Coming off the long Labor Day weekend, it can sometimes be hard to get back into the swing of things. But for Marquette beer fans, the Michigan Brewers Guild has created something to look forward to at the end of the week.
On Saturday, Sept. 12 from 1-6 p.m., the Michigan Brewers Guild will be hosting the Upper Peninsula Oktoberfest with over 150 beers from 27 different Michigan breweries. This is the first Oktoberfest hosted by the Michigan Brewers Guild in the U.P.
“We just decided that if we’re going to try and do it, we’re going to take a look at the U.P., and we ended up in Marquette. We thought about Escanaba and the Houghton/Hancock area, but Marquette just seemed to fit,” said Scott Graham, Executive Director of the Michigan Brewer’s Guild. “We’re very excited to come up to the U.P.”
Graham said that the Michigan Brewers Guild held their 12 Annual Summer Beer Festival this past summer in Ypsilanti and they’d been talking about additional events.
“We’re launching two new ones this fall, one in Marquette, and one in Detroit at Eastern Market,” Graham said. “We’ve been talking about taking things further out of central Michigan.”
The event will be held in Mattson Lower Harbor Park, right along the beautiful shores of Lake Superior. The scenic location hosts many different festivals in Marquette, including fireworks in the summer, the International Food Festival and the Seafood Festival.
Graham said although the event is called Oktoberfest, there is not much of a German theme to it.
“Because of the timing, some people will be bringing Oktoberfest beers, but we’re playing real lightly with the Oktoberfest theme,” Graham said.
He also said that he felt this was an important fundraiser for the guild, which is a non-profit organization that exists to help encourage support for Michigan breweries.
“First and foremost, our festivals are promotional events to promote our breweries and Michigan beer,” Graham said. “We think this is a great example of what makes Michigan the great beer state. Hopefully, we create some awareness and help fertilize the ground for future sales of more Michigan-made beer.”
Grant Lyke, the Head Brewer at Jasper Ridge Brewery in Ishpeming, said that it is likely that each brewery will bring around four different beers for customers to try. With 27 different breweries coming, that’s a total of around 108 different beers for people to experience.
“It’s a great opportunity for a beer connoisseur to go to one place and be able to sample numerous beers,” Lyke said. “It’s the gathering of all these breweries in one setting. There aren’t any stores up here that represent that quantity and quality of beers.”
Lyke said that this is going to be a great, unique experience for people to attend.
“It’s just great for the breweries to get out, the brewers, the managers, any of the staff that works at the breweries,” Lyke said. “It’s a great venue to get out and meet new people, new customers. You can’t go wrong with music, microbrewed beer and food all in one gathering.”
Derrick Anderson from the Vierling Restaurant & Marquette Harbor Brewery, whose organization will have five different beers available on Saturday, said he is excited about the event.
“I’m looking forward to it. I’ve been waiting years to have one up here,” Anderson said. “It’ll be interesting and fun.”
Anderson said that with all the people coming to town for the event, there will be a lot of business for Marquette during the whole weekend, not just during Oktoberfest. He said that the breweries will probably be coming into town on Thursday and setting up their tents on Friday night.
“I think it’s going to be great for the whole town,” Anderson said. “It’ll be bring a lot of business in the Marquette downtown area. I don’t think anyone is just going to show up on Saturday. They’re going to be in town for a few days.”
Anderson said that although the tickets are selling, there are still plenty available.
“We’re just trying to get the word out,” he said. “We still got a lot of tickets to sell.”
There were 1500 tickets available and are $30 in advance, $35 at the door. The tickets are good for 12 tokens inside the festival, and additional tokens are available inside. For designated drivers, tickets are $5.
“There are a limited number of tickets available, so it’s advised to get your tickets in advance,” Graham said. “But if there is some available, we will be selling them at the gate.”
Tickets can be purchased online at michiganbrewersguild.org, or at one of several locations across the UP, including the Vierling in Marquette, the Marquette Food Co-op, Jasper Ridge Brewery in Ishpeming, Keweenaw Brewing Co. and the Library Bar & Restaurant in Houghton and the Red Jacket Brewing Co.
For the most up-to-date information about the event, please see the Michigan Brewer’s Guild blog, The Mash, at mgbmash.org. The event includes music from Terracotta Half-life and Flat Broke Blues Band.
Food vendors include Border Grill, Vango’s and The Landmark Inn. Breweries attending this event include The Vierling and The Lake Superior Brewing, Co.