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Headlines You Might Not See

Mon, 09/01/2014 - 6:06am

If you live in the cities then you probably would never see an article like this. Living on the edge of the wilderness I don’t even see an article like this very often. Just thought I would share it with you!

Warning: Timber wolves attacking dogs, and what to do in that situation

August 29, 2014 Updated Aug 29, 2014 at 11:28 PM CDT

Grand Marais, MN (NNCNOW.com) — The Cook County Sheriff’s office has issued a wolf warning in Cook County, Minn.

Residents are being warned because at least five dogs, in the last two weeks, are assumed to have been killed by wolves in and around Grand Marais.

A couple of the wolf attacks were witnessed by the dog owners.

“I think if you’re a dog owner anywhere in wolf country, northern, especially northeastern, Minnesota, then you should always attend your dog when it’s outside – never leave your dog unattended,” according to Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Conservation Officer Darren Fagerman.

Sometimes attacks on dogs can occur because of territorial issues, or the wolves are looking for easy prey while in survival mode.

If a wolf is attacking your dog, you are not allowed to shoot the wolf because discharging a firearm in Grand Marais is illegal.

The sheriff’s office says you could make an attempt to scare the wolf away with shouting, banging metal and making any loud sounds, and call authorities.

However, if you are outside the city limits of Grand Marais, you can shoot the wolf to protect your dog, and then call the DNR, Fagerman said.

The Cook County Sheriff’s office also says wolves have been approaching people on the north side of Grand Marais.

“I don’t know if they are curious and losing their fear, I don’t know what it is. They seem to be coming into the city more and more lately,” Fagerman said. “The wolves seem to be more curious, and not aggressive, when it comes to approaching people.”

Fagerman says he learned from second–hand reports that someone was gardening outside in Grand Marais when a wolf came very close to her. He says the woman sprayed the wolf with the garden hose, and it ran away.

Another woman was walking in town when a wolf reportedly came close. She backed away from it, and the wolf went away.

Fagerman says backing away from a wolf slowly is the correct approach.

If you are in that area, and would like to be prepared, Fagerman says you could carry pepper spray.

Ramona Marozas
Rmarozas@kbjr.com

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Other Owatonnanians at the end of the Gunflint Trail

Sun, 08/31/2014 - 6:34am

I think I made that word up but doesn’t it look cool? Last week I introduced Matt Ritter, one of our Voyageur Crew members from Owatonna and today I’ll introduce two others. Paul Swenson is a friend of Matt’s and Ryan Ritter is Matt’s brother. Paul has been working at Voyageur all summer but Ryan recently arrived after his short 900 mile canoe trip to Hudson Bay.

I haven’t had a ton of time to talk to Ryan about his epic paddling adventure but you can read a little bit about it on Facebook.  I know they saw Musk Ox, Polar Bears, Whales and Caribou and they saw very few people.  I haven’t had him fill out his Questionnaire about paddling in the BWCA so I might have to save that information for another post. He plans to stay at Voyageur through the fall and I couldn’t be happier. He’s done some great work in the short amount of time he has been here including clearing with a chain saw and painting a cabin. Keep up the great work Ryan.

Paul Swenson arrived early in the spring and has been with us ever since. He knows how to do everything there is to do at Voyageur but he prefers some tasks over others. He likes to build stuff and work on projects while he’s working and when he’s not working he likes to fish. His favorite Boundary Waters lake is Saganaga and his favorite route is the Granite River.  When he’s not at Voyageur he enjoys playing hockey, snowboarding and fishing.

Maybe that’s why Paul tolerates our 13 year-old son Josh and his friends so well? Josh likes to fish and loves to play hockey too. Paul is great with the kids and our guests.

Paul is a Sophomore Marketing major at UMD in Duluth, Minnesota. When he grows up he wants to be Mike Prom. I’m not sure how concerned I should be about that since he didn’t say he wants to be “like” Mike but actually wants to be him.

In any case Paul has been a great asset to Voyageur and we’re super lucky to have him as part of our crew.

Paul and Josh

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Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center Pie Social

Sat, 08/30/2014 - 6:23am

It’s not like you need a reason to take a drive up the Gunflint Trail but if it makes you feel better then here’s a reason. Sunday is the annual Pie and Ice Cream Social held at Chik-Wauk Museum.  Visiting the Museum is always a good time and if the weather is nice then be sure to take a hike too. There are quite a few hikes to choose from and the last time I was there blueberries still lined the hiking trail to Blueberry Hill.  Whether or not there are blueberries the views from the hiking trails are beautiful and it’s great to spend time outside.

Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center on the Gunflint Trail

Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center will host an Old Fashioned Pie and Ice Cream Social on the museum front porch and grounds over Labor Day weekend on Sunday, August 31, from 11am – 4pm. As always, there’s a suggested donation for pie, ice cream and beverage. This day also features the annual Chik-Wauk “sidewalk” sale which offers steep discounts on many gift shop items. It will be a fun way to wrap up the summer and say “so long till next year,” to our friends and neighbors. 

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Why Did the Turtle Cross the Road?

Fri, 08/29/2014 - 10:13am

To get to his winter home of course! Please use caution when driving on the Gunflint Trail and lend a helping hand to a turtle.

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                             Aug. 28, 2014

Baby turtles are hatching and adults are getting ready for winter
Help turtles safely cross roads

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is asking people to share the road with hatchling and adult turtles this fall.

Turtles crossing roads in late-August and September are often moving to familiar overwintering locations. Unfortunately, many hatchling and adult turtles’ have to cross roads to get to wintering areas.

“Roadway mortality is believed to be a major factor in turtle population declines throughout the United States,” said Christopher Smith, DNR nongame wildlife specialist.

In Minnesota, where all turtles are mainly aquatic, overland journeys usually occur: in connection with seasonal movements between different wetland habitats; during the annual early summer nesting migration of egg laden females; or when newly hatched youngsters seek out the backwaters and ponds that will serve as their permanent home. Turtles can travel many miles during a single year, and may even be found far from water; this is no need for concern.

Giving turtles a hand
Here are some tips to help turtles across roads:

Avoid danger. Simply pulling off the road and turning on hazard lights may alert other drivers to slow down. Be aware of surroundings and traffic.
Avoid excessive handling. While wanting to inspect turtles closely is understandable, excessive handling can disrupt normal behavior. Prolonged examination of turtles should therefore be limited to only one or two individuals of each species.
Allow unassisted road crossings. When turtles can safely cross roads unaided due to a lack of oncoming traffic allow them to do so. Observe from a distance and avoid rapid movements, as doing otherwise will often cause turtles to change direction, stop, or seek shelter within their shells.
Handle turtles gently. If necessary to pick them up, all turtles except Snappers and Softshells should be grasped gently along the shell edge near the mid-point of the body. Many turtles empty their bladder when lifted off the ground, so be careful not to drop them if they should suddenly expel water.
Maintain direction of travel. Always move turtles in the same direction they were traveling in when encountered. Turtles should always be moved across roadways in as direct a line as possible.
Find more information at www.dnr.state.mn.us/reptiles_amphibians/helping-turtles-roads.html.

Check out the DNR’s turtle poster:http://files.dnr.state.mn.us/eco/nongame/turtle_poster.pdf.

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Our House is a Very Fine House

Thu, 08/28/2014 - 10:16pm

Do you ever wish you could live in a tent in the wilderness? Think about how little time you would have to spend cleaning and making beds. It sounds quite attractive to me especially if I could set the tent up in the Boundary Waters. It would make a very fine house indeed.

Camping in the BWCA

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Paddling Safely in the Boundary Waters

Wed, 08/27/2014 - 4:51pm

Some of these suggestions for safe paddling aren’t applicable in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area but I figure most of our readers paddle elsewhere too.  It’s a short, cute video that is a good reminder to be smart wherever you paddle.  With Labor Day Weekend right around the corner I’m hoping many of you plan to paddle and this will keep you paddling safely.

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Cold Day on the Gunflint Trail

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 7:53pm

Tonight the temperature is predicted to drop into the 40′s and today it felt like fall. It was cool and breezy with a high of only 61 degrees. Some people like this weather, I’m not one of those. I prefer the high of 80 degrees we had on Sunday.

The temperature is supposed to get up into the 70′s again this week. I’m looking forward to sunshine and warmth to end the summer. School starts for the kids on Tuesday and the days of summer are dwindling.

The good news? The water temperature is warmer than the air and we can still enjoy swimming and paddling. Come on up before the lakes turn solid.

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Voyageur Crew from Owatonna

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 8:29pm

I better continue the introductions of our Voyageur Crew 2014 before they depart. We currently have three Voyageur Crew members from Owatonna, Minnesota which is also the hometown of Don Enzenauer who we bought Voyageur from over 20 years ago.

