Time for beer over the bridge! After attending for the first time last year, the U.P. Fall Beer Fest in Marquette, MI quickly became the favorite fest of the year for The Thirsty Giraffe. More details to come in part 2 of the recap regarding pre-fest activities but today we will concentrate on the main event, the 7th Annual U.P. Fall Beer Fest! With many different beer festivals under our belts, we appreciate the U.P. Fest not only for the unique location but also as an opportunity to try smaller breweries and beers that tend to get lost in the chaos that is often larger beer festivals. To compare, the Winter Beer Fest has over 100 breweries bringing over 1,000 beers. The U.P. Fest has just over 60 breweries with around 400 beers to sample.
Last year it seemed most breweries brought many of their mainstays with only a few special surprises such as a tapping of Bell’s Black Note. This is not a complaint, just an observation. This year, as I studied the beer list on the 8 hour drive to Marquette, I was pleasantly surprised to discover a list full of exceptional opportunities to try some rarer options as well as many one time, small batches brewed just for the occasion. Let the fun begin!
The plan was to kick off the festival hanging out at Witch’s Hat brewery in Tent 3 before the line got too long for the ever popular Bourbon Barrel Dragontrax. A BB Aged Russian Imperial Stout with hints of peanut butter, chocolate and coconut. Yes, it is as good as it sounds. We quickly instructed others with us to run, not walk, to the Witch’s Hat tent to get a taste of this amazing beer.
From there we spent most of the first hour continuing our tour of the breweries in Tent 3 including one of our favorites, Brewery Vivant. I was not going to miss an opportunity to get a taste of Love Shadow, a BBA Belgian Inspired Imperial Stout.
Not sure how they did it but this was like sipping on a smooth cup of liquored chocolate syrup. It quickly shot to my list of favorite beer of the day and again, I instructed our friends they must get some! (Yes, The Giraffe can get bossy.)
While hanging around the Vivant tent, I was able to spend a few minutes chatting with Vivant’s “Wandering Monk”, Ben Darcie. Looking forward to seeing Ben again at future Vivant events!
Another favorite beer of the day included the 30 Jars of Hearts Saison from Dark Horse Brewing, a beer brewed in honor of Bell’s 30th Anniversary. This was a refreshing change to the BBA stouts I had been drinking most of the day. A light saison with a fresh fruity finish. I don’t know if they will offer this beer in other venues or produce again but if I see it again, I will be ordering one.
Oh, and of course we had to visit our friends at Greenbush Brewing! I got a sample of the fan favorite, Rage, an excellent Imperial Double Black IPA that doesn’t get out very often, and had a quick chat with these two guys.
Yeah, I’ll admit it. I was pretty excited when Aaron recognized the giraffe from last month’s blog post. Thanks for making my day! (Almost made up for losing my GB U.P. Fest shirt later. Sad face.)
Ok, those were some of the big players and I did mention above one of the best parts about U.P. Beer Fest being a chance to learn about smaller breweries popping up across the state. We did get many reminders that we have some beer traveling to do. We drank beers and chatted with owners and/or brewers from many such as Milford’s River’s Edge, Cognition Brewing from Ishpeming and Cotton Brewing in Adrian. I’m already plotting our next Michigan beer road trip.
Of course, drinking beer is the reason we were there but the people watching is always great entertainment as well. Costumes, beer shirts and clever pretzel necklaces are always in full supply to view and judge. Here are some of our favorites.
And finally, can’t forget the food! There several food trucks this year offering local BBQ, whitefish and tacos! I refuse to make a trip to Marquette without a Carmen, from Dia Des Los Tacos, even if that meant waiting 40 mins for them.
The U.P. did not disappoint for beautiful scenery, perfect weather and great people. Even with Bell’s Funvitational and Michigan State’s biggest football game of the year on the same day, we were not going to miss an event that is set to be an annual tradition for The Thirsty Giraffe! Next post, details about our day checking out the city of Marquette!
Did you attend the U.P. Beer Fest? Tell us what was your favorite beer in the comments below?