UP Fall Beer Festival 2018

by | Sep 14, 2018 | Beer, Michigan

The 10h Annual UP Fall Beer Festival held in Marquette’s Mattson Lower Harbor Park featured hundreds of beers from some the best breweries Michigan has to offer. Plus there was art, pipers, and lots of fruit: oranges, limes, mango, strawberry, kiwi, raspberry, and grapefruit. Thornapple Brewing Co. even brought Smurf Berries. The crowd was “huge” as they say. I heard around 5,000 attendees. 

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UP Fall Beer Festival 2018

Yes, it is our favorite Michigan Brewers Guild festival too. Become an enthusiast member, you get VIP access and lots of cool swag. 

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Roadtrip Snippets

Did you get stuck on the Mackinac Bridge this year? We did not plan well and got caught in the 10th Annual Mackinac Bridge Antique Tractor Crossing. It was while we were waiting, not so patiently I should add, to pay our toll, I asked Chuck, “Do you think craft beer is a culture?” It took him about three beats to say, “Have you heard the saying, you’re not strangers if you like the same band? I think the same applies to craft beer.”  Wow, that was quick. Not knowing how to respond, I restarted our Audible Book.

Thank God for Audible Books, just saying. Sorry for the total diversion from my report on the 2018 UP Beer Festival, but I’ve got to tell you about Gregg Allman’s autobiography “My Cross to Bear.” It was our entertainment for the 7-hour drive from Ann Arbor to Marquette for the Michigan UP Fall Beer Festival. At various moments we had to press pause to absorb one of Gregg’s absurd statements. One such moment was when he was reflecting about his marriages. “None of my marriages have lasted very long,” He said. “The average is about 3 years. I don’t think I make bad choices. For 4 out of my 6 wives, everything was cool until we got married.”

I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that Gregg Allman was married 6 times. If you are a fan of the Allman Brothers, you’ve got to read or listen to “My Cross to Bear.” Now back to the UP Fall Beer Festival discussion.

Craft Beer is a Culture

Chuck’s analogy is clever. Craft beer is definitely a culture and beer enthusiasts are not strangers. We collect friends at beer festivals like some people collect vinyl records. Sometimes we even remember their names. 

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Dark Horse takes the show

When we arrived Aaron was building an art exhibit. Both Cally and Kristy could see the questions on our faces. Kristy explained they didn’t have time to make a plan before they left Marshall. Aaron always wants to do something fun for the festivals. Cally clarified she doesn’t know where Aaron gets his ideas but he came up with this one after they arrived. So Aaron and Chappy headed to the craft store and whala, instant fun. (I’ve got this image in my head of Aaron and Chappy cruising the aisles at Michaels looking for crafts. It makes me giggle, just a little.) 

They also brought along a “Birds Fly into Walls”, “Hands, Feet & Mangos’ and “Double Safety Meeting.”  For the VIP Brew, they had “Wiggs is Not Waggs Ale”. You can’t go wrong with any Dark Horse beer. I opted for the Mango Beer. 

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Creative Pours

As I mentioned before, there was lots of fruit: oranges, limes, mango, strawberry, kiwi, raspberry, grapefruit. The breweries I’m about to mention brought some pretty creative brew. 

Grand River Brewery had a P.B. Popper – Peanut Butter Jalapeno Brown. Jeff agreed! It was thumbs up. 

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Tripleroot from Zeeland brought Tequila Barrel – Aged Barleywine with a hint of lime. Yes, that is what I thought too. 

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Arcadia Ales from Kalamazoo showed up with Motorhead Road Crew, an American IPA. If you are a Motorhead fan, you shouldn’t miss Berserker V! September 28th. Yes, Chuck, I heard you, with Phil Anselmo. Plus the event will feature 6 regional breweries! 

Coinciding with Oktoberfest, this year’s event features 6 regional breweries; Dark Horse (Marshall), Cellarmen’s (Hazel Park), Cognition (Ishpeming), Batch (Detroit), Fillmore 13 (Pontiac) and Exferimentation (Pontiac). Craft beer enthusiasts get to hang out on the VIP balcony, chat up the brewers themselves all while enjoying exclusive samples & taking in the main stage entertainment.

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Short’s Brewing Co. brought “Internet Dating” a Gose with raspberry, cucumber and lemon verbena. LOL. I couldn’t help it. This is exactly what happens when you try Internet dating! 

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New Breweries 

Distant Whistle in Vicksburg was new to us. I think they opened in 2016. They brought some delicious treats. Their “Loch Ness Monster,” which is a Scotch Ale (Makes sense!) Plus one with strawberries, Sour Patch – Strawberry Kettle Sour. Everything we sampled was tasty. Can’t wait to check them out! 

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When I read Barrel + Beam‘s story on their website, I got goosebumps. OMG! What a wonderful story. I won’t spoil it for you. Plus they got some mighty fine beers. Love it! 

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The Superior Pipes and Drum opened the festival with some fancy footwork. Nothing will grab your attention like the heroic wail of the bagpipes. Combined with the crisp rifle shot of snare and beefy thump of the bass drums, you feel compelled to stand in rapt attention. The Superior Pipes and Drums from Marquette took the U.P. Fall Beer Fest by storm with rousing marching songs. Adding to their magnificent performance was a highland dancer whose nibble feet had everyone admiring her grace and skill. I’m thinking every beer festival from now on needs to have a local pipe and drum band. The Superior Pipes and Drums were top notch and taste dandy with a DDH Sunshine Jacket NEIPA from Distant Whistle.

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A great beer deserves some great music. Under a white gold sun casting its warmth into the azure sky, we enjoyed our luscious Michigan beers and some fine Michigan bands.

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Strung Together

The music of Marquette’s Strung Together is just like a fine IPA; crisp and delicious. I think that bluegrass and beer fests go hand in hand. Beer and bluegrass invite you to listen to stories with friends and let that space take you away. Strung Together played a great set of outstanding bluegrass music that melded the golden sunshine, sparkling green grass, and majestic Michigan beers. Be sure to check out their site as they have an album that you can buy and enjoy at home with a 51K IPA from Blackrocks.

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Tuba Four

Tuba Four is a fun play on words and the most unexpected musical event at any beer fest that I’ve attended to date. As the name implies, the band is four fellas playing tubas. Hearing them I felt jaunty and ready to bounce around. You may think, “Seriously? Tubas?”. It may seem off the wall, but the music was festive and fun. Typically, the tuba is tucked away in the back and nobody realizes their potential. These fine gentlemen are bringing the tuba into the limelight. Speaking of golden lights, the jolly sounds of Tuba Four would go swimmingly with a Golden Partager strong ale from Barrel + Beam.

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If you want to party, then you better bring the G-Snacks. The Michigan Brewers Guild outdid themselves by bringing Traverse City’s G-Snacks up to the U.P. Fall Beer Fest 2018. These funking badasses jammed. They turned the afternoon into a rocking funk fest with guitar forward tunes that popped and boogied. From the minute they said go, the crowd was jumping and it didn’t stop until they made us go home. Grab a bag of G-Snacks and enjoy the bliss with a Gnome Wrecker Belgian pale ale from Cognition.

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