Drive down East Second Street, and the pale yellow garage seems unassuming. A passerby may not be aware that creativity, innovation and specialty flavors are brewing inside.
Blacklist Brewing operates at 211 E. Second St. in Duluth. Here, the self-titled gypsy brewing company crafts small batches of unique and bold recipes. Seven-year veteran brewer Brian Schanzenbach and certified cicerone Jon Loss are the duo behind one of Duluth’s newest breweries.
“The beer changes over time,” Loss said. “We use artistic elements and are inspired by a lot of things to produce our product. There is a brewer’s legend: if you brewed with a wild yeast, different organisms, or ‘bugs’ for mass production, then you would become blacklisted from stepping into a big time brewing production because of this contamination.
“So, we called ourselves Blacklist based on this.”
The brewery was founded in 2012, yet dreams of drinks began much earlier.
Schanzenbach fermented his fondness through a biology degree from the University of Minnesota Duluth, years of experience at Fitger’s and a World Brewer’s Certificate from the Siebel Institute in Chicago. Loss, on the other hand, acquired a passion for pints through his art and marketing degree from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.
In Blacklist’s earlier production, the co-founders were part of the “gypsy” bandwagon, also known as contract brewing. Schanzenbach and Loss rented out a microbrewery’s space as if they were nomads. And Blacklist’s current Second Street location was their migratory microbrewery of choice.
“We would bring our own equipment to a rented space,” Loss said.
While Blacklist is brewing in a concrete location, a gypsy lifestyle is still on the horizon, Loss said.
“This isn’t a permanent location.
“We see ourselves being here for three or four years, but we want to become a destination brewery. We want to have a tasting room - like a European-style bistro with good food and small tastings.”
With a creative vision, innovation poured readily for Schanzenbach and Loss. By crafting their own artistry, the childhood friends say they gather their inspiration from the experimental nature of Belgian beers. With flavors ranging from honeysuckle to fennel to rhubarb, there is no doubt that Schanzenbach and Loss would be “blacklisted.”
All year round, we have our strong, golden Belgian,” Schanzenbach said. “It’s a straightforward, traditional, ‘by-the-book’ Belgian called Or de Belgique.
“But we make beers with grapefruit, green tea, lemongrass, Kaffir limes, local honey and even spruce tips that we hand-picked ourselves. And when harvest time comes, we’ll go out to Bayfield and pick our own fruit,” Schanzenbach said.
With nods to northern Minnesota, such as spruce tips and local honey, as well as exotic flavors, such as Kaffir limes, they guys at Blacklist Brewing are proudly pouring what they have always wanted: creativity and innovation, they said.
“Our niche is specialty,” Schanzenbach said. “We love to live there.”
To get your mitts on some malts, a number of retail locations in Duluth, as well as the Twin Cities, sell their 750-milliliter medleys. Typical prices for their brew ranges from $10 to $13, depending on the liquor store.
“We have roughly 20 registered styles,” Loss said. “Seven to eight of those are available to all of the public, but we’re also always in process of creating new beers.”
For more information on Blacklist Brewing, visit their website at blacklistbrewing.com, call (218) 831-2767, or email jloss@blacklist
Kate Murphy is a senior journalism student at the College of St. Scholastica. She can be reached at email@example.com