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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.

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.”

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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.

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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.

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.

Sitting on the edge of the Marquette harbor, the fourth annual U.P. Fall Beer Festival couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful setting.

With the water glistening in the warm fall-like sun, the laid back festival was underway.

With 210 beers from 37 breweries, great people and the ever-present Upper Penisula culture, Scott Newman-Bale, Short’s Brewing Company CFO and vice president, said on the way in, “This festival is enjoyable, it’s much more laid back than the other festivals.”

It’s hard to imagine a beer festival having a huge variety of laid-backness, but this one was sedated. The brewers and volunteers were eager to hold conversations and keep the beer flowing. The lines weren’t long, and everyone in them was friendly and not upset if they were accidentally pushed a spot further back.

It was the first festival for Ore Dock Brewing Company, which opened in the spring, and excited for the easy commute to the festival. The brewery is located just a short walk from Mattson Lower Harbor Park, where the festival was held.

Ore Dock head brewer Nick VanCourt handed me a special Serano Saison and talked at length about the company’s journey and decision to open in the Upper Penisula.

“It’s awesome, we need it,” VanCourt said. “For us, we’re just two blocks away, (it) took 10 minutes to load, get here and unload.”

After the nice conversation with VanCourt, the party headed to another tent, this time for Copper Canyon Brewery. There, Todd Parker quickly poured a few samples, from the Miri Maibock to Buffalo Jump Stout to their best-seller the Devil’s Peak IPA.

While sipping the brews, Parker explained the long drive from Southfield, Mich., is worth the trip for the festive and different atmosphere at the U.P. festival.

Walking away, Parker started a nice back and forth with the Dragonmead Brewery next door.

Later in the afternoon, Keweenaw Brewing Co., helped make light of what’s so special about the Upper Peninsula and its brewing culture.

“The brewing culture is already laid back, but life up here is a tad slower and it translates, and you’re working with beer,” KBC employee Matt Williams said. “The water up here is Superior, too.”

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