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      The Great Beer State

      The beer business is booming...craft beer that is. The Ore Dock Brewing Company, a microbrewery in Marquette, has just passed its one year anniversary, and owners have doubled the staff size since they first opened their doors. Ore Dock beers are on tap at over a dozen locations in Marquette County. Owners say customers love local brews from local products.

      "A locally crafted product is always going to be better than something that's made thousands of miles away and shipped to you," said Andrea Pernsteiner, Co-Founder and Vice President of the Ore Dock Brewing Company. Michigan ranks fifth in number of craft breweries in the country according to the Michigan Brewers Guild . "Welcome to the craft beer craze in Michigan," says a Pure Michigan ad .

      There are about 140 breweries, microbreweries, and brewpubs in Michigan. That's up from 92 in 2009 and three in 1992. The number "140" is not precise. Scott Graham, Director of the MBG, says that breweries are popping up so fast that it is difficult to get an exact number.

      To further promote the craze, the brewers guild has declared Michigan as the Great Beer State, and billboards with the logo can be seen in many locations.

      The craft beer industry is showing no signs of slowing down.

      "It's not like out of the can," said William Lullo, who visits the Ore Dock every Wednesday.

      It's that special taste that attracts so many regulars. Each brewery offers a different set of beers and a different experience.

      The Vierling is home to the Marquette Harbor Brewery, second oldest in the U.P. Unlike the Ore Dock, they offer a food menu as a brewpub, but it's still the beer that attracts many.

      "This beer here can have it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner," said Terry Taulbee, from Howell, MI near Ann Arbor.

      "We drove a long way. We always come up here and we always stop in," said Terry's wife, Robyn Taulbee.

      The Taulbees visit regularly and always make it a point to get a beer at the Vierling.

      The Vierling has a diverse history of serving food since 1883, and has been brewing since 1995. They, too, are seeing the increasing trend of craft beer lovers and recently purchased two new serving tanks to meet demand.

      "People are finally embracing the heartier brews, the home-made brews, the brews with a lot of flavor and freshness. We're really excited," said Terry Doyle, Vierling owner since 1985.

      The new tanks allow them more opportunities to serve new beers. They have recently brewed a new Pilsner and Pale Ale.

      Marquette County is quickly becoming a hub for craft beers with four breweries total and a fifth on the horizon. In addition to the Ore Dock and Vierling, Marquette is home to Blackrocks Brewery and Ishpeming has Jasper Ridge Brewery. New plans are in the works for Cognition Brewery to open in Ishpeming.

      In 2011, Michigan legislature declared July to be Craft Beer Month in the state.