MARQUETTE – Ask anyone at the U.P. Fall Beer Festival and he or she will say it’s the favorite festival of the year. Of course, under the influence of amazing craft beer, it’s easy to say that about any festival.
However, this seems to be the feeling across the board—for both Upper Peninsula locals and Michiganders making the long trek up north. Perhaps it was the beautiful September weather—60 degrees and sunny—a perfect afternoon to usher in the fall season. Or maybe it was the location—Mattson Lower Harbor Park—a beautiful green space in Marquette’s harbor next to the historic ore docks.
More likely, it was a combination of weather, location, beer, and the excellent hospitality offered by the community of Marquette. Like most cities who host a Michigan Brewer’s Guild event, local businesses and residents welcomed visitors from all over the state to embrace Michigan craft.
Unlike other guild fests, the U.P. Fest only took place on Saturday instead of the customary Friday-Saturday block. But this hardly inhibited the merriment. Most festival-goers and brewery representatives made the festival a long weekend journey, with down-staters stopping on the way up to experience other beer destinations and catch up with their northern acquaintances.
Trevor Doublestein, owner at Our Brewing Company in Holland, MI, stopped in his Michigan birthplace of Petoskey on his way up to Marquette, bringing his father, Erwin, with him. “I came up with Trevor. I’ve been living in Holland for three years to help with the brewery,and I’ll be moving back to Petoskey soon. But this weekend I’ll be pouring and drinking with Trevor.”
The Our team connected with Beards Brewery in Petoskey, storing their kegs there before the next half of their journey to the U.P. And they were not the only ones stopping to take a beer break—soon Beards had staff from Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales as well as official guild volunteers and attendees filling up the bar seats. Everyone was happily surprised to meet each other, catch up, and discuss the upcoming festivities.
When Saturday rolled around and the festival gates opened, everyone was ready to sample over 450 different beers from the 65 breweries that made it to Marquette. U.P breweries played excellent hosts to all of their visitors and counterparts while they juggled both pub crowds and festival crowds.
“This is a crazy, crazy weekend for us, but it’s going great,” said Dan Andrews, Blackrocks Brewery manager.
Michigan Brewer’s Guild festivals offer great variety from all regions of Michigan, and guests were treated to all styles of beer. Kuhnenn Brewing Company’s well known Fluffer IPA was featured, but it was also remixed into Grapefruit, Habanero, and Mango versions. Brewery Vivant kicked off the fall seasonal brews with Pumpkin Tart, a Belgian-inspired Ale brewed with real pumpkin. And Brewery Becker had attendees drinking in the old-style of the Vikings with Vargdricka, a Scandinavian Farmhouse Ale.
Veteran breweries supplied brilliant beer options as always, but there were also newer breweries to discover. River’s Edge Brewing Company (Milford), Cognition Brewing Company (Ishpeming), and Tripel Root (Zeeland) were all enthusiastic pourers at the festival, reminding us all that the craft beer industry is still growing across the state.
“We have made everything ourselves, from our beer to our tables, chairs, and building renovations,” said Laura Gentry, part owner and founder of Tripel Root.
They opened their brewpub in Zeeland this past December, bringing craft beer and the dining experience to the small community. The U.P. Beer Festival was their first, and they knew it was a no-brainer when they decided to come, bringing with them Kentucky Waterfall, a Bourbon Barrel-aged Black IPA and Perception Defines Reality, their already award-winning (3rd place People’s Choice Awards for Best Beer Name) Belgian Tripel.
“Both of us, my husband Nate and I, both went to Michigan Tech and love the U.P. And we knew coming to this festival would be more laid back and relaxed. I mean, it’s gorgeous!” said Gentry.
Lines at brewery booths may have been long, but there was plenty to see and plenty to do while waiting. Many were soaking up beer and sunshine while also enjoying a variety of food vendors and musical entertainment. The Aral Sea Divers, Conga Se Menne, Jerry Kippola, and Green Gene the singing farmer provided tunes for lawn lounging and relaxed dancing.
The festival may have ended at 6 p.m. sharp, but downtown Marquette was ready to continue the craft celebrations afterwards, with everyone flocking to local bars, restaurants, and breweries for more music, craft beer, and music.