This past weekend, I made the journey to Duluth for a fun family trip. While we did many things that entertained the whole family, I managed to sneak in visits to a couple breweries in the midst of our adventures. The saving grace (for my family) of the first brewery: it was really a visit to eat a family lunch with the added benefits of tasting some beer and filling a growler (Fitger’s). The other brewery was a much more involved experience for me, and I have to thank my wife and kids for being patient during my discussions with the brewer and examination of their equipment. That brewery was Dubrue.
After checking their website to see about tour possibilities, I found that all tours are done by request either over the phone or through email. I sent them a short-notice tour request by email 2 days before our trip. I received a friendly response notifying me that one of the founders/owners of the brewery would be there on Saturday afternoon brewing a batch of beer, and that I should definitely drop in for a visit.
We ate lunch at Fitger’s on Saturday and went back to the hotel to drop off our growler full of Big Boat Oatmeal Stout. Then, we put the kids into the stroller and walked to Dubrue. It was only 5 blocks away, but the walk was up a nice steep hill. When we stepped into the brewery, my legs were burning from pushing 80 pounds of children uphill in an unknown-weight stroller and I had sweat running down my forehead. That made it feel like an even greater experience when I was greeted by Nick Cameron with the question “Want something to drink?” Of course, my answer was yes, and he gave me a glass of their refreshing Pub Ale.
Nick is part owner, executive officer, and brewer at Dubrue. He has a very friendly demeanor and showed me around his brewhouse while in the middle of mashing a batch of Pub Ale. I had many questions (as usual) and he did his best to answer all of them. He encouraged me to email the head brewer, Bob Blair, with the very few recipe/process questions he was unsure of. His laid back attitude and openness about their processes did a lot to win me over. He also was kind enough to let us help ourselves to refills of Pub Ale and India Black Ale when we had empty glasses.
Pub Ale and India Black Ale are both tasty brews. Nick told me that while the Pub Ale recipe is pretty much where they want it to be, they will probably continue to tweak the India Black Ale to reach their desired results. (I think IBA was tasty as is, but, as a homebrewer, I totally understand a brewer’s need to get a beer exactly the way they want it.) He also told me that they recently started using a distributor, and it has already started to increase demand for their beers.
While he was checking his mash temps and taking some notes, I looked up on top of their cooler and saw that they had a floor-corker for 750ml bottles. Since they currently only keg their beers, I asked Nick about it. He told me they did a test/experimental batch of Belgian Strong Golden Ale with a couple other brewers. When I asked how it turned out, he was generous enough to go grab a 750 out of their cooler and sent me home with it. (Look for a future post about that beer.)
That sealed the deal. I fully endorse and support this brewery. It is a cool, little local brewery with friendly owners and tasty beer. I was very pleased with my experience there and encourage all of you to keep your eyes on Dubrue. If you ever get a chance to try some of their beer, go for it. For now, they’re limited to northern Minnesota. However, with continued success, we might see their beers make it into the Twin Cities metro area in the future. I think it could happen…