Enjoy outstanding craft beer as you explore the shores of Lake Superior with our can’t miss Lake Superior Beer Stops.
Lake Superior Beer Stops
We recently spent a couple of weeks exploring the shores of Lake Superior. Along the way, we found many outstanding craft beers to enjoy after a full day of adventure. We’ve put together these gems into our Lake Superior Beer Stops. The Lake Superior Circle Tour Adventure Guide is handy when planning a trip around Lake Superior.
They’ve also got an Ale Trail Map which we used as a starting point for planning our Lake Superior Beer stops.
You may wonder what we have to offer you when planning your trip around Lake Superior.
- We’ve got a list of beer stops you shouldn’t miss
- Tips we wish we’d known before our trip
- Pictures and reviews you won’t find anywhere else!
Where to Start?
You can jump on the circle tour anywhere along Lake Superior’s shore. Our Lake Superior Beer stops start with our favorite Michigan Breweries along Lake Superior’s south shore. There are other fantastic breweries in Michigan’s upper peninsula, such as Les Cheneaux Distillers. They are nestled on Lake Michigan’s shore in Cedarville and not on the Lake Superior Circle Tour, but you may want to stop if you are crossing the mighty Mackinac Bridge.
Paradise, Michigan, is a beauty. Lake Superior and Whitefish Point are to the north, and to the west are the amazing Tahquamenon Falls, the largest in Michigan. Located steps away from the falls are the Tahquamenon Falls Brewery & Pub. This is gourmet dining Yooper style with fresh craft beer to boot. “Visitors come from all over the world to experience our Upper Peninsula Restaurant and the distinctive quality of our Harvest Wheat beer, Wild Forest Mushrooms, a UP Pasty, Fruit of the Forest Pie, and Pork Tenderloin Medallions—just to name a few.” Tahquamenon Falls Brewery sticks to traditional styles with the stout as the go-to. This is a great stop after exploring Tahquamenon Falls. Check their website before you visit, as they close in November until mid-December for a seasonal break.
Grand Marais, MI
With Lake Superior looming large, you could imagine Grand Marais, Michigan, as a sleepy seaside village. This town boasts sandy beaches, close proximity to the western edge of Pictures Rock National Lakeshore, and the Dunes Saloon and Lake Superior Brewing. It is a classic. They are so classic they inspired an opera. They have been making all of their beer on-site since 1994. If you like blueberries, you’ll love their Blueberry Wheat. If fruit is not your style, then the IPA or Granite Brown is excellent. Their BBQ ribs and homemade pizza are marvelous. I ordered their spinach pesto pizza with bacon, feta cheese, and onion. Oh my word, it was delicious. Protip: Arrive early for dinner as they do run out of menu items, like their whitefish.
Your base for all things Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is Munising. This small town on the shores of Lake Superior has plenty of outdoor adventure and two excellent breweries.
Located at 231 E Superior St., just off the main drag of Munising Ave, is ByGeorge Brewing. The pub is fairly small, but the beers are mighty. They have outdoor seating when the weather is nice. Connected through a hallway past the restrooms is the amazing Driftwood Deli. Order a big old sammich, and then get yourself a tasty beer. The tap list changes at ByGeorge, but one regular is the Nighthawk dry stout which is a perfect companion any time of the year. Check out the to-go cooler to take some beers to enjoy at your camp, hotel, or Airbnb.
One block west and half a block south of ByGeorge is East Channel Brewing Company at 209 Maple St. This pub is a bit larger with another outstanding array of beers to choose from. The Happy Thoughts Pale ale is ideal after a kayaking tour of Picture Rocks. Pressed for time? No worries, you can get their beers canned and ready to go. If you visit in the summer (May to Oct), East Channel offers wood-fired pizzas in their outdoor oven.
We love Marquette, Michigan. If you can swing it, plan to stay for several days. The hiking is phenomenal, and there are many breweries to experience. We visit every year for the UP Fall Beer Festival. It was our launch pad for our Lake Superior Circle Tour.
Our love affair with Marquette beer began with Blackrocks Brewing over at 424 N 3rd St. What started in a house on the corner with a long line out the door well before opening has evolved. Blackrocks expanded to take up the corner of the block. The recent renovations include a larger indoor stage and plenty of space to enjoy their fabulous beers. The beer garden is amazing and is best enjoyed with their flagship 51K IPA.
