The U.P. Fall Beer Festival takes place in late summer. I like to point this out because it’s too often that we give up on summer the minute the school bell rings here in the north country. Though the temperature topped out at 58 degrees, people had their sweatshirts tied around their waist while they enjoyed the beer and sunshine.
This festival is really well done. You have Lake Superior and the old Ore Dock (the actual dock, not the brewery) in the background, quality entertainment provided by local musicians and a group of Marquette’s finest checking ID’s and roaming the festival. There was a really good vibe at this festival because there were basically two kinds of people in attendance; People who are taking a mini vacation in the UP, and yoopers. I highly recommend checking out this festival and spending a few days in Marquette. Pro Tip: Bring hiking boots, a mountain bike, a fishing pole and an appetite.
I don’t know how anyone can possibly write about the beer selection at an event like this. With over 80 breweries offering over 600 different beers, no two people could have possibly had the same experience. This is simply my perspective, which became increasingly blurry with each token spent.
Barleywines, Belgian quads, imperial stouts, double IPAs, and a myriad of other high gravity ales are the stars of the show. And these aren’t traditional ales by any definition. In an effort to shock us with their creativity, these brewers have added the most non-traditional of adjuncts to create some unusual beers that actually taste pretty good. Evan, from Lake Charlevoix Brewery adds Oreo Cookies directly to the secondary fermentation when making his Double Cookie Stout (this shit tastes exactly like Oreos and is dangerously drinkable). Tripelroot, a brewery from Zeeland, which is located in the shadows of some of the biggest names in American craft beer, treated us to Superior Barleylime. Yep, a 12% ABV barleywine with a hint of lime, and it tasted delicious, though I couldn’t feel my feet when I was done.
The most commonly added flavor, BY FAR, was citrus fruit. B.O.B.’s Brewery in Grand Rapids showed up with a Grapefruit IPA. New Holland quickly blew through a keg of Tangerine Space Machine, a N.E. IPA, in the first 2 hours. Orange, Grapefruit, Lime and even tangelo could be found in nearly every booth. Which makes me think I am not the only one who likes to hang onto summer for as long as I can.
By the end of the event I still had tokens in my pocket and I was drinking water from a bottle. If you plan to give this festival a try, stay somewhere in town and ride your bike or walk. Or, if you have to drive, bring a designated driver who can stop at Togo’s or Border Grill on the way home so you can fill up on some Marquette style fast food. If you need a single reason to come to this event, consider this: Ore Dock (Marquette), Keweenaw (Houghton), Cognition (Ishpeming) and Brickside (Copper Harbor) are all here. You’d have to take a hell of a road trip to visit all these places (and more) and seriously, when are you gonna have a spare 12 hours to drive to Copper Harbor? Come to the U.P. and drink some amazing local beer.