Rare Bird Brewpub, Traverse City
While visiting Traverse City last month to do “research” on the Traverse City Ale Trail, one of the breweries that surprised and impressed us was Rare Bird Brewpub on Lake Ave. in the “Old Town” neighborhood. Unassuming from the outside, we entered to find a beer-hall style pub with plenty of room and a welcoming vibe. After finding a couple seats at the bar we were ready to find out what this place had to offer! Our bartender explained that Rare Bird has five or six beers on tap at a time that are made in-house, while close to a dozen other taps are dedicated to other beers from Michigan and beyond (you may even find rare releases like Old Nation’s M-43 or Founder’s KBS). We decided to try out the six beers made there, which ended up being a pretty impressive flight.
First up was VaJaHa Blonde Ale, a vanilla java hazelnut blonde that had great flavor and a good balance. Often with coffee beers the coffee flavor overpowers everything else, but here we were able to taste all three distinct flavors in this 5.8% ABV ale. The second beer in our flight was Large Marge Belgian Special, a beer created by “accident” when attempting to brew a witbier in the early days of the brewery. It drinks like a solid Belgian tripel (fans of Brewery Vivant should like it) and their accident ends up being everyone’s else gain. Next up was Vocal Local, a tasty IPL that features a slew of locally sourced ingredients including hops from New Mission Hops and Hop Head Farms. Our fourth beer was also easily one of my favorites from the entire day, a Mexican hot chocolate stout called Abuelita’s Hot Coco. This stout has cinnamon, nutmeg, chocolate and cayenne pepper in it, and it had a great sweet flavor with a kick of heat. We also tried Hipster On A Bike, a medium-bodied IPA that I would have no problem sipping on all summer, and Sad Girls, a chocolate and salted caramel stout that would be perfect with dessert.
Rare Bird Brewpub also offers a food menu that features more than just typical bar food. With a heavy focus on locally sourced ingredients, they prepare a variety of appetizers and salads, burgers and sandwiches, as well as mouthwatering tacos. Many gluten free options are available. You can learn more about the backstory of this unique brewery at http://rarebirdbrewpub.com/about/, they may not have been open for too long but they clearly know what they’re doing at Rare Bird! This is a must-stop destination on the Traverse City Ale Trail – be sure to check out or post that lists all the destinations and tells you how to get a passport and get it stamped to earn rewards.