U.P. Fall Beer Festival will make you proud of state’s breweries

Saturday’s U.P. Fall Beer Festival will be taking an already huge event to the next level, with over 100 breweries in attendance, offering around 650 unique Michigan-made beers at Mattson Lower Harbor Park in Marquette.

“The U.P. Fall Beer Festival provides a unique opportunity for people to enjoy fine craft beer along the shores of Lake Superior, undoubtedly the most scenic of our festival settings,” Dianna Stampfler of Promote Michigan said in an email. “This is our 11th year for the event, which has been a showcase for the beer-centric town of Marquette and a highlight of Marquette Craft Beer Week, Sept. 3-8.

“This event is a pretty laid back affair, with weather that is still sunny and nice. I’ve heard many of our attendees and breweries say this is one of their favorite events.”

Festival tickets are selling for $45 in advance or $50 the day of the event, online at www.mibeer.com/Events/-up-fall-beer-festival, and may still be available at select Marquette locations, including The Vierling & Marquette Harbor Brewery, the Ore Dock Brewing Co. and the Marquette Food Co-op. The event will run from 1-6 p.m.

The Michigan Brewers Guild, which was formed in 1997, held its first festival in July 1998. Today, the guild hosts four festivals dedicated exclusively to Michigan craft beer produced by its more than 290 member brewers — a number that increases monthly.

The guild, a network of innovative brewers that serves as the recognized advocate for the Michigan craft beer industry, has as its mission the promotion and protection of the industry. The goal is to help craft beer acquire 20% of the market by 2025.

The brewing industry contributes more than 17,000 full-time jobs and $700 million in labor income and wages, with a total economic impact of over $2.4 billion, according to the guild. Michigan ranks fourth in the United States in terms of overall number of breweries, microbreweries and brewpubs.

Brett Hartranft of Ann Arbor is part of a volunteer team, or “keg team,” which means he delivers ice and beer to brewery booths at the event.

“The U.P. festival is great because you get so many U.P. breweries together in one place,” Hartranft said. “Normally they don’t come to the downstate festivals, so this is a really unique opportunity to sample from far-flung spots.

“Plus, the view can’t be beat. Looking out on Lake Superior with a beer in your hand makes you fall in love with Marquette and the U.P.”

Ryan Higbie of Marquette said he and his wife have been to every festival. “After the first one, she told me, ‘If you are ever out of town for beer fest weekend, I’m going without you.’ Now we set up child care a full year in advance for the next U.P. beer fest.”

If you have never attended beer fest, Saturday’s event sounds like it will be a great one to start with. In addition to the record number of breweries in attendance, the weather looks like it’s going to hold off. Of course, we advise drinking responsibly. With that in mind, get out to Mattson Lower Harbor Park and see all that Michigan-made beer has to offer.

For more information, visit www.MiBeer.com, www.facebook.com/MichiganBrewersGuild, www.twitter.com/MiBrewersGuild or www.instagram.com/MiBrewers.