Bent Paddle taproom moving across the avenue in Lincoln Park Craft District

Taproom seating area. Submitted

From our friends at Bent Paddle Brewing:

Bent Paddle Brewing Company plans to relocate its taproom to a larger, revitalized historic space, located at 1832 West Michigan Street in Duluth. The new location is directly adjacent to its main production brewery and current taproom in the Lincoln Park neighborhood.

The new taproom will open in early 2018 and will feature increased space for patron comfort as well as a 7bbl pilot brewing system for experimental and smaller craft beer batches.

New additions will also include an event space for up to 70 people, bar games, a cozy fireplace gathering area, small performance area, an enhanced retail shop, kids nook area and a pet-friendly outdoor patio.

“Our taproom is meant to be a focal point of our brand. When you visit our new taproom we want you to feel at home — we often refer to it as our ‘living room,’” said Pepin Young, Bent Paddle’s taproom manager. “The space itself will have distinct areas that offer our guests different levels of experience that we hope highlight all those different situations where you may enjoy our beer in everyday life or simply to come in and shake off the trail.”

Since Bent Paddle opened in 2013, the business has experienced tremendous sales growth by increasing production from approximately 1,500 bbls in 2013 to 15,600 bbls in 2016 on its 30bbl brewing system (1 bbl = 31 US GAL.). This level of production makes it Minnesota’s 6th largest brewery out of over 100.

Bent Paddle has also greatly increased its workforce from five initial employees, including the four co-founders of the business, to over 40 today. With its attention to its beer, branding and business practices, it has won numerous local, regional, and national awards. The establishment of this new taproom will lead to over six more new taproom hires in 2018.

Bent Paddle purchased its production facility at 1912 West Michigan Street in June 2017 in order to move forward with its expansion plans to double its production space, due to ongoing sales demand, from 10,000 sq/ft to 20,000 sq/ft in 2020.

As an early step to this expansion, the Bent Paddle taproom will relocate across the street to a beautiful and historic 1909 brick and timber-frame building that was home to the Enger & Olson Furniture store where Bent Paddle has housed its offices since July of 2016. The closing of the current taproom will allow for more production space for their main brewing facility.

“Due to the needs of production and the increased customer demand within the current taproom we do not have the ability to physically grow the taproom in the current space,” said Karen Tonnis, Bent Paddle co-founder. “The best solution was to move the taproom to a beautiful new location one block from the brewery.”

“We are committed to our Lincoln Park neighborhood and are humbled at the role we are playing in its recent revitalization as Duluth’s Craft District,” said Laura Mullen, Bent Paddle co-founder, vice-president of the Lincoln Park Business Group, and an Advancing Lincoln Park founding member. “We are continuing to partner with our neighbors on many of the little design details in the new space. Epicurean and Loll Designs are going to be heavily showcased as are our neighbors Frost River, Hemlocks Leatherworks and our newest neighbor, Duluth Pottery. We are also working with as many other local visual artists and artisans as possible to showcase their artwork as well as hand-crafted canoe paddles.”

“We are particularly excited about the opportunity to work with some rescued timbers from the 4th Street construction project,” said Karen Tonnis, Bent Paddle co-founder. “The bar is a place where people have traditionally gathered to have lively and passionate discussions about things they agree or disagree about. There were a lot of mixed emotions with that particular project and rather than see those beautiful trees get sold off for firewood, we jumped at a recent opportunity to give them new life as a repurposed surface that can support many more lively discussions to come.”

Due to the curing process of timber, a temporary bar top will be installed for the taproom opening and the 4th Street bar top will not be installed until later in 2018.

The current taproom, residing at 1912 West Michigan Steet, will close once the new space is open, as a brewery can only operate one taproom at a time according to Minnesota State Law.

In addition to the interest in having a smaller scale experimental brewery, in order to comply with the Minnesota taproom law, Bent Paddle is building a second production facility in the new space with a 7 bbl “Pilot Brewhouse” that will have been approved for operation prior to opening the new taproom space.

