imperial beverage

Michigan — As of March 10, 2018, Imperial Beverage acquired beer distribution rights from Highland Park based Great Lakes Wine & Spirits. The purchase of Bayside Beverage in Marquette, Great Lakes’ Upper Peninsula beer division, includes all beer brands in U.P. counties, which will be added to Imperial’s current portfolio of beer, wine and spirits.

In the Upper Peninsula, Great Lakes distributes products in the MillerCoors family of brands, as does Imperial in the Kalamazoo area. “We are excited to be able to represent MillerCoors in the Upper Peninsula, and see it as a great opportunity to expand our partnership with them,” says Larry Cekola, VP of Sales and Marketing at Imperial. Imperial has been working with MillerCoors since 1985, and prior to this addition of the U.P. territory has distributed Coors, Keystone, Blue Moon, Molson and Killians in Kalamazoo, Branch, St. Joseph, and part of Allegan Counties.

In addition to the MillerCoors portfolio, Great Lakes serves as a wholesaler for Crown Imports (Corona, Modelo) and Boston Beer (Sam Adams, Angry Orchard) as well as a range of craft beer brands in the Upper Peninsula, including Michigan brands Griffin Claw, Latitude 42 Brewing Co., Cheboygan and Petoskey Brewing Co., as well as national brands like Alaskan Brewing Co. and Uinta.

Under the agreement, Imperial has acquired a warehouse facility in Ishpeming and will be expanding their presence with the addition of new brands. Imperial has recently filled 15 new positions to staff the Marquette County facility including sales, warehouse, drivers and management.

March 12 marks the first day of operations for Imperial Beverage in their new Ishpeming facility. The 18,000-square-foot warehouse will be the fourth base of operations for the Kalamazoo-based Imperial Beverage, whose other facilities include a warehouse in Livonia and cross-docking facility in Traverse City.

 

Images courtesy of Imperial Beverage

 

upper hand brewery

ESCANABA, Mich — Upper Hand Brewery will be heading to Minnesota in January 2017, making it the third state where the brewery distributes its beer. Upper Hand beer is also available in Michigan¹s Upper Peninsula and Northern Wisconsin.

The brewery will be working with Artisan Beer Company to bring their beer to the entire state. Artisan was created in 2011 and has statewide distribution in Minnesota. They have structured an enviable portfolio as a result of their continued focus and commitment to the distribution and promotion of leading craft and import beer, cider and mead.

Providing the freshest beer and best customer service is extremely important to us and we could not accomplish this without a strong distributor network. We¹re extremely excited to welcome Artisan to the Upper Hand family, commented Larry Bell, President and Founder of Bell¹s Brewery, Inc. (Upper Hand Brewery is a division of Bell¹s).

To celebrate the brewery¹s expansion, launch events will be held throughout Minnesota. Additional details will be announced on Upper Hand¹s website and social media outlets as they become available.

ABOUT UPPER HAND BREWERY

Brewed on a 20-barrel system in Escanaba, Michigan, our beers celebrate the beauty and uniqueness of the north and our community. We may be a young brewery, but our roots run deep. Upper Hand beers are available throughout the Upper Peninsula and Northern Wisconsin. We brew our beer in the North, where it is meant to be enjoyed. We invite you to visit and enjoy not only our beer, but the wonder and beauty of Michigan¹s Upper Peninsula.

It has been nearly 30 years since the idea and construction of The Vierling came to be. It lends its history to an already historic downtown Marquette, MI, a known destination in the Upper Peninsula for road trips and brewery tours.

“We were sitting on Presque Isle when I realized there were great views and a great opportunity,” said Terry Doyle, one-half of the ownership behind The Vierling.

His other half, Kristi Doyle,  grew up in the Upper Peninsula, with generations of her family leading the way.

“My wife landed me here. I wanted to originally stake my grounds in Florida, but that didn’t last long so we quickly came back up here.”

