Duluth, Your gateway to the North Shore & Lake Superior travel in Minnesota
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Duluth has a long history of beer brewing, but what are the current best breweries in Duluth, MN to visit? Read on to find out which ones are the must stop breweries for the best beer in Duluth, MN!
About Duluth, MN
Duluth is considered “up north” if you’re from the state of Minnesota. Pretty much the whole part of the state that uses the area code 218 is considered “up north”. Where the winters are cold but the summers are beautiful and the views no matter the season are top notch.
Duluth, Minnesota is an easy drive from the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul by heading north on 35W. Depending on where exactly you’re leaving from in the metro area, the time of day (and if there’s traffic) the drive usually takes about 2 1/2- 3 hours. Holiday weekends in the summer and especially Friday evenings when everyone wants to get in some cabin/camping/lake time you better account for some extra transit time. Duluth is also really easily accessible from Bemidji or the Mesabi iron range (Grand Rapids, Coleraine, Hibbing) as a straight shot east on Hwy 2.
Duluth is a gorgeous town and a perfect weekend getaway from many locations in the state. From the dramatic shores of Lake Superior and rolling hills to perch a top and have a view out over the lake and beyond it’s truly stunning in every season. It’s located just across the bridge from Superior, Wisconsin. Duluth truly has something for everyone, the scenic views to take in, sites to see, things do as well as great restaurants & of course craft breweries! (I mean that last one is pretty much the main reason you’re here, right?)
So definitely make your way up to Duluth for at least a day and then continue on up the North Shore of Lake Superior for some hiking, skiing or camping (depending on the time of year!) The Duluth and North Shore area of the state boast so many things to draw in visitors.
The History of Beer in Duluth
The beer brewing industry isn’t a new or trendy thing in Duluth, it just looks a little different these days. Duluth has been in the beer brewing industry since 1859 which is right around the time . The current craft beer scene has definitely evolved. No matter what brewery you’re talking about one thing is the same superior ingredients (lake superior water) see what I did there?! make great beer. So, be sure to try some of these delicious brews your next time in town or enroute to a Lake Superior/North Shore adventure. Now lets get to the best part, the beer and best breweries in Duluth, MN!
The Best Breweries in Duluth, MN
Fitgers is Minnesota’s oldest brewpub so that in and of itself is really cool! (If you’re into beer and history that is.) Plus their food is really legit! One of my favorite things on the menu is their wild rice burger. Wild rice is abundant in Minnesota as it has more acres of natural rice than any other state in the country. This is definitely something that you could bring home as a unique souvenir from your time in Minnesota.
This brew pub also holds a lot of memories for me personally. It was one of the places I always had to go to when I was in Duluth even if it was just to grab a growler (when most places still filled growlers!) of my favorite apricot wheat beer. I remember going there prior to a beer fest with friends and I actually ate lunch there with my (now husband) prior to getting engaged at Gooseberry Falls just north of Duluth.
Fitgers actually has an Inn located in the same historic building as well. Click here to check it out! I’ve never stayed there but would love to at some point. I mean, what’s better than grabbing beer at one of the best breweries in Duluth, MN and actually staying really close? That’s a winning combination for a beer cation in my opinion!
It’s no surprise that Bent Paddle is one of the best breweries in Duluth, MN as it’s one of the most well known Duluth breweries across the entire state. They distribute much of their beer all across all of Minnesota. Again, this brewery holds nostalgia for me as their cold press black (coffee beer) was one of my go to selections for many years.
When they first opened they were in a smaller space but they have since upgraded. After getting engaged, we had a few celebratory beers here at the old location. I am still fond of their new space, they have one of the coziest taprooms. I just love their big booths although in a large space seem somewhat private and you can truly relax. Located really close to OMC Smokehouse, getting takeout from there and enjoying it with your brews makes for a perfect afternoon or evening.
Located off of East Superior street on the opposite side of 35W from Lake Superior and just a hop skip and a jump from the canal park area in Duluth, Black List is truly a destination that will appeal to anyone.
They offer beer, seltzer, snacks & even axe throwing. This would be a great destination for an event or party. Their “Kind of a Big Dill” pickle flavored beer is great in the taproom or to take home and make a bloody mary later.
In my opinion, Hoops is my absolute favorite brewery in Duluth, MN. It’s located in the historic canal park area and had an amazing cherry pie beer when I was last there. I was very surprised how great their taplist was for being a newer Duluth brewery in comparison to some OG’s.
Like many taprooms, Hoops allows you to bring your own food into the beer hall and even offers suggestions. My suggestion would be to order sandwiches from Northern Waters Smokehaus. They will deliver directly to Hoops! Also, the smoked salmon is phenomenal! You really can’t go wrong with any of their wraps, sandwiches or salads. Just thinking about the sandwich I had there is making my mouth water. Seriously! It’s that good, don’t snooze on eating there while you’re in Duluth, MN at one of the best breweries!
The thing I liked the most about Ursa Minor was the fact that they had quite a bit of both indoor and outdoor space. We visited in the winter and they had fire pits outside on the patio. Seriously if that’s not the most Minnesotan thing ever, I don’t know what is!
We chose to sit inside in the tap room, my favorite part of their taproom was the etched maps into the table tops of the Duluth area. I’m such a nerd for maps, anytime I’m going somewhere I look things up on maps in relation to other things and I used to study places I really wanted to go back in college on Google Earth. Maybe that’s why I like trip and travel planning so much?
Anyway, we’re talking about beer here and Ursa Minor had a huge amount of taps available. That’s always great when you’re visiting a brewery to have a lot of variety so everyone in your group will be happy. From lagers & cream ales, to sours, imperial stouts and IPA’s there truly was something for any palate.
I’ll be honest, I’m not usually a huge cider fan as it always tends to get to sweet and make my stomach hurt. But, Wild State Cider is way different! It’s so light, crisp and refreshing. Especially the different fruit infusions, even those weren’t too sweet. Some of the more dry versions to me tasted more like wine vs. cider.
Wild State Cider has a beautiful taproom and both indoor and outdoor space and offers a lot of great events regularly as well. So, even if you’re like me and somewhat skeptical of cider give Wild State a try!
Duluth & beyond
Whether you’re using Duluth as a home base or spring board for North Shore adventures or Duluth is your ultimate destination there are a few tap rooms to keep in mind up the North Shore.
Castle Danger Brewery is located in Two Harbors just under 30 miles north of Duluth and 15 miles from Gooseberry Falls State Park. Gooseberry Falls State Park is so beautiful especially in the summer and fall. It’s definitely worth a stop at Castle Danger if you’re planning on day tripping up to Gooseberry. It would be the perfect cap to an afternoon of hiking!
Voyageur Brewing Company is located in Grand Marais which is over 100 miles north of Duluth. I would save venturing to Voyageur if you’re basing yourself along the North Shore of Lake Superior as it’s definitely more than just a little more than just a day trip from Duluth. Besides, Duluth has so much to offer you want to be sure you’re taking full advantage and exploring all of the great breweries in Duluth!
Are you heading straight to Duluth or flying into the metro area and spending time in Minneapolis/St. Paul? Be sure to check out the details in Best Breweries in the Twin Cities as well! Every adventure is better when you add beer-ventures!
For more Minnesota travel ideas beyond just delicious brews be sure to check out my comprehensive Minnesota travel guide as well as my post Things to do in Duluth, MN. Cheers!