The Business of Craft Beer & The Drink of Opportunity

Craft Beer Roundtable Duluth

Brewery Owners (left to right): Rockie Kavajecz, Steve Knauss, Bryon Tonnis, Tim Nelson, and Ed Gleason with moderator Paul Helstrom.

The craft beer industry is expanding – nationally, regionally, and locally. Why? What makes the North Shore Craft Beer Scene so unique? What is all the buzz about? Watch the trailer:

What better way to learn about the business of craft beer in Northern Minnesota than by talking with the owners of our local breweries? On Sunday March 23rd, 2014 craft beer enthusiasts got the rare opportunity to listen to (and participate in!) a candid conversation about the craft beer industry with the owners of five local North Shore breweries. The discussion, hosted by The Duluth Experience, covered a variety of poignant topics including:

  • Duluth’s first steps into the craft beer industry after over 2 decades without a local brewery.
  • The political, legal, and financial challenges to starting a brewery and how those challenges have changed over the past 20 years.
  • Differences in the business climate between Minnesota and Wisconsin.
  • How the craft beer consumer has changed over the past 20 years.
  • The interconnected web that forms the foundation of the North Shore Craft Beer Scene.

Brewery owners Rockie Kavajecz (Canal Park Brewing Co.), Steve Knauss (Thirsty Pagan Brewing), Bryon Tonnis (Bent Paddle Brewing Co.), Tim Nelson (Fitger’s Brewhouse), and Ed Gleason (Carmody Irish Pub & Brewing) joined moderator Paul Helstrom (The Duluth Experience) for a fun afternoon of discussion – sipping beers on stage with an enthusiastic audience eager to soak in the personal stories and gain insight on the tireless efforts these local businessmen have expended to create their careers in craft brewing. In chatting with the Roundtable attendees after the event, that message in particular resonated with the audience – the deep motivation that these business owners had (and still have) to create an successful industry, to excel at their craft, and to push Duluth to the forefront of the Midwest craft beer industry. They have achieved so much… and there is – according to the owners – room for expansion.

This is a great time to be a beer drinker, no doubt.

Towards the end of the event, Paul opened up the floor to the audience who posed some challenging questions directly to the panel with topics ranging to the influence of the home brewing community to creative funding ideas like equity crowd sourcing.

Craft Beer Brewing

Local brewers, homebrewers, and craft beer enthusiasts join in on the conversation.

After the event the audience and panel members spilled out into the lobby of Teatro Zuccone for continued discussion and a group of folks later ended up at Carmody’s Irish Pub for a complimentary pint. As a planner of the event, this fun-filled afternoon far exceeded our wildest expectations for the event (I couldn’t help myself but throw around a bunch of hugs in the lobby afterwards… and even more at Carmody’s later that day).

If you missed this inaugural Roundtable event, don’t worry – we recorded the entire discussion and posted highlights from the event on our YouTube Channel.

For more information on the local breweries visit our Brewery Affiliates Page.

For more information on The Duluth Experience Brewery Tours visit: Brewery Tour Page.

For more information about the event visit: The North Shore Craft Beer Roundtable Page.

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