MARQUETTE - Local craft beer fans should be in heaven for the next few days, which have been designated as the Upper Peninsula's first-ever Craft Beer Week.
The week, which is punctuated by deals and special events at breweries and stores across the U.P., will culminate Saturday with the Michigan Brewers Guild's fourth annual U.P. Fall Beer Fest in Marquette.
The special week is the brainchild of Jamie Strand, who owns White's Party Store in Marquette, and Josh Marenger of the Bay de Noc Brewers homebrew club. Together, the pair formed A Pint Above LLC.
Strand based the idea on a number of craft beer weeks she has seen throughout the country and she said the idea should gain traction in an area where breweries and craft beer are becoming more prevalent.
"The breweries, of course, will get to strut their stuff, so to speak," Strand said. "They get to showcase a lot of fun stuff that they do and a lot of great beers that they make."
A few of the U.P. breweries participating in craft beer week include Ore Dock Brewing Co., Blackrocks Brewing Co. and The Vierling - all of Marquette - as well as Houghton's Keweenaw Brewing Co., Escanaba's Hereford & Hops and Copper Harbor's Brickside Brewery.
"I think really (the goal) was just to have some fun, to tell you the truth," Strand said. "We sell a lot of craft beer (at White's) and I think a lot of people just haven't tried all that's out there."
During the week, White's will feature tastings of beers from New Holland Brewing Co., Founders Brewing Co., North Peak and Short's Brewing Co., and will have representatives from each brewery on-hand. The Wild Rover will feature Arcadia Brewing Co. firkins and tap takeovers with Dark Horse Brewing Co. and Short's.
There will also be tap takeovers at Upfront & Company and the Landmark Inn, as well as beer and food pairings at the Sweetwater Cafe.
Strand said she and Marenger purposefully scheduled the week in the lead-up to the U.P. Beer Fest, as many brewers will already be in town.
"They've all been great," Strand said about the breweries that she contacted. "They were very much on board. The Michigan Brewers Guild has been particularly helpful."
A full listing of the featured breweries and the schedule for the week can be found on the U.P. Craft Beer Week's website at www.upcraftbeerweek.com.
The activities will culminate on Saturday with the fourth annual U.P. Fall Beer Fest, which will take place in Marquette's Mattson Lower Harbor Park and will include 30 breweries and more than 200 different beers.
According to Strand, the whole week of festivities should serve to highlight a growing craft beer culture.
"I think they're getting a little more open minded about beer and the several styles and specialty beers and things like that," she said.
Kyle Whitney can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.