MARQUETTE — For the fourth straight year, the U.P. Fall Beer Festival thrilled craft beer enthusiasts with unique, one-of-a-kind beer from breweries all around Michigan.
Some of the best brews came from not only the staples of Michigan — like Short’s and Kuhnhenn — but also from newcomers to the festival.
Short’s’ newest bottle release, Peaches & Crème (9.5% ABV), was one of the brewery’s highlights at the festival. Its bright orange appearance led way to a peach-dominant aroma. The taste was sweet and overpowered with peaches and a minor bit of creme; needless to say the taste matched the beer’s name perfectly. It was definitely one of the standouts I had, and one I’m definitely going to hunt down in bottles.
Kuhnhenn’s Imperial Creme Brûlée Java Stout (8% ABV) was a great start to the festival, containing caramel, maple and (of course) creme brûlée. It wasn’t as sweet as I had expected, as coffee was more dominant than the sweet dessert.
Ore Dock Brewing Company, located just minutes away from the festival, brought a Zinfandel Barrel Aged Cocoa Blackberry Stout (7+% ABV) that also intrigued me. The cocoa was the story of this brew, with the blackberry shining through at the finish. For it being the brewery’s first time at a festival, it certainly impressed with this brew.
But my favorite brew of the day came from a brewery that was completely new to me — Blackrocks Brewery out of Marquette. Its Coconut Brown beer was a unique take on a brown, containing vanilla, coconut and a hint of coffee. The 7% brew wasn’t overpowered by coconut — rather it was more of a subtle, easy going addition to a solid brown ale. Needless to say it was quite impressive, and had me craving more.
While the U.P. Beer Festival isn’t as large as other Michigan Brewers Guild festivals, it certainly holds its own in a relaxing environment. With short lines, you could easily get your hands on some specialty brews that you wouldn’t otherwise have access to.