MARQUETTE - Marquette's annual fall beer festival promises to be bigger than ever when it kicks off in the city's Mattson Lower Harbor Park Saturday.
The fifth annual U.P. Fall Beer Festival, hosted by the Michigan Brewers Guild, will expand by about 25 percent over last year - both in regard to vendors and tickets available, according to guild Executive Director Scott Graham.
Graham said more than 50 vendors will be offering their brews at the festival and the estimated the 3,500 tickets would be gone before the festival gets under way.
Vierling brewmaster Chumly Anderson holds out some hops for home brewer Brian Richards of Ishpeming to smell during a previous U.P. Fall Beer Festival at Mattson Lower Harbor Park in Marquette. (Journal file photos)
Keweenaw Brewing Company's Jamie Bourgo pours a sample of beer at the festival. This year’s festival, set for Saturday at the park along Marquette’s waterfront, will feature more than 50 vendors offering more than 300 brands of beer. (Journal file photos)
"Any of the tickets that we had physically in Marquette are gone," he said. "I'm skeptical that they'll be available at the gate."
Graham said the Marquette festival, one of four the guild hosts statewide, has grown steadily during each year of its existence.
"This is actually still our smallest festival, but it has certainly grown every year," he said. "It's gotten to the point that its the same size as the one we have in Detroit."
The Detroit festival, also held in the fall, takes place over two days.
Locally, brewers have been preparing for the festival all summer.
Andrea Pernsteiner, co-founder and vice president of Marquette's Ore Dock Brewing Co., said the weekend is stressful, but exciting.
"It's always really important to us," she said. "We know that it's an opportunity to not only meet other brewers and owners, but we know we're going to have some of those brewers and owners coming through our doors as well."
Pernsteiner said she has noted the increased statewide interest in the Marquette festival, both from brewers and beer connoisseurs. To capitalize on that crowd, she said Ore Dock will offer up at the festival some of its most popular beers, including its Reclamation IPA and saison.
Among seven brews, Ore Dock will also present an English summer ale and the Pier to Peer, a collaboration between Ore Dock brewer Nick VanCourt and Eagle River's Fitzgerald Restaurant.
It's that sort of collaboration and focus on craft beer that Graham said he likes to see. The annual festivals are the best way to reward fans of craft beer, he said, while creating new interest in the industry.
"The best way to get exposed to fresh local beer is to taste it," he said. "What better way than to have it there at our fingertips?"
The festival is scheduled to run from 1 to 6 p.m. Saturday. Tickets cost $30 in advance and $35 at the gate. If available, tickets will remain on sale until midnight today at www.mibeer.com. If they don't sell out today, tickets will also be available at the gate Saturday.
Kyle Whitney can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250.