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B5QB Minnesota Beer Reviews, Part 2: Duluth

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Let’s go up north.

2018 NCAA Division I Men’s Hockey Championship
I’d have to be pretty drunk to cheer for the pride of Duluth in hockey.
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

We’ve already established that there is good beer in the Twin Cities. Good, check that off the list. But what about the rest of the state, you may ask. Well, I’m glad you’re curious because that’s exactly what I’m going to be blogging about on this here blog!

Duluth, Minn., is a city located right on Lake Superior. The northwest tip of Wisconsin is a literal stone’s throw away, so if you visit you aren’t too far from the comfort of cheese curds and the Brewers on the radio. It is also a short, scenic two-and-a-half-hour’s drive from the Twin Cities, which means it is great for a weekend getaway for you and your special, beer-loving someone.

Look at how pretty that is! Imagine how pretty it would be if you had a couple of beers!! I guess it would probably be the same amount of pretty, but still ... you’d have had a couple of beers, so you win.

Top Duluth Breweries

Hoops Brewing Company

Opened in 2017 by Dave Hoops, for whom the brewery is named natch, Hoops Brewing is a relative newcomer to the Duluth beer scene. Hoops, the man not the brewery, is a veteran brewer (coming from Fitger’s Brewhouse) and definitely knows his way around ales and lagers.

Here is a profile on Hoops from The Growler, which is a free beer/music/culture magazine that focuses on Minnesota. You can pick one up at many bars and liquor stores throughout the Twin Cities.

All of the beers at Hoops are numbered, which makes it easy to remember what you liked the last time you were there. Some internet sleuthing shows me that they have not yet made a No. 69, but believe me ... you’ll hear about first from me.

Bent Paddle Brewing Company

You want to talk about beers to drink in the morning? Bent Paddle eats “beers to drink in the morning” for breakfast with their beer to drink in the morning: Cold Press Black Coffee Ale.

They get the coffee from local roaster, Duluth Coffee Company, who gets their beans from Gabriel Munoz’s family’s farm in Colombia. That’s pretty cool! You should always try to support businesses that support small businesses and ethical sourcing.

Bent Paddle makes a plethora of other wonderful beers including their 14 Degree ESB, Kanu American Pale Ale, Bent Hop IPA and maybe their best beer Double Shot Double Black Ale. They release it every year in November and it is one of the best specialty releases in Minnesota.

Blacklist Brewing Company

This brewery seems like it could have been airlifted to Duluth from Belgium. These guys have been brewing beer since 2012 but opened up a new taproom in 2016 that provided them with more visibility and space to brew.

With all of their European influences, the brewery was somewhat late in brewing their flagship IPA. Hence, “Finally We Got Our IPA” was born, and honestly ... I kinda wished they’d never brewed it. Their witbiers are awesome and their Belgian style strong beers are great too. This IPA? Not that great. Especially when the rest of the market is considered. Their Belgian IPA is a sweet little number, though.

Others to check out: Canal Park Brewing Co. (Canal Park was the first cool neighborhood in Duluth), Thirsty Pagan Brewing (just across the border in Wisconsin!), Fitger’s Brewhouse (the O.G. in Duluth’s craft brewing scene), Ursa Minor Brewing (I’ve never been here nor had any of their beers, but their logo is a sweet looking bear/hop cone combo and I really want one of their t-shirts)