Author: Danika

Danika Peterson starting writing for in 2012. She had her epiphany beer in the summer of 2002, when she bought the first higher priced six-pack of her life. At her brother’s recommendation she bought some Goose Island Hex Nut Brown Ale (R.I.P.) and experienced a whole different world of beer in the first sip. Since that day, she has actively sought out new beers, beginning her quest at Old Chicago. After completing five World Beers Tours in less than five years, she expanded her journey to other venues and took up homebrewing. Danika is a Certified Beer Server in the Cicerone Certification Program, even though she has never actually served a pint for a profit. Her basement taps provide her and her husband (and their friends) with a steady flow of rotating beers. Danika loves IPAs and Russian Imperial Stouts, but is most impressed by pilsners or golden ales that really stand out of their genre. Catch her on Twitter at @Danika_Peterson

Looking for more Darkness?

Head over to Brick’s Pub in Blaine for their annual tapping of Surly Darkness.  Tapping starts at 5:00pm on Thursday, November 15.

If you get there before 6pm, you can enjoy their $3 happy hour menu featuring hummus, meatballs or the brickle.


Carmody Irish Pub & Brewery, Duluth

Nestled between North Shore brewing giant Fitger’s Brewhouse, and their offshoot, Tycoons Alehouse, sits a comparatively smaller and less renowned pub. Carmody Irish Pub sits just three blocks from Fitger’s, and is definitely worth a visit if you find yourself heading north.

Carmody is a very small brewing operation, with a brewing setup that only yields 2 1/2 barrels per batch. With such small batches, it’s no surprise that when I asked what was on tap during my visit, the bartender had to check the beer menu for the day to remind himself which beers and how many different beers were available on the day of my visit. They have four permanent beers in their lineup: Tipplers Golden, Agnes Irish Red, Scanlon IPA, and Famine 47 Irish Stout. The rest of their beer lineup changes on regular basis.

Carmody doesn’t open until 3pm, but they stay open until 2am with live music six nights a week. Their menu is simple, with a couple of sandwich options, a handful of wrap choices, and soup. In addition to their own beers, they also serve a variety of imported European beers and Irish whiskeys, as well as a collection of regional and micro brews. Owner Eddie Gleeson says that they plan to shuffle their guest beer taps to all Minnesota taps in the near future.

Eddie’s wife, Liz Gleeson, spends her days in the Carmody basement brewing beer, while her husband Eddie heads up the business end of their pub. It’s obvious when first meeting Liz that she loves her job. She glows when she talks about her involvement in a business dominated by men, and proudly displays her pink boots from the Pink Boots Society, whose mission is to encourage women in brewing – whether it be professionally or as a hobby.

Her enthusiasm for brewing is clear, even as she highlights the perils of being a smaller brewery. She points out that three of their fermenters are temperature controlled, while two are not. She says that they got such a great deal on the other two that they had to buy them anyway and figure out a temperature control system later. Gleeson now has these two fermenters hidden within a box of sheet insulation. An air conditioner pumps cooled air directly into this insulated box – creating a makeshift cold room. Solutions like this are a regular part of being a small brewpub.

Even with only brewing small batches, Carmody is on the cusp of expansion. They are planning on opening a second location in Two Harbors on October 1. Gleeson says that they aren’t just building a bar, but that Two Harbors will have all of the aspects of Carmody that people have come to expect.

“Our goal is to bring craft beer and a new music scene to the North Shore,” said Gleeson.

Drink a Surlyfest with Omar

Bricks Pub in Blaine is hosting a Surly party on their patio on September 11, from 6 -9pm.  They will be serving Surlyfest for $5 a pint, and they will have a special Surly barbeque menu for the night.  They say that Surly claims that they will also be bringing “something special to tap”.

That’s right, taste the 2012 SurlyFest with Surly’s owner, Omar Ansari, 11 days before they release it at the brewery.

* Update: “Something special to tap” means Surly SYX and Cacao Bender.  And you’ll have the chance to win Surlyfest tickets and tickets to the Autumn Brew Review.



Kickstarting Breweries: The New Trend?

Thanks to new contributor Danika Peterson for this one. Catch her on Twitter at @Danika_Peterson

Update: Blacklist Brewing Co. just completed a successful Kickstarter project a few days before deadline. Congrats guys.

