Blackrocks Brewery serves up great beer from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula
Posted on June 10, 2014 at 3:00 p.m.
Eric Strader writes about the craft beer scene in Indiana and Michigan. He's a dad, husband, potter, soccer coach and special education paraprofessional who likes to read, bike, hike and canoe. You can read more from him in his community blog for The Elkhart Truth, Hop Notes.
People from Michigan's Upper Peninsula are referred to as Yoopers, and those of us from below the bridge (the Lower Peninsula) are known as trolls. We trolls know quite well that not all great Michigan beer is made in the LP. Great Breweries like Blackrocks Brewery in Marquette are brewing some really great beer. And some of it is starting to spill over the bridge, down throughout the Lower Peninsula, in cans.
Thanks to a local friend who brought me a six pack of IPA and another friend from Marquette who currently lives in Kalamazoo, I have been able to finally enjoy some Blackrocks beer. As a troll, I love the beauty of the back country in the UP and have done extensive hiking through the Porcupine Mountains, along Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, through Seeney National Wildlife Refuge, as well as on Isle Royale (the largest island on the largest fresh water lake – Superior). What better way to enjoy some of the UP's finest back country than with cans of its finest beer?
The brewery's name is inspired by the Black Rocks, located just north of town, where natives and visitors have gathered to enjoy Lake Superior for generations. They even donate a portion of the sales from 51K IPA to support the building and maintenance of recreational trails. As it says on the cans, “Here's to leaving it all on the trail...but please recycle the can.”
Although I have looked for Blackrocks cans in Kalamazoo, I have yet to find any. I have confirmed that it is available in limited areas of Grand Rapids, one small beer store in Hamilton, Mich., and near Ludington as well. I'm guessing it will only be a matter of time before distribution hits Kalamazoo.
At this point, I have opened all but the coconut brown ale. The 51K IPA (7% ABV) is a medium body, light carbonated IPA. It starts out with a very nice floral hop flavor that is slightly sweet, then moves on to a grapefruit and piney bitter finish. When I head to northern Michigan this summer, I will definitely seek out this beer for my camping and canoeing adventures.
The most creative brew was the Honey Lav (5.2% ABV). This is an American wheat ale and limited summer release brewed with Michigan honey and a dash of lavender. Until a few years ago, I would never have thought of cooking or adding lavender to anything I would eat or drink. However, my brother-in-law is a chef, and after completely enjoying his scallops with a lavender cream sauce, I am all in favor of cooking with lavender. In fact, a couple of years ago, I baked sugar cookies with lavender for Valentine’s Day.
Blackrocks co-owner Andy Langlois said on The Upper Peninsula’s ABC channel 10, “Honey Lav is a brew that we've been doing for at least a couple of years now since we opened the taproom. Andrew Reeves initially spearheaded that brew and it became wildly popular at the taproom. It's a really good, summer tasty brew.” I tasted both the honey and the lavender, and thought that it was a very refreshing beer. It is a great beach beer.
As it says on the can, Grand Rabbits (cream ale, 5.5% ABV) is ideal for the porch, beach, canoe or campfire. Blackrocks’ brewers came up with the “play on words” name of this beer while on a visit to Grand Rapids, Mich. Some grapefruit flavors are present from the dry hopping, with a slightly earthy, creamy finish. It is a very drinkable and enjoyable beer, with a good balance of hops and malt.
“We love beer, You love beer, Let's get together.” I don't think Blackrocks Brewery could have said it any better.
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