Earlier this week, I spent a few hours checking over one of the appendices for YOOPER ALE TRAILS, which will be published this spring by Modern History Press. “A Guide to Beer Styles” includes descriptions of several dozen styles followed by a list of examples of each style produced by breweries of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Not surprisingly, the most popular style is India Pale Ale. What is surprising is that the second most popular style is the loosely defined category of “fruit beers.” Forty-three are listed.

The most popular fruit additive is blueberries, with twenty on the list. Kyle Peterson, the brewer at Lake Superior Smokehouse Brewpub of Harvey told me: “We’re not allowed to not have. it.” One brewer jokingly referred to blueberry ale as the “National Beer of the Upper Peninsula.

The history of Upper Peninsula blueberry beers goes back to the mid-1990s. Derek “Chumley” Anderson, of Marquette Harbor Brewery at Vierling Restaurant, and Lark Ludlow, of Tahquamenon Falls Brewery and Restaurant, worked together to create a blueberry wheat ale for the annual Blueberry Festival held in the tiny village of Paradise. A few weeks later, Chumley introduced a similar beer for Marquette’s Blueberry Festival.

Like these originals, most of the UP’s blueberry ales use American wheat ale as the base beer. It’s medium-bodied and not at all overpowering beer that allows the subtle fruit hints created by the blueberry puree to shine. “It’s like spreading a thin layer of blueberry jelly on a thick slice of homemade bread,” one brewer told me.

Other base beers are used as well: Kolsch for Cold Iron’s Blue Collar Blueberry (which doesn’t use puree but freshly-picked blueberries that are smooshed, cooked, and added during secondary fermentation), and Berliner Weisse, a gently sour German beer, for ore Dock’s Blue Canoe, to name but two. There are other additives as well: 51st State’s Batty Millie adds vanilla; Hereford & Hops’ Bluegrass, lemon grass; and Cognition’s Pombluegenesis, pomegranites.

The wild blueberry season in the Upper Peninsula lasts for only a few weeks during the summer. Soo Brewing celebrates the beginning of that oh so brief time by releasing its Crystal Blue Persuasion on the day of the summer solstice. But many UP breweries always have their blueberry beers on tap, keeping the memory of summer alive all year.

Two of the most unusual blueberry beers are, unfortunately brewed in towns two hours apart and one of them comes out in the late spring and the other after Labor Day. ByGeorge Brewery of Munising is the maker of Batter U.P! Blueberry and Maple Pancake Pilsner; Cognition of Ishpeming puts out its Phasmosis Ghost Cereal Gose as one of its spooky Halloween releases. Added to the grist is an unspecified amount of a popular fruit-flavored breakfast cereal. (You can guess what it is by the beer’s nickname.)

It would be fun, I often think, to have a growler of each in my fridge at the cabin and to enjoy a glass of each while hunkering down to a hearty morning meal of ham and eggs (if I could afford them) or flapjacks well-coated with butter.

That would truly be a breakfast of champions.