Kind of a Big Deal
Support #DuluthBeerCity with your Vote!
It’s time to voice your support for the North Shore’s amazing craft beer community. We’ve highlighted each of the local breweries and businesses nominated for this year’s Kind of a Big Deal Reader’s Choice Awards and we’ve included the Growler’s description of the categories. If you have additional local favorites that did not make it on the ballot feel free to name drop in the comments below. If you’re unfamiliar with any of our local beers then you’ve got some fun work to do!
*No registration with the Growler is required to vote.
Here is a break-down of the local nominees for the Growler’s 2014 Kind of a Big Deal Reader’s Choice Awards:
[box_title class=”” border=”middle” ]Best Craft Beer Bar – Greater MN / Western WI[/box_title]
Growler: Good beer bars have exploded outside the Metro. The demand for great suds extends far outside the suburbs, and bars are happy to meet the demand. They might cater to cabin traffic, or happily souse the locals. Either way, they’re evidence of a craft beer scene reaching every corner of the upper Midwest.
- 7 West Taphouse – These folks are dedicated to offering a wide selection of craft beers representing a lot of different styles. Check out their impressive menu of local, regional, and national craft beer selections.
- Tycoons Alehouse – Find your favorite Brewhouse beers, great local and regional bands, and great food in Duluth’s old City Hall. Bonus: head down to the Rathskeller for an amazing lineup of craft beers… some of which you can’t find anywhere else in Minnesota!
[box_title class=”” border=”middle” ]Best Bottle Shop – Greater MN / Western WI[/box_title]
Growler: There’s no part of the state the craft beer hasn’t reached. A few years ago, the stores out by the cabin might have only stocked pallets of Keystone Light. Now, thanks to them, we’re heading out to the lake with sixers of Bent Paddle and a lambic from New Glarus. Cheers to the best shops way outside the Metro for ensuring we don’t have to stock a bunch of coolers before heading out of town.
- Warehouse Liquor – Duluth’s best stop for craft beer, Warehouse boasts an impressive selection of individually priced singles most of which are from the upper midwest. Service is great and the staff are well versed in the craft beer inventory.
- Keyport Liquor – Jump over the bridge and hit Keyport for a great selection of craft beer and an impressively stocked walk-in cooler. Bring a few empty growlers and fill them up at their growler station!
[box_title class=”” border=”middle” ]Best Brewpub[/box_title]
Growler: Brewpubs are a boozy love letter to the neighborhood. They can’t distribute their beer, and, in fact, many of them don’t want to. They’d rather create a place for the block to relax, sip something they can’t find anywhere else, and eat some delicious food while doing it. Brewpubs aren’t out for world domination. They’re just trying to please the locals, and these are the ones doing it best.
- Fitger’s Brewhouse – C’mon… this one’s a no-brainer. Great food… award winning beer (thanks Mr. Hoops)… a cool mix of local regulars and well-informed visitors… an eclectic lineup of great music. The Brewhouse is a at the top of the list for the craft beer aficionado.
[box_title class=”” border=”middle” ]Best Minnesota Craft Distillery[/box_title]
Growler: Operating a distillery isn’t easy. It requires years of planning, organizing, and paperwork. Distillers must have all their equipment set up and a federal license before they can make even the first drop of booze. Despite that, 2014 was a boom for local craft spirits. Here’s to the distillers who took the leap of faith to keep us in good spirits.
- Vikre Distillery – Duluth’s newest addition to the craft-scene and makers of an amazing lineup of gins & aquavit… Emily & Joel Vikre have something special going on in Canal Park. They have a beautiful space and have started barrel-aging their whiskey. You’ll have to wait a few years for the whiskey but in the meantime, you’ve got some amazing spirits to keep you busy!
[box_title class=”” border=”middle” ]Best Minnesota Craft Spirit[/box_title]Growler: The first wave of local distillers are defining what it means to be a Minnesota spirit. We’ve been treated to a wide variety of botanical mixes in gin, all sorts of grainy flavors of vodka, some whiskies, and even rums. It’ll be a while before aged spirits come out of Minnesota in full force. So let’s toast to these preliminary runs, a fine mix of spirits indeed.
- Vikre’s Boreal Cedar Gin – This amazing spirit is infused with the smoky aroma of cedar wood, citrusy wild sumac, and a trace of black currant. The Vikre Team forages the Northwoods for wild botanicals, use local grains and handcrafted oak barrels… and don’t forget the clean cold water of Lake Superior.
