Barrel + Beam brewery and event venue adds new deli and shared-use kitchen in Marquette

What’s happening: Northwoods Test Kitchen has officially opened at the Barrel + Beam brewery and event venue in Marquette. More than a kitchen to serve their guests, Barrel + Beam plans to open the kitchen up to the community, allowing the region’s burgeoning food entrepreneurs, guest chefs, and event caterers use of the space, too. Of course, the newly-opened deli is exciting in its own right, which features locally-sourced ingredients for their soups, spring rolls, sandwiches, cheese plates, and more.

Backstory: The Northwoods Test Kitchen name is inspired by the Northwoods Supper Club, the classic Marquette business that occupied the building from 1934 to 2007. After several years of vacancy and slipping into disrepair, the husband-and-wife team of Nick VanCourt and Marina Dupler would open their Barrel + Beam brewery and event space here in 2017. The brewery specializes in farmhouse and barrel-aged beers and ciders and sources ingredients from Michigan farmers, including everything from the hops and brewers yeast to a wealth of Michigan-grown fruits.

What’s new: Barrel + Beam first floated the idea of the Northwoods Test Kitchen in 2019, says Alex Palzewicz, the Events and Taproom Manager here. The COVID-19 pandemic halted those plans until earlier this year, when the brewery was awarded a $21,900 MDARD Rural Development Fund grant for the project. In the meantime, Barrel + Beam relied on local food entrepreneurs to provide the snacks, like smoked whitefish paté from Door County Whitefish and pizza from the Smelted food truck. Those staples will stay, says Palzewicz, and be offered in addition to the new deli at Northwoods Test Kitchen.

New ideas: The formal plans for the shared-use kitchen should be finalized over the next several weeks and months, Palzewicz says. One important feature that’s come with the kitchen is the dishwasher, which means less plasticware piling up in trash bags after Barrel + Beam hosts weddings and other big events. The brewery also installed a three-compartment compost system to better manage food waste. It’s something that’s always been important to Barrel + Beam, with the brewery having sent its grain to local pig farmers for years.

What they’re saying: “With the grant, it helps us create less waste and add the food element so that we can support more local agriculture,” Palzewicz says. “This building was a community center for so long. This is about adding more tools that help make it easier for folks to be able to celebrate here and get together and gather.”

Barrel + Beam and Northwoods Test Kitchen are located at 260 Northwoods Rd. in Marquette.