After a short night of drinking we woke up early and hit the road. The plan was to get in as many breweries as we could and we were to start at the furthest one north and work our way down. Before we knew it we had rolled into Grand Marais to our first stop: Voyageur Brewing Company.
Voyageur opened their doors in February becoming one of many breweries to join the scene in 2015. They could not have picked a more picturesque location. Their brewery and taproom are located right as you drive into town directly facing Lake Superior. It was unfortunate that we were visiting in the winter because we weren’t able to enjoy their rooftop patio. It is owned by Cara Sporn, Mike Prom, and Bruce Walters. Cara owns a local restaurant My Sister’s Place with her husband Paul, Mike owns the Voyageur Canoe Outfitters and Bruce is moved to town to help get the place off the ground. The three hope to capture the spirit of northern Minnesota in the form of craft beer.
As we stepped inside I couldn’t help but notice the taproom was bathed in natural light. The rustic industrial furniture and decor were a perfect match for the setting. When we made our way to the bar I noticed there was seating nestled among their equipment along with Jumbo Jenga and a Cornhole set. Having seating in these areas is always welcome and provides something different than your normal taproom.
After ordering some flights and grabbing a table I took in my surroundings. We were encompassed by wood that I would later find out was all reclaimed. The story around it all can be found on their blog and more interesting than you may think. Large glass windows overlooked Lake Superior, and a roaring fireplace provided a cozy atmosphere. There is also some fantastic art from local artist Dave Gilsvik.
You’re probably realizing by now that we loved the taproom, but how was the beer? It definitely stacked up! I had high ratings across the board. Our flights were made up of six beers, and we were able to grab some free pints due to some wooden nickels my father found while geocaching.
The Devil’s Kettle IPA, named after a unique natural phenomenon, was crisp and bitter with a slightly hoppy, smooth aftertaste, and a citrus floral aroma. Their Boundary Waters Brunette is a brown ale (imagine that) with roasted malty notes. Next was the Palisade Porter. It was a dark reddish brown with a slight haze, smooth, chocolatey, and maybe even a faint cherry flavor. The Tailbreaker Belgian Wheat was crisp and clean with very spicy notes. It would make a perfect fall beer and we grabbed a growler of this one to take home. Their Red Sash Irish Red Ale was a hazy reddish yellow and tasted nutty, malty, sweet, and smooth. The last beer of the flight was the Maple Hill Smoked Roggenbier. It had the usual aromas and flavors of smoked fish but wasn’t overpowering like some other beers of the style. I finished up with their Blueberry Bohemian which was slightly sour and very sweet. It may have been my least favorite of the day but there was some definite potential.
Voyageur Brewing Company was an absolute gem and the highlight of our trip. Did the distance we traveled affect our decision? Probably, but their attention to detail and overall atmosphere just can’t be matched. They provide the full grain bill, hops, and yeast used to brew the beer on their tap list. We ate excellent cheese curds from their small pub menu, listened to some great music, and drank some great beer. We can’t wait to go back. After all we have a growler we need to fill and a patio to enjoy!