Wanting to break into the restaurant business, the pair bought an old café on the corner of Marquette’s downtown that featured great Lake Superior views. Nine months and a lot of elbow grease later, The Vierling Saloon and Sample Room opened its doors, showcasing an exquisite menu while providing a beautiful atmosphere to enjoy.

The space gives homage to the original owners, Martin and his son Louis Vierling, with original artwork and stained glass as the primary accents. With the additions of floor-to-ceiling windows looking out over the water and a unique collection of international beer bottles, the Doyles made the space their own, combining history with personal style.

“This space has been a saloon, café, and even a Maytag refrigerator store, but it has always been a place where people come to meet, relax, and enjoy each other’s company,” said Doyle.

When it comes to the menu, the Doyles pride themselves on the whitefish that they get right from the harbor outside their window.

“When we went to Italy and visited Rome, I asked for their best whitefish. But it wasn’t even close to Lake Superior whitefish—the fish we serve here is the best.”

In 1995, The Vierling became famous not only for its whitefish, but also for being one of the first brew pubs in Michigan. They added a five-barrel brewing system, with beautiful equipment manufactured in Budapest, Hungary. Derek Anderson, aka Chumly, has been the brewer since the beginning in 1995 and has crafted a broad spectrum of beers for all different palates.

With craft beer being on the upward swing, Doyle said the best thing about having their own brewery was not having to worry about keeping up with all of the thousands of other beers on the market.

“We sell and make our beer here, and only here. People know what they want when they come here, and we provide it.”

The most sought-after brew featured here seems to be the Blueberry Wheat, a lovely American Wheat topped off with fresh, local blueberries. The Vierling offers many other styles, ensuring great flavors and aromas while keeping the ABVs reasonable.

“Some beers are so high in ABV, and we want to allow for the chance that people can enjoy different beers without overdoing it,” said Doyle. We have our Laid Back IPA, a Session Pale Ale that offers a refreshing amount of hops without going overboard.”

The Vierling is recognized as a historic marker for beer in Marquette, and have been long since joined by other craft breweries in the area. As others opened, such as Blackrocks Brewery and Ore Dock Brewing Company, the brewers have all come to know each other and collaborate on new recipes.

“All the brewers up here talk all the time. For the U.P. Fall Festival—one of our most challenging and busy days of the year—they like to collaborate,” said Doyle.

The fall festival is one of the many activities that keeps Marquette an up north destination year round. Alongside seasonal recreational activities such as fat tire biking, sled dog racing, and hunting, the Northern Michigan University presence means constant visitors and dinner reservations at The Vierling.

And while 30 years of successful business can be considered a remarkable triumph, Terry and Kristi Doyle recognize the craft beer trend and the universal crowd it attracts.

“We hope, this fall, to break into some new things. Maybe be more of a brewpub. Get things geared around the beer, because the beer is absolutely fabulous.”

With an emphasis on special events and tastings in their sample room, they hope to keep the historically elegant atmosphere while maintaining an affordable product for customers of all ages and means.

“We will be celebrating our 30th anniversary this October. We have been in the same spot for 30 years and not too many businesses can say that.”