Not even a half a block from Front Street is another favorite, Ore Dock Brewing Co. Located at 114 W Spring St, Ore Dock features two floors of fun. Both floors have great bars and space for live music. If you happen to be visiting the U.P. Fall beer fest and love vinyl, check out the record show they host. I’ve found some excellent albums as I browsed with a delicious beer. Reclamation IPA is hands down delicious, but get a Berserker hazy IPA when it is available.
Marquette’s first brewpub can be found at The Vierling Restaurant & Marquette Harbor Brewery. You can easily find The Vierling at 119 S Front St on the corner of Main. This historic restaurant opened the Marquette Harbor Brewery in 1995, making it one of the earliest in Michigan. When you go, get the whitefish and the porter. You may be thinking, dark beer and whitefish? Trust me; it’s awesome.
Michigan’s first co-op brewery is Drifa Brewing Company at 501 S Lake St. This one is a little tricky to find. It is easy to drive right by unless you are on the lookout for their sign. The pub is new and casual. Order at the bar as they don’t have table service. Check out the Lower Harbor lager if you want a light and refreshing beer.
Lake Superior Smokehouse Brew Pub isn’t technically in Marquette. It is in Harvey, just a few minutes south on US-41 at 200 W Main St. This is another one that can be hard to find, but it is worth it. On top of quality brews, Lake Superior Smokehouse has an excellent BBQ. The french dip is good, but for a fantastic sandwich, get the Reuben. For your beer, the Hoppy Days IPA or the Fresh Start Mexican lager are great and pair well with anything on the menu. Prepare to leave here stuffed.
All the times that we’ve been to Marquette, I’ve yet to visit Barrel + Beam or Superior Culture. I know they both make unique and enjoyable beverages, as I’ve sampled them at various festivals. We just haven’t stopped in to visit yet. That will change. In the meantime, when you stop in Marquette, drop in for a visit and let me know what you think.
Negaunee is west of Marquette on US-41, and you’ll be driving right by, so stop for a beer. Upper Peninsula Brewing is a newer brewery, but they’ve got it dialed in. The pub is in a beautiful old building with heavy timbers in the ceiling and brick walls. While the space is big and bright, the history is a little darker as this used to be a slaughterhouse in years gone by. Today, you can enjoy a beer inside or outside in the dog-friendly beer garden. The Iron Ore Heritage trail is outside their doors if you enjoy biking. As for the beers, everything we tried was super, but the stand-out was Night Descends black IPA.
As you head west on US-41 on your Lake Superior beer stop tour, drop into the little town of Ishpeming and visit Cognition Brewing Company. You’ll find them at 113 E Canda St. This used to be the bar at the historic Mather Inn. Jimmy Stewart and the rest of the cast of Anatomy of a Murder would be here for a drink after a long day on the set. Today, the old bar is the home to Cognition’s phenomenal beers, with the nicest folks behind the bar itching to serve you a cold one. Grab free popcorn and get a pint of Gnome Wrecker Belgian pale ale. You can thank me later.
Our friends at Cognition don’t serve food, but a three-minute walk gets you to Congress Pizza (106 Main St, Ishpeming). Here you will find the best pizza in the U.P. They have a delightful bar, but watch out for the bartender as he is a card. Otherwise, get seated at the bar, a booth, or a table and enjoy delicious thin-crust pizza cooked to perfection. If you want to experience a real “up north” treat, get cudighi (could-dig-hee), an Italian sausage that now calls the U.P. home.
There is one more brewery in Ishpeming called Jasper Ridge Brewery and Restaurant. Here again, I’ve had their beers at festivals but have yet to visit. So when you go, drop me a line and share your story.
I think of Houghton and its sister city Hancock as the gateway to the Keweenaw Peninsula. You are now entering the northernmost section of Michigan. The peninsula juts out into Lake Superior, where copper mining was once king. Today, Houghton is home to Michigan Tech University and the Ranger III, which can get you out to Isle Royale National Park. Houghton is also home to some fine beer.
The Library Restaurant is just off the main drag in downtown Houghton (62 Isle Royale St). The restaurant has been a fixture of Michigan Tech since 1967, but the brewery didn’t get started until 1997. The brewery portion is now called Copper Country Brewery, but I still refer to it as the Library pub. Both the food and the beer here are excellent. Highly recommended is Miner’s IPA.
