Learning More about Ursa Minor’s Brewing Philosophy
Getting to Know Lincoln Park’s Newest Brewery
I recently stopped by Ursa Minor Brewing’s new location in Duluth’s Lincoln Park Craft District to check in with the guys and see how things were progressing with their build-out. We sat down and sipped some beer that I’d brought back from a recent trip to the East Coast – a bourbon barrel stout from Allagash Brewing Company in Portland, ME. The beer was delicious and the conversation was fun. At some point I made a smart decision and turned on a voice recorder to get a brief interview.
What follows is an excerpt of my conversation with Mark Hugus (Head of Brewing Operations), Ben Hugus (Chief of Operations), and Andrew Scrignoli (General Manager).
Dave Grandmaison (DG): Give us a feel for what Ursa Minor is all about.
Ben Hugus (BH): Our brand is Comfort Beer and it really all starts with our mission. Our mission is to unite people through incredible craft beer and give people genuine experiences, meaningful connections, and a chance to give back to the community around them. We’re building Ursa Minor Brewery for people. It’s a place for people to meet and engage and the beer is our platform to help that happen.
DG: You use words such as relatable, innovative, purposeful and locally-minded to describe your brewing philosophy. What does that mean in practice?
BH: Our beer is meant for everyone to enjoy – whether your a craft beer guru or someone who just made the switch to hand-crafted beverages. You can understand the flavors and what our styles are all about. We’re a small-batch system and we have the ability to continually try new things. We’re making beers to be new and exciting for Duluthians.
Mark Hugus (MH): We’ll have the taproom system set up so it’s easy to have anywhere from 12 to 24 beers. So we can kind of do what we want.
BH: Yeah. We want to keep a level of experimentation alive because that’s what craft beer is all about. We also want to keep our beers purposeful. We always want to have a reason. Locally-minded means using local ingredients and supporting local businesses.
MH: Locally-minded also applies to using ingredients from a style’s place of origin.
DG: Using authentic ingredients that define a style.
(Andrew Scrignoli) AS: Exactly. And the same approach goes into our Neapolitan pizza. For example, our flour might be imported flour from Italy but the mushrooms on top and the other ingredients will be a mix of local – in origin, and local Duluth ingredients.
DG: Tell me about the logo. What’s the story behind it and where did it come from.
BH: The reason we connect with Ursa Minor comes down to the North Star. Craft beer has been our guiding light – like the North Star has been for people for millennia. And craft beer, for us, has been the direction in our lives… what we’re passionate about… what we want to utilize to give back to the people around us. You know, like Lincoln Park, Duluth as a whole, our families. We’re not in this to be millionaires, we’re in this to support our families and do something cool for people around us.
DG: How important is Lincoln Park to you guys?
BH: I think it’s critical. The attitude down here… towards making things with your hands. Brining that back to the area. That’s what Duluth was built on. You know, manufacturing and in our own little way we’re able to do that. There are so many other like-minded people and businesses that made us feel very welcome. We explored a few other communities and this is where we felt like we belonged.
DG: What do you make of all the excitement swirling around Lincoln Park these days?
BH: You know, Duluth is kind of rebranding itself. It’s in the midst of a small-business revolution. Young people, like us, are starting new businesses. And other existing businesses that have been through the hard times are rebranding themselves and brining things around. It’s really fun to be a part of and that’s why we’ve always felt at home in Duluth and Lincoln Park especially.
BH: Things are moving. We’re getting closer and closer. Tell people to stop by and say “hi”. Check us out. We just got off the phone with our sign guy so there should be a sign going up on the front of the building. It’ll have the bear hop on the outside and then large white acrylic lettering on the front of the building. Then the lights go up. There’s no turning back at this point.
It was fun to catch up with Mark, Ben, and Andrew and great to learn more about the “why” behind their project. The excitement is certainly building for Ursa Minor and we look forward to their success in Lincoln Park.