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North Shore Brewery Tour – Part III {The Finale!}


Happy Thirsty Thursday!

This is Part III to conclude our brewery tour to Duluth and along the North Shore. You can read the other parts here:

Part I – Details about Get Knit Tours and Brewery Stop #1: Blacklist Brewing Company
Part II – Details on Brewery Stops #2, 3 & 4: Canal Park, Lake Superior and Castle Danger {our fave!} Brewing Companies


Did I tell you how Get Knit Tours really thought of everything on this trip?! I’ve already explained that all food {breakfast, lunch and dinner} and tastings were included in this trip, that our coach bus had its own bathroom and electric outlets for devices and that every brewery was so different from each other that it kept things very interesting!


But I failed to mention a few other important other perks!

  • Complimentary Pint Glasses – A Get Knit pint glass is included in this tour. But we also received a special Bent Paddle Festiversary pint glass to commemorate the occasion.
  • Water and Snacks – This may sound silly, but during a day of drinking, you might not think about how dehydrated you are getting. Furthermore, everyone can always use a bit more food to soak things up. On at least three separate occasions on the bus tour, our guides came around with water, pretzels, string cheese and Skinny Pop popcorn.
  • Growler Storage – If you buy a Growler at any brewery, Get Knit has coolers in the luggage cargo to store them and keep them cool until the end of the tour!
  • Drink on the Bus! – Or if you want to drink said Growler *now*, this was possible, too. It was perfectly permissible to do so and Get Knit even had plastic cups available for your sipping pleasure.


But before we move on to the last two stops of the tour, look what Rob and I found this week!

{Found at The Wine Thief & Ale Jail}


Now to those final two brewery stops…

5) Carmody Irish Pub

Why stop at an Irish Pub on a brewery tour, you ask? Because that is what Rob and I always do when we travel. How did Get Knit Tours know that?! 😉


Truthfully, the reason why we stopped at this Irish Pub is that they brew their own beer here – in the basement! It’s a smaller operation, so they took about 15 people down there at a time to check it out.

Here’s your brewer:


He makes some seriously good stout.


Just like other breweries, you can get Growlers to go here. And like many other Irish Pubs in the U.S., you’ll see dollars affixed to the ceiling. There’s a bit of a variation here.


After sampling, Rob and I took a load off and sat at the bar to enjoy another local brew. I love how some are masking-taped with names!


When in Duluth, I recommend a stop at Carmody Irish Pub.


5) Bent Paddle Brewing

We were lucky to end our tour at Bent Paddle for their Two-Year Festiversary. As part of our tour, we got free entry into the fest, our first pint of beer free {in our festiversary pint glass!} and a voucher for a food truck for dinner.


But first we started with a tour of the taproom and brewery.

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I know I should have branched out, but I had to get the Cold Press Black Ale that I really loved the first time I ever tried Bent Paddle {which was only a couple of months prior!} Rob went with the Harness the Winter IPA which he said is an excellent winter brew, despite the fact that he was surprised it was still available!

What can I say about Bent Paddle?

For a brewery celebrating only its two-year anniversary….

FullSizeRender (2)The facility is HUGE!

We were a little disappointed about the Festiversary, though. Big group events are not really Rob’s thing, but that wasn’t the issue. What bummed us was that they were supposed to have several types of specialty beers on tap, including multiple cask ales. We got there too late, however. There was only a Blonde left that interested neither of us. Our only other option was to get a pint of one of the beers we had already tasted on the tour. 😦

As for the food trucks, I don’t know why, but we didn’t do our research beforehand and check out all of the trucks. Instead, we just ordered from the first one we stopped by – which was a hot-dog stand. Wait. It wasn’t even a truck, come to think of it!

I ordered a Thai-one-on Dog, which was actually quite tasty – a hot dog on a bun topped with thai peanut sauce, a crunchy slaw and some jalapenos. We were supposd to get a side item, as well. But for this vendor, it was just another regular hot dog on the side.

Rob and I didn’t spend much time out there. We went back into the taproom to chill instead. After our one free beer outside, it didn’t matter where we bought our next one. At this point, I had met my threshold for beer. I was done. So Rob bought me a root beer! Delicious!

Want to know where to get those Bent Paddle beers in town (Duluth)? Try here!

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At about 8pm, we started to make our way home. Some people opened their growlers and drank on the bus while playing cards. Our guides popped in a movie to entertain the rest of us. Both Rob and I fell asleep.