Just down the street from The Library Restaurant and smack dab in the middle of town is Keweenaw Brewing Company (408 Shelden Ave). They have a lovely space that offers comfortable spots to enjoy a beer or two. Keweenaw Brewing is distributed throughout Michigan. However, it is a treat to get their beer on draft at the taproom. Take a load off your road-weary feet. Grab a pint of Pick Axe blonde or Widow Maker black ale, then sit back and enjoy.
Fun fact: The original name for Calumet was Red Jacket. Established in 1864, this town grew up fast thanks to the booming copper mines. If you are looking for a great fictional novel that captures the drama of the labor strikes of 1913 as well as the sad history of the Italian Hall Disaster, then check out The Women of the Copper Country by Mary Doria Russel. Today, Calumet is a small town with a big history. While there, you will discover some great beers and a historic bar that can’t be missed.
At 300 6th St, you’ll find Michigan House Cafe and Red Jacket Brewing Co. Walking inside is like walking back in time. Back to 1905 to be specific. The original Michigan House hotel located at this spot was torn down and rebuilt in 1905 by Bosch Brewing. Take a seat at the bar, order a brown ale, and gander at the murals painted in 1906. If you are hungry, then, by all means, get a table and enjoy some outstanding food.
Hopefully, you saved room for one more beverage at Shute’s (322 6th St). Once again, you are transported back in time. This saloon was originally opened in 1893, and much of the bar dates back to 1900. The bartenders are friendly and happy to fill you in on some of the history. Shute’s usually has Michigan craft beers on tap to enjoy as you soak in this historic site. We consider this bar a must-stop in our Lake Superior beer stops.
Eagle River, MI
Fitzgerald’s Restaurant in Eagle River is not a brewery. However, you shouldn’t miss a chance to stay and dine at this exceptional place. Located at 5033 Front St, the restaurant/lodge is right on the shores of Lake Superior. Fitzgerald’s can be a short dinner stop or your base camp to explore the Keweenaw in detail. They always have excellent Michigan craft beers on tap, and their food is to die for. If you choose to stay the night, their rooms allow you to hear the lapping waves and dream of the magical big water. Be sure to take a run down to Eagle Harbor and the Jam Pot for heavenly jams, confections, and baked goods.
Copper Harbor, MI
Copper Harbor is as far north as you can go in Michigan. This tiny town bustles with activity all year long with hiking, mountain biking, snowshoeing, and kayaking. You can also get the Queen IV ferry out to Isle Royal. After a full day of fun, stop into Brickside Brewing (64 Gratiot St). There is a cheerful dive bar vibe inside and great beer in-store when you visit. The taps are rotating, but if you see the extra pale on tap, snag it. Heads up, as Brickside is only open Thursday through Saturday.
On the border with Hurley, Wisconsin, is Ironwood, Michigan. Like a lot of the U.P., adventure is the name of the game in this town. Ironwood boasts three downhill skiing resorts in addition to cross-country, snowshoeing, hiking, and mountain biking. Cold Iron Brewing (150 N Lowell St) is just a stone’s throw from the Iron Belle Trail. The taproom is large and wide open. It has a ski resort feel, a rough-sawn bar, and plenty of spots to sprawl out and relax. At Cold Iron Brewing, we discovered the game Shut The Box while enjoying their Drift North IPA. This game is a ton of fun for two to four people and made our visit to Cold Iron Brewing a blast.
After driving into the Central time zone, we visited the murals of Ashland, Wisconsin, before ending up in Bayfield to tour the Apostle Islands. Protip: If you find yourself in Bayfield, go try some whitefish livers at Greunke’s First Street Inn & Dining. The next day we headed over to Duluth, Minnesota, for an outing of local beers. Duluth is definitely a beer city. There were so many choices and not enough time to visit them all. We opted to look at google ratings and picked five winners (in no particular order).
Our first stop was Hoops Brewing Company (325 S Lake Ave), as it is close to the aerial lift bridge (a must-see when visiting Duluth). Huge rustic timbers and brick give Hoops beer hall an On The Waterfront feel. Our bartender was great and fun to chat with. He suggested the UK pale ale. I was delighted with the choice as this beer reminds me of the ale we enjoyed in Scotland; deep amber, malty, and delicious.
I loved the funky laidback artsy vibe at Bent Paddle Brewing Company (1832 W Michigan St.). Their taproom is huge, with even more seating in their beer garden. If you dig coffee, you must get their Cold Pressed Black coffee ale. For the IPA fans, you have plenty of options. Their Bent Hop IPA is stellar. Finally, if beer isn’t your thing, but you’d like a beverage with a little something, check out their CBD and THC-infused sparkling waters.
