The Vierling is one of Marquette’s oldest establishments, having opened in the 1860s.
It originally operated as a saloon and sample room until 1995, when it joined the first wave of Michigan’s beer renaissance and began putting out its own craft beer. Brewer Derek Anderson, known familiarly as Chumly, was head chef at The Vierling before making the transition when the brewery was set up.
“When we first put it in I was kind of just training in to do this,” Chumly said. “We sold a little less beer then so it wasn’t as full time as it is now, so I was doing both and getting my foot out of the kitchen and totally into here. I’m kind of another one of your chef turned brewers like a few others in the state.”
Chumly brews a range of mainstay beers, rotating a few seasonals on occasion. And while some breweries have a constant flow of specialty and seasonal brews, Chumly prefers consistency from one batch to the next.
“It’s more about trying to brew a consistent product here for me and having, hopefully, people see that it’s the same every time they come here, I hope,” he said with a laugh.
The initial wave of craft beer saw fewer styles, accommodating less refined tastes, but as tastes evolved, so did the brewers and their beer.
“So we’ve all kind of evolved as brewers over the last two decades now because of the demand for such better styles and more old world styles,” Chumly said. “Stronger styles: sour beers and bourbon aged beers. That demand was not there when we started; I didn’t see it much at all.”
In the ’90s, craft beer amounted to only .5% of all beer sales in America. Today the market share is roughly 7.5%, with the goal of attaining 20% by 2020.
And while the Upper Peninsula only makes up a fraction of Michigan’s craft beer scene, Chumly believes the U.P. could become its own beer mecca.
He said, “I think the U.P. is really starting to come into its own, and being part of the whole Lower Michigan’s thriving burst, especially in Grand Rapids and Traverse City. Can the U.P. be its own, next little mecca for everybody to travel? That’d be great if we had 20 breweries or 25 in the U.P. That would literally make more tourism come through here to catch so many breweries along the way. I can see that happening.”