UPDATE: One year after being featured in Now Open (Or Damn Close), the Gun Flint Tavern has cleared all the hurdles to opening their own brewpub. Friday, December 5, the Gun Flint Tavern will be celebrating with the official Grand Opening party at the pub. Stop in for a congratulatory pint and welcome the newest brewery to the North Shore.
By Brian Kaufenberg
There is a place in Grand Marais, at the head of the Gun Flint Trail in northern Minnesota, where organic food and craft beer were a way of life well before the trend hit the Twin Cities. When Jeff and Susan Gecas (pronounced GET-chiss) opened the Gun Flint Tavern in 1998, they envisioned it as a place to “enjoy a craft-brewed beer, nice glass of wine, organic food, and live music year-round” and it has been exactly that.
Now, after 15 years of serving craft beer, the pub will begin brewing its own beer—with the owners’ nephew Paul Gecas at the brewing helm. Paul grew up helping his father, a homebrewer of over 30 years, for as long as he can remember. Paul and his father belong to the Northern Ale Stars, a homebrew club based in the Twin Ports area, and Paul’s parents host the club at their resort, Heston’s Lodge.
When Paul attended college at the University of Minnesota-Morris and met other aspiring brewers, the idea of a career in brewing became his goal. After college Paul Gecas moved back to the Twin Cities for a short time to try to get into the professional brewing industry. An opportunity came his way from his Uncle Jeff and Aunt Susan in Grand Marais, who were planning to expand their restaurant into a full-fledged brewpub.
Paul spent time at Thirsty Pagan Brewing, Lake Superior Brewing, and Lucid Brewing to learn the ins and outs of production brewing before moving to Grand Marais to begin work on converting an empty space in the restaurant into a 5 bbl brewhouse with three fermenters and four to five serving tanks. For Gecas, the move north was more than just a career decision.
“The bustle and traffic were way different from life up north,” Gecas said of life in the Twin Cities. Life in the north woods is quieter and more in tune with Gecas love of the outdoors. With the Gun Flint Trail and the BWCA at his doorstep, he’s able to canoe, snowshoe, or cross-country ski without fighting traffic.
As a homebrewer, Gecas often experimented with classic styles and he plans to bring his affinity for oak-aged brews to the Gun Flint Tavern to complement the one or two mainstays patrons will be able to find year-round.
The Brewer: Paul Gecas
The Beer: TBD
Visit: 111 W Wisconsin St, Grand Marais, MN 55604
Hours: Open daily 11am–1am