Keweenaw Brewing Company
Style: Brown Ale
While I’d heard of these guys before, I first had a chance to sample their wares at last winter’s Michigan Brewing Guild Winter Beer Festival. Located in the waaaay up north Upper Peninsula town of Houghton, where they were founded between two partners in 2003, they’ve staked their claim in the craft brewing world by distributing their product in aluminum cans and kegs only. Their original location and tasting room is for drinking—no food is sold. Their production brewery opened in 2007 just a few miles south of town where their year-round labels are produced and packaged.
Cans—while not exactly “typical” for most fancy beer drinkers—do offer several advantages over glass bottles: they’re easier to carry, easier to ship, less fragile, chill faster and they don’t let light in. Light, obviously, can damage beer more quickly … and everyone’s suffered more than a few skunked or light-struck brews in their day. The package also opens distribution to places which are typically shut out from offering craft products, such as ballparks, golf courses, and other places that don’t allow glass containers, which assuredly has assisted KBC’s growth since 2003 as they are now distributed throughout Michigan and Wisconsin.
Of course, regardless of the package, the beer can’t suck.
Late this summer, I scored a couple of six packs to do a tasting. Lift Bridge Brown is an American Brown Ale, named after the double-decker bridge that connects Houghton and Hancock on the Keweenaw Peninsula, which extends north into Lake Superior. It’s a solid brown in color, with a thinner body than I’d expect, and it was overcarbonated in the can that I poured. There’s a touch of chocolate on the roof of the palate, but with a softer finish and dryness on the sides of the tongue, it reminded me a bit of a Bell’s Amber Ale. The bittering hops were slightly out of balance due to a lack of sweetness, particularly for a brown, although the body opens up a bit as it warms. All and all, it’s not a bad effort.