[box_title class=”” border=”middle” ]Best Brewery Tour Given by a Brewery[/box_title]
Growler: You might not know about decoction mashing, glycol jacketing, or six-row barley. But our local brewers do, and they’re eager to explain. An essential component of the craft beer revolution is public education. So here’s to the brewers that go out of their way to open their breweries to let us in on the secrets of craft beer.
- Bent Paddle Brewing Co. – We work closely with the folks at Bent Paddle and can vouch for the amazing tours given by folks like Mike Miley and Neil Caron. They guys aren’t just tour guides… they’ve got a deep wealth of knowledge from their own experience in the North Shore brewing scene. Top-notch tours and a true pleasure to work with.
[box_title class=”” border=”middle” ]Best Multi-Brewery Tour Company[/box_title]
Growler: With so much fine craft beer to sample, how can a person experience it all? That’s where our favorite boozy tour guides come in. They scout, organize, prepare, and keep up to date, so all we have to do is sit back and enjoy the ride. Cheers to the tour guides for taking our keys and giving us the opportunity to see a wider swath of the fermented city.
- The Duluth Experience – Ok… well obviously we’d be endorsing ourselves for this one. But seriously… if you’ve joined us for a brewery tour you know how we add the special touch to personalize your experience and introduce you to the past, present, and future of the North Shore Craft Beer Scene. We’re proud of what we do and we hope you’ll vote for us. Thanks!
[box_title class=”” border=”middle” ]Best Bartender[/box_title]
Growler: Good bartenders wear many hats. They can be salespeople, a traffic cops, psychologists and comedians, all within the span of a single order. They’re also arbiters of taste—the last line between the consumer and the booze—giving expert opinions on their available stocks. They can mix a fine martini with one hand and ring up a check with the other. These are the folks you want behind the bar.
- Broc Allen – If you’ve ever been to the Fitger’s Brewhouse, chances are Broc Allen has poured you a pint. He’s usually talking beer with the bar patrons and you can identify him by his ponytail and boisterous voice.
[box_title class=”” border=”middle” ]Best Homebrew Club[/box_title]
The Twin Cities brewery boom didn’t happen randomly overnight. It percolated in basements and garages, where a few beer drinkers considered what was available and tried to do better. These like-minded individuals began congregating, sharing, and collaborating. They exchanged notes and more than a few pints, and democratized the beverage we love. So here’s to the best homebrew clubs, fermenting the creativity of Minnesota’s future commercial brewers.
- Northern Alestars – This is one of the most knowledgeable group of folks we’ve ever met when it comes to the craft of homebrew. We’ve lost track but there are at least 4 of the Alestars are certified as national judges through BJCP. This group has played an important role in the Twin Ports craft beer scene with some of their members going on to work for our local breweries. They are amazing folks and fun as heck – their Great Northern Brew-Ha-Ha is not to be missed.
[box_title class=”” border=”middle” ]Best Beard in the MN Beer Community[/box_title]
Here in the state of Paul Bunyan, beards have become as ubiquitous as IPAs. Besides the important face insulation for half the year, beards give our community its personality. And some are as wild as an imperial chocolate hefeweizen. Here they are, the best beards in local brew.
- Bjorn Erikson – the picture says it all.
[box_title class=”” border=”middle” ]Best Beer Tattoo[/box_title]
Tattoos are an indelible statement of personality. They’re conversation starters. They’re memories made permanent. The brewers and servers of the Twin Cities have some most impressive body art. Here are your favorites.
- Brian Schanzenbach – yah… nice ink.
Now Let’s Get to the Beers!
There are a lot of great breweries and great beers in Minnesota and while we see some glaring omissions in the craft beer portion of the ballot, we are excited to see Duluth represented in a number of categories. As we build more awareness for the North Shore Craft Beer Scene we hope to see future ballots with more of our amazing breweries.
Fitger’s Brewhouse is nominated for the following categories:
- Fruit/Spice Beer – Apricot Wheat
- Wheat Beer – Apricot Wheat (for both “Minnesota” and “Overall” categories)
- Pale Ale/Session Ale Seasonal – Starfire
Bent Paddle is nominated for the following categories:
- Lager/Pilsner – Venture Pils
- IPA – Bent Hop
- Porter – Black Ale
- Pale Ale/Session Ale Seasonal – Daypack Pale
- Summer Seasonal – Paddle Break Blonde