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.”