When you get hungry, head to Ursa Minor Brewing (2415 W Superior St), not only do they have killer beers, but they also have wood-fired pizzas and panini sandwiches. Their pepperoni pizza is scrumptious with plenty of meat, tangy sauce, and chewy crust. I paired that bad boy up with a flight, as Ursa Minor has a lot of beers to choose from. If you can only get one beer, make it the Schwartz Weather beer. This brew is dynamite with pizza.
We followed Google maps to 2711 W Superior St in search of Suite 204, the home of Warrior Brewing Company. We walked around and around. I cursed at Google, and we did another lap around the building before spying the tiny sign at the door with the big “Team Nutrition” sign above it. We wandered in and found the owner’s mom holding down the fort as her son was at a family event. She invited us in and offered us a sampling of their beers. Holy Wah! We struck gold. At the time of our visit, they only had beer from the bottle. Every beer we sampled was outstanding. We walked out with arms loaded with Patriot IPA.
Last but not least, we made our way to Blacklist Brewing Company (206 E Superior St). The taproom is modern and welcoming, with plenty of seating options at the bar, a table, a booth, or some swanky leather sofas up front. I went for a flight of brews as they offer a range of styles. Each one was solid, but if I had to pick a winner, it was their Big Loop nitro stout, bold roasted flavors with the nitro adding a nice creamy finish.
We only scratched the surface of breweries in Duluth and neighboring Superior, Wisconsin. I’m guessing you would need a couple of days here to do it justice (and be responsible). The best list I could find of all the breweries is on Draft Magazine. However, searching for breweries on Google maps may be your best bet. We’d love to have you share your review when you visit one of the breweries we missed.
Two Harbors, MN
The little town of Two Harbors, Minnesota, offers easy access to Gooseberry Falls and Split Rock Lighthouse state parks. While on your tour of Lake Superior, you definitely want to check these out. In addition, you need to go get pie at Betty’s Pies and, for sure, some beer at Castle Danger Brewery. Hit them both on the same day (pie goes with beer), or split them up, your choice.
Castle Danger Brewery at 17 7th St is easy to find. Inside you’ll find a huge taproom that gives the impression of a northern lodge. The usual suspects are on tap, from their Mosaic IPA shimmering with hops to the beefy George Hunter stout. If you are looking for thirst-quenching deliciousness, be sure to try the Lager Royale. It is clean and wonderful. They don’t serve food at Castle Danger, but if you are there before 3 pm, grab a tasty sandwich across the street at Madeira Bistro.
Thunder Bay, ON
Attention!! You are now leaving Minnesota and entering Canada. Oddly you are back in the Eastern Time Zone but in a different country. A few other things you should know:
- You can only buy to-go liquor or wine from the LCBO (government-run liquor stores).
- You can buy beer from the “Beer Store.”
- Plan ahead because they may be closed after 6 pm, on Sunday or even on Monday and Tuesday.
It was pouring down rain, and we were miserable. Our border crossing into Canada was a breeze, but the weather was sodden and gray. As we neared Thunder Bay, Ontario, the fog rolled in with the rain and would not let up. We checked into our hotel and wearily trudged over to Lakehead Beer Company (206 Park Ave), where warmth and happiness awaited. This place was packed with folks engaged in happy chatter. They don’t have an extensive tap list, but what they offer is very good. With an IPA in hand, the rain no longer seemed to matter, and the gray day seemed a touch brighter. If you get hungry, they have subs and pizza.
After a day spent exploring the trails and trying to peer into Ouimet Canyon under a blanket of continued heavy fog and light rain, we needed a beer. Our first stop was Dawson Trail Craft Brewery (905 Copper Crescent). We were greeted in a cozy taproom with a couple of tables and a bar that faced out the windows. The pea-soup fog actually looked lovely as we sat on sturdy wooden stools and enjoyed our sample of beers. The Power Blaster pale ale is crisp with hints of pine. The most interesting offering was the Hello City English Ordinary Bitter, with its malt-forward taste and low ABV (at 3.5%).
