April 28, 2013 by kkeerr
We ended our first day in Traverse City at Right Brain Brewery. I thought Right Brain was a very cool space, but Austin wasn’t as comfortable.
It is in part of a renovated warehouse, a huge open space with super high ceilings, couches about, and art on the walls. Their website has a scrolling panorama photo that will give you a feel if you haven’t been there before. However, when we were there they had opened up their space to the salon in the next suite for a fashion show. I thought this was a nice display of neighborly collaboration and appreciation for the arts. Austin, however, was not as taken by the “artsy hipsters” roaming and waiting for the show to start. It seemed that nearly everyone in the bar was there for the fashion show. It never started the entire time we were there, just people roaming and getting their photos taken in a photo booth area with eccentric costumes. I people watched while Austin grabbed us some drinks.
We started with a tasting flight…
From left to right; Strawberry Fields, Kelapa Porter, Naughty Girl Scout, Dead Kettle IPA, Midnight Rendezvous, Irish Goodbye.
These six beers covered the spectrum of “That’s fantastic!” to “That’s really disappointing…” Our favorite and probably one of Austin’s favorite from the entire trip was the Naughty Girl Scout, a stout that taste pretty much like a Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookie. I like the taste, but a sample was all I needed while Austin could have finished a 6-pack of the stuff. The weakest of the flight was the Irish Goodbye, it just didn’t hold up against the other beers in the flight or the Irish red from Shorts that we had earlier in the day. After the flight we got a couple of more beers, the Pecan Bourbon Pie Whole and The Second Coming. Both were…okay. I think with the name and the fact that is was an imperial ipa we had our hopes set really high and it just didn’t get up there.
Overall, we had a great time. It was crowded and loud an account of the fashion shindig, but I thought the atmosphere was great. We will probably visit again this summer when we head back to TC.
Just the facts ma’am:
Right Brain Brewery
Location: 225 East 16th Street, Sofo District, Traverse City
Established: December 2007
Number of Taps: Difficult to tell, there were a couple dozen when we were there probably, their website states, “at any time we have between 15 & 50 Michigan made craft beers on tap”
Austin’s Overall Experience Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Pint Glasses (Austin would have been much happier if it hadn’t been filled with “artsy hipsters”
Strawberry Fields: 65/100
Kelapa Porter: 80/100
Naughty Girl Scout: 9.5/100
Dead Kettle IPA: 75/100
Midnight Rendezvous: 60/100
Irish Goodbye: 45/100
Pecan Bourbon Pie Whole: 65/100
After Right Brain, we settled into our hotel room ready to do it all over again the next day. We woke up on Sunday, had breakfast, googled some directions and hours of operation, played a board game (yes, we brought board games) and then headed out for another day of Michigan beer. We had to check at 11am, so we had some time to kill in downtown Traverse City before any of the breweries we’d be visiting were open.
We decided to walk down to the lake, we thought the sidewalks down to the water would be shoveled…we were wrong.
After walking around and investigating (from a healthy distance) some bird carcasses we headed to North Peak Brewing for lunch and, of course, beer.
Before we had even arrived in Traverse City I was excited to try North Peak’s stuffed artichoke hearts appetizer. I was not disappointed. They were amazing, beer battered and filled with goat cheese and I would make a trip to Traverse City just to have those again. For my meal I got the vegetarian nachos. They had vegetarian chili on them. Thank you, North Peak. Thank you. Veggie nachos don’t have to be chip, cheese and salsa. I honestly don’t even know what Austin got. I was too
fat busy enjoying my food.
We, of course, ordered a flight too.
From left to right: Northern Light, Diabolical IPA, Siren, Mission Point Porter, Shirley’s Irish Stout, Shenanigan Irish Red Ale, and Peace, Love and Chocolate.
