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?

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.



Craft Beer Roundtable

Marissa Saurer - Monday, March 24, 2014


The Duluth Experience has created a great new forum, “The Craft Beer Roundtable” where those involved in the Twin Ports craft beer scene discuss this exciting and growing industry. I was in attendance at the first of four such discussions, “The Drink of Opportunity”.

Represented on the panel and moderated by Paul Helstrom were:
Eddie Gleason – Carmody Irish Pub & Brewery
Tim Nelson – Fitger’s Brewhouse
Steve Knauss – Thirsty Pagan Brewing

Rockie Kavajecz – Canal Park Brewing Co.

Bryon Tonnis – Bent Paddle Brewing Co.


This cast of business leaders shared their craft beer history, thoughts and expectations in a loose, casual and light-hearted atmosphere where conversations flowed as freely and easily as the beer they sell. Topics included current and future beer laws, the reasons that this is a great area to brew beer, the tight-knit supportive nature of the craft beer community, and the surging growth potential of the market both here in the Twin Ports and nationally.

The part of the discussion that I found most compelling was the personal stories of the panel, and what motivated them to start their various craft beer businesses. The common thread that all of these entrepreneurs seem to share in that regard was their love of the area, and doing whatever they could to carve out a niche in order to “buy a job” and make a living in the Twin Ports. I found this part of the discussion very inspiring as this is a subject that I can personally relate to. To know that these hard working entrepreneurs did what they needed to do, to create their own opportunity should be encouraging to anyone looking to start a business of any kind in this area.

If you care about the economy of the Twin Ports, small business and craft beer, I would highly encourage you to attend the three remaining Craft Beer Roundtable forums

April 13th:

“Crafting the North Shore Beer Scene” – The Brewers Roundtable

Dave Hoops – Fitger’s Brewhouse

Dale Kleinschmidt – Lake Superior Brewing Co.
Jason Baumgarth – Carmody Irish Pub & Brewery
Jeremy King – Canal Park Brewing Co.
Brian Schanzenbach – Blacklist Brewing

May 18th:

“Riding the Wave of Beer” – Craft Beer Related Business

Marissa Saurer –

Paul Riordan – Brule River Hill Top Hops
Brad Nelson – Star Creative
Carolyn Jones – CMT Farm
Paul Helstrom – The Duluth Experience

June 22nd:

“Women of the North Shore Craft Beer Scene” – A Candid Discussion on the State of Women in Brewing

Allyson Rolph – Thirsty Pagan Brewing

Jamie MacFarlane – Castle Danger Brewing
Liz Gleason – Carmody Irish Pub & Brewery
Laura Mullen – Bent Paddle Brewing Co.
Melissa Rainville – Fitger’s Brewhouse


We've created this site to support a community that shares our passion for locally brewed craft beer.



Past stories, articles and blog entries from the very beginning of Northland Beer.

See what you’ve missed.






© 2013 -






© 2013 -

© 2016 Northland Beer


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

while providing craft beer relevant resources, beer map, schedule of events and entertaining articles and information to fellow lovers of craft beer.

Up the North Shore, Madison, The U. P.,Twin Cities, Duluth-Superior, or anywhere in the Northland.