Things to know for July 3rd and 4th

Things to know about the 4th:

1. Eagle River is our home, so as our guests, please be respectful of the town and it's residents. Please don't litter, and don't congregate on any property that isn't ours or the beach. We aim for everyone to have a good time, so let's all treat each other well!

2. We're aiming to be open at 3:00 on July 3rd and noon on July 4th. Hopefully we'll be ready a little earlier on the 3rd, but we have a lot of stuff to set up!

3. We'll have limited credit card processing abilities, so bring cash to help us keep things running smoothly.

4. NO OUTSIDE ALCOHOL. It's illegal, so please don't do it. You're also going to be ID'd and wristbanded when you arrive. No wristband, no beer, and we reserve the right to ID you again. The party is for all ages, so don't feel like you can't bring the kids to play on the beach!

5. We're doing a token system for food and drinks again this year. Each token will cost $5 (there are some price breaks for buying a bunch), and there will be a station dedicated to purchasing tokens and merchandise in order to streamline the process.

6. The food station will be serving brisket and pork sandwiches with one side for two tokens, two ribs for one token, two sides for one token, or a hotdog and side for one token. We'll also have some black eyed peas available for vegetarians.

7. All beer will be one token. We'll also have gin and tonics, red and white wine available for one token as well.

8. The dining room is not open, and as a result, we don't take any reservations since they aren't required.


July 3rd and 4th Extravaganza

Our annual July 4th celebration is almost upon us, so mark your calendars now!  For the past couple of years we've had the road in front of the business closed and served all food and drinks in our parking lot, and we'll continue with that system this year.  We'll also continue to use a token system to help keep the food and drink lines moving swiftly, so bring your leftover tokens from last year and cash 'em in! 

We'll be serving beef brisket, pulled pork, smoked hot dogs, curried chickpeas and a few sides, along with 20 beers from Short's Brewing Company.  All of the beers will be tapped on Sunday, so if you want first crack at some of the rare taproom exclusives that we'll be pouring, plan on coming out both days!  Live music will be played on both days, and we'll be doing fireworks around 11 PM on the 4th.  Plan on there being plenty of fun to have, but above all, please remember that Eagle River is our home and to be respectful of it's beauty and it's residents.  Keep an eye on this site and our Facebook page for more details as we get closer!  

Here be dragons...

We finally picked up a couple beers from Dragonmead, and they're both top notch.  Final Absolution has some great estery flavors and a nice dose of sweetness up front, and Sin Eater has some dark sugar coated plum or fig flavors going on that make you want to keep sipping.  At 10 and 11 percent, respectively, these aren't to be taken lightly, but neither one comes across as boozy.  There are a lot of breweries out there doing Belgian style beers, but I feel like these are a cut above most, particularly Final Absolution.  

Memorial Weekend!

So the weather forecast doesn't look ideal for a holiday weekend, but that doesn't mean it's going to be a bust.  Some of the most beautiful days in the Keweenaw happen when it's a little overcast after it just rained, especially at this time of year when the leaves and spring flowers are just beginning to bloom.  Also, it (almost) never rains in our dining room, so you can rest assured that you'll have a safe haven if you need to dodge afternoon showers.  We'll be serving smoked prime rib on Friday night, and we're hoping to be able to get some fresh salmon and duck breasts for the weekend as well.  We also have quite a few beers left from the Dark Horse tap takeover last weekend, so get 'em while you can!  Bourbon Barrel Plead the Fifth doesn't make it out of Marshall that often.

Smoke, fire and food

For the past five years, the interaction between meat and smoke has been a cornerstone of our business.  Despite having cooked literally tons of meat in that time, I consider us to be neophytes amongst the giants of the barbecue world, but I also think that there's a mystique that's been cultivated around the science of smoking a big hunk of meat that makes people think they can't do what the big boys (and girls) do.  To be fair to those building the mystique, how couldn't there seem to be a little magic, a splash of special sauce somewhere in the process that makes truly great results unattainable for the average person?  Turning relatively cheap, tooth breakingly tough cuts of meat into succulent treats is, after all, pretty phenomenal, but it's not magic.

To make a long story short, barbecue really revolves around temperature and time.  For big cuts of tough meat like beef brisket or pork shoulder, the low temperatures most people smoke at (approximately 200-225 degrees fahrenheit) let all kinds of cool sciency stuff happen as the internal temperature of the meat slowly rises.  That being said, one of the most common mistakes is freaking out when time and temperature don't interact the way you'd expect them to and, as an attempt to compensate, you turn your smoker into a blast furnace.  

