10 Amazing Must Visit Traverse City Breweries

8 mins read
Traverse City breweries
Image by Gray Matter, Unsplash/ Copyright 2022

If you’re a fan of beer and cannot seem to get enough of it, visiting a brewery should definitely be on your bucket list. A brewery is a place where beer is made commercially and gives you a birds-eye view of the entire process.

So the next time you crack open that beer can, you can fully appreciate all the effort that went into it. And if you decide that visiting a brewery is what you want to do, there’s no better place than Traverse City, Michigan.

Traverse City breweries are well known across Michigan. While it is extremely famous for its summer events like the Northwestern Michigan Fair and the National Cherry Festival, Traverse City is renowned for its craft beer. Add in the picturesque views of Lake Michigan, and the city makes for a great lakeside vacation spot.

Because of the rich soil and the great temperate climate, the city serves as an ideal location to grow good quality hops, which ultimately results in amazing craft beer. Craft beer is distinct from regular beer as it often has unique ingredients added to create new flavors and tastes.

Hops are the dried flowers or cones of the Humulus lupulus plant, which lend beer its characteristic bitter taste. It also imparts deep citrusy and floral flavors. But its primary role is as a stabilizing agent, which helps beer retain its foam head once poured.

Read on to discover some of the best Traverse City breweries.

Traverse City
Photo by Peggy Sue Zinn on Unsplash Copyright 2022

1) Filling Station Microbrewery

Located at 642 Railroad Place, this old-time brewery is known for its cozy atmosphere. What makes this place unique is the fact that it is located in an old train depot.

People enjoy the outdoor patio experience of sitting right by the rails. To really drive the locomotive theme home, they serve their beer on trays with decorative trains on them, and even the beer taps are called tracks.

Opened by the Klepper family in 2012, like other local breweries, they are famous for making their own beers. Using a variety of local ingredients, they tend to make unique craft beers that have people coming back for more.

Their food menu focuses mainly on wood-fire pizza, again made with unique ingredients and interesting flavor combinations. Their rustic pizza and beer combination has proved to be a great hit. Mixed in with the outdoor music events on summer days and the great views of Boardman lake, this is one of the most worthwhile Traverse City breweries.

Make your way to Filling Station microbrewery any day of the week between Thursdays and Mondays, open 11 AM-10 PM.

2) Rare Bird Brewpub

Started in 2013 by Nate Crane and Tina Schuett, this Brewpub is located at 229 Lake Avenue. Perfect for a group setting, this one of the Traverse City breweries has a great lounge and German Beer Hall-style seating. The beers themselves are made from authentic Michigan-grown hops and filled with quirky ingredients for a unique experience.

The food is also pretty noteworthy, featuring mostly bar snacks and light appetizers. The pretzels, in particular, are crowd favorites. The pub has a great vibe on the whole, with trivia nights and loud music. Fly over to the Rare Bird Brewpub any day between 12-10 PM for some great home-brewed beer.

3) Hop Lot Brewing Company

Located at 658 S West Bay Shore Dr., Suttons bay, this is one of the top Traverse City breweries. Guaranteed to give you the best of what Northern Michigan has to offer, people keep coming back for more. What sets this brewery apart is the great seating options and open-air ambience.

After a recent remodel, they have opted for a more rustic cabin feel, with an outdoor beer garden complete with campfires, s’mores, and fire pits for slow-roasting meat.

Opened in 2015, they offer a wide range of craft beverages. And if you come here during the winter, you can even rent out your own personal igloo! Grab your friends and huddle up with a pitcher of your favorite craft beer. They also aimed to make the space as family-friendly as possible, and it features a sandbox for kids to play around in.

Hop on over between 12 PM-8 PM, any day of the week except Mondays and Wednesdays.

4) Right Brain Brewery

Located on 16th street near Boardman lake, this brewery gained attention when it was first set up in 2007. It is one of the most worthwhile Traverse City breweries.

Originally set up in a different location, the owner Russel Springsteen created a new experience for visitors by combining his pub with a hair salon in a huge commercial warehouse space. People could stop by for a pitcher of their favorite beer and get their hair cut all in one visit!

Although they feature some pretty whacky craft brews, their tap list features a signature series of ales made with whole pies, the most famous variation being the one with the Cherry pie. (Seriously, the whole pie, complete with crust and filling.) So if you’re into trying new things, make sure to plan a stop here to satisfy all your eclectic cravings.

5) Workshop Brewing Company

Located in downtown Traverse City on Garland Street, this brewery focuses on brewing great beer meant for everyone to like. Started by Pete Kirkwood, their main aim is to protect their natural environment and maintain the glory of Northern Michigan.

Their head brewer joined them in 2017 to help create a range of seasonal brews. Even their food menu is centered around beer and is mostly made from fresh produce. They have partnered with Archie’s Food Truck to bring the best of American cuisine to your plate, making it one of the best Traverse City breweries.