Lucid Brewing was the first brewery in Minnesota to run a successful Kickstarter campaign.  Last November, Lucid was able to raise $10,590 toward the expansion of the brewery and a community brewing space.  Since then, two other breweries in Minnesota have run successful Kickstarter campaign: Bemidji Brewing, and Jack Pine Brewery.

It hasn’t always been that easy to raise money.  As recently as last May, Steel Toe Brewing attempted an ambitious $35,000 Kickstarter fundraising drive.  Their drive did not succeed.  This means even though they took in $10,783 in pledges, they got nothing out of the fundraising, because Kickstarter is an all or nothing deal.  Either you raise the money or you don’t.  There is no in between.  All pledges they received were refunded.

Lucid owner, Jon Messier poses with one of their Kickstarter rewards.

Lucid owner, Jon Messier poses with one of their Kickstarter rewards.

Lucid admits to taking a strategic position on fundraising by reviewing all of the successful brewery fundraising drives on the books, and taking ideas and points from each of them.  Lucid Owner Jon Messier also says that at least one other Minnesota brewery seeking Kickstarter funds contacted him.  Patrick from Jack Pine Brewery came to their Minnetonka brewery for a tour and a conversation while Jack Pine was still in the homebrew stage.  Lucid says they were more than happy to share their knowledge and experience with an up-and-coming brewery.

Lucid already had a brewery and a business plan, so their Kickstarter fundraising was all about building a community brewing space where future breweries or the next great homebrewer could flourish.


Currently Badger Hill brews their beers under Lucid’s roof, but Messier says that he hopes they can encourage and mentor dozens more breweries in the future.  “The goal of our Kickstarter was to build creative community around the brewing industry.”

“Our goal is to have three, four, five breweries in the building, and kind of create a creative atmosphere for brewers,” said Messier as he described their goal for their community space.

Lucid's pilot brewery

Lucid’s pilot brewery

As a part of their community brewing vision, Lucid, Northern Brewer and others, is a part of the Iron Brewer Competition that is underway right now.  Homebrewers and aspiring breweries have the chance to have their brews brewed by Lucid.  Until August 9, go-getting brewers can fill out an application at  And then by August 10, up to 24 potential brewers will be chosen for the competition.  The winner of the entire competition will have 60 kegs of their beers distributed to local bars and restaurants, but perhaps more importantly be distinguished as “The Iron Brewer Minnesota.”

Even though Lucid broke incredible ground by being the first brewery in the state to be funded in such a way, they say that the money doesn’t go nearly as far as someone may think.  They raised just over $10,000, but ended up spending about $4,000 on the printing and shipping or the rewards for their donors.  Their rewards included t-shirts, pint glasses, stickers, the naming rights to one of their fermenters, the first run of growlers and more.

Lucid’s electrical system.  $10,000 buys and installs about four of these nodes.

Lucid’s electrical system. $10,000 buys and installs about four of these nodes.

Even if rewards were not an issue, money in a brewery doesn’t go too far.  This (photo on left) is Lucid’s upgraded electrical system.  Jon pointed to about four of these one-inch squares when asked how far $10,000 really goes.  Those electronics run just one tank.  Based on the high costs of running a brewery, Messier doesn’t think that anyone will ever be able to raise enough money to completely fund a brewery.  “You’d be hard pressed to raise $100,000 on Kickstarter for a brewery.”

But, even more than the money, Messier thinks that the greatest benefit to a successful Kickstarter driver is incredible community interest.  “It’s great to build a loyal fan base, and some loyal customers.” But, Messier admits creating a business off of donations may be difficult,  “I wouldn’t start a business based on results of Kickstarter.”

Right now, Blacklist Brewing is just days away for the conclusion of their Kickstarter drive.  Their drive ends on August 10.  What makes their fundraising drive different is not only the merger of brewing and art, but that once you reach a certain donation level, you can receive a minimum of six unique 22-ounce bottles, which are planned to come out of their brewery monthly.  These beers may not be available in stores, allowing you to have a very rare beer in a very rare bottle.

As for right now, Kickstarter appears to have a moderate interest from breweries in the state, even if it may be for smaller projects.  So, even if Kickstarter may not be fully funding anyone’s business model anytime soon, they can still provide both the brewer and the donor a significant benefit.