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Hoops on hops: Brewing way up north

Dave Hoops lives in Duluth and is a veteran brewer and beer judge. (Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com)

As the leaves start to turn, folks will head north to check out the fall colors. Those who want to grab a beer can pick from the many great Minnesota breweries that are flourishing or about to open north of the Twin Ports.

Bemidji Brewing Co., Bemidji

The four-year-old brewery has been a very popular and successful endeavor. The beers have been well-received locally and their sour beer program has quickly made them a go-to brewery statewide. They've also received national attention with their awards from the Great American Beer Festival.

Boathouse Brewpub, Ely

Local support and tourism in Ely have supported the Boathouse since they opened 10 years ago. They have seven rotating taps with a "come and see what's on tap attitude," which serves them well. When asked about all the new breweries in the north, Boathouse head brewer Ben Storbeck said, "A rising tide lifts us all." He also mentioned the destination brewery model that tourists and locals alike enjoy and in Ely it's a way of life.

Boomtown Brewery, Hibbing

This brewpub plans on opening in the coming months. Owned by the folks that run the Whistling Bird in Gilbert and the BoomTown Woodfire Bar & Grill in Eveleth, this seven-barrel brewpub will produce a wide variety of styles that will cover the spectrum. The beer will be served at all three of their locations. According to owner Erik Lietz, the response from the community has been overwhelmingly positive. An all-American made stainless system and with an experienced brewer in place to man the operation should provide beer lovers a great new locally produced option.

Castle Danger Brewery, Two Harbors

Clint and Jamie McFarlane, both born and raised in Two Harbors, opened Castle Danger in 2011. Their families have a long history in the Two Harbors area, dating back to the late-1890s. The couple's love for the outdoors, family, friends and, of course, Lake Superior, ultimately brought them back to their roots. The brewery expanded to the beautiful downtown Two Harbors space in 2014. Since then, Castle Danger has expanded rapidly with many well-brewed styles revolving around their flagship Cream Ale.

Gunflint Tavern, Grand Marais

This 20-plus year institution recently added a five-barrel brewery. The very popular pub in downtown Grand Marais has an amazing view of the harbor from the new upstairs deck. Go check — it's worth the drive.

Klockow Brewing, Grand Rapids

Klockow plans to open in October and is owned by husband-and-wife team Tasha and Andy Klockow. Andy previously brewed at the very popular and forward-thinking brewery, Hammerheart in Lino Lakes, Minn. The couple wanted to move closer to their roots (Tasha is a Grand Rapids native). They've received huge support from the community and local homebrewers, and they found a great site along the main drag on South Pokegama Avenue. They have an 8.5 bbl brewery and will focus on fleets of beers rather than flagships. Look for all styles including long aging beers like barrel aged and sours as well as the classics. Distribution will be local, and some will go to Wisconsin where Andy hails from.

Loony's Brewpub, Ranier, Minn.

A 2.5-barrel brewpub located on Rainy Lake in Ranier, Loony's opened in 2016 and is run by brothers Matt and Paul Kavan. The new pub has become popular quickly amongst locals. The brewery focuses on local ingredients as much as possible and especially on the water, which is great for lager beers. They offer live music and a casual, fun vibe.

Rapids Brewing, Grand Rapids

Rapids Brewing Company is a brewery in planning at the intersection of

Highways 2 and 169 near the Mississippi River in downtown Grand Rapids. The brewery will make beer for North Central Minnesota and the Iron Range areas of Minnesota's lakes region. Beer styles will excite north woods' craft beer lovers, and draft beer is expected to be delivered to local retail accounts by mid-2018.

Voyageur Brewing Company, Grand Marais

Grand Marais is very fortunate to have two great places to enjoy handcrafted beer brewed on site within a block of each other! Voyageur Brewing is a three-year-old brewery on the main drag on Highway 61. The building is inviting and the very cool vibe inside is friendly and warm.

We northern Minnesota beer lovers have never had more options and great places to visit. Get out this fall and drop in at these far-north breweries.

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