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Warrior Brewing expands

After growing its taproom in Duluth's Lincoln Park Craft District, plans for a potential second location are brewing.

Man stands in brewery
Warrior Brewing Co. co-owner Matt Caple gestures toward the new taproom space Tuesday.
Brielle Bredsten / Duluth News Tribune

DULUTH โ€” Warrior Brewing Co. 's co-owners, Matt Caple and Ben Gipson, have expanded their Lincoln Park taproom and also plan to open a nano brewery in the historic Duluth Armory on the horizon.

Having surpassed their original five-year business plan after just two years from opening, the veteran-owned and operated brewery strives to continue providing an engaging space for its patrons, said Caple.

"We're constantly making sure we don't put the cart in front of the horse, so to speak," he said. "Our taproom expansion is paramount to us continuing to grow here at this location."

Two men stand in production space of a brewery.
Warrior Brewing Co.'s co-owners, head brewer Ben Gipson and Director of Operations Matt Caple, stand in the production space of the Lincoln Park brewery Tuesday.
Brielle Bredsten / Duluth News Tribune

Warrior Brewing is located at 2711 W. Superior St. in the building owned by King Chris and King Dan revocable trusts, and is managed by King Properties Duluth .

The new taproom space was previously occupied by CPL Imaging , which recently relocated to 2301 W. Superior St.

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A bearded man speaks with his hands in the taproom.
Ben Gipson, co-owner and head brewer at Warrior Brewing Co., stands in the new taproom.
Brielle Bredsten / Duluth News Tribune

At their distributors' request, Warrior Brewing increased its production capacity to meet the growing demand for their product.

Gipson added: "There are still a lot of people knocking on our door trying to get us to go bigger."

The brewers use proceeds of their sales to benefit veterans and first responders.

As they expanded, two 620-gallon (20-barrel) tanks and two 930-gallon (30-barrel) tanks were added to the mash tun, brew kettle and 310-gallon tanks the brewery began with.

Up to two-thirds of the company's beer production goes out to distributors each month. In the busy summer season, that averages 150 barrels, Caple said, and slows to around 100 barrels per month during the off-season.

A beer-filled glass with the Warrior Brewing Company logo.
A glass of Warrior Brewing Co.'s Valkyrie honey beer.
Brielle Bredsten / Duluth News Tribune

The added production revenue afforded the additional lease, preparation for the new taproom and an outdoor patio.

"This is going to allow us to really kick out some beer this summer and not have to worry about tearing down and setting up again for the taproom," Gipson said.

Duluth area breweries received accolades during the statewide competition.

"We have been putting in sweat equity since we started," Caple said.

Warrior Brewing owners knocked a hole in the wall to connect the production area to their new taproom, built a stage, put up lighting, installed a fan and built more tables.

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A sign reading "Brewery" leads into a sunlit taproom space with tables throughout and kegs of beer lining the walls.
The expanded taproom at Warrior Brewing Co.
Brielle Bredsten / Duluth News Tribune

"We want to keep it somewhat intimate, where the proprietors are always somewhat involved," Caple said. "You don't get that at a lot of breweries."

Since first opening in May 2021, it was production-only at Warrior Brewing until the original 30-seat taproom debuted on the production floor in September 2022.

"It's not an ideal spot because if we're actively brewing, we can't have the taproom open. It's a legality thing," Caple said.

Moving the taproom to the expanded building space will double the seating capacity.

Food trucks will be on-site through fall, and bands playing live music on the weekends. Caple anticipates needing to hire some part-time weekend bartenders this summer.

The production space will remain available for private events.

Two men pose before a stage and large American flag.
Warrior Brewing Co. co-owners Matt Caple and Ben Gipson stand before the stage beneath a large American flag in the newly expanded taproom.
Brielle Bredsten / Duluth News Tribune

Grand opening Saturday

A grand-opening event featuring BoBaQ food truck and live music by Leighten Helmer from Soulhead will be held on Saturday in the new taproom, in conjunction with Bent Paddle's Festiversary. There will be booths representing first responders, military and the local community from noon to 2 p.m.

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"A lot of veterans when they get out don't realize how many programs there are at their disposal to help them reintegrate and get back into civilian society and maybe get their feet back on the ground," Caple said.

Warrior Brewing recently partnered with the American Legion in Duluth to produce a new lager to benefit the nonprofit โ€” an opportunity open to legions across the state, Caple said.

"It's just our way of showing our appreciation and giving back to those organizations that we've benefited from personally," Caple said. "The big thing for most of the legions, the VFW and even the DAV, is they're struggling with an aging demographic of membership. By doing this collaboration with us, they're hoping they can get new, youthful membership to come in the doors and keep their organizations going."

Two bottles of beer
Warrior Brewing Co.'s Legion Lager.
Brielle Bredsten / Duluth News Tribune

Future plans

Warrior Brewing's mission to support veterans and first responders made it a fitting vendor in future plans at the Duluth Armory, Caple said, adding that the brewery was approached by Sherman Associates and Armory Arts and Music Center over a year ago.

"It's the perfect place to do a pilot," Gipson said.

The Lincoln Park location would continue to serve as Warrior Brewing's primary production and taproom. The Armory location would offer a full bar and nano brewery, which would allow for experimental batches on a much smaller scale of two to three barrels per batch.

The Duluth Armory Arts and Music Center
The Duluth Armory Arts and Music Center announced a partnership agreement with Sherman Associates to rehabilitate and develop the historic Duluth Armory on Dec. 20, 2021.
Jed Carlson / File / Superior Telegram

"That's a good thing for us because that means we can have many different types of experimental batches taking place. It affords us the opportunity to brew there on stuff we wouldn't necessarily want to experiment with on such a grand scale. If it goes well there, we'd be more than happy to bring it here for larger distribution," Caple said.

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Constructed in 1915, the Duluth Armory served as a Minnesota National Guard and Naval Reserve training site and was Duluth's largest event venue until the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center opened in 1966. The $42 million renovation project is seeking state and federal funding.

"With the Armory coming on line hopefully in the next year sometime, we'll have even more opportunities coming at our doorstep," Caple said. "It's always expanding and we're just trying to play catch-up, but I think we've gotten to the point where we can finally take a breath and settle down a little bit."

more by brielle bredsten
The 2023 Preservation Awards and Centennial Home Celebration is Wednesday.

Brielle Bredsten is the business reporter for the Duluth News Tribune.

She earned a bachelor's degree in Professional Writing & Technical Communication, with minors in Advertising and Creative Writing from Metropolitan State University, in addition to a two-year professional paid internship as reporter/editor of the student newspaper.

She is an award-winning professional writer, photographer and editor based in rural Minnesota. Over the past decade, Brielle Bredsten has contributed more than 1,000 articles, feature stories, non-profit press-releases, photographs and columns. Her work has been published in several community newspapers.

Send her story tips, feedback or just say hi at bbredsten@duluthnews.com.
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