Mike Plourde

Ready Your Glasses For The U.P. Fall Beer Festival

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Marquette, MI – The annual U.P. Fall Beer Festival has all the makings for a day in paradise for any beer lover!  This event offers tasting opportunities of over 400 different premiere craft beers and features more than 50 Michigan breweries from across the state in the scenic lower harbor park setting of downtown Marquette. 


A sign lists several varieties of beer available from just one of many vendors at the U.P. Annual Fall Beer Festival 2014.

Heaven? Nirvana? Eden?  Yeah – all those things. For the beer lover anyway. Like me, I love beer. I’m talking of course about the Beer Fest in Marquette, Mi. It’s held at the Mattson Lower Harbor Park in late summer. The weather was absolutely perfect to be outside. It was sunshine, blue skies and green grass, with the beautiful Lake Superior for a backdrop.

The Fest opens at 1:00pm and closes at 6:00pm. The Park was cordoned off. Several of the biggest tents you’ve ever seen, and some small tents too, were set up in a basic rectangle. Under those big tents was the heaven, the nirvana, the eden….the beer.


Each vendor features 3 or more of their finest craft brews. (photo by Ron Caspi)

Craft beer makers from all over Michigan, along with a few from nearby states, brought their wares – their good stuff – to showcase and for sampling. Over 150 beer-makers were there. And over 4000 people – including myself – were there to do the sampling. An admission ticket cost $35 dollars. For that you got a four ounce cup, 15 tokens, and admission to the event. Those tokens guarenteed you at least fifteen samples. There was a tent for purchasing more tokens if you wished.

There were stouts, IPA’s and double IPA’s, various ales, and many pilsners and lagers. The whole gamut of beers actually. Some of those beers were made with fruit and had the particular distinctive fruit taste. Some were made with wheat. Some were made from other grains such as rice. Most were made with barley though – the beer basic grain.


Sunshine, live music, and a superb selection of beer brought out 4,000 residents and visitors to Marquette’s Mattson Lower Harbor Park for the 6th Annual U.P. Beer Fest. (photo by Ron Caspi)

Hops are a plant that provides the distinctive beer taste. Different styles of beer require different amounts of hops in the brew. Beer is said to be “brewed” because early in the beer-making process hops are boiled with the wort, a sugar-rich liquid made from roasted grain, to gain the hop flavor and some other properties such as helping to facilitate fermentation.

Lighter beers such as pilsners, and lagers, have less hops and therefore a milder beer flavor. Most people strolled around a bit to see who the beer-makers were and what beers they had to offer. Each booth had a sign naming and describing the beers they had to offer. There was a distictive festive atmosphere. People were cheerful and were having a very good time.

One of Marquette's own local breweries, The Vierling, serving it up at the 6th annual U.P. Beer Fest. (photo Ron Caspi)

One of Marquette’s own local breweries, The Vierling, serving it up at the 6th annual U.P. Beer Fest. (photo Ron Caspi)

One tent was a stage for live music that played classic rock and blues all afternoon. That music could be heard throughout the park. It was a true party. When you were satisfied that you had seen enough, at least for now…the tasting began! You brought your cup up to the booth of your choice, dropped a token into their recptacle, and the people behind that individual table filled your cup with the beer of your choice. When you were done with your sample you made another choice. All the tables are prepared to rinse out your cup if you wanted that.

Personally – I favor IPA’s and stouts, and those were the beers that I sampled. IPA stands for India Pale Ale. This is a style of beer that is extra hoppy and has more alcohol content than other styles of beer. The taste is bitter and strong to most people. I call it “full-bodied”. My first sample was a double IPA made with rice. It was really the smoothest tasting IPA that I have ever had…and that’s saying a lot. I tasted some dark stouts and some brown ales too. All were very good. In fact; I never tasted a beer that I didn’t like.


Many beer fest patrons dress in the spirit of the festival. (photo Ron Caspi)

The craft-beer industry, especially in Michigan is becoming one of the fasted growing industries in the country. Most craft beer makers are true artisans. They create their works of art with loving attention and impressive skill. Brew-pubs and brew-houses are coming into existence almost daily all over. They are very good for the economy on the whole, providing jobs in the house or pub, as brewers and handlers. The industry also provides agricultural jobs for hop growers, barley growers, and other grain growers. Other jobs include distributors, can and bottle makers, and packagers.

If you like beer then you would have a great time at a beer fest. The Marquette Beer Fest is one of the best anywhere. It’s held on the first Saturday after the Labor Day Weekend. Make your hotel reservations early!




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