The Little Fleet in downtown Traverse City looked like a lumberjack convention at the third annual Flapjack and Flannel Festival.
Flapjack and Flannel Fest in Traverse City
As part of the kickoff weekend for Traverse City Beer Week, The Little Fleet plays host to the Flapjack and Flannel Festival. We have never been and since we were in town for the Great Beerd Run, it sounded like a good excuse to indulge in Michigan beers.
At the third beer station on the Great Beerd Run at the Grand Traverse Resort, we ran into Alex Tank from Right Brain Brewery. He asked what we were up to later. We said the after party for the run and then check out the Flapjack and Flannel Festival downtown. Alex asked, “Do you have tickets already?” We said no, we planned to get our tickets at the gate. Alex responded “Would you like to volunteer and pour for us? At least one of you would get in for free” It may seem silly, but we actually like to pour beers. With that, we had one free entry to the festival for the trade of a couple of hours of time serving up tasty Right Brain beer. You’ve got to love when a plan comes together. Thanks, Alex!
Pancakes with beer?
The Flapjack and Flannel Festival pairs Michigan beers with pancakes. Just like there are all kinds of beer styles, the creative chefs from Daily Blend and Glendale Ave served up a variety of pancakes. From savory gravy covered cakes to fruity pebble whipped cream delights, they covered the spectrum of flavors. Honestly, I wasn’t too sure about eating pancakes with beer, but it was actually quite interesting.
For those who may want to flip some pancakes at home, event sponsor 4Front Credit Union was handing out turners. Some of the folks at the festival used their turners to accessorize their outfits. The hope is that these utensils will actually be used for pancakes (or hamburgers or name a food that you flip).
What is Flannel?
Because I’m a nerd, I was curious about flannel. Like many people, I associate a plaid pattern with flannel. While many flannel shirts use a plaid pattern; flannel relates to the weave which is loose. The loose weave means more insulating air making flannel great for cold weather. It seems like an ideal material for Michigan.
There was no shortage of plaid patterns at the Flapjack and Flannel Festival. I’m going to guess quite a bit of it was flannel as well. With that lesson in textiles complete, it was time to enjoy the music and drink some beer.
There were many mighty Michigan beers to tantalize your taste buds at the Flapjack and Flannel Festival. It was great to see our friends from Griffin Claw, Blackrocks, and Earthen Ales. North Peak had a great earthy spruce tip IPA called Piney that felt at home in the north. Another new one for me was Spinal Tapper IPA from Right Brain. Typically we see Dead Kettle in the stores by us, so heavy hitting IPA was just what the doctor ordered.
Brenda started her shift pouring for Right Brain. I wandered off to get check out the bands. The crowd kept B hopping. The most popular brew being the Naughty Girl Stout. This seasonal stout with a play on thin mints fit the bill for folks looking to hang with friends by the fire pit.
The music at the Flapjack and Flannel festival was top notch. Included on the bill were Pistil Whips, The Pocket, and the Jonathan Timm Band. We caught the first two bands, but sadly missed out on the third. If you were there for the Jonathan Timm band, lets us know what we missed. Given the caliber of the bands we witnessed, I’m sure they were awesome and I’ll be kicking myself for missing them.
The Pistil Whips
When we arrived we could hear the soulful call of the Pistil Whips. These guys provide a unique take on soul and funk as a power trio. Saxophone and keyboards interplay to give velocity to the grooves. Meanwhile, the guitarist takes on vocals and drums. Smoking vocals with some tight lead licks warmed up this brisk November afternoon. Together the Pistil Whips craft a rich array of sultry music that induced a bit of hip swaying as we enjoyed another Michigan beer.
Thick jams sweet with stellar musical chops define The Pocket. These guys locked in, so I guess their name is apt. This three piece of guitar, bass, and drums bit into the grooves like a shark. They ran with each riff, filling in the nook and crannies. The Pocket plays regularly at Kilkenny’s in Traverse City, so if you missed their set at the Flapjack and Flannel festival, you and redeem yourself.
Warming up at The Little Fleet bar
After chatting with our friend Haley from Griffin Claw, we figured we’d explore the Little Fleet space and in particular the enclosed bar. I’ll admit, I was clueless about The Little Fleet before our visit. I’m not sure how as they are right downtown at 448 E. Front St. They have an amazing bar which is open year-round.
In the summer they feature a variety of local food trucks offering a dazzling array of delicious food. However, for this weekend and the Flapjack and Flannel festival, the bar acted as a warming station on this crisp November day.
More warming in the Yurt with Iron Fish Distillery
The Little Fleet also has a yurt that was home to our friends from Iron Fish Distillery. Inside the cozy tent were lounge chairs to kick back while enjoying a winter warmer.
Featuring their crafted rum, whiskey, and bourbon, Iron Fish aims to warm you inside and out. I had the cocktail called “Buzzed” which features a shot of Iron Fish whiskey with Iron Fish honey, a bit of lemon and hot water. It was kind of like what my mom gave us when we had a cold. The heat of the water and whiskey gave you the courage to face the nip outdoors.
Wrapped in Flannel
We had a ball attending the Flapjack and Flannel Festival in Traverse City. Our thanks again to Alex and Right Brain Brewery for letting us hang out with them. Combined with the Great Beerd Run, this festival made for a fantastic way to enjoy Traverse City and the great local breweries. Be sure to put both of these events on your radar for next year.
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