As the only craft brewery in Devils Lake, the Black Paws Brewing Co. pays homage to the massive, mellow Newfoundland dog. The brewery’s entrance is guarded by a statue of owner Jeb Oehlke’s Newfoundland dog, Riggley, who inspired the brewery’s name and logo.
Black Paws pays tribute to all the Newfoundland dogs the Oehlke family has owned since the early 1990s, when the family acquired their first Newfoundland to use for search-and-rescue missions.
And one of the craft brews served at the comfortable, rustic pub is Newf Drool, a brown ale that emerged from the pantry of on-hand ingredients.
“When I designed that one, I was looking at the ingredients I had on hand,” Oehlke describes. “At the time, I had plenty of my base malt used to get most of the sugar, but then for the specialty grain used to provide the color and the different flavor notes, I had a little bit of a whole bunch of different stuff, so I just started putting it together. Let’s use four ounces of this and six ounces of that and it ended up creating a beer that had the right amount of alcohol for the style and the right color range and the right bitterness range. It ended up being a really, really good beer.”
Designing a new recipe and seeing the final product is Oehlke’s favorite part of owning a brewery.
He has crafted eight beers on tap, and hopes to have at least 12 of his own creations.
The most popular is No Joke Blonde Ale, which is slightly sweet with a mild orange aroma.
“It appeals to the widest audience. It’s light-colored, light-tasting, light-bodied. It’s the closest thing we have to an American light lager, which is what most people tend to drink nowadays,” he says.
A craft beer he enjoys is Strong Beard Game, a coffee stout made with Bearded Man Coffee.
Located at 424 Fourth St. NE in Devils Lake, the brewery opened its doors in July 2022, when Oehlke decided to change career paths.
After home brewing since 2011, he decided to open his own business, putting aside his law career.
“There were quite a few people who were pretty excited about it opening,” he says.
Black Paws is housed downtown in a building dating back to 1935.
Oehlke kept the rustic history of the building intact by restoring it using as much reclaimed materials as possible.
“I found landowners that had barns or old buildings that either needed to be taken down or had recently fallen down that we could scavenge,” he says. “We got a lot of materials we needed from those buildings.”
Inside, Oehlke welcomes visitors to a comfortable atmosphere, with darts and axe throwing available.
“Come out to Black Paws for fresh and local craft beers, delicious food and axe throwing. We have two lanes ready for your group of friends to figure out which one of you will get eaten first during the zombie apocalypse,” he writes in a Facebook post.
Luann Dart is a freelance writer and editor who lives in the Elgin area.
701-662-7297 | www.blackpawsbrewingco.com
Interested in more North Dakota breweries?
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