will depend on how much contaminated water escapes the site. This is not a question of if the mine will releases toxic chemicals into the watershed, but a question of how much pollution will enter the water ways. All agree, including Polymet and the MNDNR, that contaminated water will flow from the site.


Bent Paddle Brewing has built their brand around the outdoor lifestyle, and how that way of life is better with great beer, and how the water of Lake Superior and it’s tributaries are instrumental in the brewing process. In contrast, the short-sightedness of a few, are playing Russian Roulette with this precious resource shared by all.


Some of the risks:

Contaminated drinking/brewing water

Destruction of fish and wildlife habitat from polluted lakes and rivers.

Pollution that remains for decades after the jobs are gone, even centuries after a mine closure.

Taxpayers left holding the bill for hundreds of millions of dollars in clean-up costs

You can see more at: Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness.



Inching to Success

Nick Ortloff - Friday, February 27, 2015

It is my pleasure to announce that Angry Inch Brewing will soon be joining the ranks of Minnesota's Craft Brewing Industry. On February 23, 2015, Angry Inch Brewing signed the lease for their building located at: 20841 Holyoke Ave in downtown Lakeville, Minnesota.
Angry Inch Brewing has a tentative opening date of Spring or Summer 2015, with more details to follow at a later date. They will have nine draft lines in their taproom. They will consist of six year round offerings, one 6 month rotating seasonal, one 2 month rotating seasonal, and one tapline for an experimental brew.
If you'd like to get up to date information about Angry Inch Brewing, you can follow them both on:


Highway 61 Revisited

Lee Witte - Thursday, February 12, 2015


As life long travellers of the Scenic North Shore of Lake Superior, we’ve known about the Green Door, a rustic looking municipal liquor store in Beaver Bay for a long time. Nestled on the edge of the small community of about 200 people, 50 miles up the shore from Duluth. We’ve frequented this place couple dozens times over the years, but admittedly only when we’ve failed to plan appropriately and pack enough good beer for the trip. As recently as the Summer of 2013, you might have considered yourself lucky to find a 6-pack of Summit Pale Ale or luckier yet to score a Seasonal from Lake Superior Brewing. That was the extent of the craft beer selection in Beaver Bay, back then. These days the Green Door not only has two cooler doors dedicated to Minnesota craft beer, they have two more with regional options. They’re typical in that they are on and off sale, but not so, in that all their tap beers are craft beers. That’s right, NO BIG BEER ON TAP!


It was just about three years ago now, at the inception of our personal craft beer map, that eventually evolved into, that we couldn’t have imagined the landscape would have changed this much. Back then all we had in Duluth for local craft options was Lake Superior and Fitgers and outside of Duluth you couldn’t find a craft beer to save your life. Now we enjoy Castle Danger, Bent Paddle, Borealis, Blacklist and coming on line soon is Voyager in Grand Marais. As recently as two years ago, if a place had six taps, three of which were craft and two of those were local, we’d feel compelled to give the place a pin, as it likely had the best craft selection for miles. It was just about a year ago when we sat down at the at Gunflint Tavern in Grand Marais, with an associate who tried to order a Budweiser. To my delight he was informed they didn’t carry any big beer. I don’t know about you, but we couldn’t have imagined the day that pubs would banish the big three and go all craft. What a great change!

The Green Door is not an isolated occurrence. The same week we discovered Doc’s in Sturgeon Lake. Doc’s appears to be the typical small Northern MN country sports bar, but once again, it’s not typical of what we have come to expect. Doc’s has about 20 crafts on tap with a couple of the big commercial brews tucked off to the side just to keep the old timers happy.

This is not just happening in Duluth or up the North Shore. As most of you know, there is the craft explosion currently happening in the Twin Cities, but also in the rest of the country, although we’re not sure about Mississippi, but even Utah gets it. Craft beer is gaining traction in Canada, Japan and the UK is having a craft boom that rivals ours. Change is good. 

New Kid on the Block

Marissa Saurer - Sunday, December 07, 2014

So something a little different has hit the Duluth market.

A Minnesota made and grown artisan hard cider graff from Sociable Cider Werks. Unlike many of the industrial hard ciders out there, " Freewheeler" is crisp, dry, clean, and almost champagne like. For those of us who are gluten intolerant, or just looking for a refreshing change, you can find Freewheeler at:

Carmody Irish Pub


Lake Avenue Cafe

Grizzly's Canal Park

Grizzly's Miller Hill

Endion Station Cider House

Burrito Union


The Rise of the Cider.

Marissa Saurer - Friday, October 17, 2014


Here we are in the midst of cider season. It’s a wonderful magical time of year. Few libations are more “American” than hard cider. This was the drink of choice in the taverns of the American colonies. Our forefathers lamented British tyranny over a tankard of locally pressed hard cider.

Fast-forward to today where craft beer has become the drink of choice for many of us. Like beer, hard cider can be a mass-produced industrial product, or, an artfully crafted pure quality adult beverage. The spectrum between these very different fermentations are just as wide as those in the beer industry. In-Bev’s Johnny Appleseed, and Miller-Coors’ Smith & Forge are the Budweiser and Miller Lite of the cider world. Some would argue that in that realm, the gap between mega-production and craft is even larger than in beer, because industrial cider uses water to reconstitute concentrate instead of using pure fresh pressed apple juice.

In recent years, both industrial and craft cider have been picking up steam and growing fast as an alternative to beer. There are many reasons for this. First off, cider rides the wave of the craft beer boom. A large part of craft beer culture is in trying new things. Whether it’s the latest hopped-up American Pale Ale, or a new dark Barley wine. Exploration is part of the fun. And now, many craft beer drinkers are trying cider, and loving it. Hard cider’s fresh, crisp, and dry characteristics are a nice change up to malty beers. Because hard cider has roughly the same alcohol content as craft beer, those who are adverse to hop or roasted grain bitterness have found a new friend in hard cider. Also, cider is gluten free which important consideration to many of us. As few as five years ago, seeing a hard cider on tap was somewhat of a novelty. Now, it’s not uncommon to see several cider options on tap.

So if you’re a person who appreciates an artfully crafted alternative to beer, you’re not alone. If you’re a pub, bar or restaurant owner, it may behoove you to get a quality local craft cider on tap soon.





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Created by M•Saurer Creative aims to promote and support local craft beer and microbrew related businesses in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Upper Michigan,

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