Brewing A Life Well-Lived
There’s a distinguished culture that calls Michigan’s Upper Peninsula home. They endure the harshest of winters — often surpassing snow accumulation records. They call themselves “Yoopers” and are sometimes referred to as Southern Canadians. Many have vacationed in the Upper Peninsula, but only a few remain year-round residents. Isolated in dense forests, high elevations, and nearing the edges of the world’s largest surface area of freshwater, the Upper Peninsula is a haven for outdoor recreation enthusiasts.
Marquette sits along the coast of Lake Superior, with a natural trove of trails, beaches, and cliffs. A local gem, often referred to as the “Island,” Presque Isle is a 323-acre forested loop featuring a rugged shelf of cliffs that scans Lake Superior’s horizon. This picturesque scene coincides — as well as the name — with the beer crafted by Blackrocks Brewery.
After a downturn in the economy, homebrewers Andy Langlois and David Manson took a leap of faith and started a small nano-brewery along Marquette’s Third Street Market. “We pretty quickly expanded just due to demand,” explains Steve Farr, Pirate of Propaganda at Blackrocks Brewery. “We were just continually selling out of beer — like every weekend — we’d have a new beer go online and people would drink it all.”
Andy Langlois & David Manson
Craft Beer, glassware, apparel and accessories
Lead sponsor of the Noquemanon Trail Network and hosted tap fundraising events
As outdoorists and business owners, Andy and Dave began investing in their community through partnerships, hosting events, and raising money for organizations whose efforts conserve Michigan’s land and water.
Now in its ninth year, Blackrocks Brewery has since transitioned from brewing a little over 100 barrels annually to now around 7,500 barrels. “The brewery has grown at a pretty conservative rate, but still much faster than Dave and Andy originally thought,” says Steve discussing the brewery’s success. “Originally they had no plans to go into distribution or anything like what we’re doing now.”
When Dave and Andy bought the two-story yellow house on Third Street, they had originally envisioned their place being the endpoint congregation for the local outdoorists. “We wanted a place for people who get done from a mountain bike ride or a good trail run — to pop in and have a beer while hanging out with friends in a comfortable spot,” Steve describing the idea behind the brewery.
Avid outdoorsmen themselves, Andy and Dave wanted to be surrounded by like-minded adventurers and took that into consideration when they started staffing the brewery. “All the employees are very much all avid users of the outdoors — whether it’s biking, hiking, canoeing, or fishing,” Steve explains that Blackrocks even has a few employees whose day jobs are spent working at the local bike shops. “I mean, if you live in Marquette, that’s usually a reason why you live here because we have access to so much of the great outdoors. We definitely try to take advantage of that as much as we can.”
As outdoorsmen and business owners, Andy and Dave began investing in their community through partnerships, hosting events, and raising money for organizations whose efforts conserve Michigan’s land and water. Notably, Blackrocks is the lead sponsor for the Noquemanon Trail Network (NTN), who maintain and develop non-motorized trail systems in the Upper Peninsula. As heavy trail users themselves, the staff at Blackrocks regularly volunteer at fundraising events where a portion of the proceeds from their brewed 51K IPA goes back to summer and winter trail grooming.
Local conservation groups are also no stranger to Blackrocks’ generosity. Blackrocks has hosted tap events to raise funds for the Yellow Dog Watershed, Superior Watershed Partnership, and the Upper Peninsula Land Conservancy. They also sponsor and serve as a venue for the annual Fresh Coast Film Festival; an event that celebrates the great outdoors, land and water conservation, and outdoor recreation. “We open up the bar and people can have a beer and pack in there,” says Steve describing the small space where they show the films. “Basically, it feels like a living room, there’s just something neat about the atmosphere, and it’s fun.”
Blackrocks Brewery has built a brand that not only advocates for quality beer, but for the places where we hike, bike, kayak, and ski before catching our breath and enjoying one of their crisp beverages. “We like to think of ourselves as a supplement to a well-lived life,” says Steve explaining how the Blackrocks brand resonates with individuals. “Enjoying the life you live is very important to us and we like to think of the beer as making that a little bit better.”
When you see the orange sunset peeking behind the dark silhouette of the black rocks, you imagine a life well-lived through making new friends, supporting outdoor spaces, and exploring all that Michigan has to offer.
“You appreciate a quality of what you consume to the quality of how you live your life, and hopefully you’re the kind of person that would also like to help the environment and organizations around you.”
An idea that was initially a shot in the dark quickly beamed into a starlit sky and encouraged its gazers to live fully.
When you see the orange sunset peaking behind the dark silhouette of black rocks, you imagine a life well-lived through making new friends, supporting outdoor spaces, and exploring all that Michigan has to offer.