Sitting on the edge of the Marquette harbor, the fourth annual U.P. Fall Beer Festival couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful setting.
With the water glistening in the warm fall-like sun, the laid back festival was underway.
With 210 beers from 37 breweries, great people and the ever-present Upper Penisula culture, Scott Newman-Bale, Short’s Brewing Company CFO and vice president, said on the way in, “This festival is enjoyable, it’s much more laid back than the other festivals.”
It’s hard to imagine a beer festival having a huge variety of laid-backness, but this one was sedated. The brewers and volunteers were eager to hold conversations and keep the beer flowing. The lines weren’t long, and everyone in them was friendly and not upset if they were accidentally pushed a spot further back.
It was the first festival for Ore Dock Brewing Company, which opened in the spring, and excited for the easy commute to the festival. The brewery is located just a short walk from Mattson Lower Harbor Park, where the festival was held.
Ore Dock head brewer Nick VanCourt handed me a special Serano Saison and talked at length about the company’s journey and decision to open in the Upper Penisula.
“It’s awesome, we need it,” VanCourt said. “For us, we’re just two blocks away, (it) took 10 minutes to load, get here and unload.”
After the nice conversation with VanCourt, the party headed to another tent, this time for Copper Canyon Brewery. There, Todd Parker quickly poured a few samples, from the Miri Maibock to Buffalo Jump Stout to their best-seller the Devil’s Peak IPA.
While sipping the brews, Parker explained the long drive from Southfield, Mich., is worth the trip for the festive and different atmosphere at the U.P. festival.
Walking away, Parker started a nice back and forth with the Dragonmead Brewery next door.
Later in the afternoon, Keweenaw Brewing Co., helped make light of what’s so special about the Upper Peninsula and its brewing culture.
“The brewing culture is already laid back, but life up here is a tad slower and it translates, and you’re working with beer,” KBC employee Matt Williams said. “The water up here is Superior, too.”