Nestled on two acres of privately owned land within Tahquamenon Falls State Park just shy of Paradise sits the Tahquamenon Falls Brewery and Pub. The brewery opened in 1996 but there’s a much larger history surrounding it.
It all began when owner and brewmaster Lark Ludlow’s grandfather purchased 164 acres of land and donated all but 2 acres to the state.
Ludlow said of her grandfather, “He had in mind always to donate that property to the state of Michigan to help formulate the park; and so he retained two acres, upon which he created some modest camp-style buildings, summer only; very seasonal, and rented them to others to run their businesses from.”
In 1987, Lark and her youngest brother came into possession of the land and rebuilt the buildings, which had fallen into disrepair. The new buildings were walled off to the elements, which offered better business prospects.
“We could be open perhaps all year,” Ludlow said, “and we are with the exception of a few months on either end of the quiet times in this part of the world.”
Not only is Lark the only female brewer in the UP, and one of very few in the entire state, her first brewing experience was on the brewery’s 10–barrel system.
“I had never been involved in the restaurant industry in any way, nor had I been a home brewer as most people assume that I had been,” Ludlow said.
She learned from the people who sold the her the system and has been evolving those original recipes ever since.
Ludlow said, “We get lots of compliments on the stout; the Falls Tannin is my favorite, similar in color to the water going over the falls and that’s very popular, not on the hoppy side. I rotate that with a pale ale that’s a little more hoppy. It’s called the Porcupine Pale Ale.”
And her Blueberry beer inspired a fellow UP brewer to make one too.
“I know that The Vierling is serving the blueberry,” Ludlow said, “and Chumlee got the idea from me and he says it’s his best selling beer, so that’s lovely.”
Although the beer has evolved over time, some things at Tahquamenon Falls Brewery and Pub have stayed the same since the day it opened.
“The color scheme,” Ludlow said, “I wanted to bring some of the outdoor influence inside and use some of the natural stone from our area. The color green was chosen to bring the color of the forest within. The red reminded me particularly of my youth coming up here and having the opportunity to cross the bridge, the Big Mac, and to see the ore boats and the beautiful color of red. That always stayed in my mind.”
One of the pub’s coolest features is always getting stepped on.
“And then what was really fun was to find the rail from the Seney Stretch, which is now the footrest here at the bar and also the supporting construction pieces for the mantle,” Ludlow said.
And despite a majority of business coming from tourists in to see the falls, the heart of the brewery comes from the community.
“We could not exist without the tourists,” Ludlow said, “however, I must say that the people in our immediate area from Paradise and from Newberry and the little cabins in between are the people that we really love to see.”
You may have to leave camp to get to Tahquamenon Falls Brewery and Pub, but you won’t leave camp behind.