“We are installing a smaller 7bbl pilot system, which is roughly a third of our current brewery size,” said Bent Paddle senior brewer Neil Caron, who will move over from his role at the main brewery to run the new pilot brewery. “I am excited to not only lead projects like ingredient research and brand development, but I am also looking forward to getting back into crafting some unique beers exclusively for the taproom.”

Whenever possible Bent Paddle continues to be committed to using local vendors and contractors as well as the union trades on all its construction projects, including the build out of the new taproom and pilot brewery. The 7bbl Pilot Brewery, along with the previous tanks and production equipment, are all made in North America by DME out of PEI, Canada.

“We chose DME because they are committed to sourcing their steel from North America and they produce all of our tanks here in North America, too,” said Bryon Tonnis, Bent Paddle co-founder. “While steel from other global markets tends to be less expensive and more attractive to our bottom line, we are committed to sourcing our tanks from our region.”

The taproom license for production breweries was created in 2011 with the adoption of the “Surly Bill”. A taproom is an on-sale space where a brewer can serve only the beer products it makes, with no wine, spirits or other beer brand sales allowed.

Minnesota breweries producing a combined total of less than 20,000 bbls of beer per year across all sales platforms are also allowed to sell 64 oz. re-sealable “growlers” of fresh beer from their taprooms. Bent Paddle expects to still be under this 20,000 bbl cap for 1 to 2 more years, given current sales projections, and will continue to sell and refill beer growlers at the new taproom location until that cap is reached.

Continuing with the traditions of the current taproom, there will be no restaurant on-site. Food trucks and mobile food vendors as well as neighboring restaurants will continue to provide food options for patrons.

“We love food and we love restaurants, but, quite frankly, we are a brewery,” said Pepin Young. “This taproom is here to celebrate what we are great at and we are thrilled to have such talented food partners throughout Duluth to complement our beer.”

According to recent economic data from the national Brewers Association, visits to a brewery’s taproom have significant and increasing post taproom visit sales benefits for the liquor stores, bars and restaurants that carry that beer brand.

“Craft beer consumers love to experience a beer brand directly and watch the people who create the beer at work” said Brent Rowe, Bent Paddle’s regional sales manager. “The data indicates that this helps all of the accounts who carry Bent Paddle because folks who come up to visit Duluth and try the beer for the first time while on vacation, or even for a night on the town locally, want to buy it again because they had such a positive experience while visiting the brewery itself and immersing in the brand onsite.”

Bent Paddle Brewing Co. has been working with local architecture firm Wagner Zaun, interior designers from Shelter Architecture of Minneapolis, and Gardner Builders who recently opened a location in Duluth.

Bob Gardner, CEO of Gardner Builders, said, “Bent Paddle’s dedication to hospitality and cultivating communities is one of many reasons we’re honored to be partnering with them to create a space that promotes connection and fun. Duluth’s Lincoln Park Craft District is the perfect spot for this new taproom where craft in all its iterations combine with the local character of the city and the seriously creative and inventive minds that reside there — an integral part of why we chose to place a team in Duluth. We’re incredibly grateful to be working on such an exciting project!”

“It always makes our job easier when we get to work with a team of such talented people with a brand that is so well thought through. We’ve been having a great time bringing the Bent Paddle aesthetic to the new taproom. We think taproom patrons will find many unique surprises throughout the space to enjoy,” said Jackie Colpert, an interior designer from Shelter Architecture working on the Bent Paddle project.

“The real challenge has been transferring what has become an important experience of our brand — the connection that comes from enjoying a beer amongst the brewery and the brewers,” said Colin Mullen, Bent Paddle Co-Founder. “A lot of our design decisions and elements we are bringing forth in the new experience attempt to maintain or at least respect that connection to the original taproom. For example, we will have three large glass panel doors that open up to a patio that is in full view of our primary production brewery across the street. We are also putting in a large glass window to showcase our pilot brewery as an homage to our current glass garage door.”

Construction began in November 2017 and will continue into early 2018 with an official opening date of the new taproom to be announced in early 2018 as the project nears completion.

Taproom bar. Submitted

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