Matt Ritter is a 2nd year Crew Member who just graduated from Lake Superior College this spring. He majored in Automotive Service Technology and has a job in that field beginning mid-September. We’ll be sad to see him go and even sadder knowing he most likely has entered the real world and he won’t be returning to Voyageur next summer. We can’t be sure he won’t be back since what he really wants to be when he grows up is an inspiration to this planet. I think there’s a better chance of doing that at Voyageur then there is working on vehicles, but you never know.

Matt can perform all of the jobs at Voyageur and believe me, we’ve had him do them all. He transports groups via towboat, drives them in vehicles, cleans cabins, cleans gear, works in the store, cooks and does KP but he most enjoys building and fixing things. He’s done quite a few projects this year and they all turned out awesome. We’re going to miss his handy work around here.

You may remember Matt from the blog I wrote about the Ely Challenge. He was the paddling partner of Abigail who paddled to Ely and back in less than 24 hours. He also was a fierce competitor at the annual canoe races; we’ll have to ask him back at least to paddle for that next summer.

His favorite lake in the BWCA is Red Rock Lake and his favorite route includes Ottertrack.  He most wants to paddle the Falls Chain in the Quetico Park. I guess we know he’ll at least return to paddle again.

I guess I’ll have to introduce the other two Owatonna crew members in a different blog since this one got quite long.

Paddling the Boundary Waters

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Don’t Get Lost

Sun, 08/24/2014 - 10:54pm

I read a story about a man getting lost in California while he was on a fishing trip and it reminded me about a couple I encountered the other day. I was out picking blueberries with friends in a very popular location.  We were talking and picking and then we heard someone yell, “HELLO!”.  We yelled back and in response we heard a man say, “Thank God, we were lost.”

We couldn’t see the man and didn’t see him until about twenty to thirty minutes later.  During this time we kept yelling to him so he could use our voices to figure out which way the road was. We were done picking but waited for him and his wife to get out to the road before we left. They emerged from the woods grateful, sweaty and disheveled.  He said he wouldn’t have known what to do if we hadn’t been there.

When they saw our buckets of blueberries they asked in astonishment, “Did you pick those right here by the road?” We answered, “Yes.” and then he said to both us and his wife, “Well, now we’ll know we don’t have to go in so far tomorrow.” To this his wife replied, “I won’t be going blueberry picking tomorrow.”

Thankfully this story had a happy ending.  It’s easy to get turned around in the woods especially since all of the trees and brush are about 10-12 feet tall. It’s very thick in places with tall grass hiding rocks, holes, downed timber and burned stumps. In one of the places I went picking I took flagging ribbon around to mark my path so I couldn’t get lost.

This reminded me of another story. A long time ago when Mike’s cousin Sheri was very young we went out hiking. I put her in charge of tying the flagging ribbon onto the trees while I attempted to locate/make my own trail to a destination I wanted to reach. The instructions I gave her were simple, “Just make sure you can see the last ribbon from where you tie the next ribbon.”

After awhile of bushwhacking I finally gave up and decided it was time to turn back the way we came. When I looked for the flagging I couldn’t see any in sight. I asked Sheri where the ribbon was and she said, “I ran out a long time ago.”

I think about that now and think it is so funny. On that particular day however I didn’t think it was funny. I was responsible for her and an employee I brought along on the expedition and I had no clue where to go. We eventually made it back to civilization exhausted and me soaking wet from a swim I had to do to in order to get someone to go back to get them with a boat.

Both of these stories had a happy ending but could just as easily not have been.  Try to keep the odds in your favor when you’re out in the woods and bring along a compass, map, whistle, flagging ribbon, gps, cell phone, sun dial or whatever else will help you from staying lost.

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Catch and Release Fishing in the BWCA

Sat, 08/23/2014 - 9:33pm

We encourage catch and release fishing in the Boundary Waters and Quetico Park. This helps to ensure quality fishing for canoe country campers who visit in the future. While it is nice to get a photo of your fish it is better for the fish if it is done while the fish is in the water. If you must have a photo of yourself with a fish you plan to release then be sure to follow the guidelines below and remember to support the weight of the fish body with a hand under its belly and keep the fish horizontal. Do not hold a fish by the lower jaw because it can damage jaw muscles that will affect the ability of the fish to feed after release. It’s fun to catch a fish and even more rewarding to watch it swim away after you have released it.

