The building that once held one of Duluth’s first craft breweries is home to its newest. Warrior Brewing Company has moved into the space on Superior Street that was previously Lake Superior Brewing Company.
Owners of Warrior Brewing Company, Matt Caple and Benjamin Gipson, met in 2019 when their paths collided. Canal Park Brewing Company, where Gipson was head brewer at the time, held a collaboration brew day with the Lake Superior Warriors—a disabled veterans hockey program in Duluth, which Caple cofounded.
“After that day, we wanted to do more than just one brew day a year together,” says Gipson. “We wanted to make the veteran collaboration a bigger thing—even if we just started with a small operation.”
Due to the pandemic, Gipson was furloughed from Canal Park Brewing in November 2020. Instead of waiting for the brewery to reopen, he decided to team up with Caple so they could open a brewery of their own. Gipson will be head brewer at Warrior Brewing Company.
“Both Ben [Gipson] and I are veterans,” says Caple. “And I also have a background in homebrewing. Veterans and beer—it’s a pretty popular mix!”
With their shared veteran background and passion for craft beer, Caple and Gipson want to use their brewing operation to help involve veterans in the community.
“We want to help showcase different veteran organizations in the area,” explains Caple. “Tons of these groups exist but for whatever reason, a lot of veterans don’t know about them. We’re not trying to take over, we’re just trying to facilitate the bigger picture.”
“Yeah, our mission is to serve veteran-brewed beer to support veterans,” adds Gipson.
They plan on hosting educational brew days for veterans. Those who sign up will have a hands-on brewing experience where they help brew, bottle, and everything in between.
When Caple and Gipson purchased the space that used to be Lake Superior Brewing Company, it included a 15-barrel brewing system. The brewery has been outfitted with 10-barrel fermentors. However, Warrior Brewing Company won’t have a taproom right away and they only plan on distributing to local liquor stores.
“We’re definitely micro,” says Caple. “We’ll be strictly in the Twin Port area. We want to start smaller and then slowly grow.”
Their decision to not include a taproom was largely based on COVID-19 constraints as well as the desire to open as soon as possible. Once business begins to grow, they’ll revisit opening a taproom.
“For now, we’re going to self-distribute to liquor stores,” clarifies Gipson. “We’ll mainly have 16-ounce cans in four-packs.”
For beer, they’ll be distributing a golden honey ale, a double IPA brewed with lactose, and an imperial stout. The brewery will also reserve some imperial stout in its barrel-aged brewer’s reserve program. The barrel-aged versions will be brewed with different flavors, like raspberry chocolate, cold press coffee, and vanilla bean, for example, depending on the season.
“I want to brew beer that appeals to the masses,” describes Gipson. “I also really want to brew beer that is high gravity, flavorful, unique, and seasonal.”
Gipson and Caple are both looking forward to being able to give back to local veterans through their brewery. From giving proceeds to veteran nonprofits to hiring veterans in the future, they are determined to help veterans find a community and integrate back into everyday life.
“Veterans should follow our social media because we’ll be offering sign-up opportunities for our brew days soon,” says Caple. “We plan to have our flagships in local stores by late May—so folks should keep an eye out for our beer in liquor stores around Duluth!”
Head Brewer: Benjamin Gipson
Beer: Barbarian Imperial Stout, Valkyrie Golden Honey Ale, Patriot Lactose Double IPA
Address: 2711 W Superior St, Duluth, MN 55806