Right Brain Brewery (Traverse City, MI)

With 13 beers available, and flavor combinations like parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, grapefruit, beets, lemon, maple, chocolate, ancho chili, vanilla, bourbon, cherries, and oranges, who wouldn’t be happy at Right Brain Brewery? I’m so glad this is where we chose to end the night. It’s a pub that, from a visitor’s perspective, gets overlooked by the very awesome Shorts Brewing in Bellaire. Granted, Shorts has a menu of delicious sandwiches and bottles for take-out, and they are pretty creative themselves (with 20 taps to choose from!) but Right Brain still wins for creativity.

We just missed a pale ale brewed with grilled asparagus and lemon peel, but we go the ancho chili dutch double chocolate porter, the Scarborough Fair spiced ale (brewed with parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme), a cream stout brewed with orange marmalade and peel, a wheat brewed with oven-roasted beets, an amber brewed with chocolate malt and cherry juice, a cream ale with maple syrup, barleywine aged seven months on Madagascar vanilla beans in Woodford Reserve bourbon barrels…it just goes on!

Right Brain Beer List

A staff member told us that the brewer has produced approximately 90 different beers in the year-and-a-half they’ve been open! For instance, the Pale Ale is a new recipe every time – practically every two weeks!

Right Brain is in the warehouse district of Traverse City, MI and located behind Salon Saloon, where “you sip, we snip”.  It’s non-smoking, and the menu is limited to popcorn, tortilla chips and hummus. You are encouraged to bring your own food from outside, and sit at the bar, at one of the tables, or in a barber chair. There is no television, but they play music and have darts. There is a mug club, and the mugs are colorfully displayed on the wall. Windows also overlook the Salon Saloon.

Right Brain always has one beer on cask, and will serve Pints for $4.75 and half-pints for $3.25. Also, there are sample trays of six 8-oz pours for $15. Happy Hour on Monday – Friday from 3-6 PM means $3 pints, and there are growlers to go (and they will fill ANY growler – not just their own!)

If you find yourself anywhere near Traverse City, this place is absolutely worth the stop for rare and creative beers!


Original Gravity Brewing Co. (Milan, MI)

It’s the beginning of a “beer-cation”, and we travelled straight to Michigan for the start. There’s a little brewpub in Milan, Michigan that we have missed out on so many times coming through this area. We made it a point to get here today, and Original Gravity does not disappoint!

One block off what appears to be a “town square” (or maybe it was my sleepy-eyed perspective), at 440 County Street, is a little brick building with a packed parking lot. Arrive between 3 and 11 on Monday, and it will be Happy Hour all day. On Tuesday through Friday, it goes from 3 PM – 6 PM (and they remain open until 11.) Happy hour means a tall (20 oz) for the price of a small (10 oz.) We missed that, but it’s okay because neither of us needed talls…there are so many good beers to choose from!  BTW – Original Gravity also keeps Saturday hours from 11:30 AM to 11 PM, and the owner/brewer told us he will often “open” when he’s here other hours.

Original Gravity (Milan, MI)

Brad Sancho is the owner/brewer, and he was fairly quick to come and greet us. He seems to be friendly with all of the customers, and willing to make recommendations up and down the bar.  The bar seats about 15 people, and wraps around the taps with the brewing area behind. A larger L-shaped dining room wraps around the bar, and some of the tables stick out as being unique – doors refurbished as tables. A shelf of games gives the impression that you are welcome to come and stay awhile, and outdoor seating to the back of the place looks welcoming on a warm, dry day.

Original Gravity (inside!)Currently on tap are seven beers, and so far, not a bad one among them! We’re finding the following (I’m stealing some of the descriptive language from the web site):

  • Southpaw IPA (O.G = 1.064; ABV 6.6%) has a pronounced hop flavor and aroma. It’s deliciously citrusy from tons of Cascade and Amarillo hops.
  • Belgian Training Wheels (O.G. = 1.054; ABV 5.7%) is a Belgian Golden Ale brewed with Belgian candi sugar, wheat, and pilsner malt. The unique Belgian yeast strain gives this beer a citrusy and slight tart finish.
  • Mason Brewer (O.G = 1.050; AVB 5.2%) is an English style Special Bitter named after Brad’s son. It is brewed with a variety of English malts, including wheat and rye.
  • County Street Amber (O.G. = 1.054; ABV 5.5%) is a roasty Red Ale with caramel notes, balanced with loads of Cascade and Amarillo hops. With OG’s opening during the hops shortage, this was his substitute for an IPA for some time, and it holds up the hops!
  • Primordial Porter (O.G = 1.058; ABV 5.3%) was the very first beer brewed here, and it is a robust porter! Almost black in color with a complex malt profile, it balances chocolate and coffee roastiness.
  • Orange Peel Wheels(O.G. = 1.054; ABV 5.7%) is the Belgian Training Wheels infused with dried orange peel. It has a delicate citrus flavor and aroma, lending to a delicious starter beer for the evening.
  • Vanilla Java Porter(O.G = 1.05O8; ABV 5.3%) has a description of “beer, coffee, vanilla… Mmm” on the board, menu and web site. It is a slightly aromatic and sweet porter, so dark that not a speck of light comes through. The roasty quality of the porter is strong enough to keep this from being a sugar-coated girly beer.

There is a nice menu of sandwiches, and fortunately we were attracted to the same thing. Not only did they let us share, but served the halves in separate baskets with a pickle for each of us (no fighting!) Our mesquite-smoked turkey with guacamole and Vermont cheddar was served on panini bread with a bag of Brickman’s Original Kettle Crunch chips (made in Grand Rapids.) On the side, we shared a Landjaeger* Sausage (yummm!)

Original Gravity beers range from $3 to $3.50 for a 10-oz pour and a $4.50 – $5 for a 20-oz.  In addition to the sandwich menu (which includes deli and veggie combos, grilled cheese and PB&J), there are peanuts, pretzels and chips with salsa. Additionally there are Sprecher sodas available (root beer, cream soda, cherry cola (Dain, I think you owe me one of these!) and orange cream.

We had a really nice time at OG – the bartender, Stephanos (sp?), took great care of us and the locals were all chatty. It’s down on our list of places that “if I lived here, I would come here all the time!” I hope if you are reading this and you live there, you go often. It’s worth it!

* pork and beef, garlic, coarse ground, semi-dried German Hunter sausage from Usunger’s summer sausage collection, served in bite-sized slices for $2.50.