Our Grand Traverse Bay Beer Tour was packed! In 48 short hours we ate and drank beer in 7 breweries, visited 6 cities in the Grand Traverse Bay area and to keep it healthy, we ran the Vasa Trail Race on Saturday morning. I’d like to take a moment to mention that both Chuck and I placed in our age brackets. It is true, there were only 3 other women in my age bracket so we all placed, but who the hell cares, I placed damn-it! It may be the one and only time I ever place. It is no wonder it took me until Wednesday to recover!
Grand Traverse Bay Beer Tour
Clam Lake Beer Company
Yes, I know it is a stretch to say Cadillac is in the Grand Traverse Bay area, but you’ve got to drive by Cadillac on your way to the bay area. When you do, stop and enjoy some great beer and food at Clam Lake Beer Compay, I promise you won’t be sorry.
I’d be willing to place bets that Chuck was waiting for someone in the car to ask, “Where should we stop and have lunch?” It took him literally 2 seconds to say, “Well, if you are willing to wait until Cadillac, we can have beer and food at the Clam Lake Beer Company.” He then proceeded to rattle off an impressive beer list that rivals HopCat’s and that is saying something!
You can’t help but wonder about the history of the building while you are enjoying your beverage and food. The space is gorgeous. It is modern but gives the history of the building and the town respect. The Clam Lake Beer Company is located in the former Shay Train Station and you can see Lake Cadillac out the rear windows. So here is a fact we found on their website that I didn’t know, “The city of Cadillac was originally known as Clam Lake.”
Chuck said their IPA reminded him of Founder’s All Day IPA and the Stout was REALLY good and it reminded him of a Guiness.
I was starving and totally focused on food. I ordered the Wasabi Pear Salad with Ahi Tuna and I’m pretty sure everyone was jealous and wished they’d order it. (Don’t you just love to be the person with the plate everyone wants?) Chuck ordered Veggie Pizza and ate the whole thing and said it was delicious. If you are “Up North” you definitely need check out the Clam Lake Brewing Company!
We’ve got more pictures of Clam Lake Brewing in our gallery.
Traverse City Beer Week (TCBW)
We didn’t know it when we planned our trip to Traverse City that we’d arrive on the first day of the 2015 Traverse City Beer Week, which ran from November 13-20, 2015. It wasn’t a festival, but a celebration of beer. The week’s events were aimed to provide beer education through beer tastings, dinners, tap takeovers and workshops. Although not the reason for our visit, we were glad we stumbled into it.
“It’s about expanding customer knowledge of the industry, meeting brewery representatives and hearing the finer details straight from the horse’s mouth,” Andrea Day from Imperial Beverage said. “It also gives people the chance to try the new and upcoming beers that are out there.”
Our first stop in Traverse Cty was Rare Bird which is nestled in the heart of downtown in a red brick building. We blew into town while Michigan was getting hammered with a November storm. As the clouds broke we made our way into the brewery.
Rare Bird was first on our list for several reasons, including that we liked the name but also because there was a Blackrocks Brewery tap takeover at 5 pm! Bamm! We love Blackrocks Brewery, if you are ever in Marquette, Michigan you need to stop by their tap room. If a trip to the UP isn’t in your future, you can purchase Blackrocks beer below the bridge. We’ve found it at most places that sell craft beer.
On their 35 taps, Rare Bird serves their own beer along with many others. They also have liquor, wine and cider so you are sure to find something for everyone. We tried Rare Bird’s Bustin’ Skulls and Still the Dude. Both were good and we would have a second and maybe a third, but there were other breweries to visit and the night was still young.
Rare Bird’s atmosphere is very welcoming and comfortable, yet another reason to hang out for a while.
We’ve got a few more pictures in our gallery.
Workshop Brewing Company
Our next stop in Traverse City was the Workshop Brewing Company, located in the warehouse district on Garland Street in the building where Right Brain Brewery was located prior to moving to their new location on Sixteenth Street near Boardman Lake.
I ordered the Stud Finder, a sparkling cider. I couldn’t help commenting on the name and quickly learned all of their beverages have a similar construction naming theme, like “Tenpenny, Sickle, 10-Pound Sledge.”
Our friend Jeff ordered a flight and Chuck opted for their pumpkin beer. He said it was nice, not all crazy with spices – subtle.
You may be wondering about the symbol on the table. Per their website, “The Workshop Brewing Company exists to preserve Northern Michigan’s spectacular natural environment, to reinforce Traverse City’s warm and vital community, and to honor traditional craft. We do not consider our business to be a success unless we are demonstrably and sustainably doing all three. We express this commitment by using the Trifidelity symbol, which stands for our motto: Nature. Community. Craft.” How cool is that! You have to admire businesses that make it a point to integrate community and sustainabiliy into their business model.
