By Emily Weiss
We’re all familiar with wine and cheese pairings, their decidedly masculine equivalent of scotch and cigar parties, and of course any dabbler worth their salt knows the boundless pleasure of matching the right beer with its ideal burger mate, but let us venture outside the realm of food and smokes and think about how and where a summer beer is truly best enjoyed: in the great outdoors. We’re playing yenta with year-round and seasonal brews from Duluth, Minnesota’s fastest-growing brewery and brewpub-centric tourist destination, by pairing them with the unparalleled views, exhilarating hikes/bikes/paddles, and the many serene camping spots that the Lake Superior area has to offer.
Dubrue Brewery’s India Black Ale //
Biking the Willard Munger State Trail
Opened in the summer of 2011, Dubrue (get it?) is a growing operation that currently produces two different styles of beer. A little birdie at Dubrue revealed they are planning to start growler sales this summer, but the date is tentative so you may want to consider pushing your trip into the fall if having your own supply on hand is an absolute must. Otherwise there are plenty of bars in Duluth that have this lightly-toasted, slightly nutty, floral-noted IBA on tap, including Carmodies Irish Pub (downtown Duluth), Zeitgeist Arts Cafe (downtown Duluth) and Pizza Luce, all conveniently located not too far off scenic Willard Munger State Trail. Bike on the longest paved trail in the world, and take the northeast part of the trail to experience truly amazing views of the Duluth and Superior ports. That should sufficiently work up a thirst for this IBA, which Dubrue characterizes with citrus flavors of grapefruit and lemon, balanced with a strong malt background.
Fitger’s Brewhouse’s Superior Trail IPA //
Hiking the Superior Hiking Trail
So this one is a little on the nose, but it may also be the most classic of all our matchups—proof that birds of a feather not only stick together, but sometimes soar together too. Pick up a growler of Superior Trail IPA or any one of Fitger’s craft beers right from the brewhouse or beer store, both located in the giant, unmissable Fitger’s complex at 600 E. Superior St. Sharp notes of pine echo the fresh breath of the same scent that hits you when you’re hiking on the trail, while honey and pineapple tones give a rounder finish to this medium-bodied, utterly drinkable summer beer.
Castle Danger Brewery’s Danger Ale //
Camping at Paradise Beach
In many trips, visiting many campsites, in many different areas along the Lake Superior coast, never have I slept so soundly or woken up more refreshed than when staying on the pebble shore of Paradise Beach. This spot is about 10 miles north of Grand Marais on the Lakewalk and is the only section of the Superior Hiking Trail that’s on the beach of Lake Superior. It’s a little hard to find, which is a big part of its untouched charm, but once you’re there, the best and really only worthwhile thing left to do, is to set up your Crazy Creek, get a fire going, crack open a beer, and drink in the sheer vastness of it all. Maybe it’s counterintuitive, but we think such a peaceful atmosphere actually calls for a beer with a bit of an edge. You can get a fine one less than an hour’s drive from Duluth traveling north on Highway 61 at Castle Danger Brewery in Castle Danger, Minnesota, a tiny unincorporated community that lies between the historic logging and fishing towns of Two Harbors and Beaver Bay. Their Danger Ale is an American-style strong ale with subtly bitter and grassy notes that pours clear and copper-colored into the glass. It’s available in growlers from the brewery, but if you can’t wait to haul it all the way home to give it a try, it’s also on tap at Dunnigan’s Pub and Grub and Kamloops at Superior Shores, both located in Two Harbors, Minnesota.
Lake Superior Brewing Co’s Windward Wheat //
Hiking the Chester Park Trail
It’s pure serendipity that the very same week in early June when this refreshing German Hefeweizen is usually released, is the most ideal time to take on this moderately strenuous creek-side hike. The Chester Park Trail is a 2.5 mile loop that is perfect if you’re car camping or just up north for the day since the majority of the trail’s access points offer street parking. The combination of the sauna-like scent coming off the ancient white pines and clear, open views near the end of this trail, create the ideal setting to enjoy such a creamy-headed, banana-scented, easy-drinking beer. Lake Superior Brewing notes the composition of the Windward Wheat is 55 percent wheat malt, a blend of German hops, and imported German ale yeast. Devotees of this seasonal will tell you it is sometimes hard to find in six-packs, but at the very least you should be able to throw one back at a local watering hole once you’re done with your hike. Seek out Chester Creek Cafe, located at 1902 E 8th St., not too far from one of the trail’s access points.
Dubh Linn Brewpub’s Pacche Radler //
Kayaking Burlington Bay Lighthouse
Fruitier brews may not be everyone’s cup of tea, so to speak, but the juicy sweet notes of Dubh Linn Brewpub’s Pacche Radler provide the mellow, almost dessert-like experience you’ll crave after a day of bobbing, weaving, and probably some frantic back-paddling in your kayak. For first-timers, there’s a gorgeous, professionally led 3-4 mile paddle with instruction that will take you to Agate Bay and back, from a company called Positive Energy Outdoors. This route is a hot spot for bald eagle sightings and is sheltered enough to not leave you struggling against big waves. When you’ve reached your threshold for fun and adventure (often weather dependent), make your way to Dubh Linn at 109 W. Superior St., where they just recently started brewing their own beer, and treat yourself to at least a couple of these light-bodied beauties, distinct in their heady aroma and “lively” levels of carbon dioxide.
Canal Park Brewing’s Northcoast Style Beers //
Taking Pictures at the Aerial Lift Bridge
Opening sometime this summer, the Canal Park’s hotly anticipated new brewery features its own restaurant with both indoor and outdoor seating where you’ll be able to enjoy gastropub favorites and what Canal Park Brewing is calling their “Northcoast” style beers, which are reportedly lower in alcohol content but hoppier and more floral than West Coast style beers. The brewery’s eco-friendly facility boasts an on-site hop garden (keeping things extremely local) and uses reclaimed materials for much of its construction. No exact date has been set for opening yet, but we’re positive that event will deserve a trip of its own.