There are many reasons we consider master brewer Dave Hoops a Trailblazer in the world of beer here in Minnesota. His resume runs deep: educated at Siebel Institute of Technology; 16-plus years leading the brew crew at the iconic Fitger’s Brewhouse; founding member the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild; and regular beer judge at the annual Great American Beer Festival competition.
After stepping down from his post at Fitger’s Brewhouse, Hoops dedicated his time in 2016 to advancing the craft beer industry. He used his voice to educate craft beer newcomers and veteran beer nerds on various issues in beer through his “Hoops on Hops” column in Duluth News Tribune. Some columns tackled technical topics, while others were more culturally focused. Hoops waxed poetic on the beauty of a favorite beer in one article, and in the next shared his past experiences with a beer festival to provide a field guide for new festgoers. Hoops’ excitement for the past, present, and future of craft beer is electric and makes his column essential reading for Minnesota beer lovers.
Hoops also joined forces with former Fitger’s Brewhouse owner Tim Nelson in his newest venture, a brewery consulting firm called Bev-Craft. Hoops is using his extensive brewing experience to help new brewery entrepreneurs with brewhouse planning, recipe development, and quality control—a key issue facing Minnesota’s brewing industry.
What has most beer geeks buzzing, though, is the announcement that Hoops is opening his own brewery in Duluth’s Canal Park. Hoops Brewing will be a production brewery with a beer hall style taproom overlooking the Duluth Harbor, and its brewhouse framed in glass walls so that it can be the focal point for regulars and tourists visiting for a few pints or a Crowler to go. While most effort and attention will be on brewing for and serving beer at the taproom, Hoops has said that the brewery will self-distribute to a limited number of accounts in Duluth and the Twin Cities. That’s exciting news for one of Minnesota’s favorite craft beer sons as he begins his next adventure.
Our mission at The Growler is to tell stories that inspire progress in local food, drink, and culture. And in that spirit as part of our 2016 Kind-Of-A-Big-Deal Issue, we felt the need to point out 25 people, ideas, businesses, and organizations who have done necessary, important, and groundbreaking work in 2016. See the rest of our 2016 Trailblazers here.