The space is wide open, fun and relaxed. The servers at the bar were a lot of fun and very happy to help us.
The band was setting up when we were packing up. I think we left just as the party was getting started. We’ve got more pictures of the Workshop Brewing Company in our gallery.
Short’s Brewing Company
On Saturday morning we woke up to a beautiful day. We were up early to run the Vasa Trail Race. You don’t need Running Fit to organize a race to enjoy the Vasa Pathway. There is a trail head within minutes of the Grand Traverse shore. It is on state forest land and has several loops of various lengths and challenges from easy to difficult. I saw several mountain bikers and families walking with their little ones. In all honestly, the race was our excuse to come to the Grand Traverse Bay area and drink beer.
Short’s Brewing Company was our first stop after the race on our Grand Traverse Bay Beer Tour.
There were just too many choices, so everyone but Angie ordered a flight.
It has been a few years since our last visit. The beer is still delicious and the space is still gorgeous, but there were a few updates to the interior. Short’s now has more space and nearly takes up the whole block. More room to enjoy their great food and beer.
We’ve got more pictures from Short’s Brewing Company in our gallery.
Fasten your seat belts as we zip back towards Traverse City to Bravo Zulu Brewing located on Highway 31 in Williamsburg, Michigan. It is a stone’s throw from the bay. I learn something new every day and today I learned the meaning of Bravo Zulu, “Job Well Done,” which is embraced in the Bravo Zulu’s culture. Bravo Zulu is owned and operated by a disabled American military veteran and a Police Bomb Squad Commander.
“It’s because of this service in the military and on the police force that the company looks to communicate an authentic sense of honor, emphasizing the life-long bonds of friendship and respect often found within veteran communities of law enforcement, firefighters, military, and first responders as well as patriotic professionals and hard working blue collar adults.”
They also have award-winning beer! Their rye American Pryed was a silver medal winner at the 2015 Great American Beer Festival. You don’t have to order in “snifter” you can order it in larger glass. Chuck left me in charge of ordering beer.
The tap room is open and bright with sunlight. The walls are decorated with flags and uniforms.
We’ve got more pictures from Bravo Zulu Brewing in our gallery.
Hop Lot Brewing Co.
Hop Lot Brewing Co. is located in Sutton’s Bay, Michigan. We knew very little about the brewery before we arrived. Angie had trolled their website while we were running in the morning so we had a few facts. It is owned by two brothers, Drew and Steve Lutke. Both lived in Chicago for a bunch of years, one of the brothers was pre-med and other managed equity portfolios. Drew found his wife, Sarah Lutke while in Chicago. She is from Sutton’s Bay and brought the Lutke brothers home with her. These three have built a destination for craft beer enthusiasts. It is a beer treasure on the Sutton Bay’s shore among the pine and birch trees.
The building and tap room are gorgeous. If I lived in the area, it would be hard to drive past it. I’m sure Chuck and I would be there constantly and the owners would say “Hey guys..we love you..but you can’t live here”.
Hop Lot’s personality shines in the beer garden. Lots of seating, fire pits, and a stage for music.
And the best part was the FOWLING lanes among the trees!
Yes, they have delicious beer too! We all ordered several 5 oz pours. We tried the rye IPA, Trail Ryder, the Cream Ale and the Red Over Red Double IPA. Chuck went back for Smash Face pumpkin beer and the Milk Stout. The Milk Stout was the winner with great body and taste. However, our buddy Jeff loved Red over Red with all its IPA loveliness doubled up and smiling at you from the glass.
Drew Lutke shared their chocolate covered coffee beans with us so we were energized for the road. We’ve got more pictures from Hop Lot Brewing in our gallery.
Invigorated by the coffee beans, we plugged the address into the Garmin for Northport Brewing. We arrived under the cover of darkness so we couldn’t appreciate the views of Grand Traverse Bay and Northport Marina from their patio.
The fire was inviting; you’ll want to roast marshmallows and tell ghost stories. Inside the tap room you’ll find an equally cozy atmosphere.
It has a UP feel, but below the bridge. The beer was good too. We had the Great White Stout and their IPA, Cathead Bay.
Dan Frank was working behind the bar and is probably responsible for the excellent tunes that were playing. He and Chuck exchanged business cards, as Dan is the owner of Handsome Dan’s Beard Oil and Mustache Wax.
Finally, some bathroom humor.
We’ve got more pictures from Northport Brewing in our gallery.
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