Whether you are still holding on to summer or wishing for fall, the U.P. Fall Beer Festival delivered the best of both worlds this past weekend in terms of weather and beer offerings to the masses of people who attended. The thermometer read 60° and there were partly sunny skies that made wearing a sweatshirt a little uncomfortable. Not to worry though because there was a breeze coming off of Lake Superior to cool everyone down throughout the afternoon and evening.
The 11th annual U.P. Fall Beer Festival took place at Mattson Lower Harbor Park in Marquette from 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm on Saturday, September 7. The festival was one day shy of “906 Day” and was put on by the Michigan Brewers Guild. Beer enthusiasts and other esteemed guests were granted early access an hour prior to general admission to take advantage of special beer offerings and enjoy a little down time to get their bearings and relax before the masses arrived.
It was my first time ever in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and I just have to say it – the UP Fall Beer Festival is the best Michigan Brewers Guild festival in terms of natural beauty. The scenic drive to Marquette and the location of the festival blows away the locations of the other festivals – Winter Beer Festival (Comstock Park), Summer Beer Festival (Ypsilanti), and the Detroit Fall Beer Festival – that take place throughout the year.
Over 100 Michigan breweries and brew pubs were present and they were serving up around 660 different beers. The beers were channeling the weather in terms of summer and fall selections. Tons of lighter beers to reminisce about the summer that has came and went and a ton of Oktoberfests reintroducing us to fall beers. There were only a handful of dark, robust, and boozy beers and not a lot of pumpkin flavored beers.
I asked Clark Gill, owner of Aberrant Ales (Howell), when their pumpkin beer was set to be released and he said it was coming out in the next few weeks. He said it was a little too early for pumpkin beer and I think most of the other breweries attending the festival were on the same page. Gill added that pumpkin beers can be polarizing – either too spicy or too sweet. I said both sound good to me!
The amount of Oktoberfest beers kept me intrigued. Per usual, I tried a ton of beers that I had never had before. I also made an attempt to try a beer or two from all of the Upper Peninsula breweries in attendance. The food selections were unique to the UP with pasties on hand (Team Ketchup), whitefish sandwiches, BBQ, and the UP’s take on coney dogs. All of the choices helped plenty of attendees find a second wind to try more beer and take in the beautiful day, including yours truly.
Here are the five winners of the U.P. Fall Beer Festival in alphabetical order according to brewery name.
Noisy King – Albion Malleable Brewing Co (Albion)
Noisy King was probably the most unique beer I had at the festival. It was a saison that had an even amount of sweetness and spice that was backed with an excellent oak finish that took the cake for me. I need to head down to Albion soon to see what else Albion Malleable has to offer because this was delicious!
Pumpkin Spice Latte – Atwater Brewery (Detroit)
Thank you, Atwater Brewery, for having a pumpkin beer at the festival! Some may mock my love of pumpkin beers, but I do look forward to trying as many as I can throughout the fall and into the winter. The balance of coffee and pumpkin in the Pumpkin Spice Latte perfectly emulates its coffee shop sibling.
Ady Rose Raspberry Pomegranate – Jamex Brewing Co. (St Clair Shores)
Speaking of siblings, Jamex Brewing Co is always a family affair, especially with the name of the brewery and its recent Ady Rose sour beer and variants. Jamex brought along their Ady Rose Raspberry Pomegranate to the UP Fall Beer Fest, and it was both sour and tart. It definitely woke up the taste buds! The hint of raspberry at the end give it an extra fruity kick.
Moon Over Mackinac – Les Cheneaux Distillers (Cedarville)
As I walked through Tent 1, I saw the message “Distillers who brew” etched into the chalkboard of this distillery and was intrigued. I had never heard of Cedarville or Les Cheneaux, so I had to stop and try out their brews. Moon Over Mackinac was an easy drinking wheat beer that is perfect for summer time fun and cool fall evenings. It is an excellent gateway beer for newcomers to the craft beer game just like the Mackinac Bridge gives visitors from near and far access to the Upper Peninsula.
Trenary Toast – Rockford Brewing Company (Rockford) + Blackrocks Brewery (Marquette)
Trenary Toast is a UP gem that I have heard about, but have yet to try for myself. The beer version of the treat is SO GOOD, so I’m tempted to drive back up to Trenary and get some. The malty amber body gives the beer its bread-like taste and the cinnamon is strong yet sweet throughout the beer. Kudos to Rockford Brewing Company and Blackrocks Brewery for teaming up and giving everyone a small sample of one of the gems of the UP!
Cheers to another excellent beer festival! We’ll see you at the next one in Detroit’s Eastern Market!