Upper Peninsula Brewery adds holiday seasonal to its portfolio


By: Eric Strader

Photo supplied/Upper Hand Brewery

This year’s first heavy snowfall east of the Rockies landed across Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Marquette reported more than 2.5 inches of snow Oct. 16, the highest daily total this early in the season since Oct. 17, 1976. While it might seem a bit early to start thinking about snow or the holidays in Michiana, Upper Hand Brewery in Escanaba, Mich., about 60 miles south of Marquette, is busy getting ready for the release of its first holiday seasonal.  

Upper Hand Brewery is a division of Bell’s Brewery (Kalamazoo, Mich.) and although they do not offer tours, have a tap room or outlet to sell beer on site at this time, you can find their beer across the Upper Peninsula on draft and in bottle shops. Unfortunately, they do not distribute south of the Mackinac Bridge into the Lower Peninsula. The only time that I’m aware of Upper Hand beer being poured south of the bridge was at Bell’s 30th Anniversary Funvitational party. At that event, I had a chance to taste their beer for the first time and also meet brewer Evan Garrett.

With Christmas still about 60 days away, we are going to start seeing holiday seasonals show up on our shelves, even though Oktoberfest and pumpkin beers are still readily available everywhere. Great Lakes Brewing will actually release its popular Christmas Ale on Oct. 21 at its brewpub’s annual First Pour Party.

Upper Hand Brewery Christmastime (oatmeal stout, 7.2 percent ABV) will be brewed with locally grown oats from the Upper Peninsula and according to the brewery, will be dark and roasty with a smooth and creamy mouth feel.

“Christmastime was brewed to share in front of the fireplace with your friends and family,” commented Larry Bell, president and founder of Bell’s Brewery, Inc.  “And with an ABV of 7.2 percent, it just might give you the sisu you need to get through the holidays and the U.P.’s long, cold winter.”

This seasonal offering will be available in limited quantities in the bottle and on draft throughout Upper Hand Brewery’s distribution area beginning in early November, just in time for the holiday season.

It has been just about a year since Upper Hand began brewing and to celebrate, it will host a pub crawl Thursday, Oct. 29. The feature treat will be the tapping of its Baltic Porter aged in Traverse City Whiskey Company barrels at three different locations, in addition to one last special tapping of 906 (imperial red, 9.06 ABV) named for the Upper Peninsula area code.  For more information, check out its Facebook page.

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