As a retired Northern Michigan Wildcat, what’s a better excuse to get the ole’ gang back together than beer? Not just any old shwag beer either, Michigan Craft beer, our bread and butter of the glory days. Mini kegs of Oberon at McCarty’s cove, six pack’s of KBC Widow Maker on top of Sugarloaf, and endless nights slurring on the patio at Blackrocks Brewery, slamming beers to Pink Floyd at last call. Time flies though, and before any of us knew it, we all “grew up.” Some of us stayed and of us some left, but we all have a little spot in our heart that lies deep in Lake Superior.
I planned a camping trip so everyone could meet up, make some smores, and look at the stars before our homecoming. Next time you are in the U.P., make it a point to visit Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Jaw dropping landscapes, wondrous outlooks, and Chapel Rock are God’s wonders. This tree is literally growing through this rock that is 500,000 million years old. After some reckless nights camped out, blacked out and a few dips in mother Superior, I was all set for a fun-filled day of drinking.
Ripping up M-28, with Marquette in our sights, everyone was getting anxious and awaiting our time to indulge in Michigan nectar. Once I made my way to lower harbor and walked inside the fair grounds, the world was my oyster, well at least the fenced in area around me. Grabbing cups, stacking coins, and grabbing a map, I looked where to get my first drink. While gazing up and down this list of glorious brews, I started to salivate like Pavlov’s dog and quickly went six to midnight.
With over 300 beers to choose from, this was no easy task, so I went with my go-to, an IPA. I tried The Fluffer by Kuhnhenn Brewing Co. to start things off. Their DRIPA is considered one of the best IPAs in the state, and the best thing about these festivals is that you get to experience beers that sometimes never hit the shelves, let alone the tap rooms. The Fluffer was a session ale, and having a full day ahead, I wanted to start off light. Next up I wandered over to Shorts, my personal favorite, and saw an unholy list of madness. Not one of their year-round beers was in attendance. Lil Wheezy was my pick and I was flabbergasted. It is a heavily hopped amber ale and it left my mouth in bitter euphoria. Two of my favorites combed into one knock out punch.
After about the first two hours, I had to hold the beer list closer to my face to figure out what English was, so I asked around to see what people were drinking. Everyone told me I had to have the Scary Jesus Rockstar from Dark Horse. This apricot chamomile ale was crazy nutty, with citrus and fruit tones that tickled my tongue. Now I could go on and on from Arcadia to Greenbush and about crazy beers named Looping Owl to Teddy Bear, but at the end of day its about the experience more then anything.
As everything came winding to a swirling, stumbling end, last drinks were had and cheers were cried. Water fights ensued, while a drunk woman ran on top of a steaming row of porter johns. People were jabbering about their favorites of the day on the way out and some even dropped trou and dove right into the lake. Every year I have seen this small little fest grow and this one even sold out days before. I know it may be quite a hike, but if you have a passion for everything this great state has to offer, I find it mandatory that you make your way to the next one.