Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Duluth Experience Saturday Evening Brewery Tour Review

For this post, I'm not looking at any sort of beer (sort of.) Instead I'm doing a review of my Saturday Evening Brewery I did with The Duluth Experience a couple of weeks ago. You'd think that will all the contact I've had with these guys that I would've been on a tour of theirs. In reality, I had been meaning to go on a tour for some time but obligations kept getting in the way. Finally a couple of weeks ago, I found myself free for a Saturday night and signed up for a brewery tour.

Our tour group met at Fitger's Brewhouse where Tim, our tour guide and all-around awesome guy, discussed our itinerary for the evening:
  • Vikre Distillery - A distillery that recently opened in Duluth
  • Bent Paddle Brewing - Duluth's newest production brewery that has experienced exceptional growth since opening last year
  • Fitger's Brewhouse - Synonymous with the term "Duluth Beer", it is considered to be the benchmark of brewpubs in the State of Minnesota 
  • Lake Ave Cafe - Restaurant located in Canal Park for dinner

Our first stop for the evening was Vikre Distillery, which opened it's doors in Canal Park earlier this year. I did find it a bit funny that we started a brewery tour by touring a distillery, but what better place to see yet another emerging growth in the Minnesota distilling industry than here?

During the tour, we were shown the equipment used to make their gin & aquavit and I have to say, I was surprised as to how much work had to go into making it. We also got a whiff of the heads, heart and tails of distilling and man, that was strong! We were even told that drinking the "heads" could cause us to go blind if consumed. They also showed off the barrels they were using to age their single malt whiskey and I cannot wait to try it out when they bottle it 10 years from now.

Afterwards, we got to sample some of the gin and aquavit in the tasting room and by far, my favorite was the Cedar Gin; It was nice, smooth and the best way to describe the flavor is that it tasted like Christmas!

I know I run a blog about beer, but the tour of Vikre really gave me a great appreciation of Minnesota's growing distilling industry. I will definitely be paying more attention to our state's distilling industry in future, I think it's the next big thing honestly.

After leaving Vikre, we drove up to the Enger Park Skyline where we learned more about the history of Duluth and we were able to catch a gorgeous view of the Twin Ports. Nothing like a little education in-between drinks!

After taking in the sights, we made our way down to Bent Paddle Brewing (which you can actually see from the skyline) to take a tour of the brewery.  Before walking in, we each received a nice souvenir glass that we would using for the remainder of the tour. Now I've been to the Bent Paddle taproom many times before but I have never  been beyond the giant door on the north side of the taproom so I was very eager to see what the actual set up looked like.

While the Bent Paddle tour guide was giving us a tour and telling us a detailed story about Bent Paddle's history, I was absolutely floored with how big the set-up looked. From the kettles to the fermentation tanks; From the canning line to the wall of cans and stacks of Jack Daniels barrels, I felt really small compared to everything else. The best part was when I ran out of beer to drink, one of the Duluth Experience guys was quick and prompt to refill our glasses.

After we concluded our tour, we made our way to what I consider to be ground zero of the Duluth Craft Beer Scene: Fitger's Brewhouse. Now considering the fact that I live literally a few blocks from the Brewhouse and consider myself a frequent patron, I wasn't expecting too much; I was wrong. From the get-go, we learned about history of the August Fitger Brewing Company, it's closure in 1971, and it's revival in 1994.

Just by looking at the set-up, you could see all of the organic growth the Brewhouse had experienced over the past 20 years and it was really awesome to see where my favorite brewhouse beers were made. It really made me proud to have such a great brewery just a short walk from my place of residence. And of course, the tour guides were prompt with refills as well.

Finishing up at Fitger's, we made out way to the Lake Avenue Cafe for a wonderful dinner paired with Blacklist Brewing's Or De Belgique Verte where we talked amongst ourselves amidst the evening storm raging outside. After dinner, we went back to Fitger's to conclude our evening tour.

I knew Duluth was a great city for beer before, but this tour was an absolutely wonderful insight into just how passionate this city is about their beer. In fact, tours like these are one of the reasons why I am proud to call Duluth my home!

If you are a beer geek or have a passing interest in craft beer in general, then you absolutely owe it to yourself to go on a Duluth Experience tour. You will learn so much and gain a much greater appreciation of all the hard work that goes into a wonderful beer that you drink. As such, I would highly recommend The Duluth Experience Brewery Tour to anyone who either lives in Duluth or anyone who is just visiting. 
If you'd like to book a tour, simply visit to set up a brewery tour. If brewery tours aren't your thing, they also offer history and kayaking tours just to name a few. The guys at The Duluth Experience are proud of what this great city has to offer and it really showed throughout the entire tour.

No comments:

Post a Comment