And when we arrived, I noticed that most people had eventually fallen asleep! Even the people who got really drunk on this tour seemed to be doing okay at this point. Despite all of that, the one thing Get Knit did offer everyone before descending the bus is aiding people in calling cab rides. Not many people were on the tour by themselves, so I think there was someone able to drive in every group.

We got home that night and and fell into bed, tired but content. It was a perfect day trip! Thank you, Get Knit! You can check out their other events and tours here, including their upcoming Rails & Ales – a Minneapolis-St. Paul Light Rail Brewery Crawl!

What was strange was waking up the next day without our dogs

Have you done a tour of multiple breweries like this?

If so where?

What did you think?



North Shore Brewery Tour – Part II


Happy Thirsty Thursday!

Last week, I started to tell you about the North Shore Brewery Tour I surprised my husband with for our 5-year anniversary. I want to let you know all of the details because the Get Knit company who organized it truly thought of everything down to the last detail. You can read more about them and our first brewery stop here in Part I of the North Shore Brewery Tour recap.


2) Canal Park Brewing

After spending an hour over at Blacklist Brewing {enlightening experience!}, our bus took us off to lunch, where I had chosen to have a…


Canal Park Brewing is a brewpub that offers your standard styles of beer along with American pub fare. Everything went seamlessly upon arrival. Because of the size of our group, they had our samples waiting for us at our tables. Let’s get right down to business!


My fave of this bunch was the Nut Hatchet Brown Ale.

Our food came out immediately, too. We were both so glad we didn’t get the burger! As those were being delivered to our table, they did not look good at all. Rob ordered a Brewskie; with which he was not exactly thrilled. Look at that dry bun.


Brewskie – Grilled Wisconsin-made bratwurst topped with beer-braised onions, served on a bun with IPA mustard

My Hot Chick – a buffalo chicken sammy topped with blue cheese – wasn’t even worthy of a photograph. It was all {ciabatta} bun which made it taste dry. After one bite, I took off the top bun and just ate the {also dry} chicken. The flavors were pretty muted for buffalo and blue cheese.

I did learn a thing or two at Canal Park though!  Here’s why all pubs should use 20 oz “pint” glasses…


And I love this advice…


Overall, we weren’t impressed with the food nor the beer at Canal Park. I’d recommend skipping it if you are doing a brewery tour on your own; but the view from their patio can’t be beat! And on a brewery tour, you need to eat sometime…


For the record, I love porters but couldn’t finish this one. It just Was. Not. Good.


3) Lake Superior Brewing


Next up was Lake Superior. Our tour guides said we’d get an interesting view on brewing from these old-school guys. Rob and I are familiar with Lake Superior Brewing because we’ve seen them around for quite some time. They have been brewing since 1994, before I could even drink beer. 😉


Rob has always chuckled at the labeling of one of their beers:


Black India Pale Ale Ale is a little redundant, no?

They are Minnesota’s oldest micro brewery.


One of the nice things about our Lake Superior stop is that we could sample several beers.

The thing that surprised us most was in what small of a space Lake Superior still operates.


Still bottling six at a time…

Some of the people in our group had become a little tipsy at this point.

Our Brewer/Guide only had a small fraction of our group’s attention…


What interested me most is how jaded the brewer seemed. Jaded and exhausted. I got the feeling as if they’ve been doing this so long and they are still waiting for the money to come in. They only have about six employees and some of them have other full-time jobs! The brewer described brewing as 80% janitorial and 20% inspiration. Our visit to Lake Superior Brewing Company was eye-opening in how much it takes for a brewery to operate.


Will this be some of our other young brewers in 20 years? Does starting a brewery take wealthy investors to grow quickly? Will all the brewers we’ve met over the past couple years during this craft brew craze lose their passion? I’m not sure that I want to know the answer to that.


4) Castle Danger Brewery


I am so glad we made the trek up the North Shore to Castle Danger Brewery in Two Harbors. If we were to put together a beer tour ourselves, we would have not even considered this one because we try to arrange brewery crawls so that the locations are close in proximity to each other. This was a good 20 minutes or so north along the coast; but it was well worth it.

Because it was my favorite brewery of the tour!

Upon arrival at the brewery, we were told that we’d be given samples and then could take an optional tour. The taps were ready for us and I thought I heard the tapper say “bourbon barrel” something or other.

Um.. what?

Yes, they age their George Hunter Stout in Jack Daniels whiskey barrels, which technically isn’t bourbon; but I don’t care. Of course, that is the first thing I asked for as my sample! You know me!


