They converge on Munising by the hundreds of thousands each year. Tourists, that is.
And they like their brews--a lot.
"They drank us right out of our beer after the fourth of July," says Donna Kolbus, who co-owns Shooters Firehouse Brew Pub
in Munising, on the south shore of Lake Superior.
"It was overwhelming, but we finally caught up--and next year, we'll be ready. We got by with five employees this year, but it was hectic. We're going to add at least three more to our staff next spring for the warm weather tourist season."
Brewmaster Wes Daniels has only been brewing his own recipes on site at Shooters since April, but they've become fast favorites among residents and visitors. Blueberry IPA, Wheat Dark Ale and Peach Light Ale are a few of the ever-rotating choices that are, have been, or will be on tap again.
So is his mysterious creation, Purple Haze that is created with--get this--fresh lavender. Kolbus says most people have to be coaxed into taking a sip, but once they do, they are hooked.
"He's kind of a mad scientist," Kolbus says. "He writes down every recipe and keeps absolutely meticulous logs so he can re-create them and also compare the different baths."
She had been toying with the notion of brewing on-site for a while, she says. "We always wanted to do this, but just didn't know how to go about it."
Then Daniels, a self-taught home-beer brewer, appeared to bring that idea to life.
"He approached us," Kolbus says. "And there are no other brew pubs in Munising, so we went with it."
Business has quieted down a bit, Kolbus says, during the shoulder season between summer and winter visitors. But once the white stuff begins to hit the ground, she knows things will change drastically.
"I'm looking forward to winter," she says. "We all call Munising the [state's] snowmobile capital, because there are hundreds of miles to ride up here."
Family-owned Shooters is not new to Munising--it existed for years in another location as a restaurant and lounge. But this newly-built incarnation of the pub is a converted car wash that opened, after renovation, in March 2011.
"We are a four-generation firefighting family," Kolbus explained, "so we've done our best to make it look like an actual firehouse inside."
And, quite ironically, Shooters Firehouse Brew Pub is located directly across the street from Munising's real firehouse.
Location, location, location.