Bent Paddle Brewing Company: Bending the Traditions


Bent Paddle Brewing Company strives to give customers a more unique craft beer experience by concentrating on sustainability for the business, employees, the environment, and the greater community.

If you haven’t had a chance to stop by Bent Paddle Brewery, I highly recommend you do so.

Four Individuals, Two Couples, One Dream

Bent Paddle Brewing Company, founded by Colin Mullen, Laura Mullen, Karen Tonnis, and Bryon Tonnis, conceptualized in 2010 and opened in 2013, when the four decided to pursue their dream of starting their own craft brewery. Bryon and Colin together have over 30 years of professional brewing experience. Karen has over 12 years of distribution and operations experience and Laura has experience with outreach and events after running an event design company since 2005. Together, the four knew they had a future in the brewery business. The combination of a passion for craft beer and hands on experience working in the craft beer industry are two big contributing factors to the company’s success. With the rise in demand for craft beer, they knew they had an opportunity waiting for them.

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The two couples share a passion for the outdoors and canoeing – the Boundary Waters and the Brule River are a couple of their favorite spots. Prior to Bent Paddle, Bryon brewed at Rock Bottom Brewery in Minneapolis where he used a bent shaft canoe paddle to "mash in." While working his last day at Rock Bottom, Byron’s paddle broke in half, ultimately sparking the origin of the brand name, Bent Paddle Brewing Company. The duo felt the “bent paddle” symbolized the brewery’s location in Duluth, along with the northwoods adventurous vibe.

With a unique and meaningful name, the four made it their goal to produce beers that are drinkable, yet balanced with an edge of originality- ultimately “bending the traditions” of the classic style they represent. With the great brewing water of Lake Superior, they knew the city of Duluth would be the best location to host their brewery. A few of their recommended beers are the Kanu, Venture Pils, and the Cold Press Black Ale. In addition, along with their wonderful neighbors, such as Frost River and Duluth Grill, Bent Paddle has continued to bring in more foot traffic and activity into the Lincoln Park Craft District with brewery tours and their taproom.

New and Improved Taproom Now Open

It has been an exciting year of renovations and the two couples are thrilled to announce the opening of the new and improved taproom. Bent Paddle has partnered with other organizations within the Duluth community to put together an incredibly unique taproom. A few of these organizations include: Bentleyville USADuluth Barrel Works, and Loll Designs. They created a fun and relaxing environment for families and children (and dogs) to enjoy both inside and outside. Founder, Laura Mullen mentions, “even the bathrooms are pretty awesome." All four founders could not be more excited for what the future has in store for them and their new taproom.

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