I also love the name: Gentleman George Hunter. Appropriate for a barrel aged beer, no? They also had a Sommelier George Hunter available. Can you guess what that stout is aged in? You got it – red wine barrels!

I politely pulled our tour guide aside and asked him if we could skip the tour and spend some money in the taproom. This was not a problem!

After a few purchases…


We barreled (no pun intended) our way to the bar to buy a beer.


Team Danger took care of us.


I noted the wi-fi password, too.


That Sommelier George Hunter was excellent. I would need to have the Somm & the Gentleman side-by-side to explain the nuances, but Rob said he liked the Somm even better.

Rob disappeared for a bit to get us some nachos from the Taco Box food truck outside. It looked good, but I wasn’t entirely impressed. Your basic nacho chips out a bag.


Instead, I just sat back and sipped that red-wine-barrrel-aged stout in all its glory. Yes, Yes. This is what makes beer so interesting. And I have to agree, Castle Danger does have some:


One thing I really enjoyed about this North Shore Brewery Tour is that the breweries were so different from each other. You’ll see next week why the last two stops on the tour were different as well!

Do you like barrel-aged beers?

If so, what has been your favorite?



Thirsty Thursday: North Shore Brewery Tour – Part I


Happy Thirsty Thursday!

For our 5-year anniversary, I bought my husband a little surprise… a brewery tour of Lake Superior’s North Shore!

We went this past Saturday and I must tell you, I can’t thank the Get Knit crew enough. Well, sit back because I’m going to recap here whether or you like it or not. Maybe you’ll discover a little day tour for yourself!

I had been eying this tour for a long time. I didn’t actually sign up for it until after our anniversary in April because it wasn’t until a few weeks later that everything just fell into place.

What? You mean the traditional 5-year anniversary gift isn’t beer?!


Rob and I have been talking about doing a tour of breweries in Duluth on our own for a while. There are some great up-and-coming breweries there. It wasn’t until a couple months ago that we had our first taste of a Bent Paddle brew when a friend brought over for their Cold Press Black Ale to our poker night and left one for us to try. {Thank you, Chief Bieber!} We know. You’re jealous. Come to poker and you’ll get your own nickname, too.

There were a few reasons why we hadn’t made that trip to Duluth yet.

  1. Dogs – We’d have to ask someone to watch them or bring them with us. Sham has not yet been in a hotel room and is very barky at every noise he hears. Not putting fellow guests through that!
  2. Cost – For one night up there, we’d have to pay for a hotel room, gas, dog sitter, beers, food… We are looking at least $300 – $400 for a one-night trip.
  3. DD – How would we decide which breweries to hit and who would do the driving?

Enter Get Knit Tours!

I can’t quite remember how I discovered Get Knit because I subscribe to so many local newsletters; but I’m glad I did. They are a tour and event company whose premise is to bring the people, local businesses and community together. They offer day long trips like this or other local events throughout the Twin Cities. I wouldn’t hesitate for a second in recommending them.

For just $119 per person, the North Shore Brewery Tour included:


Yes, we got the Special Edition Ticket for May 30th:


I’d call $119 per person a steal for a full-day trip to breweries where everything is included!

Let me just tell you… Get Knit thought of everything for this event, right down to the smallest detail.

The morning of the event, I was debating whether or not to stop and get a good coffee on the way to the Roseville Park & Ride where we were meeting. I’ve been on enough tours to know that the hot water with mix-in instant coffee packet doesn’t cut it for me. (SNOB!) But then I worried about the two hour + drive north and thought about how I would have to peeeeeeeeeeeeee…

Instead, we dropped Sophie and Sham off at the Buggles’ house before heading to the meeting point. Upon arrival, we checked in and… Wait a minute! Two of guides were the same two that did the Living Social Beer Trolley Tour back in 2012! After Living Social Adventures went defunct, a bunch of those who worked for them branched off to create their own local company. We knew we were in good hands.


Breakfast was included in this tour and included bagels and coffee. The bagels were not set out piled on a platter, but put into individual bags, labeled and pre-sliced. All one had to do was slather on cream cheese if they so desired.

Here’s my last bite, ’cause I know you wanted to see it.


Coffee was from Five Watt in Minneapolis. This coffee made me feel spoiled!

{aka… This is how every tour should start.}


About a half hour or so on the road, the crew came around to pour us more coffee. Isn’t that sweet!?

did help myself to that second cup. This was all because this bus had a restroom on board. Oh, and did I mention there was free wi-fi? Yes, they thought of everything.

Here was our itinerary for the day:


I felt like I was on vacation.

