Last week I was in Marquette and had the opportunity to check out the newly-minted Blackrocks Brewery the day after it opened. Started by Andy Langlois and David Manson, they are living out most homebrewers’ dreams and brewing small-batch commercial beer as a nano-brewpub. Their brewing setup is admittedly a “glorified homebrew setup”, a single-tier stainless 1 barrel system with a few pumps and 4 1bbl Blichmann fermentors. However, they were planning on ordering a fifth fermentor on only their second day of business. Why the immediate expansion? They served about 4.5 barrels of beer on opening night, and basically ran out of everything.
- Black Ale – very similar to New Belgium’s 1554, but a bit more roasty
- “Bramber” – a hybrid brown/amber ale that seemed very much like a lighter Scottish ale
- Red Pils – a pilsner-based red ale that was designed to be a “session beer”, although it is 6%
As you would expect from a nanobrewery, Blackrocks is very community-oriented. The tables and some of the other furniture were made by local artisans, but not only that, they want the community’s input on the beers themselves. “Eventually we’d like to have a ‘house beer’ or two, but right now we’re just brewing beer and trying to feel out the community for feedback to see what the local craft beer community wants to drink”, said Langlois. These guys certainly aren’t afraid of experimental beers either, with a “sweet & sour” beer on tap the night before and a coconut brown in the fermentor, I’m looking forward to seeing what they come up with in the future.