In 1868 Duluth, Minnesota was dubbed “The Zenith City on the Unsalted Seas”.  Fast forward almost a century and a half and one could call Duluth “The Zenith City of Brewing”.  

Duluth and the surrounding area is now home to an exploding number of brewing companies.  Just when you think that there is not enough room for more breweries in Duluth, another one pops up.  As one of the best ways to support the local economy, keep the spirit of the Zenith alive by sipping throughout the city.

Breweries in Duluth

Lake Superior, originally named Gitche Gumee (big waters) by the native Ojibwe, is the lifeblood of Duluth. The city is a year-round tourist destination for hiking, fishing, music, and LOTS of great restaurants. You can check out all the things to do in Duluth here.

Now in recent years Duluth has also become a tourist destination because of the many brewery options. Duluth’s brewery scene has become so popular there are even tours available through this local tour company.  

You’ll need at least a week to cover all of these Duluth breweries, without giving yourself alcohol poisoning that is. If you’re planning on spending a long weekend in Duluth, You can have your pick between these on the list.

Fitger’s Brewhouse

Fitger’s was the original brewery in Duluth when it began brewing beer in 1857. After turning to making candy and soda pop during prohibition era, the Fitger’s building was converting into a hotel and restaurant facility in the 80s. In 1995 Fitger’s began brewing beer again, and some say began the Duluth brewery craze. 

These brews have been winning awards for the past two decades.  You can find beers from fruity to sour and everything in between.  Styles range from English, German, and Belgian.  You can pick up a growler from their Brewhouse Beer Store, and also pick up a cool t-shirt or hat.

Within the Fitger’s building you can try their brew at the Fitger’s Brewhouse Grille, the Barrel Room, or the Rathskeller.  Personally, I love the Grille.  They are famous for their wild rice burger, so much so you can buy them frozen in the Fitger’s store.  They have amazing burgers and sandwiches, as well lighter fare like their smoked fish salad or fish tacos.  The grille has an extensive menu and they have gluten free and vegetarian options. 

Even if you’re at home support Fitger’s by ordering from their beer delivery here.

Canal Park Brewery

Nestled on the famous Lake Superior boardwalk in Duluth’s Canal Park sits the location for the Canal Park Brewery.  They brew on site amongst a large dining area and bar, outdoor patio complete with a bonfire, and pristine views of Lake Superior.  It’s no surprise the brew names include Lake Haze, Superior Swell, Stoned Surf, and many more.

In keeping with the Lake Superior vibe, Canal Park Brewery has excellent tempura Walleye, fish tacos, and fish and chips.  Not a fish lover? That’s ok! They have huge burgers, sandwiches, salads, and even vegan options. While it’s usually crowded, the beer and the food are worth the wait.

Bring home a hat or t-shirt in their in-house gift shop. The entire building is complete with solar panels to keep environmentally conscious. Without a doubt, Canal Park Brewery is a must while in Canal Park.

Canal Park is offering Curb side pick-up and delivery. Check out their menu here.

Bent Paddle Brewery

A buzzing atmosphere of millennials, boomers, and families alike, this brewery is one of several new places to check out in Duluth’s Lincoln Park Craft District.  Bent Paddle Brewery has half a dozen signature beers ranging from their Kanu Pale Ale to the Cold Press Black Coffee Ale.  Here is also where you’ll find the Trampled American Golden Ale, named after the popular bluegrass group from Duluth, Trampled by Turtles.

Equally popular are the wide range of seasonal beers. In the summer you’ll find Paddle Break Blonde and Wilderness Tuexedo on the menu, while the Vienna-style Roof Rack Lager is only available in the fall.

Bent Paddle Brewery does not serve food, but don’t despair, as they do have a food truck or you can order food from other Lincoln Park Craft District businesses, such as OMC Smoke House.   

Though Bent Paddle is shut down at least until May 4, they do offer “sanitary walk-ins and pick-ups”. Call 218.279.2722 (BPBC) Ext. 320 between the hours of 2-5p.m.

Hoops Brewing

Located in the Suites Hotel building in Canal Park, Hoops Brewery is one of the newer brewing establishments in Duluth.  Plan to come to Hoops for the beer and the atmosphere, but not for the food as Hoops focuses its efforts on the beer. 

Hoops is a communal style beer hall with no muss no fuss, but a great place to gather with friend and try the many brews on tap while playing one of the many board games they have on hand.  Hoops has many of the usual types of beers, but then mixes it up with beers such as Chili Pepper Ale and Guava Wheat.  

If you are bothered by the lack of food, don’t worry Hoops is BYOF: bring your own food.  Many of the neighboring restaurants will deliver food to you at Hoops, or on your way pick up a pizza or wings at The Green Mill or Old Chicago.  You can also catch live music at Hoops from time to time. 

