Traditionally known as the cherry capital of the U.S., Traverse City, Michigan, has lately earned kudos for a different crop: the hop. Both Tasting Table and Draft magazine have singled out Traverse City’s emerging beer scene. For the beer lover, this means you’ll get to sample a range of flavors and styles ranging from a tart kiwi sour ale to a blood orange Belgian ale. And yes, there are plenty of cherry-accented brews to be found, too.
Order up a tasting flight at any of these local brew-focused spots, all within two miles of the Hotel Indigo Traverse City — and many just a short pub-crawl away — and judge the winners for yourself:
The Workshop Brewing Company
The Communist-era signage, splashes of bright Soviet-red paint throughout and the manifesto “Pour to the People” signal a revolution for beer enthusiasts. Opened in 2012,The Workshop Brewing Company is committed to using local hops and organic grains in its seasonal and specialty beers, such as the Tenpenny American blonde ale and the Sickle saison.
A selection of local wines and ciders rounds out the drinks menu. You can snack on the house-made spent-grain pretzels or order up sandwiches like the Capitalist Pig and Viva la Cubana — in keeping with the bar’s proletariat theme .
Right Brain Brewery
Hair stylist-turned-brewmaster Russell Springsteen helped launch the craft beer scene in Traverse City a decade ago when he opened Right Brain Brewery. Russell, who experiments with ingredients like cherry pie and aparagus and never uses extracts, describes his facility as a “culinary brewery”.
On tap you’ll find house made brews, such as the amber ale Chubby Squirrel and Cake Walk cream ale, along with unique collaborations with other brewers and makers of wine and mead. The brewery also hosts regular events, including trivia nights, pop up shops and live music.
Rare Bird Brewpub
Wisconsin native Tina Schuett and Traverse City local Nate Crane, met at a local brewery where she was brewing beer and he managed the bar, and realized they shared a deep love for craft beer. The also discovered they shared an affinity for birds, hence the name of their joint operation, Rare Bird Brewpub, hatched over several years of planning.
Located in a restored, circa 1930 building, Rare Bird features house beers, such as Crazy Pils and Hipster on a Bike created by Schuett, serve amid a contemporary German-style beer hall run by Crane. You’ll find up to 35 beers on tap and a gastropub menu serving dishes like fried cheese curds made with Michigan cheddar and pork belly nachos.
Seven Monks Taproom
Jason Kasdorf is not only the general manager of Seven Monks Taproom, but also holds the title of cicerone, or professional beer taster. Named in honor of the beer brewing Trappist monks, Seven Monks Taproom is serious about high quality brews, primarily from local breweries with some selections from around the country.
Beyond libations, the spot serves bar bites and gourmet sandwiches and burgers, like the jam and smoked bacon burger. For cocktail drinkers, the speakeasy-style Low Bar is an elevator ride below the taproom.
The Filling Station
Housed in a renovated 1927 train depot building, The Filling Station pub and restaurant offers views of Lake Boardman from its train platform-turned-deck. Beer taps are listed as “tracks,” and include a smoky Coatbridge Old Ale and hoppy Union Brown Ale. You can pair a brew with a wood-oven fired flatbread pizza or salad. In summer, The Filling Station programs live music on the deck.