MARQUETTE — To say White’s Party Store stands on the grounds of legendary Upper Peninsula history is not an exaggeration at all.
“I found this building on a map from the 1800s,” says co-owner Jamie Strand.
Starting as a neighborhood grocery store, before White’s was called White’s it was also a beauty shop, candy store and possibly the first U.P. shop to be issued a liquor license following the end of prohibition.
Through all of this change, White’s and its predecessors have always been a local, family-owned shop — a place nestled right in the Marquette community; and Mac and Jamie Strand strive to keep that tradition alive.
“[There’s] always an opportunity to get to know the community, and especially the history — the history is so important,” says Jamie.
The original White family, to which whom the store is named after, stops in a couple times a year to visit their old business and wax nostalgic about years past. Community members who have lived and breathed Marquette all of their lives “tell stories about how they stopped in here [when it used to be a candy shop] and bought their favorite candies every week.”
History and community have always worked here as a team. All of the local breweries and restaurants — such as Ore Dock Brewing Company and Blackrocks Brewery — work together to keep the craft industry growing. In fact, Jamie admits that former White’s employees are now at Ore Dock Brewing Company and Blackrocks, saying, “everyone has a history together.”
Neighborhood regulars and visitors to the town filter into the shop all of the time, and all are invited to buy and to learn. Here, personalized customer service is top priority, and any employee at White’s is there to offer knowledge.
Apart from selling an excellent selection of craft products, they also have home brewing and wine-making supplies. Home brewing is a fast-growing industry, especially in the Marquette area. In the past year, a Marquette Homebrewing Club has been established with very enthusiastic participation. “I love that people make their own…,” Jamie says, “that they take the time to make a good drink.”
White’s Party Store represents close-knit neighborhoods, a welcoming community and a growing craft industry. It not only offers rare bottles, but it also offers customers a chance to interact with Marquette history. And yes, you can buy the latest cans from Blackrocks Brewery, or maybe pick up some candies or a flask from their specialized gift selections; but just remember the conversation, knowledge, history and service are the real prize.

MARQUETTE — To say White’s Party Store stands on the grounds of legendary Upper Peninsula history is not an exaggeration at all.

“I found this building on a map from the 1800s,” says co-owner Jamie Strand.

Starting as a neighborhood grocery store, before White’s was called White’s it was also a beauty shop, candy store and possibly the first U.P. shop to be issued a liquor license following the end of prohibition.

Through all of this change, White’s and its predecessors have always been a local, family-owned shop — a place nestled right in the Marquette community; and Mac and Jamie Strand strive to keep that tradition alive.

“[There’s] always an opportunity to get to know the community, and especially the history — the history is so important,” says Jamie.

The original White family, to which whom the store is named after, stops in a couple times a year to visit their old business and wax nostalgic about years past. Community members who have lived and breathed Marquette all of their lives “tell stories about how they stopped in here [when it used to be a candy shop] and bought their favorite candies every week.”

History and community have always worked here as a team. All of the local breweries and restaurants — such as Ore Dock Brewing Company and Blackrocks Brewery — work together to keep the craft industry growing. In fact, Jamie admits that former White’s employees are now at Ore Dock Brewing Company and Blackrocks, saying, “everyone has a history together.”

Neighborhood regulars and visitors to the town filter into the shop all of the time, and all are invited to buy and to learn. Here, personalized customer service is top priority, and any employee at White’s is there to offer knowledge.

Apart from selling an excellent selection of craft products, they also have home brewing and wine-making supplies. Home brewing is a fast-growing industry, especially in the Marquette area. In the past year, a Marquette Homebrewing Club has been established with very enthusiastic participation. “I love that people make their own…,” Jamie says, “that they take the time to make a good drink.”

White’s Party Store represents close-knit neighborhoods, a welcoming community and a growing craft industry. It not only offers rare bottles, but it also offers customers a chance to interact with Marquette history. And yes, you can buy the latest cans from Blackrocks Brewery, or maybe pick up some candies or a flask from their specialized gift selections; but just remember the conversation, knowledge, history and service are the real prize.

https://player.vimeo.com/video/107157472

MARQUETTE — It is a truth universally acknowledged that a person attending a beer festival must be in want of nothing (excluding, of course, more beer). But put said beer festival on the shore of Lake Superior, where the climes are agreeable, the scenery is picturesque, and the local humor is good, well, then you’ve got a downright euphoric attendee.

Such was the case at this year’s Michigan Brewer’s Guild U.P. Fall Festival in Marquette.

When asked their favorite part of this year’s U.P. festival, most attendees said simply, “It’s in the U.P.” Whether their responses were influenced by the view from Mattson Lower Harbor Park, the good-hearted nature of Marquette’s inhabitants, or the alcohol, brewers, staff and public alike had positive vibes for Michigan’s superior peninsula (in orientation, that is).