 

  1. Be Prepared. Too many times I have casted a lure into the water not expecting to catch a fish and one ends up stuck on my lure. I then find myself struggling to reach a needle nose or other tool in order to release the fish. Always plan to catch a fish and have a needle nose, gloves or whatever else you need nearby so you can quickly and efficiently release a fish.
  1. Be Efficient. You can increase the rate of survival if you avoid over playing the fish. Retrieve the fish deliberately, not too quickly, slowly or sporadically. This will help reduce the stress and fatigue a fish experiences.
  2. Go Barbless. The use of barbless hooks or cutting the barbs off of lures can aide in a quick release that does less damage to a fish.
  3. Wear Rubberized Gloves. I know it might look silly and your friends may make fun of you but if you are planning to release a fish then wear rubber gloves. It helps protect the coat of slime the fish needs on its body and gloves allow you to get a firm grip without squeezing the fish too hard. Touching fish with your bare hands can cause fungus growth or infections leading to the death of the fish.
  4. Fish Belong in Water. If at all possible it is best to release a fish while the fish is still in the water. Air is an enemy of fish and sunlight can damage their eyes. To release a fish in the water just reach over the side of the watercraft and use a needle-nosed pliers to gently remove the hook from the fish and watch it swim away.
  5. Cut the Line. When a fish has swallowed the hook do not try to remove the hook from inside of the fish. Just cut the line as close to the hook as possible and over time the hook will dissolve or dislodge.
  6. Handle With Care. If you must touch the fish then either wear gloves or wet your hands first to protect the slime coating.  Keep your fingers out of the gills and eyes and hold the fish firmly without squeezing and prevent the fish from battering itself on hard or hot surfaces. Support the body of the fish with a hand under the stomach even while it is in the water so the pressure on the hook is eliminated.
  7. Use Nets Sparingly. If you must bring the fish into the boat with a net then be sure it is a rubberized net. This type of net will cause less damage to the fish.
  8. Release with Care. Gently return the fish to the water in a headfirst position pointing it straight down to allow the fish to plunge into the water.
  9. Fish CPR.  A fish may need to be revived if it is exhausted or if it has spent too much time out of the water. Hold the fish in the water in their normal swimming position while supporting the belly and holding both the mouth and gills open.  Move them forward or hold them facing into a current to allow water to pass through their gills.  They should swim away under their own power.

If all efforts to release a fish fail then consider it as part of your catch.  Otherwise give each fish the best fighting chance at survival so they may go on to live and reproduce for other generations. Follow these guidelines and let them go so they can grow.

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Moose Calling at the State Fair

Fri, 08/22/2014 - 6:39am

This might just be the way to get people from up north down to the Minnesota State Fair.

Hear the Call of the Moose at the Minnesota State Fair

Fairgoers can hear the Call of the Moose at the Minnesota State Fair. A new partnership between the Department of Natural Resources and Les Kouba Outdoors was formed to raise awareness of the plight of Minnesota moose and raise money for moose research and management.

At the fair:

Get info on a new critical habitat license plate featuring moose art by renowned wildlife artist Les Kouba. Information about the program is available on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/plates.
Hear moose calling when the finalists of the Let Loose Your Minnesota Moose-Moose Calling Contest sound off on the DNR Volunteer Outdoor Stage at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Friday, Aug. 29. The DNR’s Tom Rusch, Tower area wildlife manager, will give moose background, demonstrate calling and help judge. Sign up for the contest from 9 a.m. today through 12:45 p.m. Aug. 29, at the fair at the Call of the Moose Store, or online at www.leskoubaoutdoors.com or www.callofthemoose.com.
Hear original music from Michael Monroe dedicated to the Call of the Moose Minnesota. Monroe blends vocals, guitars, bamboo and crystal flutes, and will perform at various times on Thursday, Aug. 28, at the Call of the Moose store, and at 1 p.m. on Aug. 29 before the calling contest.
Merchandise is being sold near the DNR building at the Call of the Moose store. A portion of the proceeds benefits moose research and management. See a restored statue of a life-size moose that has been displayed at the State Fair for nearly 20 years. This year, the moose is outfitted with a tracking collar similar to those used to track real moose in northern Minnesota. See a video of the moose restoration at http://youtu.be/h8Np4zu__xA.
Why all the focus on moose? Moose in Minnesota are in trouble. A 50 percent decline in the moose population since 2010 has left the iconic Minnesota animal in real danger of disappearing.

