The concentration of breweries in Northeast Minneapolis sometimes gives the misconception that all of our breweries are there. They even get the annual Autumn Brew Review festival to highlight that, but a different city has already been declared the craft beer capital of Minnesota, and that is Duluth. The city hosts of the fourth annual All Pints North Festival this Saturday.
With roughly 100 breweries and 3,000 attendees (most of whom are Minnesota based), it’s time to take a look at the city’s thriving beer scene. Fitger’s Brewhouse has been open since 1995. Lake Superior Brewing, Bent Paddle, Blacklist, and more breweries dot the north shoreline. For All Pints North, the kegs and firkins head north, peppering Bayfront Festival Park with beer, live music, food vendors, and a uniquely Minnesotan experience.
Started in 2012, All Pints North has grown in parallel with the local industry. That first year it featured 35 breweries, tripling that figure in 2015. Born of Duluth’s strong scene, the laid back setting on Lake Superior sets it apart from other festivals. "All Pints North has a classic Minnesota feel," explains Dan Schwarz, President of the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild (who sponsor the event) and also a co-founder of Lift Bridge Brewing in Stillwater. "The summertime setting on the shores of Lake Superior amps up the ‘Minnesota’ vibe," he says, adding, "And the weather delivers a special quality that ties in so well with enjoying a craft beer." The lakefront atmosphere also swells with the jovial crowd.
"What’s nice about being a home town brewery," says Brian Schanzenbach at Blacklist, who will be attending their third All Pints North this year, "Is that we get a chance to be up close and personal with the awesome Duluthians that support us so well." The brewery, who is currently building a taproom, will have four of their own beers available for sampling. But, the event isn’t just a way to introduce their Belgian-inspired beers to aficionados from across the state, it’s a way to celebrate their city. While in town, Schanzenbach recommends that visitors check out Fitger’s and, more importantly, spend a day on the lake.
Twin Cities based GetKnit Events has built a bus package that not only features the festival, but the host city. "We have a strong relationship with the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild and the Greater Minnesota brewing community, so this was a great way to support and work alongside them," says GetKnit’s Matt Plank." Their sold out tour package focuses on hitting other stops in Duluth, highlighting the same larger purpose that makes All Pints North so distinct. Hotels in town are booked with beer fans and the city will reap the reward. "We strive to work with as many local businesses as we can," Plank summarizes, explaining how a beer festival can reach well beyond Bayfront Festival Park to showcase an entire community.
Breweries include: Blacklist, Bent Paddle, Lake Superior, Fitger’s, Borealis Fermentory, Castle Danger, Door County, Lagunitas, MKE, Sleeping Giant, Lift Bridge, Fulton, Surly, and more.
- by Loren Green