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up beer fest

Nothing could stop people from enjoying U.P. Beer Fest this past Saturday.

Not the 10-hour drive to Marquette (for downstate attendees).

Not the monsoon rainfall that started at nine o’clock that morning and didn’t stop until six o’clock that night.

And definitely not the mud pit or creek of flood water that surrounded all of the beer tents.

Everyone was just too determined to have fun and drink great Michigan beer.

It makes sense. Although it may not be official, the term “favorite festival” is uttered by many in regards to this annual September event. For craft staff, September means summer madness is finally slowing down. There is an air of relaxation around it all—a loosening of the tension between shoulders.

As for attendees—a majority are Upper Peninsula residents, and their love for their region is palpable and proud. Nothing at all would sway them to say anything negative about the festival. It’s on their home turf—the beautiful Lower Mattson Park on Lake Superior—providing excellent views and close vicinity to downtown happenings.

Between the great hospitality of Marquette and the impressive organizational skills of the Michigan Brewers Guild, everyone is happy.

The Guild’s only one-day festival on their yearly calendar, there was still plenty of time to experience all the activities surrounding the U.P. festival. Leading up to Saturday was Marquette Craft Beer Week, a whole week dedicated to blending the local craft scene with other breweries from all over the state. Marquette restaurants, taprooms, and bottle shops played host to a variety of awesome happenings: White’s Party Store, an amazing local bottle shop and homebrew equipment destination, hosted multiple tastings with Upper Hand Brewery, New Holland Brewing, and Bell’s Brewery.

Jamie Strand, owner of White’s as well as the head organizer of Marquette Craft Beer Week, said the participation reach-out had been amazing.

“It used to be U.P. Craft Beer Week, but Marquette is such a center for craft beer in this region that it made sense to make the change.”

A Pint Above, a nonprofit organization celebrating Marquette’s craft scene, was on hand to help provide pourers at the festival as well as help coordinate events throughout the week.

Local Marquette brewery Blackrocks held their special release of barrel-aged Gnomas, a delicious and higher gravity twist on the original recipe, at their downtown production facility. Short’s Brewing Company premiered a special pairing menu with Lagniappe’s, a local Cajun Creole eatery. The Recovery Room, a newly opened restaurant and bar in place of the old Rover, hosted a double Tap Takeover alongside Dragonmead Microbrewery and Beards Brewery.

There were plenty other special events to whet the taste buds leading up to U.P. Beer Fest.

This year, the festival itself played host to 6,000 people, 86 breweries, and countless drinking options. To start celebrating fall, many breweries brought beers to highlight the seasonal transition. Oktoberfests, Brown Ales, Barrel Aged Stouts and Porters—they were all popular choices, especially as the day boasted cooler weather and rain that blasted through waterproof gear.

Fetch Brewing Company brought their Mad Swag Triple IPA, a deliciously malt-forward and hop-forward beer that made the taste buds sing with bitterness.

Many people went feverishly from booth to booth, asking after an infamous peanut butter Stout that turned out to be Grand Armory Brewing Company’s Nutter Your Business.

People jumped across a creek of flood water to drink the Tobacconist Porter by Our Brewing Company.

David Gill, President of the local Marquette Homebrewers, said fondly, “It’s been nothing but rain at all of the U.P. festivals this year, so maybe this is just us saving up our karma points for next year. Although weather will never stop people up here from attending a beer fest.”

With so many great distractions from the weather, attendees and breweries alike had a fabulous time. And sure, when the torrential downpour came down like a nonstop wave of water, 6,000 people crushed under all of the beer tents and brew staff held onto their tent poles for dear life; but it was no matter—it just brought people closer together and closer to the beer.

 

Our Brewing

Our Brewing Company, a micro-brewery, small winery, and micro-distillery in the heart of downtown Holland, MI is still “smaller on purpose”—but they have recently added a twist to their lineup: draft cocktails.

What exactly are draft cocktails?

One thirst-inducing example of what to expect when ordering a draft cocktail would be Our Brewing Company’s own variation of a Vodka Spritz. Hand made in bulk using UltraPure, a gluten-free organic liquor, along with ingredients like fresh ruby and white grapefruit juice, with jalapeno agave simple syrup, mixed with just the right amount of fizz.

Our Brewing

Each cocktail is created, then placed into a keg to be served on draft alongside Our Brewing Company’s craft beer and cider, which are still at the front and center of their 20 draft-lines. At least 15-16 taps will remain craft beer, 2-3 ciders, and now approximately 1-2 draft cocktails will be featured daily. It will be as easy as ordering a craft beer or cider. If you’re in the mood for a cocktail, the bartender will simply need to add ice to a glass, pour the draft cocktail directly from the tap—just like they would for their beer or cider—and voila! Drinks for everyone!

 

If you are craving a craft beer with a bit of a twist, Our Brewing Company has you covered, as they have something on tap called the IPA G&T. Jenney Grant, Director of Leisure Craft Libations, describes this Beer-tail as “Combining the classic flavors of a Gin and Tonic with our Mosey Session IPA for the perfect summer libation.”

Our BrewingThe creativity doesn’t end there. Our Brewing Company will offer frozen cocktails via a slushy machine. Yacht Rock Punch—A special offering made in honor of the Yacht Rock! celebration on Saturday, June 18. “This frozen cocktail will make you feel like you’re sailing away with a flock of seagulls. Made with light and dark rum, house-made rhubarb syrup, crushed ice and a splash of lime,” Grant explains.