The Shenanigan Irish Red won “Best Irish Red of the Trip” Prestigious, I know. All of the beers in the flight were very good. We probably liked the porter the least, but that has to do with us not being huge porter drinkers more than the beer itself. Norther Light was a delightful light beer, I wish I would have ordered the Locals Light back at Shorts so I would have been able to compare the two. Next time. I really got a kick out of the tiny tasting mugs. I requested that Austin take my picture with one. Austin did not make the same request of me, but you know…
(Perhaps I should note that our hair is not greasy and that it rained while we walked around downtown TC.)
The service was great, the atmosphere was laid back, the food was fantastic and vegetarian-friendly and the beers were awesome. North Peak was our favorite stop of the TC road trip.
North Peak Brewing Company
Location: 400 West Front Street, Traverse City
Number of Taps: 7
Austin’s Overall Experience Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Pint Glasses
Beer Ratings: Sadly a month + later I’ve lost my notes for North Peak, so the following is based on my Untappd scores…
Nothern Light: 4/5
Diabolical IPA: 4/5
Mission Point Porter: 3/5
Shirley’s Irish Stout: 4/5
Shenanigan Irish Red Ale: 4.5/5
Peace, Love, & Chocolate: 3.5/5
After North Peak we made our way back to the center of downtown to visit Mackinaw Brewing. The place was mostly empty (cold Sunday, during the off-season) but there were people sitting at the bar.
We didn’t bar seats to we took a table. We told the waiter we’d only be getting beers, but it seemed to be a concept he didn’t understand shown by his frequent visits and repeatedly asking us if we’d like an appetizer. Our visit was short, each only ordering one beer (they were out of many of their beers when we were there) – the Red 8 Ale and the West Bay IPA. They were fine beers, the place was fine. Well the Red 8 Ale was better than fine, we both liked that one very much. I don’t remember anything remarkable about the West Bay IPA as I type this about a month later (yes, I should do these sooner). I don’t know that we would ever return to Mackinaw Brewing. Not because it was bad beer or over-priced or anything like that, but because North Peak was awesome and just a few blocks over on the same road. I love Michigan, all these breweries co-existing together.
Mackinaw Brewing Company
Location: 161 East Front Street, Traverse City
Number of Taps: 5(?)
Austin’s Overall Experience Rating: 3 out of 5 Pint Glasses
Red 8 Ale: 4/5
West Bay IPA: 3/5
After Mackinaw Brewing we made the 5 minute drive to our last stop in TC, the Filling Station. The Filling Station has a train theme going on that I dig and it was laid back, family friendly (for being mostly a brewery) and quiet. It was a good way to end to the day. The Filling Station does beer (ales by the rails they say) and flatbread pizzas. We ordered a tasting flight and a dessert pizza called the terrible name of “lovers special” or something like that; luckily for us it was better than its name.
For our flight we picked Huntington IPA, Ballyshannon Irish Red, Delilah IPA, DC ESB, Roth Dunkelweizen, Durham Brown Ale. We also got a pint of the Dover Pale Ale as it was recommended by the bartender. Our favorite beers from the Filling Stations were the Huntington IPA, The ESB, and the Dover Pale Ale. The brown and the red were okay and the Delilah IPA and the dunkelweizen were solid beers. I didn’t take any picture while we were at the Filling Station but I did come home with a sweet pint glass. This is a young brewery that we will definitely visit again to see how they are progressing.
The Filling Station
Location: 642 Railroad Place, Traverse City
Number of Taps: 10-12
Austin’s Overall Experience Rating: 4 out of 5 Pint Glasses
Huntington IPA: 72/100
Delilah IPA: 58/100
DC ESB: 65/100
Roth Dunkelweizen 58/100
Durham Brown: 50/100
Dover Pale Ale: 68/100
We managed to miss one of Traverse City’s breweries (Killkenny’s Irish Public House) because, well I’m an idiot and didn’t double-check my list. However, we did spot a new brewery in the works (Bravo Zulu) that should be open in June. This all means that Traverse City will be getting another visit from us before too long.