Looking for more reasons to visit? They have live music 4 days a week and are dog-friendly! Work your way here on all days of the week. They’re always open between 3 PM and 9 PM.

6) Lake Ann Brewing Co.

This wholesome brewery is located a little ways away from Traverse City in a small town named Lake Ann. Set upon an outdoor patio with picnic tables, the place has lots of open space and gives off a very homey vibe. Situated across from a park that kids love to play in and with a free game shelf, it strives to be enjoyed by the whole family.

In the summer, you can bring a blanket to sit on the grass, lie back and watch the stars as you listen to the live music playing on an outdoor stage, which makes it one of the best Traverse City breweries.

There’s no in-house food, but the Stone Oven restaurant is right next door, and you’re more than welcome to bring in food from outside. There’s even an ice cream place nearby in case your kids get fussy from the summer heat. Row your way over to this cozy establishment between 2 PM and 10 PM, open all week except Sundays and Mondays.

7) Mackinaw Brewing Company

The very first brewery to open up in downtown Traverse City in 1997, this pioneering brewing company is well known for its house brews and great food. They have an extensive beer menu, but their malty brew is a crowd favorite.

Food includes all the quintessential bar snacks, from onion rings to fish and chips. They now have gluten-free options as well. In an effort to make the place more welcoming for the entire family, they even have a dedicated children’s menu.

Come visit this one of the best Traverse City breweries between noon and 9 PM, open all days of the week except Sunday.

8) Stormcloud Brewing Company

Located in Frankfort, Michigan, this brewery was opened in 2013. With scenic views of Lake Michigan, it is the best place to head to for a quick getaway. With their motto of “Belgian inspired, Michigan made”, they strive to produce the best quality craft beer, made from local and fresh ingredients. They offer a variety of flatbread pizzas as well.

Both their pub and taproom are open for visitors, which makes it one of the best Traverse City breweries. However, their taproom is only open during the warmer months. In the winter months, the pub has other entertainment options.

They host a multi-team curling league and even offer curling lessons. For the uninitiated, curling is a team sport played on ice, slightly similar to hockey.

Before you thunder on over here, remember that this one of the Traverse City breweries is open all days of the week, between 11:30 AM and 9 PM.

9) Jolly Pumpkin

This brewery is part of a chain based in Dexter, Michigan. Now set up in nine different locations, the Traverse City pub is located on the Old Mission peninsula. They are famous for brewing beer with sour notes.

The beer is brewed with special French and Belgian yeasts, giving it the characteristic taste. Their full food menu includes everything from pizzas to salads.

Check out this place, one of the greatest Traverse City breweries, on all days of the week between noon and 8 PM.

10) Short’s Brewing Company

Founded by Joe Short, this brewery is located in Bellaire, Michigan. Although it is about an hour’s drive from Traverse City, it is one of the largest in the area. With a wide range of beers, they make something for everyone. They also make several kinds of ciders.

Short’s aims to drive home the feeling of hominess and merriment that is synonymous with a good old-fashioned American beer. Come visit this brewery all days of the week, between 11 AM and 10:30 PM. (It’s open for an hour longer on weekends!)

Other great breweries in the city include Farm club, with authentic food that’s fresh from the farm to the table. 7 Monks Taproom has some of the best craft brews in the city, inspired by the Trappist monasteries where monks brewed world-renowned beer.

Another great option is Earthen Ales at Grand Traverse Commons, where every beer has a story. There’s also Silver Spruce brewing on east eighth st.

If all this choice is overwhelming, don’t fret. There are several brewery tours that let you visit multiple Traverse City breweries:

Kayak, Bike and Brew

Also known as KaBrew, this tour lasts a little over 4 hours. Participants are guided to pedal on bikes and paddle on the kayaks to all the different Traverse City breweries. It is the perfect way to work up an appetite, and what better way to cool off than with an ice-cold glass of great craft beer?

They have both single and two-person bikes and kayaks. The average price for a single person is $79. All the breweries on the tour are within walking distance of Boardman Lake.

TC Cycle Pub

These cycle pub crawlers are the best way to explore the city if you have a group of friends, or for a special occasion or party. With 14 passenger and 6 passenger options, each cycle pub is led by a guide and perfect for any sized group.

Starting at $149, they recommend at least 3 stops along the view to make sure you get to try out everything Traverse City has to offer.

Brew Bus

Offering a more traditional brewery tour experience, the Traverse City Brew Bus offers private tours on all days of the week. A typical ride lasts for 4 hours with at least 4 brewery stops and a bonus 3 winery stops. If desired, they also increase the total tour time. In short, it is the perfect way to check out any beer or wine location that you want.

Join-in tours start at $59 per person, while private bus tours start at $449. With the join-in tours, you can even go alone or in a smaller group. They also pick you up from your location, which is a great advantage, especially if you’re a tired and confused tourist.

So if you’re in Northern Michigan or planning a trip here soon, don’t forget to check out these amazing Traverse City breweries. If you want another more comprehensive guide, here’s another useful link.

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