Hoops is offering curbside pick-up and is even offering two free crawlers to healthcare workers and first responders through the month of April. While supplies last!

Blacklist Brewing Company

If you’re looking for a refreshing craft beer, crack open a can from the award-winning Blacklist Brewing Co. Part of their secret? All of their brews are blended with the purest fresh water of Lake Superior. Popular picks include the Or De Belgique and the Classic Wit. Even if you’re not in Duluth, you’ll find Blacklist canned brews sold throughout several locations in the Midwest.

Equally popular are Blacklist’s thirst-quenching Hard Seltzers. The Guava is a tropical flavor, essentially sunshine in a bottle. Black Cherry, my personal favorite, is the perfect mix of tart and bubbly that fits with any season.

If that’s not enough to bring you in, Blacklist is the first to offer axe throwing in Duluth! Blacklist has an axe manager and staff that will help coach you through the process. But you can only throw down if you’ve had a maximum of 2 drinks. It’s a popular activity for special occasions like bachelorette, birthday, and work parties.

You can order crowlers online for pick-up at their website above.

Ursa Minor Brewing

The idea for Ursa Minor Brewing was founded by two brothers who were joking around drinking beer by the fire. It is now one of the newest brew pubs in Duluth, located in the up-and-coming craft district of the West End of Duluth.  Located on Superior Street in Lincoln Park, Ursa Minor has a warehouse feel that spills into its outdoor beer garden through open garage doors.

Ursa Minor’s beers are known for their unique names, such as Beer-Ista, Ditch Monster, and Helmet Hair.  Other interesting brews are the Cherry Cream Float, a lactose sour; Constellation Cream, a cream ale; and S’more than Bear, a pastry stout. 

Ursa Minor has a fire pizza oven and serves piping hot pizzas along with their many brews.  All of their food is locally sourced from other small business.  They have regular live music and other events like the Wednesday night bike ride and brewery tours. 

You can pick up both crowlers and pizza via drive-thru pick-up from 12-8pm.

Carmody Irish Pub

Carmody Irish Pub is the little sibling of all the other breweries in Duluth, with only a 3-barrel system, but has a longstanding reputation with the locals.   It has been described more of a bar, than a brewery, but nevertheless many locals swear by their brews. 

Carmody Irish Pub is also known for its live music, both Celtic and modern.  20 minutes north of Duluth Carmody Irish Pub also has a location in Two Harbors, Carmody 61, where they serve great burgers as well as their brews.

Although Carmody is currently closed, they are staying creative by offering online pub quizzes via Facebook to keep in touch with customers.

But wait there’s more! Across the bridge that is…

If you decide to venture outside of Duluth, the surrounding areas are deep with breweries as well.  Just over the bridge in Superior, WI, the twin port to Duluth you have a couple options.

Thirsty Pagan Brewing 

Thirsty Pagan began brewing beer in 1996.  Recently, the Thirsty Pagan has just moved to a new location in the old depot station in Superior.  Thirsty Pagan has all manner of locally crafted brews, with catchy names, such as Hot to Trotsky Rye Ale and UFFDA Pale Ale.  Their beer range in type and alcohol content, so there is something for everyone. 

Don’t forget their gourmet deep-dish pizza, which is amazing and definitely worth crossing one of two bridges from Duluth to Superior, WI.  Thirsty Pagan is now serving gluten-free pizza on a cauliflower crust.  Also check out their homemade soup and other menu items, like salads or Sclavi’s meatball sub.   

Thirsty Pagan does delivery and pick-up for both food and drinks. Make sure to place your order in advance to avoid wait time.

Earth Rider Brewery/Cedar Lounge Taproom

Earth Rider Brewery began brewing with the Superior Pale in 2017, and went on to winning a bronze medal at the World Beer Cup in 2018 for the North Tower Stout.  They later won a gold medal for their Coffee Pale Ale in 2019 at the world’s largest beer festival (American Beer Festival).

Earth Rider produces over a dozen different kinds of beer, yet doing so in a sustainable fashion.  Their brews are also sold throughout much of Minnesota and Western Wisconsin.

Earth Rider Brewery also has a taproom located in the Cedar Lounge adjacent to the brewery, where you can sample all the beer that they have to offer, as well as other regular events such as trivia and music.  Nosh on pub pizza, pretzels, meat sticks made with their beer, or have food delivered.

The brewery is currently offering pickups from noon to 6 p.m., equipped with a plexiglass window to keep everyone safe. Earth Rider is also getting creative by offering virtual brewery tours and tastings on their Facebook page.

