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.
If you’re a beer fan and cannot seem to get enough of it, visiting a brewery should be on your bucket list. A brewery is where beer is made commercially and gives you a birds-eye view of the entire process.
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.
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.
Read on to discover some of the best Traverse City breweries.
10 Amazing Must Visit Traverse City Breweries
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 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, they are famous for making their beers like other local breweries. Using various local ingredients, they tend to make unique craft breweries offering beers that have people returning for more.
Their food menu focuses mainly on wood-fired pizza, again made with unique ingredients and interesting flavor combinations. Their rustic pizza and beer combination has proved to be a great hit. This is one of the most worthwhile Traverse City breweries mixed in with the outdoor music events on summer days and the great views of Boardman lake.
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. The beers are made from authentic Michigan-grown hops and filled with quirky ingredients for a unique experience. Perfect for a group setting, this one of the Traverse City breweries has a great lounge and German Beer Hall-style seating.
The food is also noteworthy, featuring mostly bar snacks and light appetizers. The pretzels, in particular, are crowd favorites. The pub has a great vibe, with trivia nights and loud music. Fly 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. What sets this brewery apart is the great seating options and open-air ambiance. Guaranteed to give you the best of what Northern Michigan offers, people, keep coming back for more.
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. They also aimed to make the space as family-friendly as possible, and it features a sandbox for kids to play around in. And if you come here during the winter, you can rent your igloo! Grab your friends and huddle up with your favorite craft beer pitcher.
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 in one visit!
Although they feature some pretty whacky craft brews, their tap list features a signature series of fine pale 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 breeds great beer for everyone. 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? Work your way here on all days of the week. They have live music four days a week and are dog-friendly! 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 the park 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.
Row your way to this cozy establishment between 2 PM and 10 PM, open all week except Sundays and Mondays. There’s no in-house food, but the Stone Oven restaurant is next door, and you’re more than welcome to bring in food from outside. There’s even an ice cream place nearby if your kids get fussy from the summer heat.
7. Mackinaw Brewing Company
The 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. They even have a dedicated children’s menu to make the place more welcoming for the entire family.
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 their motto of “Belgian inspired, Michigan made,” they strive to produce the best quality craft beer from local and fresh ingredients. They offer a variety of flatbread pizzas as well. With scenic views of Lake Michigan, it is the best place to head for a quick getaway.
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 aims to drive home the hominess and merriment synonymous with a good old-fashioned American beer. 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 Tours to Check Out!
If all this choice is overwhelming, don’t fret. Several brewery tours let you visit multiple Traverse City breweries:
1. 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 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?
All the breweries on tour are within walking distance of Boardman Lake. They have both single and two-person bikes and kayaks. The average price for a single person is $79.
2. 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 passengers and six passenger options, each cycle pub is led by a guide and is perfect for any sized group.
Starting at $149, they recommend at least three stops along the view to make sure you get to try out everything Traverse City has to offer.
3. 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 4 hours with at least four brewery stops and a bonus three 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. You can even go alone or in a smaller group with the join-in tours. They also pick you up from your location, which is a great advantage, especially if you’re a tired and confused tourist.
Other great breweries in the city include Farm club, with authentic food 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.
Other options you can check out if you are satisfied with the list above are Earthen Ales at Grand Traverse Commons, lake ann brewing company, and fresh coast beer works. There’s also Silver Spruce brewing on east eighth st.
Whether you are looking for breweries in traverse city, where you find craft brewing & wine tours, or hang out at its famous brew pub where you can enjoy delicious craft beer & other seasonal beers.
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.