Breweries sprout up in Michigan like wildflowers in spring, and the state’s newest brewery is right here in the U.P.
It’s called the Chocolay River Brewery and it’s attached to The Bayou Restaurant in Harvey. Owner Tim Soucy said the process of opening a brewery, from the first thought to the first pour, was a long haul.
“It’s been a lot of work, let me tell you that,” Soucy said with a laugh, “a lot of the paperwork and everything we’ve been going through, but it’s been well worth it after it’s all said and done.”
To get the brews fermenting, Soucy turned to Grant Lyke, who had 16 years of commercial brewing experience at Jasper Ridge Brewery.
“Chumly (Derek Anderson), from The Vierling, had gotten a hold of me and mentioned that I should come out and talk to Tim at The Bayou,” Lyke said, “that he was looking to put a small brewery in, so I came out, we had a really good discussion, and I came on board and have been here since.”
Soucy said, “It’s been excellent. People know him; they expect when they come in they’re going to have quality beer and we do because he knows what he’s doing. I worked with him on the first three batches of beer, and just seeing what he knows; there’s so much to it, it’s unbelievable.”
Lyke brews on a five-barrel system from downstate, and his first five beers include a pale ale, a blonde and a pair of wheats.
“What I wanted to do was not overwhelm anybody with some really crazy beers, so I just wanted to do some really nice, good classic styles of beer that I think all people would enjoy,” Lyke said.
Chocolay is the 14th brewery to open in the U.P., and Lyke is positive about the impact the area craft beer market has on the state.
He said, “To fit it into the whole scheme of things I think we’re well-received by all the breweries downstate, and that’s evident by the amount of breweries that come up to the festival in Marquette, so I just think it’s a great thing.”
With an agreeable atmosphere, fine food, kind staff and quality beers, Chocolay River Brewery is one of the Marquette area’s hidden gems.