Fall beer festival showcases Michigan’s best brews

MARQUETTE —  What makes the economy boom here in Michigan? When you look at history, the Great Lakes State has thrived in the automobile industry for many, many years.

While that’s still true today, a different kind of industry is booming in the state, writing its own history.

Beer is an ever booming and expanding industry here in Michigan. Craft brews in the state have an annual economic contribution of $600 million, with $144 million annually going towards workers and wages. And the beer business is showing no signs of slowing down.

“It’s very common for them to feel responsible for their employees and provide a good job with a working wage a family can live on,” said Scott Graham, executive director of the Michigan Brewers Guild. “As breweries grow, they’re not getting more efficient hiring robots, but literally adding onto the building, adding tanks, and adding people.”

The 9th Annual U.P. Fall Beer Festival has held Saturday at Mattson Lower Harbor Park in Marquette. Over 5,000 thirsty and interested patrons made some hard decisions, with over 90 breweries in attendance featuring 600 different beers.

“Michigan has a very diverse group of brewers, lots of different styles and lots of world class breweries,” said Graham. “That’s one nice thing about Michigan is that you can find a nice selection of ales, lagers, sour beers, light, dark, you name it.”

The U.P. Fall Beer Festival has become one of the four biggest festivals the Michigan Brewers Guild puts on every year. Founded in 1997, the brewers guild started with 30 members. Twenty years later, that number is over 300.

“We’ve seen lots of breweries open in the last few years and the total volume of beer being produced and sold and drank in Michigan has increased. The percent that is brewed in Michigan just continues to increase,” said Graham.

The Michigan Brewers Guild’s mission is to have craft breweries make up 20% of the state’s beer market by the year 2025, helping the Great Lakes State become the Great Beer State.

“We’re at about 9.5% now, so that suggests even while the industry is still maturing, it’s still going to double in overall volume,” said Graham. “Probably a lot of that volume will be from medium-sized and larger microbreweries getting bigger, some will be from new breweries emerging, and some of it will be from a new local pub brewery opening in your town.”

The next big event for the brewers guild is the Detroit Fall Beer Festival, October 27th and 28th.