Ultimate 6er | Leaving the Upper Peninsula
Wedged between the three Greatest of the Great Lakes: Superior, Michigan, and Huron and Wisconsin and Canada lies a strange and mystic land called the Upper Peninsula. Many people don’t know that the Upper Peninsula, the U.P, even exists. It’s a beautiful place full of waterfalls, dense forests, and miles and miles of rugged shoreline, but it’s not for everyone. Harsh winters and a definite remoteness make Yoopers a special breed of people. Yoopers are tough, prideful, and stubborn, sometimes to the point of idiocy. Having moved from the U.P. a few weeks ago, I’m getting settled into my new Utah home, but I miss the Yoop every day.
Yoopers make pasties – Cornish meat pies, and Yoopers make craft beer. If there was a website dedicated to eating meat pies, you bet your ass I’d cover mine in beef gravy and ketchup and start waxing philosophical. But for now I’m writing about the brews.
Now to build an ultimate 6er you grab an empty cardboard holder and fill it with individual 12 ounce bottles, right? In true Yooper fashion I say, if my six pack doesn’t fit in the little six pack holder, to hell with the six pack holder. Here is my Leaving da U.P. Ultimate 6er:
Blueberry Wheat Ale – The Vierling Restaurant and Marquette Harbor Brewery
You won’t find this beer in stores, but sitting in the 100+ year old Vierling Restaurant overlooking Marquette’s Lower Harbor, why would you want to drink it anywhere else? The bartender will put a spoon full of blueberries into your glass, and you can watch them dance on the carbonation. Have a pint or five and then get a growler of the stuff.
Widow Maker Black Ale – Keweenaw Brewing Company
Widow Maker is malty and dark but super-smooth and light in body. Mmm mmm good. Get it in cans, or better yet, have one on tap while you weather a blizzard in KBC’s tap room in Houghton.
Spotted Cow – New Glarus Brewing Company
Now this is a malty, toasty, delicious beer, but it’s brewed in Wisconsin. Don’t worry; it still counts. Lots of Yoopers consider themselves de facto Wisconsinites and choose to root for the Green Bay Packers instead of the superior Detroit Lions. Don’t worry though, you’re allowed to drink Spotted Cow without putting on a pink camouflage Clay Matthews jersey or one of those ridiculously ugly cheese heads.
Coconut Brown Ale – Blackrocks Brewery
Blackrocks loves experimenting with ingredients. Every once in a while one of the experimental small batch brews at their tap room doesn’t quite work for me, but most of the time these concoctions are surprisingly awesome. Coconut Brown is one of the latter. Try it. Yumm.
Anything at Lake Superior Brewing Company at the Dunes Saloon
I’d say that the Dunes Saloon in Grand Marais has a great U.P. ambience, but I might get punched for saying something like that. This place is fun and the beer is good. Writer, Jim Harrison (Legends of the Fall) frequented the place when he lived here, and it shows up in a lot of his fiction. He calls the owner/bartender a fan of mischief.
Two Hearted Ale – Bells Brewery
This IPA isn’t a U.P. beer either, but it certainly is inspired by the U.P. Ernest Hemingway wrote “Big Two-Hearted River” based on a fishing trip he took to the Upper Peninsula. Papa Hemingway supposedly caught hundreds of fish on this trip, though his semi-autobiographical character Nick Adams only caught dozens. None of that really matters, though. Two Hearted is the best IPA I’ve ever had, and its label features one of Hemingway’s trout.