MARQUETTE — Beer news has been abuzzing throughout the Upper Peninsula lately; from the Upper Hand Brewing announcement to Blackrocks’ notable expansion and canning project.
Everything came together Saturday, for the fifth annual Michigan Brewers Guild U.P. Fall Beer Festival, held at Riverside Park.
And despite some colder-than-expected temperatures and a slight mist in the air, 3,500 festival-goers were treated to beers from across the state.
Several breweries brought everything from staple, well-recognized beers to the exploratory kiwi, ice cream, pumpkin and coconut brews.
One of the brews I had been wanting to try for a while was out of Petoskey Brewing. While its Brain Freeze (6.9% ABV) was available at the Summer Beer Festival in Ypsilanti, it sold out within a matter of minutes, and I wasn’t able to try any. Petoskey was one of my first stops during the enthusiast hour on Saturday, and sure enough, the brew was sold out when I went back a few hours later. The brew was sweet and tart raspberry, with somewhat of a cream aspect. Believe it or not, this hit the mark and reminded me just of a waffle cone and raspberry ice cream.
Switching it up, Dark Horse brought a stout that was right out of the candy aisle. I’ll Have More Stout (8.6% ABV)— themed after a 100 Grand candy bar — was sweet, bold and rich. Lots of chocolate, vanilla and some toffee flavors help to offset the alcohol feel of this brew. This is certainly a worthy option for adults looking for a bit of a twist on the famous candy dessert.
For those looking for somewhat of a less intense stout offering, Hereford & Hops out of Escanaba brought its Schwartzbier (4.9% ABV) — a stout brewed as a lager. The light body made this enjoyable, yet still contained the flavor profile that many come to expect with a stout — chocolate, malt and caramel with a hint of bitterness.
Southern Michigan heavyweight Greenbush Brewery made the long trek north, bringing some of its best and brightest, including Memento Mori (6.3% ABV). This Oktoberfest ale contains some citrus, spice, roasted malt and a slight bitterness — making for a very easy-drinking fall brew.
But one of my favorites of the day was an old favorite, given a rebirthing process at Griffin Claw Brewing Company out of Birmingham. Screamin’ Pumpkin (5% ABV), the popular pumpkin-flavored beer originally brewed at the now-defunct Michigan Brewing Company, was given a second life when the original brewer, Dan Rogers, decided to revitalize it at Griffin Claw. The result? A brew that couldn’t have represented the original any better — and on tap, the flavors were even more present. While this won’t be available in your local grocery or beer stores (yet), it’s definitely one to make the trip for this fall.
Other beers that impressed included White Flame’s Cookie Monster, Short’s Kiwi Destroy Mission, Soo Brewing’s Barbaric Saftig Reserve and Blackrocks’ Coconut Brown.
The next Michigan Brewers Guild festival takes place Oct. 25 and 26, at Eastern Market in Detroit. Saturday is sold out, but tickets are still available for Friday at mibeer.com.