Castle Danger Brewery

Just twenty minutes north of Duluth is another great brewery, Castle Danger Brewery, in Castle Danger, MN.  They have been brewing beer since 2011.  Three years later they opened a new location in Two Harbors, complete with a tap room. Castle Danger and Two Harbors make an excellent day trip if you want to get out of the city. 

They have year-round brews, seasonal varieties, and their taproom series.   The Castle Cream Ale is definitely a standout, along with their many IPAs.  On the taproom series, try the Maple Marzen, a lager brewed with maple syrup. The taproom serves all their great brews and provides tours of the brewery. 

Hungry? Castle Danger focuses its attention on the brews, but serves chips and salsa or pretzels providing some salt to keep you thirsty for more brews.  You are also welcome to bring your own food, or check out their food truck schedule and there are many terrific local restaurants to get something to go.  On Tuesday nights, they have Mafia Trivia and live music on the weekends.

Currently Castle Danger is using this time to undergo renovations. However, you can still order from them online, and order over $5 include a free pint token once the taproom opens back up.

Beyond the Beer 

Not a fan of beer or in need of a change, Duluth is also home to alternative craft libations. 

Back in the Lincoln Park Craft District, you have two cideries within two blocks of each other. 

Duluth Cider

Best breweries in Duluth, Minnesota. Cider rack in DUluth on table.

Duluthians Valerie and husband Jake opened the first Cidery in Duluth, after touring Europe and learning the tricks of the trade. They opened their cidery and taproom in a historic 100-year-old building in Lincoln Park neighborhood of Duluth.  This building originally was the stables for the horses for the post office. 

Duluth Cider has sweet ciders like the aptly named, Eve, and Trailside, a strawberry basil cider. Or go dry with Fleur de Blanc, a Chardonnay oak-aged cider.  Don’t forget to try one of their more interesting blends such as Las Lajas, a coffee cider, or No. 24 a cherry chili cider.  There are several other varieties, so come taste them all.

The picture above-right are the ciders I tried in a flight.  I liked the Fleur de Blanc the best, but frankly they were all good.  The Chai was a perfect fall seasonal flavor, the Las Lajas was an interesting blend of cider with a coffee taste, and the No. 24 was a nice dry cider with a bite from the chili. 

Enjoy the cider during events such as Trivia night, bingo, and live music.  On Wednesdays, they have a good truck onsite for your culinary needs.  Duluth Cider does not serve food but welcomes and encourages outside food from other local small businesses. 

You can place orders online for delivery through their website. There is also a pick-up window at the Cidery.

Wild State Cider

Two short blocks west of Duluth Cider is the newest Duluth Cidery.  Owners Adam and Andrew met at summer camp, and partnered to share their love of cider.  Ciders range from semi-dry, semi-sweet, a dry rose’, and the Alpiner is a dry cider that aged in a whisky barrel from Vikre Distillery. 

Wild State Cider has weekly events such as bingo, trivia, food trucks, and live music.  Enjoy your cider inside the taproom or in their outdoor garden area, weather permitting.

Currently they are offering delivery to various cities (e-mail to place order). Wild State Cider is also offering virtual “The Office” trivia night to connect with the community!

Vikre Distillery 

Want something stronger than beer or cider? Located in the trendy Canal Park area of Duluth, Vikre Distillery is just the ticket.  Award-winning Vikre was the first and currently the only distillery in Duluth, but if the breweries or cideries in Duluth are any indication, we will be seeing more distilleries. 

Emily and Joel Vikre left their desk jobs on the East Coast to come home to Duluth to embark on this distilling adventure.  Vikre distils three different varieties of gin, juniper, cedar and spruce; as well as vodka and two kids of aquavit.  

They now have branched out into whiskey, rye, and single malt scotch.  Coming soon is a second type of rye, and a bourbon.  Paying homage to the drink French 75, Vikre now produces Frenchie Cocktail in a can.  It blends gin, rose’ and bulbs into a tasty and refreshing portable drink.

Vikre is sold in many stores in Minnesota and throughout the United States.  You will see their bottles lining many of the local bars, but the best place to try one of Vikre’s spirits in in their very own cocktail room where you can try one of many creative cocktails featuring Vikre’s libations. 

Vikre may take the cake for getting the most creative during these times. To start, Vikre is offering take-away cocktail kits that can be picked up on site. They are also making home-made hand sanitizing, which sells out almost instantly! Lastly, their Facebook page offers “cocktail classes” to teach you more about mixology at home.

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about the author

Carolyn Bruno calls Duluth home, and just so happens to call Alex (aka The Mindful Mermaid) her daughter. A criminal defense lawyer by day, she loves exploring the best bites and drinks around Duluth by night. She’s an avid reader, traveler, and momager.

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READ MORE:   20 Unique Things to do in Duluth, MN

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