“This is my favorite beer fest. It’s a gorgeous setting, it’s a laidback atmosphere,” said Short’s Brewing Company Liberation Specialist Ryan Engemann, “and then being up in the U.P. with fantastic people — the attitude really can’t be beat.”

Laren Avery of Mountain Town Brewing Company, who sported a banana costume because “you can’t be too crazy at these things,” said, “I love the atmosphere, the fact that we’re right on the lake, you just can’t get this anywhere else in the state.”

The Fall Festival featured over 400 different beers from 60 Michigan breweries. Brews ranged from crowd favorites like Founders’ KBS to off-the-wall experimental beers like B. Nektar’s Troll’s Offering, which was described as a “pasty beer,” brewed with potatoes, rutabaga and carrots, and served with ketchup around the rim. With such a promising variety of local craft brews, the festival drew a sellout crowd of 4,000 attendees.

Upper Peninsula native John Orttenburger said he attended the festival to experience the availability of beers from breweries who don’t yet distribute to his area.

“You have to come out and try all the beers that you can’t always get around to trying. When [the breweries] all come to one spot, you have to go to them,” Orttenburger said.

Others came for the camaraderie, which was highlighted periodically throughout the day as the entire crowd raised their glasses and joined in on the roar of 4,000 voices.

[tw-parallax image=”https://mittenbrew.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/R1-07587-019A.jpg” target=”self” ][/tw-parallax]

Several U.P. breweries, which are often less likely to show up to all of the Lower Peninsula-based festivals, made sure to attend this season’s festival.

“Most of [the festivals] I don’t make it to because I just can’t keep up enough in the summer to even go to them,” said Derek “Chumley” Anderson, brewmaster at The Vierling.

“The fact that the U.P. Beer Fest is in our backyard is fantastic,” said Blackrocks Brewery co-owner Andy Langlois. “To see people make the long trek from downstate, and to rekindle some friendships, and also to see our current customers out here enjoying some other breweries is a wonderful thing.”

Several U.P. breweries attended to represent the growth of craft brewing in the Upper Pensinsula. Marquette’s Ore Dock joined Blackrocks and The Vierling, along with other growing Upper Peninsula breweries like Soo Brewing Company out of Sault Ste. Marie, Jasper Ridge Brewery from Ishpeming, Houghton’s Keweenaw Brewing Company, Cooper Harbor’s Brickside Brewery, and Calumet’s Red Jacket Brewing Company.

With this year’s sold-out attendance, it’s safe to say the atmosphere and craft beer of the U.P. are no longer some of Michigan’s best kept secrets.

Local bands State 51 and Frank an Da Beanz entertained the crowd with covers of Neil Diamond, The Doors, Stevie Wonder and much more. The members of Frank and Da Beanz donned pink rabbit costumes and performed under a banner that read “#RELEASETHERABBITS” in support of Blackrocks Brewery, which has a staple cream ale called Grand Rabbits.

The festival also had local restaurants serving food to attendees, including pub food from Stucko’s Pub & Grill, fried fresh Lake Superior whitefish from the Gordon’s, and Indo-European food from The Rubaiyat Falafel.

6.1% ABV, Draft

Appearance: Autumn brown color, cloudy. Small head.
Aroma: Dark fruit with some hops.
Taste: Very balanced, with dark fruit, caramel and malt. Somewhat of a dry finish.
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied.

Ore Dock’s Leaf Lookers Ale features roasty notes that are perfect for a breezy fall or spring day. With its average ABV and relatively dry mouthfeel, Leaf Lookers is easy-drinking, but still full of flavor. Dark fruit, caramel, malt and accompanying flavors come together to provide for a balanced, yet flavorful and enjoyable, brew.

The story behind the foundation of Ore Dock Brewing Company in Marquette is one of travel, collaboration and reclamation. Founders Andrea and Wes Pernsteiner were inspired to start the brewery in the Upper Peninsula town after traveling all over the country and stopping at breweries.

