Traverse City Ale Trail – Visit 9 Northern Michigan Breweries
Michigan’s craft beer scene continues to explode, and cities with a handful of breweries are continuing to see the tourism opportunities these great beer producers can represent. We’ve already shared our experiences with the Kalamazoo Give A Craft beer passport and the Grand Rapids Beer City Brewsader beer passport, today we profile the Traverse City Ale Trail and the reward(s) you can get for visiting eight or nine of Northern Michigan’s best breweries. All you have to do is pick up the pamphlet shown above at any of the participating breweries, get it stamped at all eight featured breweries as you visit, then return it to The Filling Station Microbrewery and you’ve earned a silicone pint glass! This brochure also promises an extra credit prize for visiting the ninth brewery, Earthen Ales.
Traverse City has long been known as a destination for summer beach-goers and wine lovers, but it continues to become a must-visit destination for craft beer fans as well. With all the modern convenience of a larger city (hotels, restaurant, entertainment) and abundant outdoor recreation opportunities at the nearby Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, on the Old Mission and Grand Traverse peninsulas, and in town at places like Clinch Park and Traverse City State Park there will be no shortage of things to do when you visit. Check out some of the local businesses listed below to enhance your Traverse City brewery experience:
North Peak Brewing Company (400 W. Front St.) – North Peak is the veteran player here in Traverse City, with history dating back to 1997. Their brewpub and restaurant on Front St. is great destination for relaxing and sampling favorite brews like Mission Point Porter, Diabolical IPA and Siren Amber Ale paired with a menu that features pizza, sandwiches, burgers, bbq and more. Live music is frequently featured during the summer.
Brewery Ferment (511 S. Union St.) – We recently visited this neighborhood brewery and were impressed with its laid-back vibe. Try mainstay favorites like Old Town Brown or Worker’s Daily (cream ale). Brewery Ferment was one of our favorite breweries we visited at the 2017 Michigan Brewer’s Guild Winter Beer Festival. Visitors can also enjoy bar snacks, darts, and handmade hop jewelry for sale.
Right Brain Brewery (225 E. 16th St.) – One of our favorite Northern Michigan breweries, Right Brain is never afraid to push the envelope and try something different or crazy. They have a solid lineup of mainstay favorites like CEO Stout (chocolate/espresso/oatmeal stout), Naughty Girl Stout (thin mints in a glass”), Cake Walk (cream ale) and Concrete Dinosaur (brown rye IPA), and you might also find beers like Fire Starter Chipotle Porter, Mangalista Pig Porter, or Apple Pie Whole on tap when you visit. Bring your quarters for bubble hockey and other games.
Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales (13512 Peninsula Dr.) – One of the first Michigan brewers to find success with sour beers, Jolly Pumpkin’s Traverse City location is one of four in Michigan (Dexter, Detroit, Ann Arbor – plans to expand to Grand Rapids and Chicago soon). Here you can try craft beer, locally made spirits and wine, and a full food menu. We recommend trying the Bam Biere (saison) and La Roja (Flanders red ale). Located on the beautiful Old Mission Peninsula north of town, you’ll find nine wineries, historic quilt barns and the historic Old Mission Point Lighthouse nearby.
The Workshop Brewing Company (221 Garland St.) – A food menu with sandwiches and snacks complements a beer lineup that includes Ball Peen (ESB), Pry Bar (Porter) and 10 Lb. Sledge (English IPA) at the Workshop. You’ll find this brewery downtown near the waterfront, and love it’s laid-back community atmosphere.
Rare Bird Brewpub (229 Lake Avenue) – This neighborhood brewpub in a beautifully restored red brick building features and handful of house-made beers as well as more than 30 other taps of craft beers from Michigan and beyond. We really liked the atmosphere here, and out of our flight of Rare Bird brews the Abuelita’s Hot Coco (Mexican hot chocolate stout with cayenne), Va Ja Ha (blonde with vanilla and coffee) and Vocal Local (IPL) stood out as favorites. Rare Bird also has wine, spirits and a food menu sourced with local ingredients.
Filling Station Microbrewery (642 Railroad Pl.) – Located in a historic railroad depot building, the Filling Station Microbrewery has built a solid reputation based on good food and great beer. Try the Walla Walla IPA, Huntington IPA and the London Porter if you can, and be sure to check out the wood-fired pizzas!
Brewery Terra Firma (2959 Hartman Rd.) – Brewery Terra Firma focuses on sustainability, and grows many of the ingredients for their beers on-site. We had an absolute blast when we visited, trying beers like Manitou Amber Ale, Karma Palace IPA, Bee Hive Honey Blonde and several others that used unique and different ingredients.
Earthen Ales (1371 Gray Dr., Grand Traverse Commons) – The newest addition to Traverse City’s brewery lineup, Earthen Ales has been carefully crafting a handful of quality IPAs, stouts, and seasonal beers. You’ll find it tucked in the Village at Grand Traverse Commons alongside a variety of food, wine, coffee and shopping options.
Monkey Fist Brewing (State Street Marketplace, 329 E. State Street) – “Monkey Fist Brewing Company is a craft beer company located in Traverse City Michigan who represents a portfolio of hand crafted brands that are designed to bring out the beer lover in all of us.” You’ll find a handful of their beers on tap here as well as others from around the country. The marketplace also includes Wren The Butcher, CraftedTC (handmade Michigan goods), Waxwing Vintage, F-Que (pizza, burgers, BBQ), and Ziatun Cafe.
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