UP Oktoberfest: The Inaugural Event

I packed the car the night before, and we loaded up our dogs in the dark of the morning, crossing the bridge before noon. Were we crazy to drive from Southeast Michigan to the middle of the Upper Peninsula just for an afternoon of great Michigan craft beer? The thought crossed my mind a few times on the journey, but once we saw the gleaming waters of Lake Superior, we knew we wouldn’t have missed this for anything.

One of the last celebrations of the summer turned out to be one of the best. Presented by the Michigan Brewers Guild, the inaugural UP Oktoberfest in Marquette combined Michigan beer with a breathtaking location on the Lake and the unique vibe of this laid-back city.

Michigan lived up to its designation as the Great Beer State once again, with tables and taps from 25 breweries from across the state arrayed beneath two large white tents. About 1,200 craft brew lovers showed up to drink beer under the sun on the grassy field, many of them from out of town.

As one might expect, Oktoberfest-style lagers poured from at least six different breweries. Other styles represented ranged from beloved standards like IPAs and porters to less conventional brews, like the Roasted Sweet Corn Cream Ale from Right Brain Brewery, Rochester Mills’ Milkshake Stout and the smoky Chartooka Rye, a New Holland doppelbock (all of which I tried). And while I salute each brewery and all the brewers represented at this festival, a few beers did stand out for me. Oak aging took New Holland’s Mad Hatter to a new level, Founders’ Kentucky Breakfast Stout made me fall in love all over again, Dragonmead’s Final Absolution Trippel is always a favorite, and the aged Old Deceitful Barleywine from Hereford and Hops was a treat. OK, so I like big beers!

Vibrant live music, a firkin-tapping, offerings from two local restaurants, an appearance from Marquette’s mayor, hoola-hoops and a rousing Michigan beer fight song sing-along rounded out the event. I can’t imagine a more perfect day or a more spectacular venue. After such a successful first run, I hope that this event will continue to grow and add to the richness and diversity of festivals celebrating craft beer in our state.

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. This is very interesting – thanks for a good read!!!


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