On the surface, smoking meat is just like cooking meat any other way; you're raising the internal temperature from about 40 degrees up to your desired doneness.  However, when you do that slowly in a smoker that's downright cold compared to the screaming hot surface of a grill, or even a 400 degree oven, you have to have the steely resolve of a nuclear submarine captain.  Imagine, if you will, that you told your significant other that you'd make some killer brisket for a party.  You watch your Youtube videos, read your barbecue forum posts, bust out your sweet new remote temperature probe and get your smoker fired up.  Temperature and time seem to interact like you'd expect them to at first, as the numbers on your meat thermometer slowly tick upwards.  And then, somewhere around the 150s, it stops.  For half an hour.  An hour.  You start to wonder if your smoker has a cold spot, if your thermometer works, if your spouse is going to throw your smoker in the trash when you ruin the party by not having the meat done.  

Science just slapped you in the face with the stall period, something brisket is notorious for having.  There are a few different theories as to why it happens, but whether it's collagen breaking down or stored water evaporating, the end result is that the meat will remain steadily in the 150s for an hour or two before climbing steadily upwards.  Cranking up the temperature will hurt more than it'll help, so keep your cool and wait it out.  Now, the real barbecue magic lies in why meat cooked to an internal temperature of 185+ degrees isn't dry shoe leather (hint: it sort of is, but you just don't notice it), but that's a topic for another day.

Whisky scarcity and drinking on a budget

We got into whisky a few years after we opened The Fitz, and it was an exciting time for us.  Hobbyists often begin buying bottles of whisky when they're a little further along in life; they have a good, steady income, some experience with the world of alcoholic spirits, and a group of friends to share bottles with.  We didn't have any of that.  What we did have was a crummy six seat bar and enough youthful exuberance to spend any extra money the business had on a new bottle or two.  Opening the state of Michigan's order guide for whisky was like a window into a new world, full of words we weren't quite sure how to pronounce and prices that were sometimes hard to swallow.  But it didn't take long before we started reading a few words over and over that we did know how to pronounce: out of stock.

This was before our foray into craft beer, a world where retailers like us hear the words "limited" or "allocated" on a weekly basis.  We learned over time that some stuff just isn't sent to the Upper Peninsula, like the state of Michigan draws a line of good taste across the Mackinac bridge.  But we also started noticing trends in the market, as certain whisky was replaced by something else that had a different age statement.  At the time, we saw demand increasing for older whisky and the distilleries responding with older offerings, but after the market kept buying, things have started to shift in the other direction.

Scotch has never been cheap, but prices rapidly rose in the mid to late 2000s, and the bourbon market quickly followed suit.  A friend of ours introduced us to Japanese whisky early on in our drinking career, and for quite a while there was a great value to be found in buying it.  That too has seen a rapid spike in demand over the past few years, and a commensurate increase in price.  Brands like Hibiki have also dropped some of their whiskies with age statements in favor of no age statement (NAS) offerings due to depleting stock of older spirits.

So what's a whisky drinker to do when money is a factor?  First of all, don't be scared off by NAS offerings. because age doesn't necessarily indicate quality.  Ardbeg is among the most highly regarded Scotch whisky makers, and you're not going to find any age statements beyond ten years in any of their recent releases.  Secondly, don't feel pressured to horde what you have.  A wise man once told me that a bottle costs money to buy, but it doesn't cost you a penny to open it.  It's made to be consumed, so consume it!  Finally, make an effort to buy smart.  One of the reasons we carry as many different whiskies as we do is that we like the idea of helping people try something before they commit to a bottle.  Nothing sours you on a hobby like dumping a bunch of money into something you don't like, so by being familiar with what you think is good before you walk into the liquor store, your odds of getting your money's worth increase immensely.


Welcome + Dark Horse Tap Takeover

DH Event.jpg

First of all, welcome to our new home on the internet!  For those of you reading on Facebook, we've launched a new website and are looking forward to having a better presence on the web in 2016 and beyond.

Second of all, we're having a Dark Horse tap takeover on May 21st, and we have a pretty killer array of beers for you to come try.  The beers are as follows:

  1. Raspberry Ale | Fruit beer | 5%
  2. Rain in Blood | Pale ale | 5%
  3. Kamikaze Kaleidoscope | Wit | 5%
  4. Lil' J | Session stout | 5%
  5. Crooked Tree | American IPA | 6.5%
  6. One Oatmeal Stout | Stout | 7%
  7. Sapient Trip Ale | Belgian style tripel | 9.5%
  8. Smells Like a Safety Meeting | Double IPA | 8.5%
  9. Bourbon Barrel Scotty Karate | Scotch ale | 9.75%
  10. Double Crooked Tree | Double IPA | 12%
  11. Plead the Fifth | Imperial stout | 11%
  12. Bourbon Barrel Plead the Fifth | Imperial stout | 11%

Beers will be tapped when we open at noon, and a representative from the brewery will be hanging out later in the afternoon and evening, so make your plans to head up!