Information on the partnership between the DNR and Les Kouba Outdoors is available online at www.callofthemoose.com. Information from the DNR on moose research can be found at www.mndnr.gov/moose.

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Funny Fox Video

Thu, 08/21/2014 - 4:34pm

We love fox and we know how curious and mischievous they are. I’m not sure why this person left their GoPro on the ground but the fox took advantage of the opportunity to steal it. The video mainly shows the inside of the fox’s mouth. I’ve always been tempted to put a GoPro on my dog or wish I could put one on a fox to see where they go. Guess I will just have to settle for this video for now.

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What Happened to the Sun

Wed, 08/20/2014 - 9:01pm

The sun is getting lazy. It stays in bed longer in the morning and goes to bed much earlier in the evening. This week the sun has barely shown itself during the day. It’s as if the sun has decided to cut back on work. I’d like to tell the sun its work isn’t over yet.  There are still two more weeks before the kids start school again and they’d like some sunshine. When it’s overcast and a mist is falling from the sky it’s difficult to find the motivation to go fishing, paddling or swimming so hopefully the sun will put in a few more hours of work this week. According to the forecast the sun must have asked for more vacation time with the exception of Saturday when it looks like its scheduled to work.  Let’s hope the sun has a guilty conscious and decides to work a little harder these upcoming weeks.

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Minnesota Canoeing

Tue, 08/19/2014 - 5:30pm

Here’s a place for you to paddle if you live in Central Minnesota. Clear Waters Outfitting is owned by Mike’s first cousin Sandra and her husband Dan. Mike has been helping with their business since they started and still helps out when he can.  We’ve paddled a section of the river and had a great time. It’s not the Boundary Waters but it’s not a 6 hour drive from the Twin Cities either.  If you have time for a paddle then be sure to check Clear Waters out.

CLEARWATER, Minn. (WCCO) – The Mississippi is a powerful river spanning more than 2,000 miles. But there’s one stretch, not far from the metro, that’s shallow and peaceful enough to attract canoeists, paddle boarders and kayakers.

It’s a wide section between St. Cloud and Anoka that’s been designated “wild and scenic” by the DNR.   That means no one can put up new buildings or cut down trees along the shoreline.

It’s where Dan Meer and his family started their company, Clear Waters Outfitting, five years ago.

“Right here, it’s probably only about three, four feet deep,” Meer said. “But you can definitely see to the bottom.”

It’s a lush, green view that Meer appreciates probably more than most because of where he was ten years ago, patrolling parts of Iraq with the National Guard.

“Definitely an eye-opener to see the poverty and the things that go on in some other countries,” he said. “And it really made me realize how good we have it here in the U.S.”

But then he returned from his deployment to a struggling economy and a stressful job in the printing industry.

“After coming back from Iraq, I really started reevaluating what I was doing,” he said. “Plus the recession was in place.”

And that’s how CW Outfitting was born, a chance for the Meer family to get control in their lives, and help others at the same time.

“We just want to send people out to relax and have a good time, and get away from their normal busy lives,” Meer’s wife, Sandra, said.

“We do this for the love of the outdoors,” Meer said. “We’ve been very fortunate to find just a gorgeous stretch of river that we can share with people.”

They set up trips of anywhere from eight to 13 miles, on paddle boards, canoes and kayaks.

This week, Mark Arrington of Maple Grove, Minn. took an afternoon to kayak the Mississippi with his daughter and son.

“There’s some stretches where you see nothing but trees and wilderness, and it’s really pleasant,” Arrington said. “It’s not paddling in the city.”

“One group, I think the biggest count of eagles was 12 eagles in one trip,” said Meer. “People see deer, all sorts of wildlife.”

He could’ve made more money, sticking it out through the stresses of corporate life, but he has a new perspective on what’s important.

“It’s not money, and it’s not fame and all that stuff,” he said. “It’s all about people and just having fun in life.”

Meer said that section of river is also great for fishing. And on September 27th, they’ll host their first small-mouth bass fishing tournament.

 

 

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Voyageur Brewing Company Makes Front Page News

Mon, 08/18/2014 - 7:49pm

We’re super excited to see an article about the Voyageur Brewery on the front page of the Sunday Duluth News Tribune.  It’s been fun to see the progress being made on the tap room each time I go to Grand Marais. It will be even more fun when the building is done and we’re actually brewing. It will be awhile before that happens but I’m sure the time will fly by and be here before we know it. We hope you are excited to come visit the brewery and taste our beer!

