Fermenting Spring

Festival celebrates change of seasons

By Trinity Carey


Sporting a pretzel necklace jazzed up with some Slim Jims, a Spring Ferment festival goer is pictured, beer in hand. (Photo courtesy of Marquette Homebrewers)

Ore Dock, Blackrocks, Barrel + Beam, there is no shortage of craft breweries in Marquette. The community takes craft beer culture to a new level with the opening of each new brewery and the celebration of Beer Fest every fall. Community members come together over each brew to also enjoy arts, live music and unique food. And now, beer lovers can add some new crafts to their love list at this year’s Spring Ferment.

The Marquette Homebrewers—a non profit, homebrew and craft beer club—will host the third annual Spring Ferment, a festival to celebrate the coming of spring with beer, wine, mead, cider and kombucha, from 1 to 6 p.m. on Saturday, March 24, at Lakeview Arena.

Event goers will have the opportunity to sample drinks from 35 different companies including Blackrocks Brewery, Ore Dock Brewing Company, Cognition Brewing Company, Starcut Ciders, Short’s Brewing Company, Right Brain Brewing, Superior Culture Kombucha, Mackinac Trail Winery, Barrel + Beam and more.

The event will offer an array of new and experimental ferments for eventgoers to try, said Mark Hayes, Marquette Homebrewers board member.

“Variety is the spice of life. Even if you’re not a beer person you can come out and try wines and you can try ciders and get into some of the sour beers. There’s always something for somebody and just getting out there and experiencing different things is what life’s all about,” Hayes said. “It’s a small-scale venue for it, but I think it’s for something people are really going to enjoy and its for a good cause too.”

Aside from celebrating fermented beverages, the Spring Ferment is the Marquette Homebrewers’ community fundraiser. All proceeds from ticket to food sales will be donated to United Way, Hope Starts Here and other local charities.

Favorite vendor’s from previous fests will return this year, like Beard’s Brewery and Copper Crust Company, as well as some new vendors such as Boss Mouse Cheese, Superior Mobile Koney and some different musical acts.

“We always want to add at least two or three more new people every year because there’s always places opening up, so there will always be different breweries and wineries, but on top of that, all the people coming back will bring new beers,” Hayes said. “There’s a few people who sound like they’re going to be bringing experimental beer. We always try to get some of the more rare beers for people to try as well.”

This year’s fest is filled with many firsts, from featuring cheese samples and new ferments, to a date and location change. Formerly held in Mattson Lower Harbor Park during June, the brewers decided to move the festivities indoors this year.

“Weather was always hit or miss. It’s hard to drum up business when people have so many other commitments in [June] so we moved it inside to Lakeview Arena in March, which is really closer to true beginning of spring,” Hayes said. “There’s nothing else going on in the town that weekend in March so it’s really trying to get as much out of it as we can to donate as much back to the community as possible.”

Those who purchase tickets for Spring Ferment will receive 15 tokens, good for any beer, wine, mead, cider, kombucha and cheese sample as well as a commemorative glass. Designated driver tickets are also available for purchase and include a commemorative glass and two tickets for kombucha.

“So they can still be a part of the festival and interact with people and there is still a Michigan local-made product that is available for the non-drinkers,” Hayes said.

Wine, ciders, mead, kombucha and cheese aren’t the only aspects of this event that set it apart from Marquette’s Annual Beer Fest. Thousands attend beer fest, while a smaller crowd will attend Spring Ferment.

“We’re much more intimate versus the fall beer festival. We’re going to stop selling at 1,000, because we want it to be much more close knit,” Hayes said. “You can sit. You can talk with brewers at some stations and really get to know the beer. It’s not your average beer festival.”

The event also offers a special opportunity for members of the Marquette Homebrewers Club to get some of their own beers on tap.

“Some of the homebrewers are going to be able to brew our own beer and have it be served with the partnership with Cognition, so you can actually try some of our beer at the festival,” Hayes said. “I personally have a beer that’s going be there this year, so being able to give a sample to someone other than my family to try and give me feedback on is exciting.”

And Marquette is just the place for fellow fermented beverage lovers to come together and talk about the craft and culture, Hayes said.

“It’s really growing. There’s a lot of market for it just based on the fact that the Marquette area can support so many breweries and so many different styles. People here have a lot of U.P. pride, so they bring that into their products. I think a lot of the breweries locally really reflect that,” he said. “It’s exciting and cool to see where it’s going to go next and the potential it has.”

The Spring Ferment is the brew enthusiasts’ way of making their own mark in the craft beer market by giving back to the community and bringing a bit more detail fermented brews, Hayes said.

“It’s really just the homebrewers group wanting to expand on the beer business, expand people’s horizons and really getting the Michigan made beers, wines and ciders into people’s hands to show them that Michigan does have a lot of great opportunities to buy local and drink local,” he said.

Tickets for the Spring Ferment are $35 and $5 for a designated driver ticket. Tickets are nonrefundable and can be purchased online at the Spring Ferment page on the Marquette Homebrewers website, marquettehomebrewers.com. Designated drivers must register in advance. If available, tickets can be purchased at the door the day of the festival. Additional sample tickets can be purchased at the festival. All eventgoers must be at least 21 years old, including designated drivers, and bring a valid ID for entry.


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