Sunday, September 2, 2007

Houghton beer interlude

After a leisurely evening in northern Wisconsin, dinnner with friends including the PodMan and GurneyGranny, we were off for the Keweenaw. We stopped in Houghton and paid a visit to a fine UP outfitter known as Downwind Sports. The BDM purchased his Impex Force 4 (which I spotted next to Pod & GG's garage) from those guys and was a happy customer. A few doors down we found an excellent international foods market and right next door the Keweenaw Brewing Company's brewery and brewpub.

This place is a find. They have a superb brown ale called Lift Bridge on tap as well as the best Dunkel Weizen (dark wheat) I've tasted since the old Hibernia Brewery in Eau Claire, WI went under 15 years ago. It is housed in a vintage brick building and there are two full bars as well as the production facility. Two beers are canned (note the miner logo on the Red Jacket Amber can; commentary is welcome) and growlers are available. I purchased a growler of the Lift Bridge brown after the VOR pulled a decorative pick axe off the wall and pried me off my bar stool. With $2 taps it took some serious prying. We did not visit the other fine brewpub in Houghton, The Library but it is at the top of the list for the return trip. With its view of the Portage Canal and the Ranger, the ship that takes hikers and paddlers out to Isle Royale, its a fine place to debrief after a kayak adventure.

We crossed the big blue lift bridge over the portage canal, purchased some staples at the excellent co-op in Hancock, and headed up the road to Calumet, hoping for a taste for the Oatmeal Stout from the Red Jacket Brewery which is housed in the Michigan House, a fine turn of the century hotel. Unfortunately, like the last two times I visited the joint, they were out of beer. Think about that. A brewpub thats out of beer....on Labor Day weekend. Sure, I quaffed a Bell's Oberon but as a business guy myself I have to wonder how the hell can a brewpub run out of its own beer!? Isn't that the primary reason you're in business? Maybe not. After all, its a nice eating establishment, the food is very good plus there is the hotel portion. Still, when avid microbeer fans are 'shut down' in their quest to add another fine ale to their lifetime list word will get around. When I asked when they would have more beer I was told, "no idea". If you have beer in the fermentation tank I would think you would have a damn good idea of when you were going to rack it. In my opinion it seems the restarurant and hotel are winning and the brewery is losing. Any insights on this place would be welcome.

Two more days of R&R in Copper Harbor with some day paddles, hikes, and general lounging until the rest of the contingent arrives Tuesday.

(Photo credit to Aras )


Kristen said...

Have to respect a man who can wax eloquent on beer!

Lord Hayden said...

A fitting (if unintentional) tribute to author and beer hunter Michael Jackson, who drank his last beer sometime before Aug. 31th.

DaveO said...

No!!! Michael Jackson was an overnight guest at my house in 1987 during a beer tour which involved Hibernia, Capitol, Millstream(IA), and the newly opened Summit. A great guy; we sat and drank BlackBush irish whiskey as he "needs a break from beer upon occasion". Every one I know envied his occupation, not the least of which was me.
Kristen, glad to see you weathered the holidays in fine form. One would guess beer played a small part in the fun.