The cocktail recipes have been developed with the help of former Coppercraft Distillery bartenders and Our Brewing Company Co-Owner Trevor Doublestein. Making sure each recipe has the right proportion of ingredients is key. Too much alcohol, soda, or even fruit juice could ruin an entire batch. However, keeping things simple was important—especially during the summer months, when keeping lines short and glasses full is key.

“I think this is the future of cocktails. It’s awesome that we can add this to our brewery and be one of the first places to offer something as different and cool as draft cocktails,” Doublestein explains. “It’s great to be able to go into this as an opportunity to keep our creative juices flowing—not just with beer—but with fun, experimental cocktails. Doing it with no stress and having as much fun as we can while doing it!”

Our Brewing Company has bottled a few of their draft cocktails to have on hand in 10 oz bottles. If they have a week or two where the craft beer and cider is overflowing their draft-lines they can still pour the pre-mixed concoctions directly from the bottles for customers to savor and enjoy.

With clever craft beer concoctions, and humorous names to match the flavor—such as By The Sour of Greyskull sour beer, or Smackintosh cider—the creativity and whimsy that pours into to their craft beer and cider has seamlessly flowed into their draft cocktail lineup.

While they have begun with familiar cocktails, like a Moscow Mule or a Manhattan, they have absolutely put their Our Brewing Company spin on it. For instance, they decided to add citrus fruits like lemons, limes, and oranges alongside pomegranate to a Gin and Tonic. Boom. Now that classic Gin and Tonic has turned into a different experience altogether!

Our Brewing

Our Brewing Company’s entire draft-line will remain seasonal. If it isn’t fresh, they will not use it—something that has always held true for all of their beverages. This code of freshness typically pleases customers palates as well. Most of their patrons aren’t craving a hot chocolate in the summer, or salivating for a watermelon cocktail in January for that matter.

Our Brewing Company will be celebrating their Draft Cocktail release with a Yacht Rock! Costume Party on Saturday, June 18 at 8 p.m. Offering up 4 – 6 cocktails on tap and in bottles, including Sangria: Fruit, Brandy and Wine. Need we say more? Golden Sunset Punch: Whiskey, honey syrup and a bit of lemon. Top if off with a bit of mint and you’ll be able to taste a Lake Michigan sunset. Plus a special surprise cocktail to be released Saturday night.

 

Sponsored by Our Brewing

Photography: Steph Harding

our brewing

Our Brewing Company is a micro-brewery, small winery, and micro-distillery in the heart of downtown Holland, Michigan. With tiny words like “micro” and “small” followed by traditionally massive words like brewery, winery, and distillery it is refreshing to hear co-owner Trevor Doublestein say how important it is to keep their business smaller on purpose.

our brewing

In an industry where many seem to be clamoring to expand, grow, and be the next “big” thing, Our Brewing Company is embracing their roots. This is a place where you feel welcome to bring your kids and play a board-game in the middle of the afternoon. Where you can belly up to the bar, glance at the chalkboard menu, smile at a craft beer name or two, and order nearly any beverage your heart may desire. And make no mistake, whatever you order will be bursting with flavor.

Our Brewing Company creates distinctive craft beer concoctions with entertaining names to match the flavor — like Andes Milk Stout, Careless Whisper IPA, Witches Blood Barrel-Aged Sour Cherry. If cider is more your speed, try a Blackjack Cider with a hint of anise/black licorice flavor. Our Brewing’s creativity and whimsy will seamlessly flow into their new draft cocktail options as well.

Wait… Draft Cocktails? Yes. Cocktails hand made in bulk using UltraPure, a gluten-free organic liquor, along with fresh, seasonal ingredients like raw ginger and simple syrup for their own ginger beer, for example — to create Our Brewing Company’s twist on a Moscow Mule. Once created, these cocktails are placed into a keg and put right into the draft line up. Bartenders simply need to ice and garnish a glass; keeping things simple, lines flowing, and beverages pouring with ease: making everyone happy.

Their customers mean quite a bit to Our Brewing Company. The micro-brewery has recently incorporated a Brew With Us Program where patrons write down their own creative craft beer concept into the Suggested Brews Pot, and once a month one brew is drawn as the lucky winner. That selected beer is then brewed with Doublestein and brewer Ed DeGalan alongside the winner, giving customers a chance to not only tour the Our Brewing Company facilities, but learn the beauty of the craft beer brewing process. While the Brew With Us Program is still fairly new, it has been successful so far with a Pistachio Cream Ale and a Blood Orange Mandarin Double Hopped IPA selected as winning brews.

Another exclusive feature for loyal patrons is a punch-card system where customers earn a stamp for every beer they drink in order to be featured on the *grabs megaphone* Mustache Wall of Fame! It does not take long for regulars to begin earning perks. After 10 beers, customers earn a logo pint glass. Keep drinking, and patrons will enjoy howlers, growlers, t-shirts, and hats, oh my! After 100 stamps, their name is inscribed on the exclusive Mustache Wall of Fame. And these Mustache Wall of Famers earn swanky deals, like $2 craft beers on random days of the week, typically announced via Facebook.

our brewing

The warm and comfortable vibe this downtown Holland micro-brewery features has not changed, even if the chalkboard menu behind the bar may have a few more unique options and variations available on draft. Our Brewing Company has and always will remain smaller on purpose.

 

Photography: Steph Harding

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