There were no cares in the world, nothing to worry about… just time to enjoy ourselves. Rob said he wished he would have brought a book for the ride up. Most people were chatting or playing around on their cell phones and tablets. I didn’t want to waste precious battery life because I knew I had a lot of pictures to take. {Little did I know that there were outlets to plug in devices throughout the bus!}


1) Blacklist Brewing

Our first stop was a brand new brewery to the tour. I’m so glad we stopped there! Blacklist is known for their artisan ales which clock in around 9-10% ABV. Boy, were we starting off strong! They had beer waiting for us…


One of he things that made this brewery special to us is that it’s a place we would have never considered if we had put a trip like this together ourselves.

Here’s why…

  1. Because they are located in a garage. There is no taproom… yet.IMG_3020
  2. Because they focus on Belgian Beers.


Rob has never been a fan of Belgian Beers, with the exception of Kasteel Rouge and anything that Dangerous Man produces. So it is rare that we go to breweries that specialize in Belgians. But, oh, was he surprised by this one! I absolutely loved this flagship Belgian Style Ale called Or de Belgique {Gold of Belgium}. When I expressed to Rob how much I enjoyed it, he confessed that he truly did, too!

We also tried their Imperial Hefe. I didn’t like it quite as much, which surprised me because I love wheat beers. But perhaps the two should have technically been served in the opposite order. I really don’t know. Still, I completely understand why we had the Or de Belgique first. Who wouldn’t want to open with their flagship beer?!

The Or de Belgique is the base of nearly all of their beers with which they experiment and add flavor. They let us take a look around their space and we found some very exciting, interesting, new-to-us beers that we’d love to try!

I’m a sucker for a good Lambic, but honeysuckle? Am I dreaming? IMG_3023

Have you ever had a beer brewed with makrut lime leaves or rhubarb? Me neither!


Or how about one brewed with green tea, lemongrass and honey?


We had to ask about this one… because, well… Coconut. Cocoa Nibs. Rum Barrels


The brewer wished us luck with finding it because they like to age their beers (like wine!) and he doesn’t even have any for his cellar.

Another beer that interested Rob, but of which we did not get a photo was their Imperial Spruce Tipped IPA with Fennel. Rob inquired about this one and we were told that they are getting ready for their next batch to come out this fall because they just picked their spruce tips.


Yes, they do everything themselves, including distribution.

But Brian the Brewer said that spruce tips cost $70/lb! There is no way they were going to pay that when they could pick it themselves. Then he showed us to the freezer and pulled some out.


Break the Big Beer Model! Beer brewed with quality, creativity and culture in mind. Small, hand-crafted batches utilizing traditional techniques.

That’s the way Blacklist is described on their website.

“So why Blacklist?” was my question to the brewers.

They answered me thoroughly; but my memory failed me to describe it so eloquently as they did. Luckily, I found them quoted on Duluth News Tribune:

The beer changes over time. We use artistic elements and are inspired by a lot of things to produce our product. There is a brewer’s legend: if you brewed with a wild yeast, different organisms, or ‘bugs’ for mass production, then you would become blacklisted from stepping into a big time brewing production because of this contamination.

So, we called ourselves Blacklist based on this.

Who can’t love that philosophy? They are always brewing small batches. And to be quite honest, in my experience, those breweries that do tend to brew the best beers.

Their beer locator is the best I’ve seen. Not only can you search for Blacklist beers by zip code, but you can also specify product. {The Coco Noir pulled up nothing. 😦 } It’s time for Rob and I to get experimenting with these Belgian brews. Please bring more to the South Twin Cities Metro, Brian and Jon!

We had a lot of time to talk to the brewers and sip what they had poured for us. But we couldn’t buy anything because they are not yet a taproom.

Some unsuspecting brewer’s equipment:


There was also time to get a selfie with the beautiful Lake Superior in the background. Or not…



Yes, we are huge fans of Blacklist Brewing now and all that they represent. Their vision is to have their own space to host parties and such because there beer is s celebratory experience meant to be shared. I remember the first time I went to Belgium thinking, “Wow, the Belgians treat their beers like the French treat their wines!” I feel like Blacklist wants encompass this tradition, yet experiment and keep the beer, well… crafty. It’s something unique that I haven’t seen any brewery do before. I love it.

And that was just one stop of our North Shore Brewery Tour! Since this post is getting a little long, I’m breaking it up into three parts. Come back next Thirsty Thursday for Part II!

Do you like Belgian Beers?

If so, what’s your favorite?

If not, what’s your favorite style?