Duluth brewmaster to launch new brewpub at Clyde
When one door closed, a new one opened.
DULUTH — Dale Kleinschmidt may be 70 years old, but he has no plans to retire any time soon. In fact, he’s preparing to launch a brewpub next week.
Kleinschmidt is considered a local pioneer of craft brewing, having spent a quarter-century as head brewer at Lake Superior Brewing Co., until the business recently changed hands.
He lost his job on a Friday and received a call from Alex Guiliani, founder of Clyde Park the following Tuesday.
“Well, I’ve been waiting,” Giuliani said.
Kleinschmidt was not altogether surprised by Giuliani’s offer to help him set up a brewpub at Clyde. It had always been a part of Giuliani’s dream to redevelop the sprawling former Clyde Iron industrial property.
But Giuliani said he knew he needed the right person for the job, and Kleinschmidt checked all those boxes.
“If not for him, we would not have gone forward with a brewpub,” Giuliani said. “I gave him carte blanche, and Clyde is going to be the very happy recipient of his talents.”
On Monday, Jan. 16, the new brewpub is slated to open. Giuliani figures he has invested “just shy of $1 million” in the brewpub, but he remains confident it will prove to be a wise expenditure.
“Alex has been extremely generous and responsive, “ Kleinschmidt said.
Kleinschmidt, a native of Grand Rapids, cut his teeth as a homebrewer, first doing it on the sly and then legally when then-President Jimmy Carter legalized the process in 1978, making better supplies available to the public.
Kleinschmidt met the founders of Lake Superior Brewing Co. in a community education class. When the business appropriately started in a 200-square-foot space at the former Fitger’s Brewery Complex, Kleinschmidt volunteered his services, working nine months without pay, before he was finally hired on at $6 an hour.
“I think I was the first paid brewer north of the Twin Cities,” Kleinschmidt said, recalling the rebirth of craft brewing in the Northland.
Now, there are more than 10,000 breweries in the nation and close to 200 in Minnesota alone.
But Kleinschmidt said there’s certainly room for one more.
On the Duluth scene, he sees craft breweries benefiting from one another more than competing against one another. Together, they have made the city a destination for beer aficionados, he said, noting that people typically make a circuit, visiting multiple local establishments to sample their brews.
“A lot of people come through here,” he said. “I don’t think we’re going to take customers from anyone. People like to roam.”
Although he is not one to seek recognition, Giuliani said Kleinschmidt has earned multiple awards in his career, including a national gold medal for his signature Kayak Kolsch.
But Kleinschmidt said brewing is far from an exact science, and each setup requires fine-tuning.
“There’s no road map. You need to figure it out,” he said.
“Brewing is kind of like making a 150-gallon pot of soup. But you don’t get to taste it for a couple of weeks. And when you finally can taste it, you can’t change it,” Kleinschmidt said.
That doesn’t mean Kleinschmidt cuts himself much slack, however, if a brew doesn’t live up to his standards.
“You need to develop some calluses, in terms of dumping beer that didn’t meet your standards,” he said.
Clyde plans to offer six brews that all pay homage to the complex's history, as a producer of heavy machinery rather than libations. That Clyde lineup will include a Steam Skidder Stout, a Stiff Leg IPA, a McGiffert Logger Lager, a non-alcoholic Operator's Root Beer, a Whirley Wheat Beer, a Clyde Cream Ale and an Empire Kolsch Ale, recognizing the key role Clyde-built cranes played in the construction of the Empire State Building.
Those offerings will of course be offered on premises but will also be offered to-go in crowlers.
This story was edited at 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 7 to correct the date in which homebrewing was legalized. It was originally posted at 2:52 p.m.