“Whenever we would go to a new city, we’d always find a brewery there because we felt like it was a place where a lot of people would sort of meet and congregate and chat. We’d always meet really interesting people, we’d find out great places to hike, great places to eat, whatever, and you could always find that at the local brewery,” said Andrea Persteiner.

After the two committed to the idea of starting the brewery, they took a long road trip to plan everything. Within three years, the couple had come up with a business plan and achieved financing. But while the Pernsteiners dabbled in homebrewing, they agreed that they weren’t good enough to brew for the business. Enter brewing veteran Nick VanCourt.

VanCourt began as a homebrewer around 2005, and when he considered making a career change, he found himself interning at The Great Dane brewery in Madison, Wis. Afterwards, he enrolled in and graduated from the World Brewing Academy. Before moving back to Marquette, he worked as an assistant brewer at Milwaukee Brewing Company and Tyranena Brewing Company in Lake Mills, Wis. With this abundance of experience, VanCourt posted his application to Ore Dock.

“We knew we needed to find someone who had training and was passionate about beer,” said Andrea Pernsteiner. “In the process of talking to [VanCourt], we got to know him and realized we were going to work well together.”

The Pernsteiners and VanCourt would become a part of what would eventually become a team of six owners. Together, they worked to turn the brewery into a destination that would do for Marquette what the breweries accomplished in the towns the Pernsteiners visited on their road trips. They sought to capture the personality and history of Marquette in their decor, and they continue to make themselves a part of the community through the entertainment and programming they host.

Ore Dock Brewing Company is located in what used to be a car garage. In fact, the second floor stored 30 cars, so no one needed to worry whether or not the building was structurally sound. The owners had to make some renovations to the building to make it suitable for the brewery, but they made sure to preserve what materials they could for use in the furniture and decor.

“We didn’t throw anything away,” said VanCourt.

Among the reclaimed artifacts featured in the building are the tables on the second floor, which are made from the wooden ramp used to park the cars on the second floor of the garage. A fireplace in the corner is made from brownstone that was blown out of the wall to make room for a doorway, the flooring is original (you can still see the burn marks from what Andrea Pernsteiner postulates was metal welding), and the barstools are made of two-by-fours that were present in the building. And the reclamation didn’t stop at materials the building had at the ready: the Pernsteiners reupholstered booths from a old restaurant doomed for the burn pile, used old barn wood for the beams and as decoration on the bar, and crafted chandeliers from empty beer bottles. Reclamation became the central theme of Ore Dock Brewing Company, and the theme is the namesake of their staple IPA.

Part of Ore Dock’s motivation behind their persistent reusing of old materials is that it’s become a way to preserve pieces of Marquette’s history.

“Part of what makes Marquette great is that history, and people have that sense of community that they want to preserve the community that has existed here, whether it be the industry that has existed, or the environment, and the outdoor aspects we all have grown to love here,” said Andrea Pernsteiner. “People realize that has been built over many years and in order to pass that forward you need to understand the past and appreciate it.”

While preservation of history is certainly factors into Ore Dock Brewing Company’s goals, another is contributing to the culture of the contemporary community.

“When we wrote our business plan we really had two sort of main ideas in mind: making quality craft beer, and being a value to our community,” said Andrea Pernsteiner.

Beyond hosting community events, the brewery also seeks to engage other businesses in the area through collaboration. The brewery helped increase the capacity of a nearby cattle farm by donating the brewery’s speck grain as feed, as well as increased the demand for a hops farm in Rock, Mich., enabling it to expand its services.

“Those are two businesses locally that, just because of our brewery, have been able to grow their businesses,” said Andrea Pernsteiner.

The brewery continues to expand its repertoire of beer styles, including new wine-barrel-aged and cask-conditioned brews. Fans of Ore Dock Brewing Company’s beer can look forward to seeing some of their staple brews in bottles later this year.


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