In the last year and a half, many breweries closed or struggled to stay afloat due to COVID-19, and stories of triumph and success within the craft beer industry have seemed few and far between. However, Blacklist Brewing Company have defied the odds, and are expanding their operation with a new facility.
Blacklist’s humble beginnings date back to 2012 when they started brewing beer out of a Duluth warehouse without a taproom. Then, in 2016, they moved into their current location on Superior Street, formerly the site of head shop The Last Place on Earth, in order to serve their beer in-house.
Despite the shutdowns due to the pandemic, Blacklist’s forward momentum and growth continued and they found the need for yet another expansion early on in 2020.
“Before COVID, we were bursting at the seams,” explains Ray Mindestrom, Blacklist’s Axe Throwing Manager. “We just didn’t have enough space! The new location became available during the first [COVID] shutdown, so we jumped on it.”
The new Blacklist location, at 206 East Superior Street, is less than a block from their current facility.
“Which is nice when it comes to moving brewing equipment,” Mindestrom says referring to the proximity.
At approximately 4,000-square-feet, the new location is more than double the size of their current location. With this extra space, Blacklist plans on adding additional axe throwing lanes, a taproom that can fit over 200 people, and expanded patio seating. There will also be a large area behind the bar for live music, and a private room for parties and gatherings.
According to Mindestrom, the aesthetic of the new facility will be similar to what they have now, “just better.” With exposed brick, industrial beams, a mural behind the bar, garage doors, and wood flooring, Blacklist will have a modern, welcoming, and spacious feel.
One of the main reasons for Blacklist’s big move is the need for a larger brewing system.
“Right now, we’re brewing with a 20-barrel system,” shares Midestrom. “But we’re going to upgrade to two 40-barrel fermentors and a pilot system.”
Blacklist’s new brewing system will increase their annual capacity from 2,000 barrels to 4,500 barrels. This additional capacity will help them reach their goal of expanding distribution to more of Wisconsin, becoming more prevalent in southern Minnesota, and increasing their in-house tap selection.
“The classics and mainstays [beer] will still be around,” says Midestrom. “But we also want to try out some new fun stuff. For example, we’re hoping to get back into a barrel aged program. The pilot system will allow us to do that.”
“For opening day, we’ll definitely have some sort of event, but we don’t have a set date quite yet.” Midestrom says. “We’re just really looking forward to people spending time at our new place and we hope this expansion will bring us more collaboration opportunities!”
Blacklist hosted a soft-opening at their new taproom last week, and are currently open limited hours at their new location. After Memorial Day, the new location will be fully up and running, although a grand opening party is still TBD.
Brewer: Brian Schanzenbach
Beer: Finally IPA, Or De Belgique “ODB”, Hazy Project, Double Hazy Project, Spruce, Chipper Pale Ale, Guava Kettle Sour, Peach Hazy
Address (New Location): 206 East Superior Street, Duluth, MN 55802
Hours: Soft Opening Period: Monday: Closed; Tuesday–Wednesday: 4 – 10 PM; Thursday: 3 – 10 PM; Friday: 3 – 11 PM; Saturday: 12 – 11 PM; Sunday: 12 – 6 PM
Starting 6/1: Monday–Wednesday: 4 – 10 PM; Thursday: 3 – 10 PM; Friday: 3 – 11 PM; Saturday: 12 – 11 PM; Sunday: 12 – 6 PM
Axe throwing available during open hours Thursday – Sunday.