MARQUETTE - Blackrocks Brewery has expanded its presence beyond the tiny brewery in the yellow house on North Third Street.
Blackrocks is running its new canning line at a 9,000-square-foot canning and distribution center at 950 W. Washington St., otherwise known as the "old Coca-Cola building." The new facility houses a 20-barrel brewing system that will allow co-owners David Manson and Andy Langlois to produce about 2,200 barrels a year.
After upgrading from a one-barrel system to a three-barrel one and cramming fermenters into the Third Street brew house and tap room, it was obvious that expansion was necessary.
Dan Andrews taps a beer at Blackrocks Brewery on Third Street in Marquette. The brewery recently began canning some of its beers at a facility on West Washington Street. (Journal photo by Christie Bleck)
"It's diversifying the direction we're going in," Langlois said. "Our business was solely before this a tap room and brewery."
Manson and Langlois opened the Third Street brewery in December 2010 and the attraction soon became popular in the community.
"Especially in the summer days, it's great," Manson said. "Everybody can hang out on the patio."
Now people who can't make it to Blackrocks Brewery can taste its beer. The new canning line is capable of filling 33 cans per minute. The brewery will consistently can three beers the Third Street customers helped pick: Coconut Brown, the 51K IPA and the Grand Rabbits Dry Hopped Cream.
Langlois said customer input has been integrated into Blackrocks operations.
"The beers that we have put out have been tweaked, tried and tested," Langlois said.
The brewery also will release a 22-ounce bomber bottle quarterly. The first release will be the Flying Hippo, an Imperial Belgian IPA.
Distribution at first will be limited to the Upper Peninsula, although Blackrocks plans to steadily grow and increase the distribution footprint. As of Sept. 20, Griffin Distributing and Peterlin Distributing had two of the three beers out for purchase.
Brewers Andrew Reeves, Christopher Hutte and Josh Frazier, along with Manson and Langlois, will divide their time brewing at the Washington Street facility and the Third Street brew house. They plan to add three to four employees to the Blackrocks staff with the expansion, with James Short, former head cellarman of Shorts Brewing Company, the most recent addition to the crew.
The taps will still flow at the Third Street tap room where smaller brews will be served, allowing the company to experiment and offer diverse styles.
"With various ingredients, you can create a style within a style," Langlois said.
Each week, Blackrocks offers eight different beers on tap and since the Brew House opened, Langlois said nearly 200 different beer styles have been available.
"It's fun for us as brewers and it's fun for customers as craft beer drinkers," he said.
Blackrocks attracts a wide diversity of ages. In fact, Langlois said the spot is a regular hangout for a group of friends in their 90s.
It attracts the young set as well.
"It often becomes a first stop for 21-year-olds," said Langlois, who added patrons also have the opportunity to listen to music, primarily from local musicians, five days a week.
There will be more room in the building, as well, as the project to open the upstairs for more seating will begin this fall. A parking lot behind the building also is in the works, Manson said.
One loyal Blackrocks customer is Dan Klim of Escanaba, who said he enjoys the people and the music. His favorite brew, he said, is Galactic Brain Slap IPA.
"It really gets you grooving," he said.
Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org