Northland Craft Beer

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


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