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2017-02-17 / Features

New regional breweries are planned for Grand Rapids and Superior

By Beth Bily
BusinessNorth

GRAND RAPIDS/SUPERIOR – The regional brewing market will expand further this year with new breweries planned in Grand Rapids and Superior.

When Northern Brewing Company shuttered its doors in 1967, it was Superior's last brewer, but that will change when Tim Nelson and his company Bev-Craft build Earth Rider Brewing Co. to service the Twin Ports, and the South and North Shores of Lake Superior.

The craft brewing industry explosion also is making its way into Grand Rapids. At a late January meeting of the Grand Rapids Economic Development Authority February(GREDA),2017commissioners approved a $40,000 Commercial Building Improvement Loan (CBIL) to renovate an existing structure to produce and sell craft beer. According to documents filed with the city of Grand Rapids, the loan request was made by Klockow Enterprises, LLC, which plans to launch the Cantankerous Brewing project in October. Owners Andy and Tasha Klockow will renovate a building for the start up venture located at 36 S.E. Tenth Street, which formerly was in use for fleet storage and service for various telecommunications companies.

The Superior brewery will be constructed at 1617 N. Third Street, formerly the Leamon Mercantile Co., between the grain elevators and the restaurants and bars on North Third Street. The location is roughly at the foot of the High Bridge

Nelson expects redevelopment of the structure to begin in the spring with the first batch of beer brewed in late summer. Earth Rider’s brewing operations will occupy a 16,300-square-foot facility, with a project budget to exceed $2.5 million in private investment.

Nelson earlier had planned to build a brewery from scratch but encountered prohibitively expensive construction costs, according to representatives of Superior's development community.

Earth Rider is the second brewery to be announced by Bev-Craft, with Hoops Brewing in Duluth being the first. Bev-Craft is a brewery-incubator consultancy. The company's team includes Nelson, a 22-year industry veteran, Frank Kaszuba and Dave Hoops.

The brewery taproom will be the historic Cedar Lounge, which was originally built by the Northern Brewing Co. as a tied house in 1912. Renovations to the Cedar were completed in August and it is currently operating as a beer-centric tavern.An outdoor beer garden and event space will provide a lively connection between the brew house and the taproom.

Nelson co-founded Minnesota’s fifth craft brewery, Fitger’s Brewhouse, in 1995.

“The head of the Great Lakes have a strong and growing indie beer culture, the best brewing water anywhere, and several outstanding breweries,” he said. “We’re excited to produce a local product that bolsters the economy and culture.”

Additional project support is being provided by the city of Superior, Superior Choice Credit Union, Wisconsin Business snacksDevelopment,for the Douglas County Development Science andAssociation,Technologythe Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, Northland  Foundation, Northeast Entrepreneur Fund and APEX.

In Grand Rapids, the GREDA loan request application describes the proposed brewing operation business with: “Cantankerous Brewing Company will be a small production brewery with a taproom, which produces hand-crafted ales and lagers for the northern Minnesota market served by by the pint, flights, growlers and crowlers (can-growlers). Cantankerous also expects to self-distribute some kegs to local bars and restaurants.”

Plans call for a build-out of 6,000 square feet of the 11,400 square foot structure. That 6,000 square feet would include production and taproom space. The remaining space will be “reserved and used as leasable warehouse space,” according to city documents. Community Development Director Rob Mattei told GREDA commissioners that construction would begin in April.

Building improvements will carry an estimated cost of $405,500. Total project costs—including property acquisition, equipment and build-out—will come in at about $1.1 million. The project will be financed through a combination of a loan from Woodland Bank, a personal loan, a small amount of equity and the CBIL financing.

The CBIL request was reviewed and recommended by a GREDA sub-committee. Commissioners approved the loan request with the contingency that any personal loans be subordinated to the GREDA loan, which would place the city’s portion of the financing in second position.

For more information about Cantankerous Brewing Company, visit the company’s Facebook page.

This story first appeared in BusinessNorth.com on February 9, 2017. Reprinted here with permission.

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