4/12/15: Keweenaw Brewing Company's Lift Bridge Brown Ale

5:04 PM

This is the finale of my 4-part series on Michigan brews. You can take a look at the first part, in which I discussed Atwater's Purple Gang Pilsner, to get a better idea of what this series is. To briefly describe it, I built a four-pack and threw in some beers native to MI that I'd never before had so I could share my first impressions of them with you, my beloved readers.


I really like brown ales. Perhaps my favorite is another offering from Michigan: Bells' Best Brown Ale. Yes, I was originally drawn to that particular one because I thought the owl on the packaging looked cool (I know Bells is involved in a tiff with another brewery but I don't know enough about it to state my opinion. It's not something I'm going to talk about. Bells is just a convenient intro to this piece--a brown ale from Michigan? Come on, that's almost too perfect for this opener).

If I had to describe the reason why brown ales appeal to me it would have to be the simplicity of them. Yeah, one can throw in as many crazy ingredients as desired into a batch; Jackie O's does this insanely well with their Chomolungma, which includes wildflower honey. But, even the barest of a brown ale's bones are great. It's typically sweet, but not so much as to be overpowering. For me, brown ales are the comfort food of the beer world.

In this, the final post of my first series, I'm discussing one of this ales. It's Keweenaw Brewing Company's (KBC) Lift Bridge Brown Ale. It's brewed in, obviously, Keweenaw, which is basically as northern as the Upper Peninsula gets. What should you expect from this brew if you ever try it?

You should expect good things. But, before I get into what those things are and talk about them in any detail, please allow me to give you a little background on the brewery.

From the KBC emblem on the can, I'm able to discern that the company was established in 2003. Furthermore, the website informs me that its founders are named Dick Gray and Paul Boissevain and that the company operates a taproom in Houghton, MI.

Looking back at the can, I see that the beer's named after the Portage Lake Lift Bridge, a double-decked bridge that serves to connect the brew's hometown of Houghton with Hancock, another Michigan city. From the can I also learn that Lift Bridge contains notes of caramel and chocolate. Lastly, the container claims it finishes with a mild hoppiness. The website confirms this information. (Unfortunately neither the can nor KBC's web presence mentions the ale's ABV.) 

I agree with can on Lift Bridge's flavor. I get both the caramel and the chocolate. However, the caramel is more stronger, which is exactly what I would expect from a brown ale. I also taste some fruitiness in the ale. It's citrus-y, definitely, but it's not overwhelming. If anything it adds to the ale's character and quality.

From a quick sniff, that same citrus is present in Lift Bridge's aroma. Cats hate citrus. Maybe that's why Purrl didn't want to stick her nose anywhere near the beer. 


A longer, more deducing whiff buries that citrusiness under a typical brown ale aroma: a light caramel goodness. You should've given it a real chance, Purrl.

The brew is nice and fizzy. It warms my mouth and leaves a slight fuzzy feeling in my cheeks, which, in my head, is more sensical than it does upon my typing it.

Brown ales make me think of fall. I can't explain it and it's odd. I don't think they're inherently autumn-centric brews. It's just how my dumb brain works.

Last autumn I went on a hike with my girlfriend to take in the seasonal colors. We had to pay to get into the park which, seeing as how we had just moved to Cincinnati, seemed strange to me. Heck, paying to go for a hike still seems really silly. Probably because it is silly. 

Anyway, we went for a hike in a park in the middle of a loud city. However, inside of the park all sounds from the city disappeared. The constant roar of cars was replaced by wind blowing through the trees. The sound of people's voices were changed to birdsong. It was great. For the first time since moving to the city I finally found myself completely relaxed. 

This beer in itself doesn't make me relaxed. I don't need that now. I've learned to feel pretty damn comfortable being surrounded by the constant racket of Cincinnati. What this beer does do, however, is remind me of the feeling of discovering that solace I needed. It's comfort. I'll say it again: brown ales are the comfort food of the beer world.

9.0/10. That's what I'm rating Keweenaw Brewing Company's Lift Bridge Brown Ale. Its simplicity is wonderful. Best of all, it can be found in Ohio. Grab a pack when you inevitably stumble across it. Even if you don't favor brown ales it's definitely worth a taste.

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