Warrior Brewing expands
After growing its taproom in Duluth's Lincoln Park Craft District, plans for a potential second location are brewing.
DULUTH — 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."
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.
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."
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.
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.
"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.
"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.
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.
"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 — 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."
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.
"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.
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."