Our final stop in Thunder Bay was Sleeping Giant Brewing (712 Macdonell St.). When you walk in, there is a merchandise area and then their production facility with the taproom carving out a corner. It is nothing fancy, but that is part of the charm. The staff behind the bar are very friendly and happy to help you pick a beer. The rain and fog had me thinking of stouts. However, the fear of missing out convinced me to get a flight. Of the four beer samples, I most enjoyed the Hoppet IPA and the Skull Rock oatmeal stout. Both brews are excellent examples of each style.
Terrace Bay, ON
Terrace Bay, Ontario, is due north of Marquette, Michigan. This is a land of endless trees. I mean, endless. Driving along the Trans-Canada highway, there are trees, trees, the lake, and more trees. Even with the endless rain and fog, the solitary beauty is mesmerizing. Terrace Bay is the home to Aguasabon Falls & Gorge and the Casque Isle Hiking Trail.
After a long drive and some hiking, we were looking forward to a great meal and, you guessed it, beer. We were denied. Our hotel’s restaurant was closed, and the hotel manager looked at us with a “You aren’t too bright” expression. They told us everything in town is closed on Sunday. They mentioned that The Voy in Schreiber (just a 5-minute drive) might have food. Thankfully the great folks at The Voy were open and had hot delicious pizza served with a smile.
We clearly missed the note about alcohol sales on Sunday. We arrived with an empty cooler. The only brewery in town, Slate Island Brewing Company, was closed. I’d been looking forward to a beer in the wilderness and missed it. The LCBO and Beer stores were closed until Tuesday. Protip: When in Canada, keep your cooler full of beer and sandwiches, as you might end up in the land of trees on a Sunday hungry and thirsty.
We arrived in Wawa, Ontario, on a Monday. The sun actually appeared for a few fleeting moments as we gandered at the giant goose (Wawa is the Ojibway word for “wild goose”). The LCBO was closed, but you could buy beer from the “Beer Store.”
There aren’t a ton of options for food in Wawa. Tim Horton was hopping. Thankfully, we found the Kinniwabi Pines Restaurant online. The reviews were good. One said, “We didn’t have a reservation but got a seat. The wine list was excellent.” “Right,” I thought, a dinner reservation on a Monday in Wawa, Ontario, population 2,910. We arrived promptly at their opening time of 5 pm. No cars in the parking lot. The nice woman behind the counter asked if we had a reservation. “No,” I smiled. She looked around the empty dining room, “Let me see,” she said. We were seated in the middle of the room and began to examine the menu.
By 5:15, the dining room was packed. They were turning people away at the door. The food was outstanding. We wanted to try “Spicy Based Pork Trinidad” as the menu mentioned it was the chef’s mother’s recipe. Sadly, they were out of pork. Instead, I ordered “Rouladen,” thinly sliced beef rolled with minced dill pickles, onions, and bacon, then lightly grilled and baked in a red wine and homemade gravy. Brenda ordered the cabbage rolls & pierogi. We both agreed our meals were some of the best we’ve ever had. The wine list was indeed impressive. I would make the trip to Wawa just to visit this restaurant.
Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario
We stopped for the night in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, as we’d never spent much time in the city and hoped to check out a couple of breweries. The murals in town and Canal National Historic Site were very nice. Yet once again, we were thwarted on the beer front as both Outspoken Brewing and North Superior Brewing Co. were closed. Go figure. Clearly, my itinerary planning needs a little work. We hit the hotel bar and called it a night.
Sault Ste. Marie, MI, USA
The next morning we crossed the St. Marys river via The Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge and explored the Soo Locks. After watching a freighter making its ponderous way into the locks, it was time for lunch and a brew.
We were at the door to Soo Brewing Company and 1668 Winery (100 West Portage Avenue) just as Ray, the owner, was opening the doors. While Ray finished opening, we pursued the menu. In addition to top-notch beers and wine, Soo Brewing has a great kitchen with burgers, sandwiches, salads, and pizza. I nearly pulled the trigger on pizza but went for the pulled pork, which was sensational.
As for beers, I couldn’t resist the 810 English Brown ale. This malty balanced beer was perfect with lunch. Our lunch break was all the better, thanks to a visit from our friend and local beer enthusiast Pete, who stopped in with his son to visit with us before we headed back over the Mackinac bridge toward home.
That’s a Wrap – Pictures
We gathered pictures from our Lake Superior Beer stops which you can find in our gallery. Our list of stops is more than likely incomplete. If you can fill in the gaps, send a note or leave a comment. Hearing your stories is part of the magic of the beer community.
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