Dave Hoops: Master Brewer, Realist, and Risk-Taker

With his wavy, tousled hair, generous salt-and-pepper beard, and preferred outfit of jeans and a flannel shirt, Dave Hoops fits the archetypical portrait of a brewer better than that of a businessman. Yet his 25-plus years of experience in the industry have afforded him a wealth of expertise in the business of making beer. He’ll … [ Read more]

Brewer Profile: Jeff Vondenkamp of Portage Brewing Company

As I sit down to interview Jeff Vondenkamp over beers in Portage Brewing Company’s taproom in Walker, he deflects my first question. Before I get started, he wants to know about my background and what led me to write for The Growler. Curiosity seems to be a big motivator for Jeff. While a first impression … [ Read more]

What’s the ABV? Transparency in beer labeling

Seven years ago, I was living in Ghent, Belgium. Though I had been a fan of craft beer for years, Belgium is where I learned the hard way about the wide variance of alcohol content between different styles. I hadn’t yet been introduced to the Belgian golden strong ale or tripel—two drinkable yet shockingly potent … [ Read more]

Craft Culture: ‘Heirloom’ packs, handcrafted at Duluth’s Frost River

“There is magic in the feel of a paddle and the movement of a canoe, a magic compounded of distance, adventure, solitude, and peace. The way of a canoe is the way of the wilderness, and of a freedom almost forgotten. It is an antidote to insecurity, the open door to waterways of ages past … [ Read more]

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Craft Culture: Eco-friendly outdoor furniture at Loll Designs

There is no shortage of big companies touting their environmentally friendly practices as a way to endear themselves to the public these days. And that would be fine—if those businesses were backing up their words with actions. But few do, and even fewer have principles of sustainability firmly rooted in their origins. Duluth-based Loll Designs … [ Read more]

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Then and now: Uncovering Duluth’s storied People’s Brewing Co.

People’s Brewing Company of Duluth was ahead of its time. Founded on socialist principles in 1907 by Martin Smith, F.G. Sandstedt, and Michael J. Gleeson, the brewery stood up to big beer long before it was hip to do so. At that time, Duluth had two other breweries, Fitger’s Brewery (unaffiliated with Fitger’s Brewhouse) and … [ Read more]

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Straight from the Source: Fitger’s Brewhouse

Photos by Melissa Maki Fitger’s Brewhouse started well before the recent craft-beer boom. This year, the Duluth, Minnesota, mainstay will celebrate its 20-year anniversary. But don’t expect this brewpub to age into complacency: thanks to the leadership of Master Brewer Dave Hoops, their offerings continue to evolve and surprise. The Brewhouse has the feel of … [ Read more]

The Beer Diet

Note from the Editor: The following is author Melissa Maki’s account of her partner of 19 years Troy Roger’s unusual diet of only beer. All views expressed in this story are soley the author’s. Check with your physician before starting any diet. Troy Rogers, the author, and The Growler bear no legal responsibility for health issues that … [ Read more]

Duluth Brewer’s Path Paved with Persistence, Powered by Pink Boots

Though inroads have certainly been made in recent years, the craft beer industry is still a largely male-dominated landscape. Duluthian Ginga Newton is a brewer who has been struggling to break into the field. For a number of years, she has settled for jobs on its periphery, biding her time and waiting for an opening. … [ Read more]