Voyageur Brewing Co. owners Bruce Walters (from left), Mike Prom and Cara Sporn, all of Grand Marais, stand in the area that is going to be the taproom at the new production brewery under construction in Grand Marais on Thursday afternoon. (Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com) North Shore hops on brewery bandwagon By Jana Hollingsworth on Aug 17, 2014 at 8:44 a.m.

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The Voyageur Brewing Co. in Grand Marais is still a shell of wooden beams and metal but its owners have already been approached by Cook County purveyors of honey, maple syrup, hops, wild rice, apples and coffee.

Owners Mike Prom, Cara Sporn and Bruce Walters are eager to see how their brewery will weave local products into the seasonal offerings they plan to put on tap when their 20-barrel production brewery opens in 2015.

“All walks of life have come up to us and are excited,” Prom said of the building activity on Highway 61 in town, “from the third-generation, blue-collar local to those that live here three months out of the year.”

The 5,400-square-foot space will be the first of its kind in the area, and will house a taproom that also includes a fireplace and lake views, a kitchen for small plates, and a rooftop bar. Tours and tastings are planned for the beer marketed toward the adventure-seeker, and a conservative estimate of 1,000 barrels in the first year is expected.

Prom and his wife, Sue, own Voyageur Canoe Outfitters at the end of the Gunflint Trail. They have been longtime friends with Sporn and her husband, Paul, who owns the popular Grand Marais restaurant My Sister’s Place. Bruce Walters, an investor, and his family have been longtime friends with the Proms. The Walters family recently moved to Grand Marais from the Twin Cities area. The friends have been talking about a brewery for six years, and two years ago began market research and crafting a business plan. None of the owners are home-brewers, but have business backgrounds and profess a love for craft beer.

Collectively, they felt a production brewery and taproom was a missing piece on the Grand Marais landscape, and demographic research has shown the county’s residents are craft beer drinkers, Prom said.

The company will fill eight year-round jobs. A head brewer has yet to be announced, but Sporn revealed that on permanent offer would likely be an IPA, a Belgian wheat and either a stout or a porter style. Six beers will always be on tap. The owners are excited about the influence of Lake Superior water on their beer because of how little pretreatment it needs.

“That’s one of the reasons you’re seeing so many breweries around Lake Superior,” Prom said.

Voyageur’s plan is to handle local customers first, and eventually roll out to Duluth and the Iron Range. Within five years it hopes to make it to the Twin Cities. The brewery won’t compete with local restaurants. Its charcuterie platter and spent-grain pretzels, for example, will whet the appetite of beer drinkers before they set out for dinner. They’ll also allow food to be brought in. The brewery will sell bottles at first, and growlers made of stainless steel and environmentally friendly Nalgene water bottles that can be brought into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

The owners will be joining a serious roster of more than 10 brewers in Northeastern Minnesota and Northwestern Wisconsin, some of whom they’ve gone to for advice. Sporn said the craft brewing community is one of the friendliest industries she’s encountered.

Other regional production companies include Bent Paddle Brewing Co., Lake Superior Brewing Co. and South Shore Brewing in Ashland. A smaller production company — Castle Danger Brewery — just opened a bigger facility in Two Harbors. Neighbor and Gunflint Tavern owner Jeff Gecas will roll out five varieties of beer in the next month from his new five-barrel system.

But the region isn’t saturated, said longtime Fitger’s Brewery head brewer Dave Hoops.

“People really like to buy stuff from these areas. The North Shore and Duluth, Grand Marais; they are all brand names these days,” he said. “I always go back to the fact that right now 92 percent of the beer drank in this country is Millers, Coors, etc. As long as the product is at the highest level of quality, I don’t think there is any kind of limit.”

Even in Duluth, he said, where there is a greater concentration of breweries, he sees space.

“You can see with the unbelievable success of Bent Paddle how much people want this,” Hoops said, noting that many of the breweries are small: “Borealis, Blacklist, Carmody. They are all great, but tiny. Bent Paddle is the only game in town going statewide. I think there is plenty of room yet.”

Walters said the surge in craft brewing in smaller towns hearkens back to the pre-Prohibition era when communities had their own breweries. It’s an inspirational locavore movement and it makes sense, he said.

Prom compared consumers’ obsession with craft beer to that of coffee and wine in recent decades.

“They’re not just accepting one flavor,” he said. “They want to see the local stuff. When we vacation together we find the brewpub. It’s part of the culture right now.”

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